Tag Archives: chicago half marathon

Race Report: 2009 Chicago Half Marathon

I’ve been slacking on a lot of details and personal administrative issues this year, including race registration. I completely forgot to sign up for the 13.1 (Half) Marathon in the spring, which I had sort of planned to do even though I think that a race that doesn’t know the difference between a half marathon and a full marathon is kind of suspect, and I only signed up for today’s Chicago Half Marathon a couple of weeks ago. I was too late to get into a preferred start corral, even though I think I qualified for one based on my time last year, and paid so little attention that I didn’t notice until after the race was over that the Half appears to have lost its name sponsor from the last several years, Banco Popular. I assume it’s the economy, but I’m stunned that a race with 20,000 entrants couldn’t find anyone to buy the naming rights.

Whatever it’s called, I love this race. I complain about the parking in Hyde Park, sure, but 14 years after leaving the neighborhood I still love going back. The old course, which used to run along the Midway Plaisance through the heart of campus and right past my old dorm, was always a treat; now that the Half has grown into a mega-race in its own right, the organizers have moved it to Lake Shore Drive to give people a little more elbow room.  It’s a treat running on LSD (it’s closed to cars, giving runners 4 lanes in each direction to spread out), but from the turnaround around mile 7.5 to about mile 12 there is no shade at all. Today’s weather was beautiful but a little warm, and those 4-5 miles were brutal.

I started off slow for me, probably running 8:30 or 9:00 minute miles for the first 4 miles because of the crowds, then picked up the pace a little, but was never able to sustain a really fast pace at all. I ran mile 7 in approximately 6:30, and mile 9 in about 7:30, but otherwise just clocked out 8:00 to 8:30 minute miles all the way to the finish. My final chip time was 1:46:36, which was just a little over the 1:45 I was hoping to do.  My training has been spotty this summer, to be generous, so I shouldn’t be surprised that I ran a little slower than last year’s time of 1:45:10, which I managed during a hurricane.

All in all, it was a nice day and a good race, and while I’m blistered and exhausted, I feel pretty good. Since I’m tired, here are some pictures:

The Siren and Unfocused Kids agreed that the cariacture looks nothing like me, and Unfocused Girl drew her own, which she believes is more true to life:

Unfocused Girl's cariacature of Daddy after the race.

Unfocused Girl's cariacature of Daddy after the race.

Unfocused Girl's cariacature of Daddy after the race.

Unfocused Girl's cariacature of Daddy after the race.

My daughter and the professional both caught my essential characteristic: I don’t generally shave on Sunday mornings.

The first time I ran this race was the first year it was produced, 1997.  My time was 2:07:51.  Since then, my times have been:

1997: 2:07:51.

1998: 2:09:34.

1999: 2:05:10.

2000: 2:12:39.

2007: 1:47:39.

2008: 1:45:10.

2009: 1:46:36.

I skipped a lot of years in there, or can’t locate the results on line, and in that time I lost close to 50 pounds, which makes a big difference. My PR for a half marathon is 1:38:35, for the 2007 North Shore Half Marathon, but I don’t see hitting that again anytime soon.

Up next: The World-Wide Festival of Races Half Marathon, a fun virtual race started by Steve Runner of the Phedippidations podcast and his fabulous co-race-directors, the weekend of October 10-11, 2009, and the Men’s Health Urbanathlon, an approximately 11.76 mile race and obstacle course, which I have registered for in the past but never managed to run because of sudden conflicts. If you’re going to be at either of these races, let me know.


Summer Sunday Stats #6A: Lessons From My 14+ Mile Half Marathon.

The final Sunday of summer deserves special treatment, so today’s post will be divided into two parts.

Miles run:  13.1 in just a few seconds over my goal time of 1:45:00 for today’s Chicago Half Marathon, plus well over a mile from where I parked my car to the starting line.  First lesson for the day:  don’t leave late for races.  Especially when it’s raining.  Especially when the race starts in a neighborhood with absolutely no decent parking. The gun was scheduled to go off at 7:30am; I parked my car at 7:25am at University Avenue and 61st Street (and the only reason the space was open was because it was zoned parking; I want to thank the Chicago PD for not being aggressive about ticketing during the race).  According to Google Maps, that’s a mile and a half from the starting line.

The northern edge of what’s left of Hurricane Ike reached Chicago today, although it’s impossible to tell the difference between yesterday’s unending rain (not from Ike) and today’s unending rain (all about Ike).  The Chicago Half Marathon website made it clear that the race would be on rain or shine, although they would almost certainly have canceled it if there were a lightning storm.  I went down to the race Expo yesterday and picked up my race packet; it wasn’t a big Expo as these things go — I didn’t see any of the local running stores represented, which was odd — so I didn’t stay long. I threw the running clothes I wanted to wear for the race into the laundry before bed, and didn’t give it much more thought than that.

I got up at 5:30, but dawdled over breakfast and didn’t get out of the house until 6:45.  Still raining.  I did two things right:  I grabbed towels to put on the seat of my car after the race, to keep it from getting soaked (and smelly), and I grabbed a sweatshirt to put on after the race so I wouldn’t freeze.  I didn’t forget anything I would bring to an ordinary race — watch, Cliff Shots, hat — but I didn’t make any other preparations for the weather.

Here are all of the things I did wrong, in the order that they mattered:

  1. I left half an hour too late (6:45 departure for a 7:30 start).  The race start is around 17 miles from my house, and parking in Hyde Park on the morning of the race is very, very, very difficult.
  2. I took I-55 from the Kennedy Expressway to Lake Shore Drive, since that’s the most direct route to Hyde Park.  If I had thought it through, I would have remembered that in previous years, the traffic was pretty bad on LSD going into Hyde Park, but I didn’t.  Luckily, I realized in time that it was all of the southbound Drive, not just the ramp, that was backed up, and was able to get off and take the Drive the other way and get back onto the Kennedy, to the Ryan, and then took 55th Street into Hyde Park.
  3. I ran to the lakefront and realized that the starting line had moved; after years of starting by the Museum of Science and Industry at 57th Street, the race started this year at 63rd Street.  Had I read the materials I received at the Expo, or checked the course map on the website, or read the big “New Start Location” paragraph on the “Half-Marathon Information” page, I would have realized it.  Lucky for me, the confusion caused by the rain and the new start affected a lot of people and the race gun went off around 12 minutes late.  Even so, I didn’t have time to wait in line for the port-o-potty; I had to insult a bush.
  4. Because I was so late, I joined the pack approaching the starting line towards the back.  It took more than four miles for the pack to thin out, and it slowed me down considerably.
  5. I forgot to pack dry shoes and socks, so the drive home was kind of unpleasant.

But eventually, it did open up, and I came within a few seconds of my goal time.  I’m pretty happy with that, considering I was soaking wet before the race ever started, and my shoes were completely waterlogged.  The only real problem was one that those of you who are male and who run for long distances have undoubtedly faced.  Just a moment:

NOTE TO FEMALE READERS:  You can skip the rest of this entry.  Really.  You’re not missing anything.

Okay, so here it is: bloody nipples.

Normally, this isn’t a problem for me on runs of less than 15 or 16 miles, but it starts much faster in the rain when my shirt gets wet; if I’d been thinking, I would have put on band-aids before the run, so that I wouldn’t need to be wearing them now.  Which I am.

The rest of this week’s Summer Sunday Stats later.