Back in January, Fleet Feet announced exciting changes to their Women’s Half Marathon – the course would be moved to the Magnificent Mile, aka, the Mag Mile. Given the name of my blog, I signed as soon as registration opened. I would finally be able to live up to my blog name and be an actual Mag Mile Runner!

But then I started getting knee pains that got progressively worse, and for the past month, I have been in physical therapy and have not run a step since the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half on July 20. (Save the occasional running to the bus or running to catch a light or something … even that has been quite minimal.)

My PT hinted that I could try a “return to running” plan soon, and I hoped that would mean I could run part of the 5K. He still wanted me to power walk, but said I would run “the last __ yards.” I don’t remember how long that was … 100 yards? Either way, it wasn’t much. I debated skipping the race altogether. Yes, I paid $85 for this event, but if I was just going to be power walking, maybe I should just sleep in and do that later in the day. But, I ended up passing out early on Saturday night (probably due to waking up “early” to swim 1.25mi and then playing on wave runners [thanks, Groupon!] in the sunshine later in the day) so I figured may as well set my alarm for 5am and do the race.

I took a Divvy to the Loop and had some trouble finding a station with an open dock (the Cycle Finder app was quite helpful). Since I wouldn’t be running with fast women, I opted to just love fast women instead.

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While everyone else was jockying for a good corral placement, I ran into the always friendly Dave Mari, and my friend Nicole, and then dashed over to Lake Shore Drive to snap a sunrise pic. (I may have even run a few steps.)

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I lined up in the very back of the corrals, and crossed the start line maybe 7 minutes in.

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I took off walking at a brisk pace. I saw Erica on her way back while I was still on my way out. I missed Mo and Suz because I was too busy Instagramming. Oops. I was walking after all … had to keep myself occupied somehow.

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Once I got to the Magnificent Mile, I snapped a pic of everyone else being Mag Mile Runners…

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I did run a block on the Mag Mile. So there. I am officially a Mag Mile Runner. I was a little bummed to see that the course turned around at Superior, before I could take selfies of myself with my alma mater (Loyola) and one of the properties I work for (Water Tower Place). Oh well. I know what they look like.

I did run the last 0.1 at a comfortable pace, and finished with an overall time of 48 minutes. Since the half and 5K started together, I knew I had a good shot of seeing the winner finish! I thought the finish area was well done – there were two separate finish lines, on either end of the finish line area (5K finished on the north end, half on the south end). But that way they could easily have the medals on only one end, with the snacks and gear check and team tents and all that in the middle.

Two men actually finished before the winner did, but there was zero fanfare. The race is obviously marketed to women, and only women qualify for awards, but men can still register. I assume men who did this race were trying to get a good corral for the marathon, or running with their significant other.

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I got to see Erica finish.

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And Lauren Fleshman, who was pacing the 1:45 group.

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The first pace group that finished was 1:40, and by the end, it was just the two pacers and one runner. When she crossed the finish line (like 20 seconds under 1:40), she looked amazed by what she just did. I remember that feeling from when I ran my half marathon PR (which was my first half in under 2 hours), and started feeling both happy for her and sad for myself (wah wah wah get over it).

After seeing Lauren finish, I headed back to the nearest Divvy station and went home. I didn’t feel like hanging around any longer and feeling more sorry for myself, plus I was getting hungry.

My knee felt fine after the power walk and for the rest of the day and this morning, and I see my PT tomorrow night, so hopefully he’ll give me the green light to start the Return to Running program on Wednesday. It’s 4 weeks long, and by the end, I’ll be running for 30 minutes continuously. My left knee still feels different every now and then, but it’s not painful. I have my follow-up with my Sports Med doc on Thursday. Fingers crossed! Not having my usual outlet is really starting to get to me. Swimming is nice and all, but not the same kind of stress relief. Plus with the Park District hours, I can’t just put on my suit and head out the door on a whim.