Race Report: Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon

Short version: To paraphrase Homer Simpson, this race was the suckiest suck that ever sucked. 

Because of the weather. The race itself was great, I had a blast running this last year and it did not disappointment in terms of logistics, entertainment, etc. 

Long version:

The race started at 6:30am, and I was carpooling with Kelly, Amanda and Kim, so my day started at 3:30 when I got out of bed. Awesome. We headed downtown and parked in our “secret” $2 lot, which was a mile from the race site, so unfortunately we were late for the Chicago Running Bloggers meet-up that I had set-up. We ran into some other F’N Runners, and then Kelly and I ran into a couple of other late bloggers, Kayla and Markemmanuel.


Then it was off to the corrals, where Amanda and I ran into Nicole in corral 9, which surprised us – she’s speedy, and based on her bib, she should have started in corral 3. She was running her fourth race of the weekend (a 5K on Thursday, half marathon and Muddy Buddy on Saturday, and the RnR half on Sunday) and was going to run with a friend for her [friend’s] 52nd half marathon in 52 weeks, and they were starting in corral 9. It should go without saying that they are both already Half Fanatics. (And I am too … joined this weekend!)

Amanda, me, Nicole

Plug: Get your own I <3 Fast Women shirt! Proceeds will go to the American Cancer Society. 

I knew the day was going to be a warm one; I’ve been stalking the weather forecast for the past 10 days. But it’s July, what can you do? (Not sign up for races in the middle of summer? But then what would we complain about??) I knew it wasn’t going to be a day for an actual PR, and my goal race right now is the marathon, but I just wanted to beat my last “hot half marathon” time from 13.1 Chicago. Beat 2:12.

I turned off the auto-lap on my Garmin, knowing that this race is through skyscrapers and tunnels, and manually lapped myself at each mile marker. At the right are my mile splits. (I missed mile marker 4, so lap 4 is actually 2 miles.)

The first mile was a warm-up, then I just kept my heart rate in the low 160s for the next few miles, worked my way up to the high 160s for the later miles, and got up to around 170 or so for the end. Worked out pretty well, considering my pace kept improving. I was feeling it by the end though. But, I kept focusing on my heart rate, knowing if I just kept it where it should be I would be fine, and kept chugging along.

Shiny, new “hot half marathon” PR = 2:03:50. Which I think is exactly 10 minutes slower than my actual half marathon PR. Just a little trivia.

My Garmin measured 13.63 miles, and it’s always fun to look at the resulting map for races through the Chicago Loop.

This is TOTALLY how I ran it too.

This was the first time I raced with a handheld water bottle. Even though I hate having stuff in my hand, I was so glad to have water with me at all times for this race. I just sipped on it the whole time, refilling it at most of the water stations. I also had some Margarita shot bloks, since those have extra sodium and I knew I would be sweaty.

Around mile 4, I took off my shirt. (Sorry to disappoint, but I had a sports bra on underneath.) I dressed and bibbed myself planning to do that, and it felt great once it was off (and I was wearing my shirt-cape). Also, I passed not one but two gentlemen with rather hairy backs, and they were running shirtless and owning it, so I told myself to get over whatever lingering body insecurities I had. So thanks, hairy dudes.

After the race I regrouped at the UPS for DownS tent (Amanda ran for them, and they let the rest of our carpool leave our bags there), and then attempted a post-race blogger meet-up. Much more successful this time:

Left to right: Kim (carpooler), Nina, Me, Amanda, Zach, Cary, Marcia, Pete and Sarah. And, of course, the most important thing at a race – the port-o-potties.

Then Amanda and I regrouped with the F’N Runners.

Kelly was off in the V.I.P. area, interviewing former Bachelor and Navy Officer Dr. Andy Baldwin while we were boozing it up with the F’ers, but I got a text from her that she ended up making a visit to the medical tent, so Amanda, Kim and I went to stay with her there until she was ready to go. Then it was the long walk back to the car and drive home. By the time I made it home, I was beat. I was tempted to just take a nap on the floor of my bedroom in my sweaty clothes. (Much like I felt after 13.1.)

Even though I had a “decent” race – I beat my adjusted goal (had the weather been nicer, I wanted to try to finish in 1:50 to qualify for a corral at the Chicago Marathon), so I consider the race a win – I know a lot of folks had terrible races. Missed their goal by a lot, or didn’t finish at all, or just generally had a crappy day out on the course. Overall, I think we’re all just done with racing in the heat. Too bad I’m signed up for the Chicago Half Marathon on 9/9/12. I’m kind of dreading it.

BUT … the best part of the day … The Sailor is home! He returned Sunday evening from two weeks on base. I feel bad for him. He hasn’t had a day off in probably 10 or more days, and has to work [his civilian job] Monday-Friday this week. So that’s 15 days in a row of working.

Share this post

33 Comments on “Race Report: Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon”

  1. Shirtless is the way to go in this weather. It was hella hot on Sunday, too, so kudos to you for chugging through.

    Also, four races in one weekend?! That’s some dedication.

    1. I went for a run tonight and my knee were SORE. I ended up running on the track at the high school (because the sprinklers were on at the football field!!!) and that was so much better on my knees.

