Chicago Racecation Part 2: Rock n Roll Chicago Half Recap

What kind of person wakes up easily when the alarm goes off at 3:30 on a Sunday morning 3 days into a vacation? This girl!

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I expected to either not sleep or not want to get up when my alarm went off, but to my surprise, I slept well and was ready to get up when my alarm went off. I would like to apologize to the room next to me, because I immediately turned on my running playlist and sang and danced as I was getting ready to get myself pumped up. Yep, I’m that girl too.

I pounded a cup of coffee, several bottles of water, a coconut water and enjoyed my Picky Bar as I got dressed so I could look this awesome and rock my #RunChat tattoos:

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I’ve had lots of questions about the outfit, so here’s the breakdown:

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Sports Bra: C9 by Champion for Target Reversible Compression Bra in Blue Mist. I own this bra in nearly ever color combo. I love them because they do what they’re supposed to, don’t ever chafe, and they are cheap. I’d rather spend my money on the stuff people see ☺

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Top: Nike G87 Print Women’s Tank in Pink Force and Sport Turquoise.

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Skirt: Lululemon Pace Setter Skirt in Power Purple and Cool Breeze.

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Compression Socks: 2XU Compression Performance Run Sock in Lavender and Purple Velvet.

So I clearly looked ready to kick ass, inside I was feeling okay. I was internally on an emotional roller coaster between the race itself and some big personal victories that came along with the whole trip. I knew I was ready, but hate this part before races. You know what you need to do, but don’t know if everything else is going to work out how it should.

Even though I was up 3 hours before race start, I’d lost time because I’d forgotten a bracelet I needed to get into the special pre and post race area that would prove the best $45 I’ve ever spent. So when I arrived to the special bag check, I’d hustled the mile and a half down there from the hotel, was already warmer than I’d have liked on top of the heat and humidity, and it was 6:25. The race started at 6:30, but I wasn’t concerned. I was in the 24th corral, so I had plenty of time before it was time to actually start, but I think it threw me off a little, and definitely had my heart rate up higher to start than I would have liked.

Like all Rock n Roll races, its a big race; this one had ~20K participants, although some of those were running the 5K.

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The sea of people in the 23 corrals before me, and there were 6 more behind me.

According to the official texts I got based on my chip, I crossed the start line at 6:58, which was incredibly fast. They used a new wave system that gave a little more actual space between start waves, so you could run from the moment they sounded the horn. It was nicely done.

And then, we were off. I hit my stride nicely, and quickly noticed I was a little fast, and pulled my pace back slightly. We quickly went into a long tunnel, which threw my Garmin off completely, so that when we hit the first mile marker, I reset it and memorized what time it was at so that I could keep track of my pace.

The first 10K, I felt great. I was hitting each mile at a pace that put me on track to hit my big goal: break 2:30. I was having fun, be bopping to my music mile after mile, and then around mile 7, the sun was in full force, we were out of neighborhoods and didn’t really have buildings to shield us, and it quickly got extremely hot. I wasn’t able to really check the temps for that exact time, but I’m pretty sure it was close to 80 with more than 75% humidity.

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Look at me go! This is the first race pic I’ve liked of myself.

When they say the heat can creep up and hit you really hard, really fast, they weren’t kidding. It was at this point that I started seeing people drop off to aid stations. Every single aid station I passed from that point had an ambulance leaving with sirens. There were plenty of water and Gatorade stations, but many of them were perilously close to running out. I had planned ahead, and was wearing my Camelbak. I trained with it for my last 4 long runs, and didn’t want to chance my stomach hating the sugary Gatorade during the race.

Two big positives of the planning by the race team: many of the aid stations had kiddie pools of ice bags so people could grab them to cool down. Over the last 5 miles, I had to have put more than a pound of ice down my sports bra. And it melted away in mere minutes. Around mile 10, one of the sponsors handed out ice cold wet sponges. Best idea ever! I wrung that thing out over my head, relishing every second of cold water, before it too became just wet and hot.

Mile 10 is always a tough one for me. At my speed, I know I have a little more than a half hour to go, which is totally doable, and not bad. But this time, its where the heat started to really hit me. I couldn’t run for more than a minute or two before I had to slow to a walk. My head was starting to get a little light, so I listened to it, I slowed way down. I drank a ton more, and kept slogging on.

Now remember, I said with Garmin screwing up under the tunnel? That seemed like a great idea, except it meant I was doing math the entire course. On top of that, I was getting texts from my chip timer at a few points during the race and by mile 10 I had so completely screwed up the math, I had no idea how close I was going to be to hitting a PR or not. It wasn’t until mile 12 that I realized unless I all out sprinted the last 1.1 miles, I wasn’t going to PR.

I tried. I tried to push hard, but just kept feeling myself being pulled to the ground. As I got closer to the finish, I could see the clock, and thought, wait, no I might hit this, and took off. I crossed the finish line, immediately sucked down every liquid that was offered to me, and looked at my final chip timer text. I was a minute off my PR time.

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I earned every bit of that sweet, cold medal

I spent the next hour or so being disappointed. But as I walked back to my tent, I saw more ambulances taking off. Had I been able to know what my actual time was, without trying to do math while running in the middle of summer, I could have had that PR. I had a minute’s worth of extra energy in there, but hitting 2:30 would have meant potentially putting my body into a dangerous position with the heat. No race time is worth that to me. It’s just not.

In the end, I hit the first of my 3 time goals for myself: I beat my last solo half time of 2:45, which was the Walt Disney World half in 2012 when it was only 73 when we finished. So in all, I’m pretty happy. On a different day, with different weather, that 2:30 would have been mine. So now my eye is on it for Rock n Roll Philly in September.

Have you ever run a race where the heat impacted you?
How do you deal with missing goals by a relatively short amount of time?
If you were an organizer of a summer race, what would you off along the course to cool runners off?

13 thoughts on “Chicago Racecation Part 2: Rock n Roll Chicago Half Recap

  1. Pingback: My Year in Running – 2013 | Run Stretch Go

  2. Great job! I’m gunning for that 2:30 next time too but I know that when there’s heat involved everything gets 11x harder.

  3. First off, CONGRATS. I know that not hitting your goal by a minute has to be disappointing – as runners we tend to the play coulda, shoulda, woulda game a lot. But given the heat and running in July (which is NO JOKE), you are still absolutely amazing! RnR Philly is a fantastic course and I bet you’ll hit your goal there! πŸ™‚

    • Aw thank you so much! It is tough when its so close, but I’m also a pretty hard core believer in everything happens for a reason. So it wasn’t meant to happen there, and I’m okay with it πŸ™‚

  4. Congratulations! That Chicago summer heat is no joke and you did beat it! I have not run a race in the summer heat but my half in September could very well be quite warm also but I’m keeping my fingers crossed πŸ™‚

  5. Yay Cyanne! Heat is NO joke. And good thing you didn’t push yourself. That was like me at ZOOMA back in June. I had a moment where I could’ve went for it, or saved my body- but then I was misdirected so it didn’t really matter! HA!
    Ice cold sponges and tubs of ice- no that’s genius!

    • I feel like no matter how much you train in the heat, your body just can’t handle it the same on race day.

      And yes, the ice & sponges were brilliant! They also had ice towels waiting at the finish line, along with water, Gatorade, chocolate milk, and dairy free strawberry banana smoothies from Jamba Juice. By the time I got back to my tent, I think I’d consumed 1/2 gallon of liquid.

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