Race Review: F3 Lake Half Marathon

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the F3 Lake Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

I made it back from Chicago thawed out and with some more bling! I was excited to go back to Chicago, as the last time I was there was May, 2015 for a friends wedding. I spent 4 years in Chicago for college and consider it a second home, so not being there for 2+ years was rough!

I flew in Thursday night to O’Hare, where we had to sit on the runway until our gate opened up. Normally, I don’t mind taking public transportation, but I really didn’t feel like taking the Blue Line at 10 PM. I took a Lyft to my hotel and got a few things done before calling it a night.

Friday Morning, I headed off after breakfast to pick up my packet. Packet pick up was done throughout the week around Chicago. Fleet Feet and another local running store had various times and packet pickups for people, so race day wouldn’t be chaotic. I was able to take the Brown Line to Old Town and get my Bib at the Fleet Feet there, with no line. It was a race where they assigned your bib as you picked it up. If you got your gear race day, it was a $20 extra charge.

After getting my swag, I walked around some before heading back for a run at the hotel. I went and wondered around downtown, found another base layer at Under Armor and ultimately had dinner with my sister before heading off to see Hamilton.

On Saturday, I was up around 8 AM. I had a light breakfast, changed and headed out to Soldier Field. It tends to be hard to get to, so I caught a Lyft there. We were dealing with increased traffic/road closures because the Women’s March happened to take place the same day as the race, only 2 miles north. After getting to Soldier Field, I went into the United Club and hung out for awhile. I also had the chance to catch up with some other Bibrave Pros before the race.

IMG_6942

Mark and I ended up doing the half and headed out to the corrals at about 945-950. It was separated by times, though some of the volunteers were unhappy when people were trying to get into the faster corral to get to the pace group. We started right at 10 AM (and I semi thought an 11 or 12 start time would have given it a little more time to warm up). The first part of mile 1 was around Soldier Field before it became an out and back course down the Lake Front Path. Even though there was a race going on, we still were running into non racers enjoying the path. The course was relatively flat, though some areas had some slight inclines. Lots of mud and construction areas this year. Another downside was there were areas that got congested, either with too many people around the pacers or having runners going both directions, which slowed me down some.

Aid stations were every 1-2 miles (7 total). All had water and some new/odd sports drink that I didn’t care to try. My thoughts are why stray from Gatorade/Powerade? Didn’t see any gels or anything on course though.

Post Race, you were greeted with fans and volunteers, your medal, water and bananas. I wish that there was a little bit more in terms of the food options though. As I was coming through, I met Andy, who’s also a Bibrave Pro and we chatted shortly. I had to pass quickly through the United Club (check my time, etc) before heading out, as I was meeting up with some friends for lunch in Wicker Park.

There were plenty of vendors set up in the United Club for people to hang out at and get more information from. Additionally, you could check your race results on site. There was also stretching areas and photos being taken (that you can download for free!). F3 also works with Athlinks, so you could claim your results on Athlinks (website or their app) right after the race! I was able to go on the Athlinks App as I was heading back to the hotel and check my results and claim them on the spot (haven’t done it yet, get on it!).

Athlinks App

Overall a good race. I wish there was a little more space to spread out on the Lake Front Path and Gatorade/Powerade over the energy drink that the race provided. Additionally, a little more variety in terms of post race food would have been helpful. I’m glad the weather was nice for January in Chicago (I’ve seen wind chills to negative 30*F in January). A fun race if you’re looking for something to do!

 

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Rock n Roll Series

Good News! Bibrave has formed a partnership with the Rock n Roll Series! Besides me going to Liverpool for my first Half Marathon outside of North America, check out some discounts we were able to nail down. Keep in mind, more cities to come!

