Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon – Race Recap

July 20, 2014


3:30AM is crazy early!  We all went to bed between 9:00pm-9:30PM and I think it helped that none of us took naps yesterday.  Saturday was a long day so we were extra tired which made sleeping a little easier.

Per usual, I was the first one up since I wanted to take a shower but nearly everyone else was up or at least awake when I got out.  The half marathon was scheduled to start at 6:30AM – although who knows what time my corral will cross the line – but we had some photo ops prior that required us to be up and at ‘em even earlier.

We left the hotel around 5:00AM and of course since it was a Saturday night/Sunday morning there were some college kids just getting in.  We were asked by these intoxication individuals about the race and if any of us won.  #youth #inebriated

The city was mostly quite as we walked south down Michigan Avenue.  We saw a few other folks just getting in from being out all night and some other runners getting an early start to the race.  It is peaceful this time of the day.

Once again we were getting very lucky with the weather!2014, 07-20 (1)

While walking past the start/finish line stage, I happened to catch a glimpse of John Bingham out of the corner of my eye.  So I shouted his name and he came over and spoke with us for a little bit.  I’ve been fortunate to speak to him a few times at different Rock ‘n’ Roll events and he is always so nice.  Sad to see him retire…and slightly envious!


Aside from this bonus photo op with “The Penguin” the first order of business was to get to Buckingham Fountain by 5:30AM for the Run JunkEes group photo.  Eventually it happened at 5:45AM.  One “serious” take and then one silly shot.  And rather than having the fountain in the background since it wasn’t on, we opted for the skyline.

2014, 07-20 (4)Run JunkEes

Then MYMW and I had to walk back to The Bean for the Half Fanatics picture.

The Bean

Then MYMW needed to head back to the starting corral areas.  We had plenty of time and I really wanted to use the bathroom once more so I suggested that we stop in The Congress Plaza Hotel.  I figured it wouldn’t be crowded and who doesn’t want to use a “real” restroom as opposed to a porta-potty?  So glad we stopped there!

When we were initially walking to Buckingham Fountain, I noticed that the corral numbering seemed to stop at 15 (I think it was 15 or something close to that) which I thought was weird.  But discovered that the corrals “turned the corner” and continued numerically down another street.  I was in my corral in plenty of time to hear the National Anthem and then it would be approximately 20-25 minutes later before I would actually pass over the timing mat.

Lets do this Chicago!  I posted this photo to Facebook but it took several attempts and quite some time for it to upload.  I’m pretty sure EVERYONE was Facebooking, Tweeting and Instagraming!2014, 07-20 (13)

My corral finally turned the corner and was now on Columbus Drive.2014, 07-20 (16)

Getting closer!2014, 07-20 (19)

Counting us down to go!2014, 07-20 (21)

I was going to put my phone away and just concentrate on running but this was my first race in Chicago where the weather wasn’t crappy.  I resisted for the first two miles but the atmosphere was electric and I was (mostly) having fun so what the heck.  Let’s just enjoy the sights and sounds.  And not that I pay attention to my watch but having run under a tunnel and getting into the heart of downtown and all the buildings my Garmin was off from a mileage standpoint.  At mile 2, it said I was at 2.25 and I knew that Rock ‘n’ Roll wouldn’t be that far off with their marking.

At one point early in the race I saw some lady go down – and she hit hard!  But she bounced back up and didn’t want any help from anyone.  My guess is that she caught her foot on one of those big metal plates that they put on roads over areas they’ve been repairing.  She HAD to be sore by the end of the race.  I felt so sorry for her. 

