The packet pick up and expo were at Navy Pier.
We walked over there on Saturday afternoon and it was crowded. It was a long walk, but probably the best mode of transportation to get to the expo because traffic was crazy and parking was probably a nightmare. Once we finally made it to the exhibit hall (it’s all the way at the end of the pier), getting our packets was quick. No long lines. We walked around the expo a bit, but didn’t hang around there too long.
Sunday was race day. The forecast was for sunny skies and temps in the mid 30s for the morning. I decided to run in my tights, t-shirt, and arm warmers. I also brought my mittens with me and I’m glad I did. My hands were cold while waiting in the corral and I wore them for the first couple miles. Since we were walking to and from the race, I checked a bag so I could wear my half zip pullover before and after the race.
Start times for the race are divided up into three waves–a very good idea considering there were about 30,000 people doing the race. Wave 1 started at 8:30 (elites, and corrals A-D). I was in Wave 2 (corrals E & F) which started at 8:55. (Not sure what time Wave 3 started.) We were at the race with plenty of time to find our bag check areas, hit up the bathrooms, and of course take a selfie. 🙂
I made my way over to corral F around 8:15 and waited for the race to start. The race got underway right at 8:30 for wave 1, and wave 2 started right at 8:55. Pleasantly surprised at how smooth it all went.
The course was pretty cool. You literally run through downtown Chicago. There are a couple of small hills, but it was mostly flat.
I told myself I wasn’t going to race this one and just treat it as a fun run since my 10 mile race is just a couple weeks away. I set a goal of doing about 10 minute miles. It can be very easy for me to get caught up in the adrenaline of a race and start out too quick, so I had to remind myself to slow down a few times. I had my Garmin on, but the tall buildings really mess up your GPS, so it wasn’t accurate some of the time. It still helped give me a benchmark.
Considering how big this race was, I realized I didn’t have to do a ton of weaving around people. There were lots of people around me through the whole race, but I never felt like I couldn’t run at the pace I wanted.
I felt good for the whole race. By the time I got to mile 4, I started to pick up my pace a bit and then kicked it up even more for the last half mile or so. Coming down the final straightaway, I was moving at a pretty fast pace and could definitely feel my legs getting a bit tired, but I had enough left in the tank to finish strong. To my surprise, I actually averaged 9:45 minute miles! I finished in 48:27! I’ve only done one other 5 mile race and I finished that one in 49:27, so I definitely improved for this distance.
Overall, it was a great race and a lot of fun. I thought it was really well organized and I’d definitely do it again. Also a good excuse to go back to Chicago! More to come on the rest of the weekend in the windy city.