Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Running Chi-Town - 13.1 Chicago Race Recap

I can hardly remember the last time I visited Chicago - and what better way to explore the city than through running? Theoretically - awesome. In practice - the race did not cover much ground in the actual city.

Such a great city. (source)
Nevertheless, the course was pretty Fun, Flat, Fast & Fantastic. Since I wasn't running "race pace", I noticed things beyond the pavement, Garmin screen and runners ahead. I sort of had to, because despite the slower pace, feverish chills and congestion are not happy company for any runner.

Note to self: running 13.1 (or however many) miles in 85ish degree heat and high humidity when you are sick, contrary to popular belief, is not therapeutic. Even if, on some level, I did perhaps question whether this would actually be good for me, not running never really crossed my mind. I was not going to bail on accompanying Daniel and his 2nd half marathon adventure. Though I suppose there were times in the race when he seemed to wish I did (apparently I was having too much fun, which may not have been true for everyone around me?). Either way, we finished together and everyone was happy (especially after some beer and iced coffee!)

Anyway, let's get some race facts in order.

Early morning drill...
Start time was 7am, which is nice and allowed for a little sleep-in... The organizers provided shuttles from 2 different locations in the city and one of them happened to be a 5 minute walk from the hotel. *Joy* Our shuttle left at 5:30am and was at the start by 6am, leaving plenty of time for all those routine pre-race things.

The magnitude of start corrals was crazy/impressive. There was a corral for pretty much every letter of the alphabet, based on estimated finish times. Wave starts were separated by 1:30-2:00 minutes, so I would have been pretty annoyed in, say, corral Z.

But there were about 5,000 runners/walkers and since all were to be unleashed onto a narrowish bike path, I totally understand (and appreciate) the intention to separate people. It didn't feel crowded, even as runners were rushing/sprinting back on the other side of the path (it is an out and back course).

The beauty of out-and-back courses is that you can see and cheer on those really fast people that sprint by when you've still got a good way to go...and then once you've turned around, you are reminded that, in fact, you are not the last person and you may just chill out. And keep cheering.

The course runs along Lake Michigan, on the lakefront bike path, and is quite picturesque. The scenery does not change much through the run, but there are subtle variations or sights in the distance that keep it interesting.

Given the heat, there were a handful of sprinklers along the course, which felt like heaven. They were giving out hand towels too, which would have been useful, had they been cold. Ice was also being handed out in water cups, and while I debated stuffing some down my shirt, I decided to just cool my water with it.

Hot or not though, the winner did set a new course record of 1:08:02. I bet he really wanted to get out of there. Fast. The lady winner finished in 1:22:40, which is still pretty amazing.

Overall, I was pretty impressed with the event and it sort of makes me re-think my aversion to running the Los Angeles edition of the 13.1 series (though that course is hardly appealing).

 That's a big bucket of shoes! Imagine how smelly it must be in there.
I do love it when races make a real effort for charity.
And of course, there was a beer tent. And deep-dish pizza, too, as one might expect in Chicago (I passed on that one). Oh, and I re-realized that I really, really like this city.


  1. you're so cute!!! congrats! i would HATE running in humidity and heat while i was congested- doesn't make the congestion better, that's for sure!!!

    1. I know!!! and yet I do not feel super crazy for thinking it might, because steam rooms and hot yoga can be so helpful! And dry heat - fine, I will deal with it, but humidity prompts an immediate sad face.