Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Rock 'n' Roll Chicago Half Marathon Race Recap

Let me just start this post off by saying that our overall trip was AMAZING!  We were able to see and do so much in just five days and I'm so thankful that this is how we decided to celebrate our anniversary (next week), this trip may not have been for everyone but it was perfect for us!

With that said, I really wish that the race itself had gone better for both of us.  It wasn't our worst race by a long shot, but it definitely wasn't our best!  If we had only driven to Chicago for the race we might have felt a bit more disappointed with the trip than we do right now.

 Technically this is from Friday night, but we stayed in a suburb

We got into downtown Chicago on Saturday around 1pm.  After dealing with overnight parking, checking into the hotel and briefly sightseeing, we took a taxi to McCormick Place for the Expo.

 Our first Rock 'n' Roll race!

Luckily, the expo wasn't as crowded as I thought it was going to be!  We got all of our gear for the race extremely quickly and then spent the rest of the time walking around.

 Mike got two comments on this shirt and he's not even from Maine!

My turn!

Frank Shorter is on the right

After we saw everything that we wanted to, we headed back to do some more sightseeing.  Don't worry I will post about the rest of our trip tomorrow!  We finished off the night with some deep-dish pizza and ice cream.  

 We went to Pizzeria Ora

Race morning our alarm went off at 5am, definitely not the earliest we have woken up for a race but pretty close!  I had my typical pre-race meal of toast with peanut butter (although no toast, just the bread since there was no toaster).

Mike and I were staying right across from the start of the race so we had plenty of time to get there, warm-up, stretch and hit the porta-potties.

 The view from our hotel room

Before I knew it, it was 6:25 and we went to our respective corrals to wait for the start of the race. 

I was in corral 8, so it took a few minutes before we were at the start line waiting for the cue to go.  As soon as we were off, I crossed the start line and realized that my watch wasn't on the training screen!  It must have been too long and it went back to the time/date screen without me realizing.  I quickly got it going again and tried to get through the masses.

I felt like I was running really slowly in the beginning, and I probably was, because there were too many people and no way around them.  Almost immediately we ran through one of the tunnels on the race course.  My watch didn't like that and lost satellite signal and my pace and distance were extremely off. (It said that I did 13.65 miles even though I started my watch after the start line!)

The first three miles I had no idea how fast I was going because of the issue with the tunnels and my Garmin.  I should have realized this was going to happen, oh well!  To make matters worse, the time wasn't even right because of the issue I had at the start line!

I had planned to take my first energy gel at mile 4, right before one of the water stops, and I actually did this time.  My stomach wasn't feeling horrible at this point but I could tell that if I waited any longer that I wasn't going to take any fuel in during the race.

Miles 4-11 were a blur.  I just focused on putting one foot in front of the other and trying to mentally calculate my overall pace whenever I saw a time clock for the race (while trying to figure out how long it had taken me to cross the start line).  I remember seeing signs that said, "Katniss could do it", "pain now, beer later" and "this is the worst parade ever".

 We ran by Soldier Field sometime in the last few miles

I knew almost immediately that I wasn't going to run a sub-2 hour half marathon and honestly I went into the race knowing this wasn't going to happen.  The point of this race was to fulfill the half marathon race on our training schedule for our marathon in the fall and nothing more.  If anything else happened then that was just icing on the cake.

Running through the city definitely took my mind off of how much pain I was in, my stomach was bothering me and my right ankle started to hurt toward the end of the race.  The bands along the course and the crowd support helped lift my spirits as well!

I had to keep telling myself not to walk, I really wanted to a few times, and when I got to mile 11 I knew that I was going to make it.  Unfortunately, there was one time that I walked briefly.  There was a sponge station toward the end of the race and since everyone was stopping and walking, I couldn't avoid walking for about 10 seconds.  Once I could get around people I started running again.

My least favorite part of the race was when we ran through the tunnel at McCormick Place.  It was so dark in there that I was having a hard time seeing and the music was SO loud!  However, I knew that I only had a little way to go so I pushed through.

Finally, I could see our hotel in the distance and I knew that I didn't have much more to go.  The crowd kept telling us that we had about a mile left and I tried to pick up the pace.  You could see the finish line for what felt like forever and I had to give myself visual markers to get to just to keep my mind off of how badly I wanted the race to be over.

 The stats

After 2:11:15, I crossed the finish at my fourth half marathon in less than a year!  I grabbed some water, my medal and some delicious Chobani and made my way to try to find Mike at the family reunion area.

I had no idea where the family reunion area was but I just kept walking toward the post-race party and saw Mike sitting on the grass.  Unfortunately, the race took its toll on him even more so than me.  He finished in 2:09:06 and I am extremely proud of him for pushing through!  If you want to read his perspective on the race, go here, and while you're at it friend him on DailyMile.

We didn't even go to the post-race party because we were slightly miserable.  After we got back to the hotel, we took showers and headed back out on the road for the rest of our trip.  