  2. Definitely sounded like it was a rough one for everyone. I just ran 2 miles outside as a warmup yesterday morning and complained about how awful THAT was. Meh.

    But hey- that’s a pretty solid time anyway.

    We’ll all pray for a cooldown for September’s half.

  3. hahaha I LOVE your garmin map. How did you have any energy for the race at 3:30?! Kudos to you Maggie! One day I shall go shirtless too! 😉 not anytime soon I hope lol

  4. Congrats on the p.r. Yes, it was a rough race. I lost at least 5 lbs. from start to finish and am finally starting to feel normal again after 24 hours. I am dreaming of running on a 40 degree day, heck, I’d even settle for a 65 degree day at this point. Here’s hoping the Chicago Half will be cool and the Chicago Marathon even cooler.

  5. Your race sounds very similar to how mine went, minus the shirt removal. 🙂 I ran the 13.1, too, and I thought that was worse (although better than the 2011 13.1). You definitely had a solid performance considering how hot/humid it was, so be proud of that.

  6. You did great in the heat! Congrats on your hot half PR 😉

    I would love to try a Rock N Roll Race one day! Too bad this one is in the summer. Let’s get some more races in the winter!

    1. Hot weather aside, I really enjoy Rock ‘n’ Roll races. They are very well organized and sometimes it’s fun to do a “big” race. Plus I came away with a TON of freebies from the expo. Sunglasses, a t-shirt (in addition to the race shirt), another drawstring backpack, stickers, window clings, samples of food, coconut water, pace bracelets (that I didn’t wear) … I don’t even remember what else.

  7. ahahahahaha I LOVE the garmin race map! I’m pretty sure that’s what my garmin was thinking! IT was completely off, I finally just turned off the timer and used it to see my pace! Great job! My cousin did the same thing – she wanted to beat her “summer PR”

    1. It’s always fun to see how wacky the Garmin is through the Loop. I think people are starting to figure it out, I only saw one complaint from someone that “the course was long.” In years past there are always tons of posts on FB & Twitter about the “long course” at downtown races.

  8. Great job! That heat and humidity was brutal. I don’t honestly know why we all sign up for races during the summer when deep down inside we know it will be hot. I suppose theres a tiny part inside of us making us (insane) have hope for unseasonably cool temps.

  9. Congrats on your hot half marathon PR! It was a tough one for sure. The weather felt cool at first but the humidity and rising temperatures did a lot of people in.

    Where is this ‘secret’ lot of yours. I paid $30 for parking in the Grant Park North Garage because I was running late. My cheapest hidden spot is $11. Your $2 spot definitely beats that and a purposeful one mile warmup would perfect for me!

    1. It’s at 800 S. Wells, by the River City condos. About a mile to walk to Grant Park from there. So you definitely can’t park there if you’re running late 🙂 But if you have enough time … super cheap!

  10. saw your race day outfit pic on instagram and tried to memorize those shorts to spot you out…but there seemed to be quite a few people running with crazy shorts. watching them all wiz by with the patterns made me feel a bit sick, almost like a roller coaster ride!

    love that you cut the course a bit and thought the route would be easier going through the buildings downtown 😉

    these hot races are really starting to dry me crazy! my hubby was trying to qualify for a seeded corral for the marathon too and missed the mark by just under 3 minutes and nearly died in the heat. it broke my heart to see him dazed and barely moving at 13 when the clock just past 1:50, still bringing tears to my eyes to watch his dream slip through his hands. but maybe we will catch you in the open corral!

    great job and congrats on your new hot half pr;)

    1. Haha, now I’m trying to look through all of the “unclaimed” pics on Marathonfoto and I’m getting dizzy staring at everyone’s shorts! I guess I’m lucky that I missed the qualifying time by 13 minutes, so I know there was no chance. I think if I had come within a few minutes of it I would be pretty bummed. I keep thinking maybe I should have pushed myself just a little bit harder at the Sunburst Half when I finished in 1:53 and the temperatures were SO ideal. Oh well. I’m sure I’ll be fine in the open corral! Might be better for me to start a little bit back in it so I don’t get swept up going too fast at the start.

  11. Great job on a great race!! Despite the heat and humidity you still obviously (and unsurprisingly) rocked it. I saw someone wearing those shorts at the race! I wonder if it was you?!? One day I will meet all you bloggers…current goal of life 🙂

    Also, dumb question – how do you manually lap yourself on a Garmin? I have a 305 and have no idea how to turn off the auto-lap feature. I wish I knew that that was even possible because my Garmin went crazy almost immediately as well.

    1. It might have been me, I didn’t see anyone else wearing my exact shorts (although I saw one or two wearing the same design/style but different colors). During the start of the race I had my I Training –> Options –> Auto Lap. Also make sure Auto Pause is turned off (otherwise it might pause when it loses satellite reception, like in tunnels).

      BUT, make sure you turn Auto Lap back on before your next training run. Outside of the Chicago Loop, Garmins are usually pretty close at measuring distances (at least, I’ve never had a problem during any other races).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.