So here are some pictures from along the course:2014, 07-20 (22)2014, 07-20 (25)2014, 07-20 (27)2014, 07-20 (28)2014, 07-20 (29)2014, 07-20 (30)2014, 07-20 (32)

This was the only hill/incline that I remember:2014, 07-20 (34)2014, 07-20 (36)

One of the local charities; an animal rescue organization.2014, 07-20 (37)

And of course the traditional Brooks arch:2014, 07-20 (38)

Aid station at Mile 12 as we are heading back into the city.2014, 07-20 (39)2014, 07-20 (40)

Lakeshore Drive – Soldier Field on the right2014, 07-20 (41)2014, 07-20 (42)2014, 07-20 (44)

This sign was on the course twice.  I found it very amusing.2014, 07-20 (45)

And finally…I finished!2014, 07-20 (47)

As the day progressed it had begun to warm up and it was nice that right after the finish line not only did you get a water but an ice cold towel.  I then grabbed a chocolate milk and slammed that down in no time!  Next it was on to the Finish Line Festival area in Grant Park.  It was doubtful that I would meet up with my friends but I needed to go over there to get my bonus medal.  If you did the 5K on Saturday and either of the distances on Sunday, you got the “Remix” medal.  That is why – if you notice – I have two bibs on my race belt.  You had to have “proof” that you did the Saturday race.  Unfortunately, the bibs were not the same size and the holes didn’t match up to attach to my belt correctly so I had to get creative.  I didn’t want to fold the other bib.

As we walked in to Grant Park, Garmin was handing out theses fun paper guitars.  Of course I took one; I figured it might make a cool picture with the medals.

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Saw these guys along the course.  Fun picture!2014, 07-20 (52)

I walked around for a little bit but there wasn’t much that I was interested in.  I sampled some sparkling water and found it to be disgusting.  Went over by the VIP tent hoping to see some people that I know from Facebook but didn’t find them.  So I decided it might be advantageous to just head back to the hotel and get my shower taken before everyone started showing up.

Some additional thoughts on the race:

  1. I’ve never had a bad experience with Rock ‘n’ Roll although I know some have.  I don’t find their races too big because they are held in cities where you can be spread out so I don’t feel crowded at all. 
  2. Their Expos are usually a blast and very electric but I found this one to be just “meh”.
  3. The best aid station/area was between miles 10 & 12.  It was sponsored by Humana Vitality.  They had a DJ up on an overpass as we ran under it and then 40ft (?) tall speakers all along this part of the course so his club music was “pumping” the entire time.  And this aid station gave us cold wet sponges which were very welcomed at mile 11! 
  4. Also sitting on this overpass was Santa.  I yelled at him and told him that I’ve been a very good girl and would like a PR for Christmas.
  5. Unfortunately the aid stations at mile 8 and mile 12 were not adequately staffed.  This tripped me up more at mile 8.  I usually always pass by the first set of tables but as I approached the second set all the cups were empty so I had to back track to get water. 
  6. I was thankful that by the time I got to where they were handing out GU (mile 8-9) they still had some left.  I still had my own but grabbed one of the new Salted Watermelon flavors to try at another time.
  7. Since I listen to my own music, I don’t really pay attention to the bands along the course.  But after the Michelob Ultra arch there was a “drumline” (and that’s not what it really was but I don’t know what else to call it) and that was pretty cool to see. 
  8. And except in Las Vegas, I don’t think they’ve ever had a headliner band that I wanted to stay and see.  I had no idea who the headliner for this race was so that wasn’t something that was going to keep me there.
  9. But I didn’t want my drink ticket to go unused so as I was leaving, I saw a girl that had just gotten her ID checked to get in the beer garden area and offered her my ticket.  Naturally she took it!

I had no problems per say on the course but you know what is difficult to run across?  These grated areas that are on draw bridges.  They felt like they were cutting through my shoes and we had to cross these things three different times!

2014, 07-20 (64)

I was showered and dressed by the time everyone returned to the room.  In hindsight, I could have gotten on the earlier bus back home but I’d rather have too much time instead of being rushed.  We all checked out of the room at the same time.  MYMW and her husband walked WS to her train station area and then they were going to get some lunch.  I decided to stay back and just eat some of the food I had leftover while waiting in the hotel lobby.

