It has been a few years since I ran this race and I was excited for another go around for the Oak Brook Half Marathon.
I opted for the same day packet pickup. Because Oak Brook is a mecca for corporate HQ, Ace Hardware HQ offered up easy parking a few hundred yards away from the start. Got there around 6:30 and got packet within 5 minutes. Was pumped about the gender specific shirts and liked the dark grey. Went back to drop off my shirt in the car b/c they had no gear check due to heightened security. I know some people had issues with this but I personally didn't mind as parking was so close and in this day and age, can never be too cautious so I support local PD for their decision. Saw my friend Jenn and had a few minutes to catch up with her before the gun went off.
The weather leading up to the race was horrible (some of the hottest
days of the summer) but race day turned out to be perfect... even a bit
chilly before the start. The race course has some great variety which is a nice change of pace. the first few miles are on the bike path/street before you about half the race on trails of crushed limestone. This part of the race was not only scenic but challenging. There were some climbs and descents while the trees allowed for great coverage of the sun. I saw a few people with gators on and was totally jealous of them as I had to empty my shoes twice with little limestone pebbles in my feet. I probably could have toughed it out but a few times they were right on my heel and driving me bonkers. The last 3 miles were back on paved paths. I found a small group for the last miles and we did a silent ping pong routine with each other (My definition of silent ping pong: Where there are a few people all doing run walk but the staggering motivates you to keep moving and you stay on pace with each other. Talking is optional.) They increased the aid stations towards the end which was great and I took a water and gatorade at each stop.
Always a great sign when you start seeing runners with medals as I knew the finish was near! I ended up running nearly a perfectly even split (positive by 1 minute) and couldn't have been happier. Since I have my 70.3 next weekend, getting in the miles comfortably was my only goal for the race. Approached the finish line and was happy to see my family there waiting for me! Crossed the finish line with a smile on my face and grabbed some post race grub and said hello to some friends before heading out.
Overall, this was a great race. The RD and all the volunteers were awesome and definitely loved the change of pace for this race. The trails provided awesome variety. If you haven't run this one yet, put it on your 2014 radar. it is always Labor Day and what better way to celebrate the labor movement than to enjoy our day off with a 13.1!