Friday, September 16, 2016

run mag mile half marathon recap

Disclaimer: I received an entry for RAM Racing Run Mag Mile Half Marathon & 5k to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

Kim and I before the race start.

Feel free to check out my BibRave review here—it's a bit shorter and less personal.

I ran this race in 2014 and 2015, so why not again in 2016? You guys know I like a good race, and to not register for a race means I'm either busy or something went really wrong the previous year (or two, since I tend to give a race a second chance if it disappointed me the first time). In the past, this race was called the Magnificent Mile Chicago Women's Half Marathon & 5k, but RAM Racing took over this year and did some revamping, including a little name change to Run Mag Mile Half Marathon & 5k. Still pretty similar, but notice it's no longer geared specifically for women, but for all runners.

Flat Heather ready to run.

I personally enjoyed the women's part of the race last year. Though obviously all could run the race (I don't think it's legal to only allow one gender to register), it was probably 95% women, which gave it a special feel. Women empowerment, encouragement, camaraderie. Lauren Fleshman had attended the past two years as a speaker and celebrity runner, which made it cool. She did a fun run the day before (I think the race was on Sunday in years past). So for me, it was a little disappointing getting rid of that aspect, as it's part of what made the race so special.

This puppy is so nosy! Underneath her face is a Lara Bar, my bib,
 and Fannie Mae chocolate bar in my goodie bag.

Putting that aside, however, it was a great event and I definitely had a good time (well maybe not during the race, but that's just a personal story in which I felt sick from mile 4 on). I would still recommend this race to anyone that's in Chicago in September for it.

Beautiful sky the morning of the race.

So, the 2016 event was held on Saturday, September 10 with a 7am start for both the half and the 5k. Packet pickup was held at Thursday, September 8 at Fleet Feet Deerfield from 3–6pm and Fleet Feet Elmhurst 4–8pm and again on Friday, September 9 at Fleet Feet Old Town from 10am–8pm. You could also have paid $15 to get your packet mailed to you if you weren't able to make packet pickup yourself (or didn't have a friend grab it for you). 

I went in on Friday afternoon and doubled up my packet pickups for my race on Sunday as well. It was easy peasy. All you need is your QR code that you get as confirmation of registration, or from the email they send about a week in advance. If you're picking up for someone, same thing – get that QR code email from them. I was able to pick up fellow BibRave Pro Kim's packet easily too. They even ran a special deal for the first 1,000 registrants – we received chocolate bars in our bags :) Yum.

We arrived at the race site around 6:20 or so, and I met up with Kim to get her bib and shirt. We chatted and took a photo, then it was off to find Frank and Eric. On my way over, I ran into my friend Rachel. We snuck in a quick photo and wished each other luck, and then I decided it was bathroom time. There were 2 different sets of bathrooms – one closer to the race and the other near the post-race party set up. The latter were less crowded, so we went over there. The lines moved quickly.

My girl Rachel and I.

Weather prior to the start was in the low 70s, 86% humidity. Maybe a minute before the start it began to rain, but it was a nice, light rain that felt pretty good. It didn't last very long either (honestly, mid way through the race I was hoping it would rain again to help cool me down... I don't know why I was getting so over heated, but it's a common problem of mine).

On our way back I spotted Eric, so of course there was another photo and some chit chatting before we had to get into corrals. He was pacing so had to make sure he was where he needed to be on time. The corrals were A–D, and as usual, I was in the last one haha. I saw on Instagram that party was in B with Kim, Frank, and Eric. I was bummed we didn't get to have a group shot with the 4 of us, but glad they got one of the 3 of them.

Eric! Such a cutie.

The start line.

The race started promptly at 7am, and I crossed the start around 7:06. The course took us north on Columbus, west on Randolph, north on Michigan Ave to about Superior (about half a block from Water Tower), turnaround back south, east on Randolph, and then the 5k and half split. There were signs and volunteers to wave you on. Half kept going east to the lakefront path, and the 5k runners went south on Columbus to the finish line. Once at the path, half marathon runners went south, down till about 8.5 miles, then back north. The out and back were all on the same path (sometimes they split to be on the two separate paths to help with congestion). The race wasn't overly crowded though, perhaps 2700 runners? So the path wasn't too bad. Take into consideration that it isn't closed to other runners, walkers, and cyclists, but as a native, I'm used to that. To finish up, once you went around the aquarium, we went under the bridge going west, up the hill to then head north on Columbus to the finish.

The Course.

I was running 45/30 intervals and things were going really well. Then I hit mile 4 and I was feeling nauseous so did some extra walking. Eventually, my mom caught up to me, so we ran together the rest of the way, going from 40/30, to 30/30, and then I think even probably 30/60 by the end. I was feeling miserable, not sure if it was the humidity, but other than that the weather was great - drizzle at the start that felt great, and it was a nice, dreary sky (my favorite for running). Whatever it was, it just wasn't my day. I came to terms with that and decided tomorrow's half would go better. 

I saw Kim pass on the other side around mile 1 - she was crushing her 5k. We waved and it's always fun to spot your friends on the course. I then got to high five Frank at about my 1.5ish mark, which was really cool. It pumped me up and I had a great pace for the first 3 miles. I can't tell you exactly what it was, but at the time when I was passing the clocks I knew it was good haha. 

The Water Tower.

My watch GPS (and I think just about everyone else's) goes super wonky when running in Chicago (as in the streets in the city, I'm fine on the LFP), so it had me at mile 1 around .5 miles and then from there on I was almost a mile ahead of normal. I need to figure out how to set up manual so I'm prepared for the marathon (anyone want to help a girl out – I have a Garmin Fenix 3... you can set it so you hit the lap/mile marker instead of it going off automatically right?).

The great thing about out and backs is getting to see your friends that are fast pass you heading back towards the finish. We saw Eric pacing his 9:00 group and he shouted words of encouragement. Then I got to cheer on Frank again when he was going back. Orange is so nice, as it generally makes it easy to spot each other out on the course :)

Dreary skies = great skyline.

There were about 8 aid stations with water and Nuun. At the finish the announcer was calling out names of the finishers and you received your medal (which was huge!). They had bottled water, Luna bars, Eli's cheesecake, and a brown bag from Corner Bakery which included a turkey sandwich, mayo, and chips.

Me and my pal Frank.

Frank had another event in the city later that day, so he was still around for the finish and was nice enough to hang out with us for a bit before leaving. We checked out the post-race party which included Brookfield Zoo that had a sloth and a snake for viewing. I also tried to win some North Face goodies, but I wasn't a lucky winner haha. 

So cute!

Overall, this was a well organized race and I had a good time. The race shirt was a long-sleeve tech shirt which I really like (I don't feel I get enough long sleeves) and it's a fun design. Pink for ladies and blue for men. Also, in about a week, they'll have free race photos available online to download. Score. Unfortunately... I had none :( I guess that's what happens with free photos – means less photographers and if you are slow, then they are often gone by the time you get to the finish line. So sad to have none. Oh well. Glad I take a lot myself when I'm out there haha.

The post-race snacks.

I'm sure I'll be back for 2017 ;)

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