Use code “BIBRAVE15” for the following discounts: 

  • Washington, DC (3/11/17) – $15 off Half/ Full, valid until 3/4
  • Mexico City (3/19/17) – $15 or 270 Pesos off Half, valid until 3/12
  • Dallas, TX (3/18-3/17)- $15 off Half, valid until 3/12
  • San Francisco, CA (3/26/17)- $15 off Half, valid until 3/19
  • Carlsbad (4/1-4/2/17)- $15 off 20k or 5k, valid until 3/26
  • Raleigh, NC (4/1-4/2/17)- $15 off Half and Full, valid until 3/26
  • Madrid (4/23/17)- 3 €/£ off Half and Full, valid until 4/16
  • Nashville, TN (4/27-4/29/17)- $15 off Half and Full, valid until 4/23
  • San Diego, CA (6/3-6/4/17) – $15 off Half and Full, valid until 5/28
  • Seattle, WA (6/18/17)- $15 off Half and Full, valid until 6/11
  • Chicago, IL (7/15-7/16/17)- $15 off Half, valid until 7/9
  • Dublin (8/12-8/13/17)- 3 €/£ off Half, valid until 8/6
  • Queretaro – $15 (270 Pesos) off Half/ Full, valid until 9/24
  • Lisbon (10/15/17)- 3 €/£ off Half and Full, valid until 10/8
  • Merida (11/4/17)- $15  (270 Pesos) off the Half Marathon , valid until 10/28

Marathon Packing List- What’s in your suitcase?

On Sunday, I’ll be hitting the streets of Chicago for marathon #4.  It’ll be the 3rd time I’ll be coming from an away rotation and have had to pack ahead of time for my weekend getaway of torture… er, running.  Since away rotations mean living out of a suitcase for a month, I set aside 2 suitcases, a marathon bag and a rotation bag.  Wondering what’s in my bag?

  1. Running shoes.  First think that went in and won’t be coming out.
  2. Running clothes: this includes DetermiNation clothes, running shorts, running spandex, running 3/4 length pants, long sleeved base layered shirts and a throwaway shirts. Let’s face it, it’s Chicago. In 2010, it was 93* at the finish. in other years, it was in the 40s-50s.
  3. Socks and undergarments
  4. Gloves and arm warmers  Let’s face it, it’s Chicago and the weather is bipolar
  5. Jeans and normal everyday clothes
  6. Confirmation book and a print out of the confirmation emails
  7. My DNation timeline of events
  8.  The Fuel belt and gels
  9. Body Glide
  10. Compression Socks and Calf Compression sleeves [let’s face it, I need variety]
  11. Foam Roller, travel version
  12. Deodorant and all the bathroom supplies
  13. If I could bring alcohol onto hospital housing, I would. That’s typically illegal though
  14. Extra strength tylenol for my post race aches and pains

What’s on your packing list?  Or, what am I forgetting?

Rock N Roll Chicago 1/2 Marathon

Now that half marathon #16 is in the books and I’ve flown back to Philly, I’ve had time (and sleep) to think about my weekend in Chicago.  I haven’t been to my second home since last year at some point and boy, I’ve missed it!!!  I flew in Friday morning and our flight was delayed over an hour.  It was a combination of rain, our flight starting off at the wrong gate and it taking 20 minutes to get off the run way.  I got into Chicago around 10 AM Chicago time and headed over to the expo to pick up my race gear.  The expo wasn’t all that special- I’ve seen most of the vendors before.  Since I was meeting up with a friend, I was in and out in 10 minutes and headed to my hotel.  Note, I booked my hotel Tuesday and that was after we got a good deal from another runner friend coming in for the race.  After checking in, I met up with a friend for the afternoon and we headed out for a short run while his girlfriend was on a conference call for work.  After we got back and showered, we did some grilling and headed to my alma mater to take a look at all the work they’d done (holy construction Loyola!).  From there, I headed to Evanston and met up with another friend for dinner.  After catching up, I headed back downtown (thank goodness for 3 day groupon CTA passes on sale!).

