Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Race recap: Magnificent Mile Chicago Women's Half Marathon and 5K

This past Labor Day weekend was the Magnificent Mile Chicago Women's Half Marathon and 5K.  This race used has been around for a few years but just last year, moved to the famed Mag Mile.  It was the first half marathon I ever ran (recap here) and so, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to relive some memories, especially since I haven't "raced" for several months now.

Fleet Feet teamed up with the Magnificent Mile pop-up market at Pioneer Court (just across the river on the mag) which I thought was genius.  I think many people were pleased with the way the market was set up and all of the freebies that were handed out.


As promised, Fleet Feet built a weekend of fun around the race, including open-air yoga by Bare Feet Yoga and a shakeout run with Olympian Lauren Fleshman.  I really loved the happy hour presented by Fellow Flowers last year but Lole stepped up to the challenge, helping to create a memorable weekend.

Yoga on the Magnificent Mile - thanks Bare Feet and Lole!

The Race (and a side story)
Due to marathon training, I did not participate in the half marathon but still wanted to run the 5K.  I could have done an "easy" half but I did not want to tempt fate and boy, am I glad I didn't.  If you read last year's race recap, you'll know that it was pretty darn hot.  This year was a repeat plus a few more degrees!  The organizers were very serious about runner safety (thank you!) so many forged ahead with the half.

To loop in a side story, I caved and signed up for the Hot Chocolate 15k first, to relive the nostalgia of the soon-to-be Chicago Marathon since they have same start and finish line, and second, because it'd give me something to do in case I succumbed to the post-marathon blues.  I was checking out info on the HC15K when I realized that I could qualify for a preferred corral if I submitted a race time of 11:00min/mile or faster.  My marathon 12:00min/mile self thought, hey, I could do that today!

My two mile time trials with CES have shown much improvement in my pace (thanks CES!) but I hadn't raced a 5k since last year.  So I thought to myself, maybe - MAYBE - I can try a little harder.  How cool would it be to get a "preferred" corral (and actually finish HC15K at a decent hour)??

So back to the race ... Instead of corrals, we lined up by the pace honor system.  I shyly slipped in between the 10:00s and 11:00s, hoping to feed off their energy and hang with them the whole time.  The national anthem was sung and poof, we were off!

It was a heavy start with the high humidity but it was really cool to be in a sea of runners.  We headed north and zig zagged over to Michigan Avenue, where we crossed the Chicago River.  Mile 1 - 10:50.   I kept telling myself to take it easy because I didn't want to poop out halfway through.  Mile 2 - 10:47.

Runners turning around at mile 1.5 on Michigan Avenue

After seeing the Mile 2 course clock and doing some math in my head, I thought, hey,  just maintain this pace or faster and you'll make it!  And then it started getting harder.  The air was heavy and I just wanted to take a walking break.  After making the final turn, I could see the finish line which was still half a mile away.  I looked down at my watch and saw a 10:00min/mile pace.  In the last quarter mile,  my shoelaces became untied and all I heard in my brain was NOOOOOOOOO.  I decided to live life on the wild side and was willing to risk wiping out at the finish line for a new 5K PR.  Average pace for the race? 10:45!

I felt amazing after the race and even felt like I could have gone further.  Thank you, CES, and thank you body for stepping up to the challenge!  Another shout out to Fleet Feet for taking care of their runners.

I met up with John after the race, got stretched out, and went home.  Instead of medals this year, they gave out finisher necklaces, which are pretty darn cute!

This year's finisher necklace plus last year's half marathon medal

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