Thursday, August 7, 2014

Zooma Chicago Half Marathon Race Recap

It should be no surprise to you all that I am a 2014 Zooma Ambassador. This was the first race I was an ambassador for and I couldn't have asked for a better experience.

I was fortunate enough to win a room at the host hotel for the night before the race. This was great as I would be able to wake up about 1 hour later than I normally would have. I headed to the hotel after work on Friday to check in and pick up my packet and several others.
The squigly hotel is the one I was staying at. Radisson Blu.

Part of the lobby

My room
I don't get out much. I needed to take a selfie in the hotel robe.
Ok, enough of that... let's get on to race day. The shuttle was really convenient for me as it was located at my hotel. I arrived early enough and wanted to get in an additional two miles before the race (marathon training). I forgot my race belt and my fellow run friend Nicole was nice enough to bring one for me.  I ran my two miles and came back. After I "checked out the bushes" (if you know what I mean...the potty line was super long at that point), I noticed I didn't have my belt on anymore! I checked the bushes and it wasn't there. I didn't have anything really important in there, only my gu and hotel room key, but I panicked as seeing I wouldn't have any fuel for my 15 miles of running!  Luckily, I was told a fellow race ambassador Zenaida had some extra gel's. Thank you so much Zenaida!! I headed over to her and she graciously gave me a hammer gel. I felt bad that I lost Nicole's belt but I knew she didn't use it anymore. And I was glad I hadn't put my phone or ID or anything in there yet.

Zooma Ambassadors (L-R: Zenaida, Kelly, Meghan, Me, Laima)

FNRC pre-race
I started the race running a bit with fellow ambassadors (and friends) Kelly, Meghan, and Laima.  For the first couple miles, I would run on and off with each one of them. The path was a bit crowded at first but that's to be expected. I wasn't pleased that a few cyclists were yelling at us for taking up the path. I mean...there was a race going on and there were signs posted advising everyone that there would be a race that day. I was a bit annoyed at first but didn't let it bother me.

I came across the first couple aid stations and noticed how short the table was which made it difficult to get over all at the same time to grab water from such a small station. At least there was water so just a small annoyance. Right after mile 3, the course turned to go back the other direction. I had looked at the course map prior to the race and was aware of this. I kind of liked the change as I felt it broke up the race a bit.  Also some time after mile 3, I ran into Emily and ran for several miles with her (maybe 3-4 miles). After getting a side cramp that I couldn't seem to run through, I told Emily I was going to stop and try to walk it out. It was about mile 8 at this point.

While running to the last turn around about mile 10, I noticed the lack of water in the second half. Luckily there were a few water fountains on the course and we were able to drink from those. However, between miles 8-12 (approximately), there were no water fountains and no aid stations! The sun was blaring at that point and looking around me, I knew everyone was feeling it. When I got to the mile 10 turnaround, a woman next to me yelled, "UGH! I NEED WATER!"  I said something back to her and she told me that she was sure that there would be water at the turnaround. I thought so too but there wasn't.  I just kept trudging along until I finally got back near a water fountain and was able to get something to drink.  In my opinion, it is dangerous to have a half marathon in August in Chicago and not have enough water stations.

Around mile 12, I saw Emily in front of me. I didn't think I would be able to catch her but she started to walk. I caught up to her and asked if she was alright. She said she was but the last mile was really hard!  I know I was feeling it too as I had walked often in the last few miles. She started running with me and I just told her we were almost done! I saw the shuttles and even though the path was a bit windy...I knew it wouldn't be long. We just had to hang in there. I always think running with someone helps push to keep going. There was a water station just before mile 13 and I thought that was unnecessary at this point so Emily and I just ran past it.  And we finished!

Very cool medal! (Photo credit: Nicole F.)
FNRC post-race

I'm not sure if this is wrong but one of the things I was most excited for post race was the free Barefoot wine!  I got in line and had the most deliciously cold cup of wine (Summer Red). A bit later, I got back in line and had more Barefoot wine (Crisp White).  Thank you Barefoot!

Clearly there were some pros and cons about this race. The only major con for me was the lack of water.

There were a lot of pros about this race. 

- The swag was awesome! We got a sweet bag, hat, shirt, and feetures! socks (which have always been my favorite running sock). 
- The course was not crowded at all with the exception of the first mile or so (which is expected).
- It's a woman's only race (there were a couple men that were registered). I've never done a woman's only race but really enjoyed that everything was geared towards woman.
- Barefoot wine after the race. "Nuff said!
- They had snack boxes with veggies sandwiches and chips.
- Muscle Milk Light was available after the race as they are a sponsor.

I enjoyed running with various friends throughout the race. My finish time for the half was 2:18 which I was completely fine with given I ran two miles beforehand and was just using this as part of a training run.

(Side note: I checked at gear check after the race and someone had turned in my race belt!)

Afterwards, a few friends went to lunch and headed for a photo by the bean. You know...because we can!
L-R: Jennifer, Nicole, Me, Linda
I will be honest, with about 1 mile left in the half (and about mile 14 that I had run that day), I wondered why I was training for another marathon and thought, "I don't even want to run 15, let alone 26.2!"  Ha! Stay tuned on my marathon training!

(Disclaimer: I received a free race entry from ZOOMA as part of the ambassador program. All opinions expressed are my own.)


  1. Too bad about losing the belt, the lack of water and the annoying bikers. Other than that it looks like you had fun and luckily got some of that Barefoot wine! Good luck with the marathon training!

  2. This sounds like a really fun race. I really want to be an ambassador in this coming application season :)

    1. Applications are open now for 2015 if you would like to apply! Seriously, the sponsors are all great and you get so much stuff from them just for being an ambassador!

  3. You are definitely the person who directed me to the race start on the LFT! Haha, I knew you looked familiar!

    I agree completely about the water. They did this last year too- a half marathon, in August, with no water during the later miles. It's ridiculous.

    1. You were the one I told where the start line was?? Oh that is too funny!!

  4. Jealous that you go to stay in the Aqua building! I think that's my favorite in the skyline. It's so pretty!

  5. It's funny because as soon as you said you lost your belt I was wondering if there was a lost and found!

    I think your time is awesome, but weird about the water stations - hello, it's August in Chicago!

  6. Staying at the hotel the night before is always such a big help. I love the Zooma races. I've done Annapolis a few times.