Saturday morning, 3 friends made their way to Chicago.  I met up with 2 of them at the expo, where, while waiting, I met my alter ego Christine Amy Martinez made an appearance.  A friend had signed up for the race, but ended not making the trip from LA.  The Rock N Roll series, for whatever reason, no longer allows people to pick up bibs for others, even with a note and permission from the person.  This is a huge issue because I knew a few people who were coming back from vacation and couldn’t make the expo.  The race made it seem like they were doing people a huge favor by allowing my friends to pick up bibs race day. Why not just let them have someone pick up their bib??  Anyways, I was determined to get my friend’s bib and my alter ego came out.  Yeah, we’re just going to leave it at that.   Let’s just say a bib went good use.  Another issue I have is with the prices.  $150 to sign up for a half at the expo?  Are you kidding me?  Even after a certain date it was $100 and that wasn’t even close to the race date. Why jack up prices?  I’ve gotten the same amount of ‘stuff’, including end of race food, etc for less than what Rock n Roll charges.

After the expo, I met up with some friends at The Melting Pot to catch up and then headed out to church (smart phones are a good thing).  Afterwards, I met back up with my fellow runners and we headed to Quartino’s for dinner.  Holy loudness!!  After some good pasta and conversation, we headed to the hotel and called it a night.  We laid out all of our stuff so we were all ready to go in the morning

Our wake up call was 5 AM. YAWN.  The 4 of us met in the lobby around 530 and headed to The Congress Plaza Hotel to meet up with some runners we know and have run with before.  We also made sure my alter ego’s bib was used well.  We started in corral 8 with the goal of just to get out of the start and on the course.  It was definitely hot and humid the entire race.  I haven’t done a run over 7-8 miles in over a month just because of time so I knew I wasn’t going to PR by any means and the heat didn’t help at all.  There was water and gatorade on course, but I felt like it was erratic in placement.  I appreciate the marks at 5k/10k/15k/20k, but I wish they would have done split times there as well.  I was dripping sweat at least 5 miles in!  The last 3 miles were rough.  My stomach wasn’t liking me (and I did eat before the race!) and I was sure I would be sick by the end of the race.  After hitting mile 11 we ran under McCormick Place.  I’m not a fan of that part of the race just because you can’t see well and if someone gets hurt, it’s hard to get too.  After passing mile 12, around the 20K, there was a runner down who did not look good at all.  some of her friends and medical were there working with her (which is why I didn’t stop- help was already there).  I was hoping she was alright!  one of my running friends saw her as well and asked about her when I finished since we were a few minutes apart finishing.  The last part of the race was a straight shot to the finish, but the finish seemed so far off! You came around the corner and were running Columbus Blvd, and it just felt like it kept going and didn’t end.  After getting through the finish, I picked up my medal, wet (cold) wash clothe, 2 chocolate milks, water and banana.  As people started finishing, we made our way back to Congress Plaza to meet up with our group.  We then headed back to our hotel and got some much needed showers. Let’s face it, that’s always the best part of the race!

After we freshened up, we headed to lunch over at the Emerald Loop Bar and Grill and had a free appetizer to boot.  After walking around State street, depositing a check and picking up some Garrett’s pop corn, we relaxed in the hotel until 6 or so.  I headed off to Midway to fly back home while 2 of my running buds headed to dinner to meet up with our running friends from this morning.  It was a good weekend overall with good company.  Here’s to hoping to another meet up for the marathon in October!

You’re charging how much? To run how many miles?!

Dear Rock n Roll Series,

I have run in quite a few of your events.  I’ve done the Philadelphia Half Marathon (better known as the Philadelphia Distance Run to those of us in Philly) in 2009, 2010 and will be participating again this weekend.  I’ve also run the Rock n Roll Chicago Half Marathon in 2010 as well as the P.F. Chang Phoenix Arizona Marathon in 2010.  However, you find ways to increase your prices.  What gives? I paid $60 at LAST YEAR’S Philly Half Marathon expo to run this year’s race.  On facebook, you’re telling me that to run the Philadelphia Half Marathon in 2012, you’re giving us the low, expo rate of $70.  $70?!?! For what?

