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Race Report: First Midwest Bank Southwest Half Marathon

Consider this a flashback Friday post. I wrote this recap months ago (like a week after the race… which wad the first Sunday in May), but never downloaded the photos to add to the post. (I swear photos, or lack thereof, hinder 90% of my blogging efforts.) Yep. Epic Laziness. Anyway, on to the four month old race recap.

I should probably preface this post with the fact that I always recommend proper training for a race because (spoiler alert:) I was stupid under-trained for this race and would never recommend that to anyone…

So this past Sunday, I ran the First Midwest Bank Southwest Half Marathon (Or something like that, the name had changed a time or two in the last few years.) There were a ton out reasons to run this race: it is nice and close to home. One of my good guy friends was running. The race director is the owner of my local running store. I’d always heard great things from other local runners. I volunteered at it last year. I got to run past my dentists office. My dentist had run this race herself. The list went on and on, but I’d never actually done it before.

So one (of the only) gorgeous day in March, when it seemed like the weather was finally breaking, I signed up determined to make this my race. I was going to dominate. Then the weather got shitty again, and my training was basically non-existant.

Story of my life.

I thought about dropping down to the newly added 10K. That probably would have been the smart thing to do considering the half would be roughly the same number of miles I’d logged in training. But since I survived my first half fairly under trained, and my overall fitness was much better than it was in 2010, I decided to throw caution to the wind and do the half anyway. If all else failed, I could walk.

Before the race even started, I ran into my friend M. We chatted about being under-trained and how much winter sucked. We headed to the way back of the starting corrals and ran into another high school friend who was running her first half ever. M and I decided to stick it out together for a while and do run walk intervals. We actually ended up doing the whole race together, and in the end she even got a PR!


(Photos courtesy of Samatha from The Peanuts Gang. You can read her awesome recap here)

The race itself went far, far better than I ever expected it to. While we griped at the 10K turn around that we should turn back now, I actually felt really good until somewhere around mile 10. My body didn’t hurt too bad, and I was mentally in it 100%. I guess it’s just another sign that strength training, cross training and general fitness are equally add important as running when it comes to training for races.

The course is an out and back down a main street that they shut down. It runs through a lot of forest preserve so it’s absolutely gorgeous. It’s mostly flat-ish, but courses always seem hillier to me than they’re ever described. The road itself was in rough shape after the particularly harsh winter which made for some interesting pothole dodging.


We finished with a time of 2:39.17. It’s not my best time by any means, but it certainly isn’t my worst either. I survived the race without injury despite my lack of training, and I actually enjoyed myself!

All in all, I call this race a huge success.

Race Recap: Brookfield Zoo’s Zoo Run Run 5K

This is one of the races that’s been on my race bucket list for the last two or three years.  I didn’t actually plan on running this year, but I got a discount code in the monthly membership newsletter  (Yes, I’m a zoo member.  It’s so I can go hang out at the zoo with all my friends and their kids.  I’ve taken it as a sign I’m officially old.  Also, I just love the zoo; judge me if you must.) so I figured why the hell not.

The morning of the race I thought I left in enough time to get there, grab my packet, drop it back at the car, and walk over to the starting area.  Unfortunately I didn’t count on it taking me 20 minutes to make it the last mile into the zoo parking lot.  I had just enough time to grab my bib and shirt, put the shirt on and hightail it to the starting line as the 12 minute mile corral was starting to move.  (One day I’ll learn to give myself more time to get to races, but this was not that day.


As I headed to the starting area I was little concerned about the race itself.  There were a lot of people there both runners and spectators, and since the course was through the zoo, I was worried about it being congested as well as people walking across the course.  I certainly wasn’t trying to PR or anything, but I would have been irritated no matter what if someone stepped out in front of me while I was running.  It turned out this wasn’t an issue at all.  The course was wide enough that congestion was never an issue, and over all people were pretty respectful of the course and watching out for runners.

The race itself went well.  The course was insanely curvy, but I’ve got to give them props because my RunKeeper tracked the distance as 3.16 which is pretty amazing considering all those turns could have easily made the course long.  I did learn running in two shirts will make me uncomfortably warm.

Zoo Run Run Finish

I finished the race in 32:49 which is pretty respectable considering the amount of running I haven’t been doing lately.  Every time I run a pretty decent race with minimal effort, I think about how much better I could have done if I’d actually trained.  Maybe this time, I’ll find me motivation to get my ass back into gear and start prioritizing my workouts again.

I didn’t stick around too long after the race since I was by myself and we had plans to go on a pizza tour later that afternoon, but if I do this race again next year, I’ll definitely be dragging Nik along, and maybe some friends with their kids, for a day at the zoo.

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