Friday, July 25, 2014

Headed to Chicago–Ready to Rock ‘n’ Roll

July 18, 2014

I took a vacation day from work since I was headed up to Chicago for the weekend to participate in the Rock ‘n’ Roll 5K (Saturday) and Half Marathon (Sunday).

Climbed out of bed at 7:00AM – okay, it was 7:15AM. Hello SNOOZE BUTTON!  Showered, went for coffee, came back and had breakfast and then finished getting things together.  My husband needed my vehicle this weekend so he could transport his bike because he was doing a triathlon.  So around 9:30 he drove me downtown to the MegaBus stop.  When we got there a bus was being loaded but it was the bus to Cincinnati.  The Chicago bus arrived a little late and was already mostly full with people FROM Cincinnati so I had to sit at one of the seats at the table.  On the other side of the aisle from me was a girl that chewed on her fingers/cuticles the entire way to Chicago.  Or if she wasn’t doing that, she was checking her face in the mirror.  It was so distracting!  And since she was also at a table seat but facing the back of the bus I couldn’t help but witness this.  The ride up there – aside from being a little cramped – was uneventful. 

We arrived in Chicago around 1:15PM (local time) and I schlepped all my stuff down to the hotel.  We were staying a little further North this time so my walk was longer and I certainly worked up a sweat.  My name was supposed to be in the system for the room but it wasn’t.  It didn’t really matter since a room wasn’t ready so I checked my bags and decided to walk to packet pickup which was being held at McCormick Place.  According to MapQuest it was just a 5K (3.1 miles) away; totally within walking distance.  So I grabbed my folder and headed south.  I walked past Grant Park, Butler Field where they were setting things up for the post party on Sunday.

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Now the tricky thing with MapQuest is that it thinks you are driving.  Usually this is not a problem.  But I eventually ran out of sidewalk and wasn’t sure which way to go from there. 

I asked ol’ Chris Columbus for directions but he just pointed.2014, 07-18 (7)

So I turned right, walked about a block west and then turned left to continue south.  I at least knew I still needed to go south.  I was walking through a very lovely residential area and part of Chicago that I’d never seen before but when I saw a UPS guy, I figured it might be best to find out if I was still going the right way.  Basically he said that I was but I needed to go over one more block and then continue south again because the road I was currently on would eventually end.  Yep, he was right.  But if you’re going to be “lost” might as well be in a nice neighborhood and I got the chance to meet Gerdie a 10 week old puppy that was resting in the grass and would NOT walk anymore for her Mom.  She was adorable.

Okay, back on track walking south down Indiana street – very appropriate for this Indiana girl.  One funny incident as I proceeded down this last section was that a elderly man on a motorized scooter was coming toward me.  I heard him say over and over again “hey baby, hey baby” and then as he got closer he said, “I’ve loved you all my life” and continued to pass on by  So hysterical.

Finally made it to 23rd street which meant that McCormick Place was just a block away east.  I was still a little uncertain as to exactly WHERE the expo was being held though.  McCormick Place is huge and on both sides of the road and there was no outside signage for Rock ‘n’ Roll.  Basically I just started looking for people with the backpacks from the Expo and headed the direction they came from.

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And as luck would have it, I entered on the west side of the building and the expo was on the east side of the building.  Did I mention how huge this place was?  I learned later that they can actually run a 5K in it and it is just one lap around to get to that distance!  GINORMOUS!!

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I got both of my bibs and then had to go to the trouble table because I noticed when I printed my confirmation sheets on Thursday that I had accidentally listed myself as a male for the half marathon.  But someone internally must have caught the error because when the girl looked me up in the computer everything was correct. Thumbs up

Then it was time to walk through the expo!  I was pretty sure that I would resist most of the temptations.  I need another tech shirt like I need another grey hair.   I did buy the event pin (I always do) and I bought a new pair of sunglasses.  I only spent $28 at a Rock ‘n’ Roll Expo – UNHEARD OF!  However, I was starving and I think I stopped at every “try our drink / try our bar” booth and even the popcorn stand twice.  Good thing only the 5K was the next day.  I made a couple of passes though just to make sure I didn’t miss anything and then headed back to the hotel.  And of course I walked back.  At least I knew the route this time.

MYMW, her husband, WS and I kept in touch via Facebook messaging since we were all on different schedules.  Out of the blue when I was less than half a block from the hotel, I saw MYMW and her husband in front of me so we all checked in at the same time. 

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They still needed to get to the expo and then they were going to the Billy Joel concert at Wrigley Field.  I was supposed to meet a friend that lives in Chicago for dinner but she wasn’t feeling well so we postponed until Saturday night.  So I haphazardly unpacked a few items, grabbed my PB&J, chips and tea and went down by the river to eat and decompress. It was very nice and relaxing even if the park bench wasn’t the most comfortable thing.

The sun was setting as I ate dinner down by the Chicago River.2014, 07-18 (23)

Eventually it was time to go back to the hotel and get things ready for the 5K in the morning.



Chicago usually has something unexpected going on but I never thought that I would see decorated teeth!  I guess the Chicago Dental Society is celebrating their 150th anniversary and they have 4 morals on display.  You can read about it HERE.  If I ever need to get a crown, I might see if something like this is available.

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Also, Wrigley Field is celebrating its centennial and there are 50 sets of actual seats from the ballpark that are painted and on display up & down Michigan Avenue.  They will be auctioned off with the proceeds benefiting Cubs Charities and the community groups that designed them.  You can read more about that HERE.

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