Each race I’ve participated in, I’ve gotten a shirt, a medal and gear check should I decide to use it.  There’s also food at the end, which every long distance race has.  What gives that you’re increasing the price every year?  To make things worse, if you register race weekend, you’re charging $125. $125 if you sign up today or tomorrow to run 13.1 miles on Sunday. Are you kidding me?  You have taken over races in cities across the country (Philadelphia, Chicago, and St. Louis just to name a few) for your ‘series’ in which people can get a few more medals if they do multiple races.

You’re pushing me away my friend.  I’m not buying into paying more for a race where there isn’t more offered to the runner.  I paid $36 for a 10 mile race I ran earlier this year (read Broad Street Run) and even paid $70 (online, with a coupon code) 4 days before running the Chicago Half Marathon this past weekend on 9/11.  You’re losing me as a runner for increasing prices for no good reason and for not explaining why.

I guarantee many people agree with me so just consider not charging an arm and a leg for a route that I can pretty much run on my own in Philadelphia, with a friend in Chicago or could map out on my own or come up with a better route in another city.  I hope you hear me on this as I’m probably speaking for quite a few people.

Yours in running,

Christine

Welcome [Home] to Chicago!

Talk about spur of the moment.  Monday I decided to make a trip out to Chicago in order to run the Chicago Half Marathon on 9/11/11.  How do you pull this off you ask?

  1. Find a Schwaggle Deal that took $30 off the registration fee
  2. Book an overnight amtrak train from Philadelphia to Chicago (19 hrs in case you’re wondering) to save $220 that the airlines were asking for
  3. Book your hotel at hotels.com and find a hotel for $113 a night (half off! originally $225 a night)

I needed to a) get out of Philadelphia and its second round of flooding and b) guarantee that I actually get a long run in this weekend more than like 10 miles.  We got in on time this morning, all though there was no wireless on the train (very obnoxious for the amount of time we spent on the train!).  After going to the gym for a swim, I headed to Navy Pier to pick up my stuff for Sunday.  Since I signed up 3 days ago, no name on my bib (which is no big deal), but I got a long sleeved tech shirt 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since the half takes place on 9/11, the organizers have made arrangements for NYFD Engine Rescue 4, which was at Ground 0 on 9/11, to lead runners through the first few miles of the race.  There’s also 2500+ flags placed throughout the course to remember those who lost their lives 10 years ago due to the terrorist attacks.  Runners are being asked to wear red, white and blue in order to show support for the 10 year anniversary of 9/11.  Maybe some more race day surprises by race day organizers?  We’ll see!

Will Run for Hot Chocolate

Hot Chocolate is every kid’s favorite thing over the winter.  I would always throw in the mini marshmallows on top and then eat them before they melted.  When I was living in Chicago, before the days of me liking a run of over 4-5 miles, I had heard of the Hot Chocolate 15K which is usually held in November.  Besides getting awesome JACKETS (instead of t-shirts which I have more then enough of), the post race party gives out HOT CHOCOLATE!  What’s even better is that it’s Ghirardelli Hot Chocolate.

Fast forward to this weekend.  I was searching for races for later on this year and typed in the Hot Chocolate 15K and by golly, they have a 15K in Washing DC!!!  A racewhere I get a jacket and hot chocolate at the end :-).  Granted, we’re talking 9.3 miles in 35 degree weather on December 3 and the run is along the National Harbor.  A December run along a body of water means a bitterly cold wind effect.  Did I mention there’s hot chocolate involved? And that it’s Ghirardelli?

I’m thinking I need to form a Hot Chocolate Run team.  Team Marshmallow, Team Snow Day, maybe even Team Snowball.  Anyone interested???  Awesome Jacket included!!

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