Let’s take this back to Saturday. I had a half marathon looming in less than 24 hours and felt like I didn’t have my head in the game.
I made sure to pack, eat, cook, clean, and wash to prep for the trip into Chicago. I washed and tried to air dry my running clothes as quickly as possible.
It worked like a charm! I usually just let them air dry in my bedroom but that takes at least a day to dry since there is no airflow.
I made a green and berry smoothie for lunch to get a boost of nutrients.
This was also a hydration boost. I seem to wake up slightly dehydrated recently.
I made pizza (again) midafternoon to take over to Aaron’s later to eat before leaving for the city.
Night-before-dinner pizza has yet to fail me!
We left for Chicago around 7 and found our way to the Chicago Mart Plaza Holiday Inn.
Corner room with a view!
Why have we not stayed at this one before?
Right on the river!
I loved that the race didn’t start til 9 am! I was able to sleep till 6:30 before force feeding myself a bagel with cookie butter.
Coffee helped get things moving as well. The banana was a cab treat!
We were dropped off on Michigan Avenue and walked the remaining distance to Grant Park.
Let me just say that I had been disappointed with the race organization from the time I registered for the event! I’ll be listing pros and cons of the race later but organization was a real bust.
I had 20 minutes to stand in line to wait for a port-a-potty, go to the bathroom, quick stretch, and shed extra layers. My pants were having a hard time coming off over my shoes. I began to panic since it was so close to race time.
I lined up right in front of the 9:00 pace and then 2 minutes before the start everyone walked forward and suddenly I was at the 8:00 pace start! I moved my way back so I wouldn’t feel obligated to run too fast from the start.
I wasn’t a fan of the official start method and the layout or the super loud speakers.. There wasn’t a wide enough space for all these runners and by 1/4 mile, my Nike app announced I was running at a 9:40 pace. Clearly people did not line up at the start line correctly. I threw some elbows and moved around runners.
Within the mile 1 people were handing out Halloween candy to runners. What am I to do with Halloween candy? Eat it and side cramp? Hang on to it for the next 12 miles? I bypassed the candy but appreciated the thought.
We looped around and around till we were finally on the straight path south along the lake. It was perfect 55* weather, clear skies, and calm, blue lake. A lot of people were overdressed especially with costumes on.
Best costume that I saw: an older man dressed in an orange jumpsuit that said “state penitentiary” on the back but here was the kicker-the head of gray hair. It looked just like Jerry Sandusky from behind!
I kept at a constant pace and quickly found a pace buddy. Some guy in a bright yellow shirt was holding the pace I wanted and each of us would pass other runners forcing the other to pick up the pace a little from time to time. I kept losing him at aid stations though. I finally lost him at the turn around. I was on my own at this point.
After the turn around which was more than the half-way point, I picked up my pace. I was around 8:45 pace I’d guess. I was attacking and passing people pretty much the whole time. I tilted my head back a few times to take in the scene of running towards the Chicago skyline. Ridiculously amazing.
Right before mile 11 I heard someone shout my name from behind. It was my friend Mary from college!! I held down the volume button on my earbuds to chat with her. I heard the Nike app say that my workout was paused! I fished out my phone to resume the workout but ended up “completing” the workout. I shouted some profanity and tried talking to Mary longer. She told me to go onward since she was having a bit of an off day of running.
I now was without music, distance announcement, time, and pace awareness. I had to rely on the race to notify me. I never say mile marker 13 and couldn’t see the finish line (after the race I saw mile 13 marker flat against a wall). Once I saw the finish line (which was later than what I would have liked), I sprinted. I dug deep and imagined I was doing my 10×400 workout and gave it my all.
Full on attack mode.
Did anyone besides Aaron notice me? The two guys dressed up in Hooters uniform stole the show.
I crossed the finish line and saw…. no clock. For real. No clock.
I had no idea how I did. There was a poorly constructed route for finishers to get their medal and food/drink. I was handed my medal
and sort of saw a tent where they were handing out bags of food and water.
I saw no chocolate milk or Powerade. Bummer! Later Aaron told me that there was Powerade near the food tent. My reaction: um, why did I see it? It needed to be in line with the food tent.
The finish area was a hot mess. I didn’t know if there was anywhere I could get my results. A cover band was playing that I didn’t care for. There wasn’t anywhere to hang out unless you just stood around, so after taking a few bites of a blah bagel I announced it was time to go.
Post race picture.
I realized as we were rounding the Field Museum that I barely took any pictures of this race (for obvious reasons).
On the way back to the hotel I was able to look up race results on my phone. I knew I had run a personal best but had no idea the time.
Chip time: 1:55:12 with an average pace of 8:48.
I was in the top 20% of the race! I also shaved 20 seconds off my average pace compared to Madison Mini.
Let me discuss my pros and cons of the Monster Dash (with comparison to Madison Mini Marathon).
Gorgeous scenery of Chicago
Other runner’s costumes were entertaining
Able to have packet mailed to you to avoid packet pick-up
Race website wasn’t updated frequently and some information wasn’t posted until 10 days out (like the course map!)
Poor directions to arrive to the starting area
Speaker system was too loud
Horrible corral system
Few spectators along with fewer entertaining signs (but I appreciate every spectator there!!)
The pacers had tiny, white pace signs (not that I used them this time)
No clocks at any mile marker
Some mile markers were hard to notice
No finishing clock (WHAT???)
Finish line corral was poorly executed
Less than stellar food options
No result table/booth
Awkward post-race “party”