I took a different route to the MegaBus stop because I was worried that Michigan Avenue would be extra crowded on a Sunday afternoon and since I was towing a suitcase, I’d be in the way even more.  And I’m quite positive that all those people would have annoyed me to death!  I was a little worried a couple of times that I was slightly off course but since I’d allowed for extra time, I wasn’t worried.  I made it to the stop in plenty of time! 2014, 07-20 (65)

Goodbye Chicago.  But don’t be sad, I’ll be back in two weeks.2014, 07-20 (66)

My attempt at the Skyline medal photo that is popular to take these days.  Not too bad for my first try. 2014, 07-20 (56)

Here is a look at all three medals:006

And here is the front and back of the guitar:011012

Monday, July 28, 2014

Rock ‘n’ Roll 5K – Race Recap

July 19, 2014


Since there were four of us that would need to get ready in the morning and we would need to leave the hotel at 7:30AM, I set my alarm for 5:45AM.  It was not a good night’s sleep to say the least but since today was only the 5K, I wasn’t too worried about it.

I got up first and showered then ate my breakfast.  Everyone was ready to go on time and we headed out of the hotel a little before 7:30AM.  Uneventful walk to the start line and although we were exactly sure where it was, you just follow all the other people wearing a race bib and you can usually find it. Thumbs upWinking smile

For the middle of July the weather was unusually cool.2014, 07-19 (1)

We took some pre-race pictures and did some stretching before actually lining up. 

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While waiting for the start, we struck up a conversation with the folks in front of us.  They were from Virginia which gave me the opportunity to ask them their opinions on half marathons in that state.  Next it was time to sing along with the National Anthem and we were off.

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The course seemed like it had a few more twists and turns than what the map shows and there was one section which was fairly narrow but other than that, it was somewhat uneventful.  Only one water stop 1.75 miles into the course according to my watch.

Course Map

Two things of note however – I randomly saw a guy running that I’ve seen several times on others blogs.  Sure enough it was Dave.  He took a running selfie of us but it must not have turned out since it hasn’t been posted.  The second things was that Batman & Robin passed me at about the 2.5 mile marker!  “Hurry Robin!  To the Bat-mobile.”

2014, 07-19 (16)

I crossed the finish line, got a water and banana and then headed back to the finishing area and waited to watch my friends cross.  First was MYMW, then her husband and then WS.  I was also able to get a shot of Dave going his famous jump at the finish line.

2014, 07-19 (18)

Thankfully I ran into him again afterward and was able to get this photo of us.

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We took some photos post race and then it was time to go back to the hotel to get ready for dinner…at 2PM!

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My friends were part of the Run JunkEes group on Facebook and they were having a group dinner.  Since tomorrow’s half marathon starts at 6:30AM dinner needed to be early.  And then we had to move it up even more before the restaurant (Three Aces) switched over to its dinner menu.  Thus the 2:00PM seating time.

The restaurant was about 4 miles from the hotel so we took a cab.  We got there early – before anyone else from the group – so my friends ordered some appetizers.  Sadly, there was nothing on the menu that I found interesting.  Eventually others began showing up.  It was nice to meet some new people and hear their running stories.  The chef offered a special pasta tonight which I ordered but didn’t like; should have ordered the margherita pizza.  We were there for about 2 hours and took a group photo before some of us had to leave.

Ru  JunkEes Dinner

The cab ride back to the hotel was an experience.  The cabbie was in a heated discussion with (I’ll assume) someone from his dispatch area and was complaining to them about a fare being taken away or something.  It was so unprofessional.  And traffic was horrific. 

Back at the hotel briefly and then my friend AW met me for dessert.  We went to an Italian restaurant on the other side of the block call Tre Soldi. 

She had dinner but since I had just eaten I ordered the tiramisu.  It was good but not the best I’ve ever had.  I’m very sad that we didn’t get a picture of the two of us but it was great fun just sitting there talking to her.

It would definitely be early to bed for all of us but we did venture to the Mezzanine level of the hotel for a quick peak at the city from a different angle.


Alas it was time to double and triple check everything in our (tiny) staging areas and then lights out.  My alarm was set for the unheard of hour of 3:30AM.