Wednesday, October 16, 2013
A long run in the city of Chicago!
I had not planned on doing Chicago, but I jumped into the free lottery when they had registration problems, and to my surprise I was in. I paid my $175 registration fee and thought well that will take care of Illinois. I never thought much more about doing Chicago until about 20 weeks out when I set up my training program, I wanted to PR this race and I wanted to BQ. Fall events are sometimes tricky for me to train for because I have to work it around coaching Cross Country and they rarely run far are hard enough at the K – 8th grade level for me to use it as training, but this year became much more difficult. I play on a summer tennis league, usually finishes up the last week of July, this year we were pretty good and kept moving on all the way to the National Championship Tournament in Tucson Arizona the 1st week in October, making me miss 3 weekends of long runs do to playing and traveling. Also, I suffered my first real injury of my short running career when I tore my hamstring during a 5K, I do this 5K every year because it is the 1st race I ever did back in 2008. I ran on it the best I could but was unable to run more than an hour or fast for 6 weeks. My best run was a 17 miler at an 8:00 pace, so I went to Chicago with little expectations, the distance is easy the pace is what makes it hard.
I have never done an event anywhere close to the size of Chicago. The expo is amazing. So many realtors, very well organized. Packet pick up is a breeze. I walked the rows of booths sampling stuff like Clif Bar and MamaChia, trying on and running in a pair of Hokas, and meeting Scott Jurek and Bart Yasso.
Race day even without the proper training I was going all out for as long as I could hold on, but I knew ultimately it was just going to be a nice long run through an awesome city. Prerace was very well organized with loads of volunteers, signs, and gates pointing you in the correct direction. Security check was a breeze and bag drop was easy, and finding your way to the correct starting corral was no problem. The corral was packed tight. The start is so congested you are bumping people and people are tripping on curbs, road dividers, and other runners. I am not used to big events; in trail races you get out front at the start to avoid the conga line, not possible at Chicago. The amount of support from spectators and volunteers is humbling they line the streets from the start to the finish which is very helpful and encouraging; I have never received so many high fives. I started to fade 15 miles in and by mile 18 I knew it was going to be a slow finish and around mile 22 started to walk through the water stations. I finished in 3:37:22, not bad considering the lack of training. At the finish volunteers watched all the runners and had EMS and bags of ice at the ready. Finish line party was crazy crowded and I was on a tight schedule so I did not stick around, my one complaint it took an hour to get from the finish line, through bag pickup and to the runners reunite area; most of that time was taken up waiting in long lines at the bag pickup, because people were corralled, numbered and assigned a drop bag area by time you had 1000 people picking up bags at once.
All and all the experience was memorable and positive the crowds and volunteers are like none I have seen, but I see no reason to add this race to my must do again list. It is expensive, crowded, the lack swag was surprising, and now I have Illinois. Illinois gives me 10 out of 50 states, and Chicago marks the 23rd official marathon or greater event I have done since I started in Oct. 2009.
Next up Bobcat Trail Marathon.