The Ups and Downs of the She Power Half

When Cori asked me to sign up for the She Power Half Marathon back in March, I was in a bit of a running funk. I was worried that since I had not really been training, that a half marathon would be too much for me at this time. So when she pointed out that there was a quarter marathon option, I was easily persuaded to tag this race onto my extended summer trip home.

The packet pick up for this race was at one of the branches of the Indiana University Hospital. Pick up was a breeze and there was that extra touch of having each shirt, bib, and various swag in cute little boxes. I felt like I was getting a gift, but then remembered that I actually paid a race fee for this “gift.”

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We decided to scope out the race venue before heading back to our hotel for the evening. The race was being held at Eagle Creek Park just north of Indianapolis. We found the entrance and noticed that it was one car entry. Since we knew we had to pay five dollars for parking in the morning, we just knew that getting into the park before the race was going to be a nightmare if we waited too long to arrive. We decided right then and there that we were going to try to make it to the park by 7 which we did with no problem.

It was a good thing that we decided to arrive when we did. There did end up being a traffic jam at the entrance causing the race to be delayed 10 minutes. It was already a humid day, so I was ready to get started before the sun became too much.

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One of the cool things about this race is that the medal doubles as a photo frame. With all the downtime, we decided to get our pictures printed before the race. That too turned out to be a great idea because our wait was nominal, but after the race it would have been crazy long.

Finally it was time to begin the race. When I registered, I had the option of running a road race or a trail race. I opted for the road since that was what I was used to. If you were running the half marathon, you needed to complete two loops, and you could choose how you wanted to complete them, both road, both trail, or one of each. When I saw some of the ladies’ shoes at the finish, I was grateful to have kept to the road course. Apparently there was a small lake on the trail that was unavoidable due to recent rains.

The trail was mostly flat, but the race starts us a hill which zapped my energy pretty fast on the extremely humid morning. I pushed through and was happy with the course for the most part. It was hilly at times, but one hill was in my favor, and I picked up a lot of ground running down it.

As I rounded the turn to head back to the finish line, I was so glad that I had picked the quarter marathon instead of the half for this race. I just did not have it in me to complete another five miles. The near seven I had already completed was just enough for this morning.

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As I came across the finish line, the race director called out my name, which was a nice touch. Then my medal was placed around my neck. Immediately after I was handed a rose, which was something that I had never been given at a race before, another nice touch. Finally it there was a nice drawstring bag with all the promotional swag. It was so nice to have something to stash all my stuff in and have my hands free for water and post race food.

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I loved that they had a snow cone station at the end. It was the perfect way to cool down and wait for Cori to finish her half. For the first time ever, I was finished before her, and I was able to snag some pictures of her crossing the finish line.

Overall, I was pretty happy with the organization of this race seeing how it was an inaugural race. My only complaints were the lack of restrooms and the spacing of the water stations. The race directors were relying on the four bathrooms already in the park along with four port-o-potties to support all the women in this race. We hit the line around 7:15 and people were already having to beg for toilet paper from the stall next door. The water stations were spaced out strangely. I went about a mile and half between most which is normal, but then there would be two within a quarter mile of each other. With the high humidity that day having a few more stations would have been so appreciated. My only other complaint was having to pay to park on race morning. That is something that could have been added to our race fee so that we didn’t have to wait at a gate and cause the traffic to bottle neck. The support of the runners, medal, food, and free photo downloads were excellent and helped offset some of the negatives of this race. As I just visited their website recently, I’ve noticed that they are changing the venue for next year, so hopefully they will have worked out some of the kinks based on this inaugural run. If I was going to run in Indianapolis again, I would probably do this race one more time. Even though I did not complete the half course, I was inspired to get back into the habit of training, and am working towards a half in November. So thanks She Power Half for that bit of a push I needed.

 

 

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Rockin’ and Rollin’ Through Downtown Chicago

Chicago is my favorite city.  I love the reflection of the city in the bean, the sparkle of the lights on the Chicago Theater, the smell of Garrett’s popcorn wafting in the air, the breeze off the lake.  All of these things I was able to share with my running buddy as we tackled the Chicago Rock and Roll Half Marathon.

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Staying at the Palmer House was one of the highlights of the trip for me.  Upon entering the revolving door I felt like I had just stepped into The Great Gatsby.   Golden peacock doors (with their own history) greet you once the revolving door deposits you inside the lobby.  Then up a short staircase one’s eyes are greeted with a fresco covered ceiling that makes you feel like you’ve just entered Rome, not a Chicago hotel.  The peacock theme is continued throughout from the wall paper to the carpeting.  And upon entering our room, the most inviting olive green velvet chairs beckoned us to sit, put up our feet, and sip on a mint julep.  I never wanted to leave Old Sport.

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But I had a race to run…

Pre-race was a breeze.  It started with a 4:45AM wake up call, lounging in the hotel room until 6, then finding the Half Fanatics on the steps of the Art Institute of Chicago for a group picture.  This was my first time running as a member, and I have to say they are the most supportive group.  I was so glad I wore my Half Fanatics shirt and was a true member of the asylum.

From there it was off to the corrals which were more of a suggestion than a rule.   The humidity was stifling, and I was worried about finishing, so we may have moved up several corrals to provide a little bit of a cushion between me and the cutoff time.

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The race started at 6:30, but my feet didn’t cross the start until 7:15.  I hit the start on my Garmin, and I was off telling my running buddy I’d see her at the end.  We started up Columbus Drive before heading under a bridge where I immediately lost signal on my GPS.  This continued to happen throughout the race.  It would go in and out, and at mile 3 it said I had done a 35 minute 5K which is five minutes faster than normal.  I decided I was going too fast, so I slowed down.  However, my GPS was not accurate, and when I passed the real 5k marker, I was at 45 minutes.  From there on out I stopped paying attention to my Garmin.  It was so off that at the end of the race it said I had run 15 miles.  Apparently lost GPS signals is a common problem while running through the city.

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The humidity was brutal, but there were the occasional lake breezes which provided some relief.  I know that I train in this kind of humidity in Florida, but it is still hard to cope with.  The race advertised eight water stations which there were, but it was too few for as humid as it was.  I was glad to have my hydration belt.  I had to fill it up twice in addition to hitting every water station.

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Ice bags and a misting station were a welcome relief along the course, but the best part was the sponges and ice packs towards the end of the race.  They were a welcome distraction from the blazing sun.

Around mile 9 there were boxes of salted watermelon Gu, but I didn’t want to try anything new, so I stayed with my Honey Stingers.  Mile 12 had us passing Solider Field.  And then it was over.  With a medal around my neck,  I was searching for my running buddy and a place to sit and cool off.

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Entertainment was sparse throughout the entire course.  There were three bands and a few stilt walkers.  Miles 11-12 had a DJ blasting music on the course.  There were three bands performing after the race, but we didn’t have time to get over to see those.  I enjoyed the scenery for the most part, and with my own playlist I was never bored.

The finish line area was very organized.  After crossing I snagged my medal, a water, and was handed a popsicle.  The popsicle was the best post race food I’ve had in a long time.  There was also chocolate milk, bagels, and a variety of other things to eat.    Then it was back to the Palmer House to wrap up our Chicago weekend.

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The Rock and Roll series is great at communication and post race goodies.  I loved the t-shirt, medal, and the Palmer House, but the advertised entertainment on course seemed to be lacking.  I might give them another chance before saying I would look for other racing opportunities.  Perhaps another city might give a different experience.  At least I can cross Chicago off my list of cities to run in, and I got to add another state to my half marathon list.

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