This weekend was supposed to be a 20 miler for me, but instead I chose to test how my training is going with the Magnificent Mile Chicago Women’s Half. Given the beautiful weather Chicago has been having in the last week and a half, I thought it would be a great chance to race in the city.
Aaaaaand then today was the hottest day the city has had in two years. My luck is awesome.
I woke up groggy from the night before (had been out late watching the Badgers lose) and made myself my usual pre-race breakfast: toast with almond butter and strawberries with a glass of black tea. I knew it was going to be hot so I also chugged two glasses of water while I was waiting for my toaster oven to ding. After breakfast I dressed, stretched, foam rolled, and headed out the door to catch the L. Did you know that on Sunday mornings the Red Line only runs every 15 minutes before 6:30? Learned something new today.
Despite missing the train I wanted, I still arrived at the race site with plenty of time to drop my bag off at Fleet Feet’s team tent and meet up with some friends for our warm-up. I was sweating within a quarter-mile so when we made it back to the tent I decided to stash my tank and just run in my bra. After waiting in the obligatory pre-race Port-a-Potty line, we headed to the start corral. The sun was starting to climb in the sky and it was getting HOT. The alert system was at yellow before we even started.
After the Star Spangled Banner, the emcee was like, “Alright it’s 7 o’clock so let’s go!” and the gun went off immediately. Not even a countdown, dude? It was kind of a sudden jolt, but we were off and running. At first I tried to maintain my 6:40 half marathon pace, but after 2 miles I quickly realized that was not going to be an option today because, holy balls, I was already feeling the heat. Instead, I dropped back to a 7 minute pace and held it around there. We snaked our way north over to Michigan Avenue, made a U-turn once we reached Superior, and then ran back to Randolph before heading east on the lakefront path. For touting itself as the Mag Mile Half Marathon, we weren’t on it for very long. The spectators were sparser than I expected, but there was one good cheer squad at the 2 mile mark.
Once we reached the path, we ran south towards the museum campus. And then further south. And then even further south before making a U-turn and running back north along the same path. If I thought the crowd support was bad in the city, it was almost non-existent along the path. There were a few spectators here and there, but it was basically deserted except for the occasional biker passing by. Thank goodness I knew other girls running the race! At least that way when I turned and headed back north along the path, I was able to see friendly faces and hear/give words of encouragement. Otherwise it would have been one more lonely run along the path.
The water stations were well supplied, and I appreciated the water hose they had for us midway along the race. At each one I grabbed a cup of water to drink and another to pour on my head. They also had ice towels at one of the stations around mile 9; I grabbed one and wrung it out over my head and neck before grabbing a cup of water to half drink half slosh on my face. By the time I finished the race, I felt like I had gone swimming rather than run a half marathon. I finished in 1:32:28, which was 4 minutes slower than the time I ran in June, but good given the heat. About 15 minutes after I finished, the course marshals changed the status to red, so you know it was bad. Instead of a medal, they gave out necklaces, which was unique, but I’ll probably turn mine into a key chain and not a necklace.
Afterwards I went back to the team tent for some foam rolling, stretching, and celebrating with friends!
Overall, I’d give this race a 7 out of 10 and I’m not sure I would do it again. While it was fun to do it with friends, I wasn’t impressed with the course because it just felt like a regular run along the Chicago lakefront to me. Yeah, running the Mag Mile was alright, but there’s so much more to see in Chicago than just the lakefront trail.
Hope you’re weekend running went well! Anyone else do a race?