I signed up for the Magnificent Mile Women's Half Marathon earlier this year, mainly because I thought it was a very cool concept. It's the first race ever in Chicago to shut down the Magnificent Mile section of Michigan Avenue. I thought it sounded pretty sweet for a Labor Day weekend race, so I signed up.
Then, de-motivation hit. I ran a 10K near the end of July, but had run about, oh, three miles since then. I was nervous as hell the night before the race, terrified that I'd hurt myself. But I thought I made my bed, now I had to lie in it. I was not missing this race just because I didn't train. I'd take it slow, listen to my body, and not pay attention to my result. The objective was finishing.
A variety of thoughts and emotions went through my head during this race, so I've decided to give the breakdown by mile marker.
My boyfriend and I arrived at the race site around 6:30am (race began at 7:00am). I was sort of surprised at the small number of entries. It just looked like there were only a few thousand people there, which surprised me, since there was also a 5K running alongside this race. But I checked my bag, got a few stretches in, headed to my corral, and told my boyfriend I'd see him in a few hours. Lauren Fleshman (an ambassador for the race) said a few words at the beginning and shortly after getting the word from Chicago Police that the Mag Mile was cleared, we were off.
Miles 1 & 2:
We snaked our way around to the Mag Mile. It was so surreal (and awesome) to run down the middle of Michigan Avenue, which is always so busy 24/7 and have there be no cars. I ran for the first two miles, as I didn't want to be just moseying down Michigan Avenue. Surrounded by tall buildings and the most expensive shops in Chicago, we rounded the corner at Superior to head back to Randolph.
Miles 3 & 4:
I ran probably another mile or so and started employing a run/walk combo until around Mile 7. I hit the second aid station, and they were quickly changing the emergency alert system flags from green to yellow, due to the temperature rising beyond what the organizers had anticipated. The organizers had projected temps during the race to hit the mid-70s, but quickly they were rising into the 80s with little cloud cover and a whole lot of direct sunlight. As I rounded the corner to Mile 4, there was a beautiful view of the Chicago skyline and I had to stop and take a picture.
My thighs started getting a little heavy so I slowed my run. Elites started passing by on the return loop, and I cheered on the first woman I saw. It seemed a little unfair to me that men were #1 and #2 overall in a women's half marathon, and first woman was third overall. But I digress.
Miles 7 & 8:
My fuel started burning off and I was starting to regret the fact that I'd forgotten to pack a Gu. But I figured I could still press on. By this point, I was mostly speedwalking, and soon we rounded the corner to head back up the out-and-back course.
Miles 9 & 10:
These were really my scariest miles yet. At one point, I looked down and noticed that my right hand's fingers were hugely swollen to sausages and my whole hand was completely numb. The numbness was slowly spreading up my arm and I started getting really worried, thinking there was something terribly wrong. Of course, the worst possible scenarios went through my head. I envisioned them immediately transporting me to the hospital and leaving my boyfriend hanging at the finish line (I did have my RoadID on, but that lists my mom's and my sister's contacts). I had irrational visions of my hand having to be amputated, etc. I stopped off at the medical tent at the next aid station. This marks the first time I have ever visited a medical tent during a race. The paramedic asked me if I had any cardiac issues, which I don't. She took my pulse and said it was normal, so concluded that it was just the Gatorade I had drank was causing retentive water to pool in my extremities. She advised that I'd be fine, I'd just have to "pee it out." (For the record, once I did, the swelling went down and I was fine.)
My knees were screaming by this point, so I was just speed-walking knowing that if I stopped and sat down or something that I would never be able to start back up again. So I pressed on, knowing that I was almost there. I also suddenly noticed that my shirt sleeve was chafing like hell on my upper arm (it's now a giant welt). I frantically tried to roll my shirt sleeve up to minimize the chafing but it didn't help much.
I came around a corner less than half a mile away and saw the finish line. Since I'd been walking for the past few miles, I felt I had enough in me to run to the finish, about quarter-mile away. I gunned it for the finish and they announced my name as I crossed the finish. I clumsily grabbed for an apple and snatched a Gatorade from a volunteer. I got my medal, and then my boyfriend suddenly appeared before me (he'd seen me cross the finish) and I immediately just wanted to go to a shaded area and sit down. I drank my Gatorade and water, chowed on my apple and downed half a Luna bar.
Overall, I thought this was a great race. There was entertainment at nearly every aid station, and the course was scenic. It was very cool to be a part of the first ever race to close off the Mag Mile. It was great to see so many strong women rallying together and celebrating our strength. I'd definitely do this race again.
Magnificent Mile Women's Half Marathon
August 31, 2014