Thursday, August 28, 2014

Biggest Loser Half Marathon (Chicago) – Race Recap

August 3, 2014

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Initially I was going to go to Minnesota during this weekend.  I figured if I was going to have to travel and pay for a hotel, I might as well cross a state of my list as well.  But gas was SO expensive traveling to and from Rockford,IL and that was only 4.5 hours which meant I would almost have to pay double to get to the race in Minnesota (since it was a 9 hour drive) so I opted for just going to Chicago again.  And MYMW, her husband and WS were doing this race so I might as well keep that trend going! 

It had already gone through two price increases from the original cost but I did get a $5 discount by registering under the “team name” that was set-up.  So with taxes and fee, I paid $75.45.  And as luck would have it, two days later I got an email offering 20% off.  Oh well!

SATURDAY, AUGUST 2nd: So once again it was time to hop on the MegaBus.  I’ve certainly become a regular on this thing. Thankfully I was able to get on a “later” bus up there which made my fare $20 less.027

As per usual with the MegaBus, there is usually one hiccup and today it was that the bus was 30 minutes late!  Thank goodness I wasn’t pressed for time getting up there.  I’d had this driver before and I don’t know why but he doesn’t cruise through the toll booths like the other drivers do.  Curious.  But alas…we arrived.

Hello Chicago.  I told you I’d be back.029

I had a longer walk to the hotel this time because the room that WS had booked and we were supposed to share – she was unable to come – was further south.  I was familiar with the area because it was where the Expo for Rock ‘n’ Roll took place so I knew EXACTLY how to get there.  I did however NOT walk down to Michigan Avenue but turned on Wabash and headed south that way.  I wanted to avoid as much of the Lollapalooza crowd as I could.  Technically it was about a 3.5 mile walk but it was a nice day so I didn’t mind.

The host hotel was the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place.044

Check in was easy since WS had called in advance to tell them that she wasn’t coming and that everything would need to be changed to my name.  It was a really nice room.  I was looking forward to an evening of relaxing on one of those beds!

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A see-through shower…EEK!037038

So I unpacked a few of my things and then went to the Expo/Packet Pickup area which was also located in the hotel. It certainly wasn’t spread out nor did it have as many vendors as the one in Rockford, IL

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But it did have more former contestants there.  I knew that Dan and Jackie, Bobby and Tara were going to be there but - had forgotten/didn’t pay attention to the fact that – Vinny Hickerson (Season 12) and Danny Cahill (Season 8 winner) were going to be there.  Hello!  It was listed on the speakers schedule. 

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I was the most excited to meet Tara.  She was such a bada$$ during her season.  But she seemed distracted and uninterested.  Booo Sad smile

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And since I now seem to be good friends with Dan (since I’ve seen him multiple times now), I finally had my picture taken with him.  Again, I didn’t care for him on the show during his season but he really does a good job with everyone at theses events and doesn't act like he “has to be there and can’t wait for it to be over”   I thanked him for being so genuine with everyone and he said that as long as people are that way with him, he will be that way right back. Thumbs up

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While I didn’t personally have any issues with getting my bib; the line wasn’t very long when I was there, the overall experience was just average.  Facebook was blowing up with how long the lines were, how crappy the medals for the half marathon were, the fact that we were getting cotton T-shirts instead of tech shirts.  Initially I was disappointed with the cotton T since I like to run in the event shirt on the day of the event (thankfully I brought a back up to run in) but I really don’t need another tech shirt and am happy with the cotton version.

MYMW, her husband and daughter arrived with only 15 minutes or so before the Expo shut down!  I helped them with a few photo ops and then they needed to get going because they needed to eat.  I was invited to go but I just wanted to chill so I politely declined.

Back up to the room to make a list of what I needed and then I was out the door.  I got some vague directions from one of the bellmen where the closest CVS was but after walking for awhile, I found an Osco Jewell grocery store.  This was going to be perfect.  I was able to get all of my supplies (waters, G2, tea, chocolate milk) PLUS a frozen meal to have as my dinner.  This would be a time saver for sure (and money saver) because I couldn’t find a Noodles and Co close by.  Got back to the hotel and guess what I overlooked?  The fact that there was NO microwave in the room.  TIP: The safe might look like a microwave at quick glance but it is not.  Thankfully there was a coffee shop/snack store downstairs that had a microwave I used.

After eating and getting my stuff ready for in the morning, it was all about relaxing on the bed and watching TV. 

