The second part of my Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Remix Challenge was the half marathon on Sunday. The wake up call on Sunday morning was 4am. I should never have to wake up at 4am. That just shouldn’t be allowed. The race had a 6:30am start and being 45m-60m out, we had to wake up that early. Ugh. Not fun. Kathleen and I ended up back in the same parking garage around 5:30am. Of course it was busier than the day before, but other than people just being idiots and not knowing how to park, there weren’t any actual issues. We quickly got a spot and got all of our race stuff together and headed down to the start line area.
We had plenty of time to relax before the start of the race. We just hung out on probably the worst smelling street ever. No idea where the smell was coming from, but it was horrendous. We had enough time that I actually walked down to the start line area and heard a bit of Katherine Switzer speak before the race. It was a pretty relaxing race morning in terms of how race mornings go. Around 6:15am, we split ways and got into the start corrals. I got in around corral 6 and Kathleen went back to 9. There was a lot of energy from everyone in the corrals and about 10 minutes after the first corral went off, I was across the start line for my 42nd half marathon and my 24th state!
I definitely went out way too fast for this race. I was reminded by several people that my GPS wasn’t going to be accurate, but even taking that into account, I know I went out too fast. The first mile of the race it was tough to find a safe spot to pull to the side and do my walk break. Because the 10k broke off so quickly, half marathoners were asked to line up on the left. I ended up on the far left and hate talking breaks on that side. It was also hard because that first quarter of a mile after the start line you turn to run under a tunnel. So, I take the actual mile times for face value, but it was still fast. Actually, I was shocked I actually went that fast. Splits were: 11:27, 11:01, 10:36, 11:57, 10:32.
These first 5 miles were my favorite of the race. They were all downtown and took you by some great sites. I wish we could have actually raced entirely through the streets of downtown. Kathleen gave me some pointers on things I would see along the way, including the iconic Chicago sign. We also ran across a few bridges with grating and that was the worst thing for me. I know I’m not going anywhere, but I still have a fear of those things.
The other part that I wasn’t expecting was the Wear Blue Team. I’ve seen them every year at Rock ‘n’ Roll DC, but I had no idea they would be in Chicago. Somewhere after around mile 3.5, I saw the photos. About half way through all of those powerful photos, I then saw the half mile long line of people holding American Flags. It’s something about seeing this. Maybe that’s why I dropped down to my 10:36 mile. It’s truly inspirational. I was glad I didn’t know about this and it hit me as a surprise instead.
Just after mile 6, we turned right down Michigan Ave for just shy of 3 miles. I could tell the GPS was starting to settle out and it reflected that on the course map afterwards as well. We were getting further away from the tall buildings and less distractions. Again, I had been wanted that this section typically had no on out there cheering. I guess this part of the RnR course is also part of the Chicago Marathon course starting around mile 20. Well, just like that race, this one was also pretty dead in term of spectators. There were some good areas too. There were a lot of apartment buildings, some eateries, so certainly people could easily go out and cheer, but there wasn’t much out there.
We just kept running down Michigan and surprisingly I was still feeling okay. I had pretty much been running by myself and not tagging a long with anyone. It’s sometimes amazing to me how you can be with thousands of other runners and feel like you’re completely by yourself. Just after mile 8 we turned onto 31st and then did about a half mile out and back on Martin Luther King Dr. Since it was an out and back, lots of runners running on the inside track were high fiving those on the other side. It was fun to see that! What I also saw was a runner cut the course. Why do people do this?! I would assume this runner was clearly not winning any age group award, but it’s the principle of things. If you sign up for a race that is 13.1 miles, then run 13.1 miles.
This out and back was my second to worst mile. In fact, it was around this time that I actually started to feel the wheels come off. Once we turned back onto 31st street and I saw mile marker 10 up ahead and then was like oh whatever, I came this far, I’m happy with how I’ve done so far. At 10, we turned left onto Fort Dearbon Dr and were running next to the lake. My mileage was off, but splits for this part was 10:38, 11:19, 11:47, 12:03 and 11:36. Still not horrible, especially for what I’d be doing lately.
At this point, we were on the home stretch heading toward the finish line. You could city off a couple miles away but it just felt like it would never get closer. By this point too I was going slower and just sort of gave up. I honestly didn’t care how long it took me to do those last miles. It was just done. At the McCormick Place, we went under a tunnel. The road inside there was horrible as was the lighting. You had lights but then nothing and my eyes were not happy. I ran with my head down the whole time as I did not want to fall and roll an ankle. I wish they had put more lights in the tunnel.
Coming out of the tunnel, we then ran by Soldier Field a we turned onto Columbus Drive. This was our last turn of the race and the on ramp onto Columbus was probably the biggest hill of the race. I’ll admit it and say I walked it. I honestly just didn’t care and wanted the race to be over. Finally as we headed into Grant Park along Columbus, we had more and more spectators out there. Just about the 13 mile marker, I heard a “Go Chelsea” and saw Kathleen cheering me on to the finish! That was awesome of her to come back out and that was the perfect boost to hit the last bit of the race as I went across the finish line.
I was certainly surprised to see the sub 2:35 finish time for this race. I was expecting at least another 10 minutes on that time. It felt good though and was a nice confidence booster. After getting my medal and taking a few minutes to just relax, we walked over to The Bean for the obligatory Bean pictures. Since the medal had the bean on it as well, I definitely needed pictures over there. After some pictures and then cleaning up, Kathleen and I hit up Portillo’s for a celebratory lunch. I might be the only one, but I’ll take Portillo’s over Chicago deep dish pizza any day.
Overall, this was a weekend I almost bailed on and I am glad I didn’t. It was nice to complete another state but even better to actually finish a lot faster than I thought. I also earned my Rock Trio Heavy Medal since this was my third RnR race of the year. I would certainly recommend this race, but just be warned about potential weather! This year we certainly lucked out, but I could see that if the weather was any worse, I would have just been miserable. It’s also a pretty flat course, so certainly one that’s potential for a PR. Who knows, maybe I’ll head back another year!
Official Finish Time:
609/932, Female 30-34
Disclaimer: I did receive free entry into this race as a Rock ‘n’ Blogger team member, but all opinions are my own.