Last year, I ran the Chicago Half Marathon as part of my Chicago Marathon training, so I used this race as a training run and took it easy. And I was also feeling some training burnout, so I honestly didn’t have much fun at the race. This year, with nothing other than a couple 5K’s on the calendar after, I could race.

We spent yesterday at my husband’s parents’ house – both of his sisters, bro-in-law and our niece and nephew were there, so it was great to be able to spend time with everyone. Also, I realized dinner with my in-laws is the perfect way to carbo-load. Their motto when it comes to family meals is “more everything.” Especially carbs. And my father-in-law is a fantastic cook and baker and made a delicious German chocolate cake.

When I was at the expo after work on Friday, I picked up a shuttle bus ticket just in case. But when race morning came, I made the last-minute decision to drive. Getting to the race via shuttle might have been easier (not having to deal with finding parking), but I hate having to wait around when I’m ready to go home, especially when I’m sweaty and tired. Luckily, I was able to score a free spot on 63rd Street not far from the start line.

I met up with some blogger friends before the race:

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Me, Sara (and Waffles), Eric, Jennifer, Emily – thanks to Sara for letting us meet at the Run for HD tent! (And leave gear there.) Now go donate to her, she’s working hard raising money. 

I didn’t train hard for this race, but I did to the standard long runs, and I had been doing a little bit of speedwork for the mile relay, so I wanted to race this and see where I’m at. A little part of me thought maybe I could PR, and while it was overcast and the temps were comfortable, it was humid. But I wanted to run by heart rate and see how I did.

My first four miles were just over a 9-minute pace, but from there on, I was running around 8:40-8:50. So, no PR unless I went crazy in the second half. And given that I saw a few people down during the last mile or so (and one in the finish corral), I wasn’t really inspired to go crazy. My official finish time was 1:57:00, an 8:55 pace. My second fastest half, and just over 3 minutes from my PR, so not too shabby.

Overall, I think this is a great race. The course is a little crowded at the beginning – I’m pretty sure a guy spit and it got on my shoe (WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE) but once you get onto Lake Shore Drive around mile 3-4, the course widens and it’s comfortable. Running by the lake was great – it was cloudy, we could hear the waves crashing ashore, and there were a crazy amount of water stations on the course.

After the race I headed to the VIP area and ran into some other bloggers.

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Lindsay, me, Jess, Amanda, Emily

I refueled with pizza and beer but my clothes were still wet from sweat and pouring water on myself during the race. Even though the temps were in the mid-70s, it was still overcast and I was starting to feel cold when there was a breeze, so I headed back to my car.

As I was getting into my car, a couple of ladies who had obviously also ran the race came up to me. They said they weren’t able to find a cab and asked if I could give them a ride downtown. (They weren’t together but I think ran into each other after the race trying to get cabs.) Given the neighborhood, I’m not surprised that there were no cabs (although maybe the race organizers could coordinate better to have some head that way post-race). I knew they would be hanging out for quite waiting for a cab and with no familiarity of the CTA. They seemed friendly so I said sure. Plus going through downtown to get home wouldn’t really take me too far out of my way.

I feel like a jerk, because I don’t remember their names, but I remember one woman was from Minnesota and recently got engaged and the other woman was from Columbus and is running more half marathons this season (including Detroit, I think). I dropped them off at their hotels near Grant Park and River North and then got back on the expressway and was home by noon.

So, up next I have the Oktoberfest 5K with the Wurst Running Club Ever on Sept 19, and then the Carerra de los Muertos 5K on Nov 2 (with a rare race appearance by my husband). A small part of me wants to look for a late September or October half marathon to try for a PR, but at the same time … I have fewer than $30 left in my 2013 race budget, plus it would be nice to enjoy running for a while without the pressure of a race.

Have you ever been stranded after a race?

Would you ever give a ride to a stranger? One time my parents were at the Garfield Park Conservatory and ran into a kid (college age) from out of town who was alone and horribly lost, and they gave him a ride to the South Shore (Indiana) train station.