Monday, July 22, 2013

Race Recap: Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon 2013

My goals for the Rock and Roll Half were:

#1 Have fun
#2 Finish
#3 Don't get injured

Spoiler Alert: Mission accomplished on all three goals!

This is my favorite half marathon course. It's even more spectacular than the Indianapolis Mini course where I hold my PR. I'd say that the RnR course is the second best race at shutting down major streets in the city (#1 is the full marathon).

Anyway, my across-the-street-neighbor Tad and I drove down to the race, found a $6 spot within spitting distance far from Grant Park and at about 5:45am we were at the bag check

Goal #1 Have Fun:

My goal of a having a fun time started early. Near the bag check, I met up with some of the running bloggers. My neighbor Tad snapped this one:
 L, XaarlinEric, MeChris
Beth and Maggie showed up a few minutes after the first pic, so we took a second:
Beth, MaggieEricSara, L, Xaarlin, Me, Chris
Note for next year: I saw a few running groups meeting at the actual race start line for pictures. The start line seemed to be a great photo spot with the skyline as a backdrop, and it's not too far from bag check.

Anyway, after checking my bag, I made my way over to the uncrowded porta-potties near the "Finish Line Festival" area and then with about 5 minutes to spare walked over to the corrals. 

Race Strategy:
I had run a total of 11 miles  (3.1 + 3 + 5  training) in the last 43 days due to my ankle injury. I knew I needed to pace myself accordingly. My strategy was self-preservation, so I would only need minimal recovery from the RnR in order to start Chicago Marathon training early this week. So, I decided on a run/walk plan similar to what I did in Boston. I had heard/read that Xaarlin and Sara would be in Corral 3 and I decided that it would be more fun to start with them and see how long I could hang with them.

The Race:
After the National Anthem, and then a pause for corrals one and two to go, we were off! The first mile was relaxed and I took a walk break, but made it back to our group for this photo:
Here we are all (me, Sara, Xaarlin) during mile 1
Later on, I took another walk break while Xaarlin and Sara got this picture taken. I at least made it in the frame as I tried to catch up!
The Run/Walk strategy sometimes left me behind the group!
I was able to chat with Sara and Xaarlin periodically, and we had a fun time chatting. We spotted the basketball dribbler runner wearing a Michael Jordan jersey (near the United Center no less). Occasionally, I would run ahead, then walk until they caught me, or I would walk and then try to catch up to them. So, it went for the first 10 miles. 
Me and Sara
At around mile 10 with my legs starting to cramp, I spotted the 1:45 pace group in the distance, and I decided to see how fast my legs could take me the final 3.1 miles by setting the goal of passing the 1:45 pace leader.

Turning on the after-burners during mile 12
Off I went. Since the 1:45 group was about 1.5 minutes ahead of me, I figured I needed to gain about 30 to 40 seconds a mile to catch up with them over the last 3 miles. Knowing they were running 8:00/miles, I needed to drop down to 7:20/miles. Despite the lack of training, I felt okay running that pace up until the last mile. As we hit the home stretch, on Columbus Drive, I finally caught the 1:45 pace group leader (see red arrow)!:
Yay! Passing the 1:45 Pace Group (red arrow) just in time near the finish line
And I'm done! Goal #2 Accomplished
Don't know what I'm doing here?

I waited a couple of minutes for the rest of our group to finish. We got this one in front of the water spray tent:

Happy finishers
We got some Jamba juice and other finish line treats and stopped for one last group photo:


Finishing Time: 1:45:16 (The 1:45 pace group started behind me, so they actually beat me)

13.1 Mile Pace: 8:02/mile
Pace Last 3.1 Miles: 7:20/mile

Overall Place: 1043/18755
Age Group Place: 55/655

Post Race:

After the race, our trio parted ways and I changed into fresh clothes in a luxurious (not) porta-potty. After I came out, I spotted Maureen. We said hi and we decided to go over to the beer garden to enjoy a beer or two and meet up with Tad.
Me, Maureen, Tad (photo taken by a Boston 2013 finisher)
We sat around and chatted about Maureen's Ragnar adventures (including alligator sightings) and other interesting stuff. We also made tentative plans for a possible Terrapin 5k reunion.

The day after the race, my legs are a little sore, but I'm pretty sure I didn't injure myself (Goal #3 accomplished). I went for a swim and lifted some weights. With the residual good vibes I'm still feeling post-RnR, I am extremely pumped to get out running again!


  1. Great job!! That's an awesome time! I hope you ankle gets better soon! Do you have any more races on your schedule before Chicago?

    1. Thanks! I think my ankle will be okay if I don't start training too hard too soon. I am thinking about doing the Terrapin 5k. Maybe the Chicago Half Marathon, we'll see. How about you?

  2. Congrats on the race!

  3. And once again it was a pleasure to run with you! I wish I could have kept up with you those last few miles but alas id still be in recovery mode Instead of ready to tackle this weeks workouts. How's that ankle feeling post race? Best wishes for a healthy chi marathon training cycle!!!

    1. Good idea about not pushing it the last few miles. You've got to keep your goal race training as your #1 priority right now. I probably will need an extra recovery day because of my final 3.1 mile push. Ankle feels good as can be expected. However, leg muscles that never get sore when I'm in training mode are sore right now! Thanks!

  4. Great job! It looks like you're ready for Chicago training!

    1. Thanks! I hope so, I don't have much extra time left!

  5. wait wait! How did i not see you. i was literally 10 feet in front of the finish line with the photographers when you passed annabelle (1:45 pacer)

    Great finish! thanks for letting me finish in front of you for the only time ever

  6. Yay! This makes me so happy that you felt good during the race and after!

    LOL! I like your comment on photo backdrop! Good idea :)

    1. Yes, fingers crossed I can keep injury-free for awhile!

  7. Hey great job!! Sorry I missed the pre-race photo!! Great job on that time and that finish! Awesome!

  8. Awesome job reaching all your goals! You're right: that really is a great course, just wish it wasn't always so darn hot. Dammit my cheapo parking lot doubled in price this year. They must've caught on.

    1. Thanks. Hopefully, your cheapo lot is still cheapo!

  9. AWESOME pictures, as always, and huge congrats on another strong race!!! You sound like you are in really, really great position to take on Chicago Marathon training from this juncture!!!

  10. i looked for you out there, but man was it tricky trying to pick people out after the 1:30 pace group zoomed by. i felt like the runners all looked like one big runner and couldn't pick out faces. worst spectator ever.

    glad you hit all 3 of your goals! hows the ankle doing now? think you're ready to train again or you still keeping things relaxed for a bit?

    1. I was just ahead of Xaar and Sara when I heard them shouting your name. I had sped up ahead of them a few seconds before to high five some spectators and must have just missed seeing you. Ankle seems fine, but you never know. I am thinking about getting a 10 week marathon training plan together this weekend and likely start next week. In any case, I'm gonna start slow and see what happens. :-)

  11. Those are my goals for every race I do too! Glad to hear you met them all :) And I'm super impressed by your time considering your pre-race taper! I guess the pint night run shook everything loose or something.

    R&R looks like such a fun race, especially with all the blogger sightings, but I'm not sure I see myself doing a summer half again with the weather being such a crapshoot.

  12. Obviously I'm very behind on my blog reader, so sorry for the delayed comment, but meeting by the start line for a group pic is a great idea! Duh.