Fred and I ran the Chicago Rock N Roll Half Marathon last weekend and all I can say is we lucked out on weather. Seriously lucked out.
The day before the race, Fred, the girls, my mom and I were caught in a torrential downpour and thunderstorm while on foot to the American Girl Store. We ended up taking a cab 4 blocks to avoid further drenching. However, imagine Penelope’s terror when I somewhat shoved her out of the cab in the pouring rain while thunder boomed overhead.
“Penelope, run to the building where it’s dry!” I yelled over the rain and thunder. The poor girl. She froze outside of the cab, standing in a huge puddle, dripping wet and wailing at the crowds of people in front of her and the loud crashing thunder over head. But we made it the American Girl Store where Rebecca, Julie and Kit quickly calmed her down.
Anyway, that night there was another thunderstorm and quite a bit of wind, but when Fred and I made it to the starting line of the race the next morning, the sky was overcast but calm. Overcast I am used to with the Santa Barbara May Gray, June Gloom and Fogust. In fact, I prefer overcast skies while running. The temperature was several degrees warmer than we are generally accustomed to, and there was significantly more humidity, but not enough to make me worry.
I had signed up for this race as a training run in preparation for the Nike Women’s Marathon that I am running with Team in Training in October. (Sidenote: I have decided to run the Half Marathon rather than the Full Marathon at Nike, but that is another story.) Because I looked at this race as a training run, I decided to try a few new things. First of all, I ran without my Garmin. Gasp! Yes, I did. And it was liberating! I wasn’t checking my pace every 10 minutes, I wasn’t checking my mile splits, and I wasn’t doing mental calculations for 13.1 miles. I spent the 13.1 miles enjoying the city views of Chicago, people watching, and chatting with Fred about the people I was watching. Running with 20,000 people through packed city streets makes for some good people watching.
I also tried some Endurolyte pills during this run. I can’t say for sure if they “worked,” but I did notice that I did not experience the GI cramping that I had been experiencing during my past couple of long runs. I’d like to think that the extra electrolytes in the Endurolyte pills helped with that, and I plan on using them again in my next long run.
The third thing I tried in this race was running, not walking, through the water stations. In the past, I have power walked through the water stations. (Or at the SAG stops with my Team in Training group, I stop and chat!) Running through the water stations meant a lot more water and Cytomax splashed on my face and shirt as I tried to drink and run, but by mile 7, I was getting the hang of it.
Finally, I tried a new Gu gel — Gu Roctane with caffeine. That was a huge experiment for me. I’ve been using the same Gu gel flavor (strawberry banana) for over a year now, so to try a new flavor and one WITH caffeine…yes, I was being adventurous! The Roctanes have amino acids and more sodium and potassium than the regular Gu gels. Some people prefer Roctanes when it is warm outside or when they run longer than 90 minutes. For me, the Roctane sat well in my stomach and I found myself with a little extra oomph at the end to pick up the pace in the last mile, leaving Fred to chase my skirt!
The race itself was a lot of fun. It was Fred’s first race with that many people, and it was quite a sight to look in front of us and behind us while in the midst of 20,000 runners. Halfway through the race, there was some rain to keep us cool, and toward the end there was a wet sponge station. That was a nice touch especially after coming out of a 1/2 mile long, dark, warm tunnel through McCormick Place.
We finished our run in 2:02. Sure, I’ve been faster, but this race was not about speed. It was about a little experimenting and running for the pure enjoyment of running. I loved not having a time goal. I felt strong yet relaxed, happy and free — the true reasons for why I run. I run to be free. I run to be me. I run to be.
The rest of our time in Chicago was fantastic. Here are some highlights:
And off to Wisconsin…