All in all it was still a great experience and I really want to run another race in Chicago sometime, but it might just have to be the Chicago Marathon when it is a little bit cooler.  I also want to run some more Rock 'n' Roll races because we had a great time and the race atmosphere was amazing!  Even though the race didn't go as well as we had hoped it was still a great time.

41 comments:

  1. Awesome time! I ran that race as well-my very first half marathon. So fun!

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    1. Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed your first half marathon, be careful they are addicting :)

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  2. Congrats! Love your blog. I'm a "couch to ironwoman" myself. Glad you had fun in Chicago. Come back for another race soon!

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    1. Thank you! We really want to go back sometime, the drive wasn't too bad and there is so much more that we need to see.

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  3. It sounds like you had a great trip. Travel races are always fun

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    1. It was a lot of fun! It was our first real destination race, we have done others overnight in a hotel before but they were closer to home.

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  4. Glad you had a great trip to Chicago:) Sorry the race didn't go as well, but nice work pushing through!

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    1. Thank you! It's alright, it was still fun anyway!

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  5. Ok I walked thru your hotel to potty there and I was in your corral. Dammit I'm bummed I missed you! You did great in that heat. Don't count on the Chicago Marathon being any cooler. That weekend in October has been super hot more often than not. No bueno. Congrats to both of you!

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    1. So weird! I kept telling Mike about you and I was looking for you, knowing my luck you were probably right next to me and I totally didn't realize it.

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  6. It sucks that your ankle started hurting. Well, you have plenty of time to break sub 2:00. I think you can totally do it on a race day where everything comes together, which is what happened for me when I broke 2:00. I saw your pics on fb with the bean. It looks like such a fun time!

    And I would have loved to train with you guys. You guys would have motivated me to work out. I actually tried to find a job near you guys (I am not sure if you diverge on the blog which town you live in, so I won't mention it). Hopefully, after this job, I can move up closer? Meanwhile, you guys should racecation in Louisiana!

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    1. Thanks Rena! I hope so too, we have a race in August so we'll see how I feel then.

      I'll keep you posted on Rock 'n' Roll New Orleans!

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  7. Sometimes races don't go how we envision, but I truly believe it's those races that make us stronger runners. Congrats on finishing!!!
    Chicago is a great city to race in!

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    1. Exactly! I'm more motivated to do better next time and PR!

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  8. Way to push through and finish the race! 2:11 is a great time, especially for your fourth half in a year!

    Glad you were able to experience Chicago pizza! There's nothing like it!

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    1. Thanks, I'm definitely happy with how I have improved because I would have walked during the race just a few months ago.

      The pizza was great!

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  9. This midwest heatwave doesn't make for good racing. Glad you were able to finish with a solid time even if you weren't feeling it. I love visiting Chicago - used to go a lot when almost no one flew direct to Milwauke (where sis lives). Haven't been in a long time now though.

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    1. We definitely want to go back to Chicago, and we want to visit more of the states out there to see more lighthouses, maybe we'll just have to go in the winter! haha

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  10. Sorry it didn't go as well as you hoped but great job pushing through! & 2:11 is a great time!!

    Plus, I always tell myself that bad races make me appreciate the good ones that much more!!

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  11. Running in the heat is just miserable. I keep re-learning that lesson! I'm glad you didn't have any time goals, and could just enjoy the trip for what it was. And congrats on another half down!

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    1. It was definitely smart to go in with little expectations, just finishing was enough!

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  12. Proud of y'all for pushing through and finishing - mental practice for your marathon! Glad the rest of your trip was fun at least!!

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  13. Nice work, lady! Sunday morning was less than ideal for a half, so way to push through! So glad you enjoyed our city, too:)

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    1. Thanks Meghan! We had a great time in Chicago!

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  14. Awesome job on the half! I bet it was so hot! Running in October would prolly (hopefully) be way cooler! I love Chicago but haven't been back for almost 10 years!

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    1. It's a really fun city, hopefully we will go back soon.

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  15. You guys did awesome...I am proud of both of you!!!

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  16. Great job! City races are hard because Garmins get all kinds of messed up. Glad you had a nice time in Chicago.

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    1. That definitely made it more difficult, but it was still fun!

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  17. Excellent race recap! Way to push through on a tough day. Glad to hear favorable things about Rock n'Roll too, I have my first one of those in about a month. ;)

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    1. Thank you! We definitely want to do another one, which one are you doing?

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  18. This is great!!! who cares if it wasn't sub 2 - I think four halfs, all this training and racing you do - it was GREAT!!!!!!!

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  19. Wow, I think that's a great time for both of you guys!

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  20. Glad you had a great trip, and congrats on your half-marathon! I remember it was difficult to settle into a pace at the start of the Boilermaker because it was so crowded; that's one of the downsides to bigger, more popular races I guess. PS - The deep dish pizza looks delicious! :)

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