Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Race Report: Banco Popular Chicago Half Marathon

[NOTE: This is the much-delayed race report for the half marathon I ran three Sundays ago.]

So back to my earlier post, I hate to disappoint all of you but here are my REAL results from the Chicago Half Marathon.

Once again, I was able to "beat" my personal worst time for a half marathon. No worries - the fact that I just finished this darn thing was a big enough accomplishment for me.

I had been planning a visit to Chicago to catch up with friends and for some crazy reason, I thought it would be fun to combine it with a half marathon. Never again! I am, however, intrigued by their Shamrock Shuffle in March (you go drinking afterward!), but not races that take me over two hours to complete.

The weekend before the half, I chatted with my friend PH (who was also running the half) and she told me they had been having perfect running weather in Chicago. So I was pretty excited since the Disneyland Half two weeks earlier had been a little warm and sticky for me.

I flew in Friday afternoon and it was raining. Light rain, but it was present all day long. It rained when we headed to Navy Pier for the packet pick up and it rained as we bar-hopped on Southport that night. Rain, rain, rain.

On Saturday, I woke up to more rain... it was POURING. It was ridiculous. People couldn't even leave town because the nearby highways were flooded. Apparently, Chicago had a record amount of rainfall in a single day that day. It was that kind of weather when you look out the window and immediately think, "Yeah, I'm not going out there". So I didn't! PH was an awesome hostess (with the cutest pup ever!) so we spent all day indoors nice and dry. We watched college football and The Devil Wears Prada, played Scrabble, explored facebook, etc etc. We checked the race site for the latest status and the race was still on - rain or shine!

Later that night, my friend, JL, came over to PH's place and we all indulged in some amazing Chicago deep dish pizza. Carb-loading at its best! Yum, yum.


Still raining.

The fun part of this race was the company. Besides PH (who I've been friends with since first grade!), our friend from high school, CH, was also running as was her husband. They brought a friend of theirs, as well, so we had a good sized group headed to the race that morning.

The race started in the south side of Chicago at Jackson Park. Our race started early as we had to sprint to catch the Metra train to get there. We barely made it!

Once we got to the park, it was still raining. Even worse, we had to cross the park to get to the start line - a park that had now turned into a bunch of mud pits! Not fun. The gals all had to visit the port-o-potty so we actually joined in with the race after it already started - maybe 10 minutes later? Good thing we had chip timing!

I ran with PH and CH for the beginning of the race, who both run a lot faster than me. It seemed fine but probably not a good way for me to start a half marathon - according to Garmin, the first three miles were around a 9:30 pace which would be OK for a 10K for me, but not a half.

Eventually, we let PH run ahead but CH was nice enough to stick around with me. It was her first half and she didn't seem to care when she finished. So I ran most of the race with her which was fun because we got to catch up a bit more and stuff. But I'm sure the talking slowed my pace. I tried to let CH run ahead but she was so nice to stick around with me. The first half of the race was so funny - the rain was right in our face. I wanted a towel to wipe my face! We were completely drenched. And every now and then, we'd step into a big puddle. You know that feeling... squishy ickiness!

Every now and then, I'd glance at my Garmin and we'd be at a 10:45 pace... so I knew we were going slow but oh well. I just couldn't push myself to go faster. I remember feeling really fatigued though. Toward the end, maybe around mile 10?, CH stopped to walk a bit. I kept on running because I knew she would easily be able to catch up with me at the pace I was going. I stopped for water at the next stop and tried to find CH but I couldn't spot her. I waited for a bit, too, but then just kept on going. So I ended up doing the last part of the race on my own.

Around mile 12, I heard someone cheer my name but assumed it was just a friendly spectator since our names were printed on our bibs. Turns out it was another friend from high school and her BF. I couldn't believe they came out to stand in the rain to cheer us on - what sweeties.

They had signs marking off "3/4 mi to go", "1/2 mi to go", "1/4 mi to go", etc. That last quarter mile seemed to last forever! Finally, I crossed the finish line and I was so happy to be done. Mainly because I wanted to get out of the rain and get indoors.

After finishing, I went to the meeting spot and found the rest of the gang who were all huddled underneath the Tylenol tent (along with a bunch of other runners.) I felt so bad because some of them had been waiting for almost 40 minutes until I got there! Funny moment: I was standing at the edge of the tent and one of them offered to let me take their spot under the tent (it was *that* crowded) and I said that's OK since I'm already drenched anyway. At that exact moment, a bunch of water that had collected at the edge of the "roof" of the tent decided to completely unload right on top of me. It was like being on "You Can't Do That on Television"! That cracked me up.

Anyway, we headed back to the Metra - the train ride back was one of my favorite parts of the day. We had one of the cars pretty much to ourselves so we had plenty of room to just chill and talk and stuff. Once we got back to the station, we all got some Starbucks treats.

It was probably around two hours from the time I finished the race to the time we finally arrived back at PH's place. My hands and feet were still wrinkled like prunes. That post-race shower was probably the best shower ever!!!

My one regret is that I didn't stretch enough after the race. I think I was too concerned with getting the heck out of there! So I ended up being really sore and limping like an old lady for a few days after the race. I really felt the pain with my IT band, too. I've had a couple of massages since then that seems to have helped.

Here's the medal and the T-shirt that we received:

Final thoughts... runners really are nuts. I mean, the weather was horrible and still over 10,000 runners showed up for this race. As I was running down Lake Shore drive with rain dripping down my face, I looked around and just thought, we are one crazy, sick bunch.

I probably won't be running this half again... the course wasn't that interesting and there wasn't much for entertainment. Plus, it was difficult to get to/from the race and the expo.

BUT I had fun that I got to experience it with friends since I usually do my races solo. And I loved the looks on people's faces at the Metra station when hundreds of us soaking wet runners walked in.

I did it all for the cookie.


joyRuN said...

Belated CONGRATS! That cookie better have been worth it! Wow - a half-mary in the RAIN. 13.1 miles in squishy shoes - gah!

Marcy said...

CONGRATS chica! Wow, that sounded like one wet day! Geez! A most excellent job!

The Laminator said...

Congrats for sticking it out on a wet day! I shrivel like a prune when I feel a drop of rain so I know what it must have felt like trying to run 13.1 miles in it. Good for you for sticking it out though. Awesome job.

Julianne said...

what a bummer about the rain but it sounds like you had a great time. so awesome that your hs friends came out to cheer you on! don't worry about the finish time. you're going to beat it this weekend!!

Viv said...

Congratulations what a challenge with all that rain! It had to be brutal to endure but you finished that thing up and gotcha a medal! WTG! Happy BIRTHDAY Libra girl!!

*aron* said...

yay i've been waiting for this report :) CONGRATS on another finish! you are just knocking these halves off left and right. GAH i cant imagine running in rain like that... definitely makes it one to remember :)

Running Knitter said...

Congrats! Even in the rain, your time is still amazing!

Perry said...

Great job!

Danica said...

Um, all that ran! Wow! I'm impressed. You stuck it out, but congrats on finishing!

Laura said...

I was writing a comment in my head while I was reading, and then I got to the end and all I can think is "mmmm, cookie" :) Congrats!

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