I mentioned in a past post that the main reason I signed up for the Chi Town Half Marathon was because my college friend Ali was doing it. We don’t see each other very much, and I was already thinking about doing that race, so when she mentioned she had registered, that made up my mind. And as I also mentioned, I decided I wasn’t going to go for a PR, but rather have fun running with Ali and help her finish her first half marathon. And as a fun bonus, Kelly ended up running this race as well!

I obsessively checked the weather all day yesterday, and it was looking like it might be a rainy race, but despite the rain (and thunder and lightning) during our drive up, it stopped by the time we got there. And didn’t rain again. In fact with the cool temps and overcast skies, it was perfect running weather.

The race started and ended in the southern end of Lincoln Park, so we were able to park in a pay lot ($28) right next to the start/finish. We got there around 7am, saw Nicole (who ran two half marathons this weekend) and also had a brief Chicago Running Bloggers meet-up, before heading back to the car so I could ditch my pants and jacket.

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Me, Kelly aka “Kate”, Nicole

I planned to run in shorts, a short-sleeve top, “arm warmers” (this time a pair of BFF Ultra Vera‘s old softball socks … with the feet cut off), and a light waterproof jacket. And a hat, in case it started raining again. Ali and I met up with her friend Eileen right before the start and lined up somewhere between the 10 and 11 minute pacers. Kelly lined up near a faster pace group.

Chi Town Half Marathon
With Ali at the start

The sun came out right before we started, and I thought I might get too warm, so I ditched my arm warmers and jacket (Ali’s friend Kate was with us, but not running). This was a good idea for the first half of the race, but the clouds came back and I got a little chilly near the end (it was 50 and we were running right next to Lake Michigan). Hard to believe we had temps in the 80s two weeks ago.

I thought the race was well done, especially since this is a fairly newer race (I think this is the second year of it). I’ve never done an All Community Events race, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Race day packet pick-up was easy, the port-o-potty lines were long but not ridiculous, and the start was spaced out enough so there wasn’t congestion on the course. The course was also well-marked – it was on the Lakefront Path (heading north to Montrose), which was not closed to the public, so we needed all of the direction signs and on-course volunteers, which there were plenty of. There was water and Gatorade about every two miles. I stuck to water and went through a pack of Clif Shot Bloks.

Running with Ali and Eileen was fun. For most of the race, we just talked and had a good time, but by mile 9, Ali was feeling it, so she started listening to her music, as did Eileen. I never run with music, but I never feel like I need it. Honestly, it’s nice to not have noise in my ears sometimes.

For it being her first half marathon, Ali did awesome. For the first 9 miles, our pace was around 11-12 minute miles. I think her music helped, because for the last three, we were around 10:20-11 miles, picking it up to around 9 for the last quarter mile, and passing people.

We finished in 2:30:05. Not a PR for me, but actually my second-best half marathon time (this was my fourth half marathon). Just for comparison, last August I ran the RnR Chicago Half in 2:34 and my average heart rate was 154. Today my average heart rate was 142. So even if I didn’t PR, I still know that I’m improving!

Chi Town Half Marathon 2012
Kelly and me post-race

After the race, they had pretzels, bananas and other snacks, but no bottled water (they had cups of water). That is my only complaint for the race. It’s easy to stick a bottle of water under your arm as you eat your other post-race food, and then have something in the car for the ride home. With cups, we just drank what we could there and luckily I had a bottle of water in the car that we shared. Otherwise, I thought this was a well-run race with a fun course (very pretty – mostly along Lake Michigan, with a loop around a harbor), so I would definitely consider doing it again.

 

The shirts were nice – very similar to the Fort2Base tops that everyone loves.

Don’t forget: I’m giving away a free entry to 13.1 Chicago half marathon on June 9. Enter for a chance to win today!