Things didn’t get off to the best start on Sunday morning. When I woke up, my feet were feeling sore from all the walking I’d done the day before. I grabbed the ice bucket and ventured out to find some ice. It was so quiet in the hotel at 4 in the morning. Once back in my room it was hard for me to sit still long enough to ice my feet. I was eager to get ready for the race. This is the view from my hotel room window. I loved that I was staying so close to all the action. There was a steady stream of people heading over to the start line, which was just beyond the edge of the photo.
The ice helped a bit, but what really did the trick was putting my running shoes on. Unsurprisingly, there’s a big difference between the comfort and support of $100 running shoes versus the four-year-old Sketchers that I’d been wearing yesterday. At about 6am I finally made my way downstairs and ran into a long line of women waiting to use the hotel bathroom. I wished I could have offered to let them use my bathroom, but I had my own agenda to follow.
Over at the start area, my first goal was to find some bottled water to wash down my pre-race GU. Then I did some stretching. With about 10 minutes to go before the race start, my tumbly felt a little funny. I debated whether to get in line for a port-a-potty or go back to my hotel room. I chose the hotel… better to have space and privacy and be a little late then to deal with the icky port-a-potties.
The race started while I was walking over for a second time. I felt a little anxious but knew it didn’t really matter. I was supposed to be in corral 8, but jumped into corral 9 instead. I asked a random stranger on the sidelines to take my photo while I was waiting to start.
According to my Garmin, I crossed the start line at 6:44. The time is about the only accurate number I have from my Garmin for the entire race. Not long after we started, there was a stretch of the course that was underground. Between that and the tall downtown buildings during the first four miles, my Garmin just couldn’t get a good signal. I’d glance down once and it told me I was running a 6:30 pace. Then I’d look again and see an 18:00 pace. I probably should have reset it once we left the city, but I kept thinking it would get better. Instead the distances got further and further off. At the end of the race, my Garmin had measured the course at 13.52 miles.
Here are a few photos from downtown. I liked this portion of the course because it was shaded and there were some twists and turns as we wound through the area. I know a straight course is better for fast times, but a curvy course is more interesting to me.
The photo just above was on Michigan Avenue with Grant Park to the left. After leaving downtown, the course was basically a long out and back along the waterfront.
Even though I couldn’t get an accurate pace from my Garmin, I could tell by comparing my time to the mile markers that I wasn’t running as fast as I wanted to be. I wasn’t trying to set a PR that day, but I was hoping to do as well as at RnR Seattle (about 2:12), especially given that this was a flatter course. It was a sunny day, but it didn’t feel hot. I just don’t know why I was feeling so sluggish. Just an off day I guess. There really wasn’t much I could do other than keep chugging along.
This was probably taken somewhere around mile 6 or 7. If you look closely, you can see the runners in the background on the left heading back toward Grant Park.
There were two points on the course where volunteers were handing out wet sponges. I passed, but the other runners seemed to appreciate it. I wonder what they did with all the sponges after the race.
After what felt like forever, I finally reached the turnaround point.
There was still a long way to go to get back to the city.
I grabbed a GU Roctane from the fuel stop as I ran by. Initially I was going to save it to bring home with me since I had already polished off a bag of GU Chomps. But around mile 10.5 I was starting to tire and decided to take the GU for the caffeine. We had passed a water stop just before mile 10 so I figured there was another one coming up soon. But there wasn’t another water stop for another 2 1/2 miles! This was about the only time I’ve ever wished I had my own water during a race.
It was pretty running along the waterfront, but the downside was that instead of having nice wide streets to run on, the course squeezed down to a two lane path. Toward the end I stopped taking photos, but looking at the official race photos, it seems like all the photographers were stationed along the last couple miles of the race.
Finally, I made it to the finish line.
I know running 13.1 miles is a great accomplishment, no matter how fast or how slow. But I have to admit I was a bit disappointed by my finish time. 2:22:59. Not quite my personal worst, but very close. Still, I was happy to have finished and earned another cool medal.
Another nice touch with the race organization was the ice cold towels at the finish. I wrang out a towel to use as a washcloth and cleaned myself up a bit before getting my finisher’s photo taken.
I walked around the finish area a bit. At the Expo I’d picked up a wristband to get free P.F. Chang’s after the race. When I saw they were making the food fresh on site, I was a little sad I didn’t have the wristband with me. But I had other lunch plans anyway. I’ll have to remember about it for RnR Arizona though.
I stopped for another Runner’s World cover photo. I really like how this one turned out.
I was hoping to find the New Balance booth to get some more chapstick, but I was running out of time and the blister on my toe was screaming for me to take my shoes off. So I headed back to the hotel for a quick shower and to finish packing. Then I slipped out for a quick trip over to Cafecito, a Cuban restaurant just a few minutes down the road from the hotel that my friend had told me about. It doesn’t look like much, but the sandwich was delicious. The best thing I ate all weekend. I had the Guava-Q with roasted pork, carmelized onions, jicama slaw, and guava BBQ sauce. The tres leches cake was okay, but not as good as I’ve made at home.
I checked out of the hotel and caught a shuttle to the airport. And that wrapped up my trip to Chicago. Overall, the race was very well done, although I don’t expect anything less from the Rock ‘n’ Roll series.