Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Race Report: 13.1 Chicago

When we last left off, I had a bag of frozen peas tied to my ankle and was trying not to freak out about an injury that could make running 13.1 miles tricky to say the least. I am happy to report that the peas and their ally the Advil did their job: by Saturday morning, my ankle was no longer bothering me.

Steve, Jack, and I left Saturday morning for Chicago. It was a lot of fun taking Jack to a big city for the first time. He found absolutely everything fascinating: the tall buildings, the pigeons, and all of the people. He also noted, "Chicago is noisy," which was especially true since we were near El tracks most of the time. There were also several firsts for Jack - his first ride in a taxi - with no car seat - and his first ride on a Ferris wheel. He seemed to find them equally thrilling.

There are, of course, lots of things to see and do in Chicago, but we decided to keep it simple. We went to Navy Pier to ride the aforementioned Ferris wheel, then went to the Chicago Children's Museum. The museum was a lot of fun, with many the opportunity for Jack to put on costumes, play music, and so on. The best part was a huge net that he climbed way up and around, like a pirate's ship. Jack pretty much did that over and over again until the museum closed. Jack spotted a pirate show on a stage nearby, so we watched that, then had pasta for dinner. On the way back to the hotel, we took a quick detour to the toy department at the old Marshall Field's store (which I hate to acknowledge as a Macy's), where he selected a cat. Jack introduced Kitty Kit to Vincent, the doorman at the hotel, then we headed to bed at the ripe old hour of 8:30.

Naturally, it was onlhy too soon that my alarm went off at 5:00. I had my clothes laid out in the bathroom so I was able to quickly get dressed and head out. I ignored sage advice and wore a new outfit for the race: a bright pink Asics singlet with a black and grey Race Ready skirt. I highly recommend the Race Ready skirt. All along the small of my back were mesh pockets, with elastic holdin git in almost bungee style. I was able to easily carry my iPod, phone, a couple packs of Biofreeze (I was still worried about my ankle), emergency cash, and two packs of sport beans. It was also really easy to get things in and out of the pockets. I'll definitely be buying the skirt in more colors.

Chicago at 5:00 in the morning on a Sunday is virtually desserted. I walked out of the hotel and didn't see another person for a few minutes. Then, I saw groups of runners all headed towards Millenium Park, ready to catch the shuttle buses to the start. The bus service was smooth and easy - very well organized.

We arrived at the South Shore Cultural Center, a lovely building where the Obamas had their wedding reception (Steve noted that it probably didn't smell like sweat that day). It was then that I discovered a crisis: there was no coffee anywhere near by. The Starbucks near my hotel was not open yet, and there was absolutely nothing near the starting line. No caffiene is not a good thing for me. My coffee addiction is a bit like heroin addiction in that the first hit isn't so much to make me feel good as it is to keep me from feeling bad. I ate my second emergency pack of sport beans, figuring at least that would get some caffiene in my system.

The energy at the starting line was terrific. Rob Powers did the announcing, the White Sox mascot was wandering around, as were actors playing the Blues Brothers. The start was organized in waves, which was a first for me. Each wave got its own pomp (music that introduced the Blues Brothers in the movie), and there was ample space between each wave so that the paths were never crowded. It was terrific, and more races should do this.

The course itself was spectacular. It was an absolute thrill to run alongside Lake Michigan with a view of the Chicago skyline. Support was impressive, with water and Gatorade available approximately every mile. I also saw lots of Brightroom photographers, so here's hoping that there will be some good pictures of me.

And how'd I do? Well, for the first 11 miles, I felt awesome. Then I started to fade. I'm not sure why. I'd like to blame the lack of coffee, but it may just be that I wasn't quite as focused and mentally strong as I was when I ran the Quad Cities Distance Classic. Nevertheless, I kicked it up a notch, waved to Steve and Jack, and finished strong with a final time of 2:00:56.

The finisher's medal is the most gigantic thing you ever saw. It's a 13.1 (with the decimal point actually spin-able), easily twice as big as any of my other medals, and in gold. I feel like a rapper in it.

It was a spectacular way to end my spring Trisko Festival. When it was all said and done, I ran three half marathons triskos in just under a month - and had a blast doing it.

9 comments:

newsjunkie said...

That's awesome, congratulations! The Rock 'n Roll Half in Virginia Beach does a wave start (they have to with 22,000 runners) and I really like that. The only bad thing is if you are in the back like I was my first time, you end up standing around for 35 minutes after the official race start before you get to start.

Roisin said...

CONGRATULATIONS!!! I wish I could have run it with you...or somewhat behind you anyway ;) I was sending good thoughts your way on Sunday in any case!

Ovens2Betsy said...

Great job Betsy! I love my Race Ready shorts, but haven't tried a skirt yet. Does it have compression shorts underneath, or just panties? That's the one problem I have with skirts -- I need the compression shorts, but too many of them ride up.

milebymile said...

Excellent, Betsy! What a finish! Thanks for the great race report--and the race ready skirt review. Off to check 'em out (you should hit 'em up for a discount!).

Nat said...

Oh that sounds amazing! Sounds like I need to add it to the list... except for the running without coffee bit. That sounds very harsh...

Ovens2Betsy said...

I just ran a marathon in my new Race Ready running skirt; LOVE IT! Thank you so much for turning me on to it!

Marisa said...

congrats! how is the achilles now?

Jess said...

Congrats on the race!

I ran this series when it started here in Ft Lauderdale last November, and that medal is pretty sweet! In fact, I do believe I PR'd at that HM.

Nitmos said...

Cool! This race is on my To Do list. Glad to hear I can look like Flav-a-flav afterwards also. Great job!