But one thing that I had noticed earlier with the room across the hall from me was puzzling. As you can see in this picture below, the PRIVACY PLEASE is hanging on the doorknob and the sleeve that the room keys are given to you in is sticking out from under the door.  It was this way all day, all night and the next morning.  I was beginning to wonder if there were some dead bodies in there (I might watch too much Investigation Discovery channel) but the next morning a room service cart was sitting outside.  I guess everything was okay.

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The alarm was set for 5:30AM and it was lights out at 10:00PM.

SUNDAY, AUGUST 3rd:  With the start line for this race only about 4-5 blocks away, I hit the snooze button when the alarm went off.  Eventually I got up, took my shower and ate my breakfast.  The original plan was to leave around 6:45AM to get over to the starting area by 7:00AM.  I don’t know what it was but I just wasn’t feeling it today.  I was unmotivated and wished I could have just crawled back in bed.  This was to be my 18th half marathon for the year…and I’m tired.  I eventually left the room at 7:00AM

The weather wasn’t going to be too bad considering it was August.  But it would be full on sun and no breeze from the lake.  It would warm up quickly.062

The start line was right outside (south) of Soldier Field and was scheduled to start at 7:30AM.  Here are some pictures I took as I walked over from the hotel:047048051053

I walked around and looked for MYMW and her husband but couldn’t find them.  I saw on Facebook that I missed the Half Fanatics picture.  I didn’t realize that it was taking place.  Oh well.

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I quickly got in line to use the porta-potties on more time.  Thankfully someone pointed out that the super long line I was in was just for the handicap accessible one so I got out of that and found shorter lines elsewhere.  I returned this knowledge as I walked back past that line when I was done!  It was then time to get in my corral.  Dan sang the National Anthem and did a “fair” job with it (in my opinion).  I was in the second wave of starters.

057That sun would be a scorcher during the race!058059

Tara and Jackie helping with the start of the race:061

I don’t really have anything to report from this race.  The course (aside from where it started) was exactly what I had run during the Get Lucky Half Marathon back in 2013 and some of it was part of the 2014 Get Lucky.  So there really wasn’t anything to take pictures of and I put my phone away.  Lake Michigan was on our left as we were running south.Course

I saw a girl dresses as Snow White.  I’m all for having fun and dressing in costume if it fits the theme of the race.  Or a Super Hero always works.  But I didn’t understand “Snow White” at this race…but to each his own I guess.  However – because she clearly started in the wrong corral AS SO MANY DO! -  I caught up with her somewhere before mile 3.  I could see that her skirt was caught on her race belt/water bottle holder so as I ran next to her, I tapped her on the shoulder and told her and informed her that I was going to fix it.  We couldn’t have Snow White showing “her goods” after all. And by her goods, it was just her running shorts but still. Smile

From about mile 6 on, I had some random cramping on the inner side of my right quad which was super annoying.  So at each aid station I would walk a little and after taking in some water or Gatorade, I would try to massage it out.  I also really started getting hot by the 7.5 aid station and was consuming multiple cups of water and saving the last half of one cup to dump down my back.  I was starting to feel zapped.

Look at the haze over the city!  So humid.063

I took way more walking breaks that I would have liked to but even before this race started I just wasn’t into it and then add on the thigh cramp and the heat…OVER IT.

Crossed the finish line, sucked down a bottle of water and checked out the other snacks that were available.  Bagels and bananas did not interest me but they had little oranges (Mandarins maybe?  Tangerines?) and I ate 4 of those!  I hung around in the finish line area – although I was shooed away once – waiting on MYMW to finish.  While standing there Danni Allen (Season 14 Winner) was trying to get to me since no one was coming across the finish line so I went to her and was briefly interviewed. 

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After that I saw MYMW’s husband and we chatted  while waiting for her.  Suddenly we saw her coming and I ran up to Danni so that she could announce MYMW by name as she finished. 

They all were pressed for time so we went in the area where the “after party” was being held and Dan’s band was playing.  This reminded me of the setup in Rockford and it’s a shame they couldn’t have done packet pickup in this location as well. 

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We found their daughter, took a few pictures and then they had to leave.  I was fine with that.  I needed to get back to my hotel as well, shower and get checked out.

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As I was leaving, I noticed that Tara had taken over for Danni at the finish line.  Wish I knew who this participant was because it’s a pretty good picture and I bet she’d like to have it.086

And since I forgot to stop and have my picture taken in front of the backdrop, I asked a random stranger to take this one for me. 

