October 25, 2014
This was the final race in the series of four that I signed up for at the beginning of the year. If you signed up to do 3 of the 4, you became a Monster Series Leader which meant that your bib number was the same for all the races and it was personalized. You would also get a bonus medal and medal holder. I THOUGHT that I would also get the Series Leader jacket but for some reason only the Minneapolis participants would be getting those. I have no idea why both locations don’t get them. I registered on January 1st and paid $64.99 but I purchased one of the other races at the same time so I’m not sure what my true individual cost with taxes and fees was for just this race.
I’m a girl that likes to have everything planned in advance when it comes to my half marathons. I don’t like to wait until the last minute to find or book a hotel or know how I’m getting from point A to point B but I literally didn’t have all of this confirmed until the week OF the race.
I’ll admit it, I’m a weenie when it comes to driving to Chicago. That’s why I’ve usually taken the Megabus but I needed to get back home earlier than return trips were offered. That also meant that I either needed to stay close to the start/finish line and/or have my car nearby. Long story short..I stayed with my friend AW and bought parking at Soldier Field. In the end, it all worked out smoothly. I wish I could say the same for the race.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 24TH: I didn’t need to get to Chicago early because AW wouldn’t get home until after 6:00PM but part of me wanted to get up there early so that I could avoid some of the traffic. I was going to leave my house at 1:00PM. I didn’t leave until 2:30PM and I still needed to stop and get gas. Missed the original plan by a lot!
I was super excited that OnStar completely routed me around all of the toll booths so I didn’t have to fool with that nonsense. And I didn’t even stop once to use the bathroom – but had gone right after filling up my car.
I got to AW’s about 10 minutes before she did. Parking was a little tricky to find and I had to park a block away but it wasn’t that big of a deal. I was just a little worried about being parked on the street overnight. I dragged all of my stuff into her house, we walked her dogs and then headed out to dinner. We had decided to go to Leona’s (check them out HERE) where I had a pretty good four cheese lasagna. It was a lovely evening and it was nice to walk to there and back from AW’s house. Once back at her house we didn’t stay up for very long. She was tired and I needed to get up at 5:30AM
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 25TH: I slept fairly well and was up on time. I was actually able to drag all of my stuff to the car (with help from AW) in one trip and then I was on my way. AW had given me some directions to go part of the way before calling OnStar. I made a few miss-turns but I eventually made it to Soldier Filed where I had prepaid for parking. Traffic was backed up a little bit but nothing horrible. I was over by the start/finish line by 7:20AM. I texted my friend MYMW to see if she wanted to meet up. We finally found each other, checked out some of the people in costumes, took photos and then headed to the corrals.
The weather was good at the start of the race and I didn’t feel like I got over heated with my long-sleeved shirt on. However, my skirt was technically too small and I was worried that THAT would factor in my race.
So now…lets talk about the race.
I did not keep my phone out for this race because I’ve been on this route three times now. The only thing that really would have been note worthy to take photos of would have been some of the people in costume and I figured that I could probably get them from some other source if I wanted to.
After the fiasco that the Women Rock event was (with its limited aid stations), I meant to bring my water bottle with me…but left it in the car. #fail
At around the 2 mile marker – out of the corner of my eye – I see a pace group getting ready to pass me. My heart sank thinking it was the 2:30 Group but as they went by I saw written on the balloons was 1:40. Hmmm…that was puzzling. Then a little later the 2:00 pace group passed me. I was very confused about why they were behind me to begin with. I would later learn that the first quarter(?) of the runners were routed about 1 1/2 miles out of their way because no one was directing them at the first turn
Then around 2.5 miles, we still haven't seen an aid station but on the side was a table full of bottled water (that was still shrink wrapped) for the Breast Caner 5K that was also going to be taking place. Needless to say that numerous Monster Dash participants began taking some of those bottles. Finally at 3.3 miles there was an aid station dedicated to our race. From then on they were – for the most part – evenly placed.
Now I also should have used the bathroom one more time before the race started but didn’t take the time to do so. So with the “too tight” skirt and a full bladder I was a little uncomfortable and kept eyeballing every porta-potty (and tree and bush) that I passed. There was always a line at the porta-potties and I just didn’t want to take the time to stop. So I kept going. But after the turn-around and according to my watch, at the 7.5 mile, I just didn’t want to try to hold it anymore. There was a stone wall barrier to my right and it looked like I could get down on the other side of it and be hidden just enough to relieve myself. SO I DID! Man that felt good.
So back to running.
I’m chugging along and going slow. This was the only course photo that I took. I knew it was coming up so I got my phone out. It certainly was the theme of this race for me.
Near the 11 1/2 mile point – out of the corner of my left eye – I see a sea of pink. It was the Breast Cancer 5K and it was merging in to the same path that we were on! And this is no disrespect to their event but those folks were walking 5-6-7 wide. They had no concern that there was a half marathon taking place on the Lakefront Trail as well. I can’t even imagine being a “regular person” that was trying to go south on the trail, especially if they had a dog, stroller or were on a bike. But I think this might have made me pick up my pace a bit but since I also had to shuck and jive all over the place to get around these folks it didn’t help my time. I’m not sure who is to blame – maybe both. Shame on Team Ortho for not starting our event earlier so that most of the half marathoners would have been able to avoid this merge. Or shame on the City of Chicago for allowing two events to take place on a narrow public path at basically the same time.
The last mile was still a struggle and while I had my eye on some participants (milk shirt boy, bikini T-shirt lady), I just couldn’t catch them or pass them. I did however pass and stay in front of the sherbet girls – they were wearing sherbet colored clothing.
I finally crossed the finish line, got my medal and was handed a very small bag of snacks. Then I get to the chocolate milk area and SHOCK they are completely out. Maybe if they hadn't been handing it out to both participants and non-participants before the event started there would have still been some. But I had my own in my cooler so I wasn’t too worried...but still annoyed. So now I needed to find my bonus medal stuff. And no surprise here…there is no signage for it. I asked someone over by the bab check if they knew and they directed me to the Registration table. Of course, that makes perfect sense. No…not really. So I get my bonus medal (but no lanyard for it) and I get the Lucite holder but no jacket. I don’t understand why the Minneapolis participants get these other items but the Chicago participants do not. And no one from Team Ortho has ever answered these questions for me.
I managed to do a few finishers photos.
But there is no time to dilly-dally and I head to my vehicle because I need to get changed and start making the drive home. I wasn’t able to get a good shot of the medal and the dinosaur because of the wind and I also can’t always tell on my phone screen it has focused on the foreground or background.
As I was walking back to Soldier Field, many of the Breast Cancer 5K walkers were still heading in. I once again wiggled my way through them and then hoped I could remember where in that garage I parked! Luckily I found it right away and was able to change clothes in the back hatch portion of my Terrain. NO ONE SAW A THING I’m pleased to post that this parking situation was seamless. I gave them my printed voucher as I entered in the morning and then there was a lane specifically for “us” to leave the garage.
Again, this was the final race in the series of four that I did up in Chicago through Team Ortho. While the medals are fun, this race management team is just awful. From changing the dates of races without any formal notification, to race start time changes, to poorly supported courses and just overall poor support and ZERO communication with participants. I would never recommend this series to anyone. And traveling to Chicago (for me) was pricey; bus ticket or gas money, hotel cost even if I was sharing a room and food while there which I always tried to pack as much of my own as I could. It all added up.