Third Time’s A Charm: Chicago Half Marathon Race Recap

Amanda & I

This past Saturday marked the completion of my third half marathon ever, and it was the funnest one yet. I’m not exactly sure why I enjoyed it so much more than my previous two, but I have some theories. Unfortunately, I didn’t meet my goal time under 2 hours, BUT I have another one coming up in 6 weeks so I’m holding out hope for that. There were other accomplishments that I was proud of, so I wasn’t too disappointed with the time thing.

This one was in Chicago, along the northern portion of Lake Shore Drive, with some sections of the run right up against the water and others taking place along the internal trail portions of the surrounding park areas. My first half marathon back in 2012 also took place on Lake Shore Drive, but it was further south. That 2012 route was pretty much 6.5ish miles straight south along the water, then the exact same 6.5ish miles back to the finish line, which ended up being incredibly boring, so I definitely preferred this route with much less overlap.

Around the end of mile 2, a portion of the route was to take runners under Lake Shore Drive through a tunnel. But that morning, there happened to be a freak accident water main break, flooding the tunnel. We got an email from the official race organization, explaining that by the time the first runner reached the tunnel it was still passable, with water only an inch or so deep. By the time I reached the tunnel though, the water level was reaching mid-calf.

There was a lot of confusion, and some runners ahead of us braved the water and ran through the tunnel. I might have followed their lead had we been at mile 10 or something, but I wasn’t looking forward to running 10 more miles with soaked shoes and socks. Thinking about those blisters makes me cringe. Some runners were also attempting to cross Lake Shore Drive above the tunnel, but that seemed like a death sentence. Chicagoans behind the wheel of their cars are truly terrifying people.

So we ended up backtracking and re-routing ourselves to a different tunnel, adding .12 miles to our 13.1 mile official route. This is all information coming from an email I got today, and at the time it was kind of a confusing cluster, but in hindsight the whole thing went way smoother than it could have, and I guess it kept things interesting. Crazy timing, though.

Apart from that weird mishap, the route and race all went according to plan. My three main goals were to finish in 2 hours or less, to not walk, and to not listen to music. I finished in 2:04.40, and did walk (but only twice, and only for 30 seconds each time), and I didn’t bring my iPod so the listening to music thing was a kind of cheating goal. I’m still proud of my time and the race as a whole, though. I felt great after, I didn’t walk nearly as much as I have in the past, and I’ve finally accepted the fact that I run way better without music.

I think it was a combination of the energy before, during, and after the race that contributed to it being so fun. There was live music at the finish line, and our post-race meal was Chicago style deep dish (mmmmmmmmm, Lou Malnatis). The weather could not have been more perfect: sunny and not too windy, in the high 30s at the start and in the 50s by the finish. Plus, I just love Chicago, and finishing the race toward the skyline was really enjoyable.

I have also never felt better after a half marathon, and I know that’s because we walked so much. Due to some insane travelling interruptions on the way to Chicago the Friday before the race, my friend and I didn’t get to do all the tourist-y things we wanted to on Friday. So we adjusted our schedule to fit those in on Saturday after the race. Our hotel was half a mile from the race, so we walked back there and then walked probably a mile or two around the Lincoln Park and downtown area, not really sitting for prolonged periods.

I’m so happy we did this, because it did wonders for my post-race soreness (or lack thereof). Normally, I’m hobbling around like an elderly person in the days following a race, but I think because we just kept moving and enjoying the city, I hardly felt the soreness I normally do. That has given me some confidence to jump right back into training for the Marion Arts half coming up in the middle of May.

WOW I just rambled about this race for way too long. But it was so fun, and I learned things, so third time might really be a charm. ◊

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