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I took a few more pictures on my way back:089090091

I was back at the hotel around 10:50 and I had until noon for check out.  I could have gotten a later checkout but they would have charged me $30 more.  NO THANK YOU! I had plenty of time to shower, dry my hair and get dressed.  As I was taking off my shoes, this pebble fell out.  I remember fussing with it late in the race trying to get it to stay in my arch area so it wouldn’t bother me.  Horrible picture but I put the pen in there to give it some perspective.  Its amazing how a tiny rock can feel like a boulder when its in your shoe while you are running.

It just wouldn’t focus for me!093

Since I had about 3 hours I needed to kill before catching the MegaBus back home, I grabbed a chaise lounge in the hotel lobby, ate my lunch and relaxed.

PRO Compression     #KeepItTight094

Thankfully I don’t have to be back up in Chicago until September 27th.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Part 3 – Going Wheels Up With Aerosmith, VIP Style

July 22, 2010

And then it was time…

They opened the show with Back In The Saddle 2014-07-22--9-18-C-63_thumb1

And from then on it was non-stop ROCK and ROLL.

I made sure to “enjoy” the show and not just document it. But between both of our iPhones and the camera, we took A LOT of pictures.  Hope you like them! 

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2014-07-22--9-15-JP-61_thumb22014-07-22--9-16-JP-64_thumb12014-07-22--9-15-JP-62_thumb12014-07-22--9-15-SP-48_thumb32014-07-22--9-16-SP-54_thumb12014-07-22--9-18-SP-58_thumb202014-07-22--9-18-SP-60_thumb192014-07-22--9-18-SP-61_thumb202014-07-22--9-19--SP-65_thumb152014-07-22--9-22-C-65_thumb12014-07-22--9-22-C-69_thumb22014-07-22--9-22-JP-65_thumb12014-07-22--9-23-C-71_thumb12014-07-22--9-23-SP-69_thumb132014-07-22--9-23-SP-71_thumb162014-07-22--9-23-SP-72_thumb12014-07-22--9-24-C-74_thumb12014-07-22--9-24-C-75_thumb12014-07-22--9-24-SP-77_thumb202014-07-22--9-25-SP-80_thumb142014-07-22--9-29-C-80_thumb12014-07-22--9-29-C-81_thumb12014-07-22--9-34-SP-91_thumb192014-07-22--9-37-SP-97_thumb132014-07-22--9-37-SP-100_thumb122014-07-22--9-44-JP-72_thumb11

2014-07-22--9-44-JP-80_thumb12014-07-22--9-51-C-95_thumb1

2014-07-22--9-59-JP-83_thumb22014-07-22--10-00-C-98_thumb12014-07-22--10-00-C-99_thumb12014-07-22--10-01-C-100_thumb132014-07-22--10-01-SP-105_thumb13  Joey talked about the items around his drums during the Q&A2014-07-22--10-02-C-103_thumb12014-07-22--10-03-C-104_thumb12014-07-22--10-03-C-105_thumb12014-07-22--10-03-SP-112_thumb12014-07-22--10-06-C-108_thumb112014-07-22--10-09-C-113_thumb72014-07-22--10-10-C-116_thumb12014-07-22--10-10-C-119_thumb22014-07-22--10-14-SP-120_thumb1

2014-07-22--10-27-C-120_thumb12014-07-22--10-28-C-122_thumb12014-07-22--10-30-C-124_thumb12014-07-22--10-30-C-125_thumb1Hey Joe…whatcha smokin’?  I don’t think that’s legal in Ohio!

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Look…we made THE Big Screen!2014-07-22--10-32-C-130_thumb1

2014-07-22--10-34-C-135_thumb182014-07-22--10-35-C-136_thumb182014-07-22--10-35-C-137_thumb22014-07-22--10-35-C-139_thumb22014-07-22--10-38-C-143_thumb22014-07-22--10-40-C-148_thumb152014-07-22--10-42-C-152_thumb122014-07-22--10-43-C-154_thumb2  The band leaves the stage momentarily and then the encore.2014-07-22--10-51-C-165_thumb1”Dream On” and “Sweet Emotion” – encore songs.2014-07-22--10-54-C-166_thumb12014-07-22--10-55-C-169_thumb32014-07-22--10-56-C-172_thumb52014-07-22--10-57-C-175_thumb12014-07-22--11-04-C-195_thumb12014-07-22--11-06-C-203_thumb12014-07-22--11-06-C-205_thumb12014-07-22--11-06-C-208_thumb12014-07-22--11-08-C-212_thumb2

What an amazing show!  So glad we went and spent the money for the VIP experience.  And getting out of the complex was super easy.  Take note: Klipsch Music Center (FKA Verizon Wireless Center, FKA Deer Creek)

And I’m especially happy to report that our photo with Steven and Joe turned out pretty good. Group-3_thumb3