On Sunday I ran the Rock’N’Roll Chicago Half Marathon, along with 20,000 other runners!
Nick and I have friends (Jason and Laurie) that live a little past Chicago, so we (Nick, Jim, and I) left late Thursday morning to make the 9-hour drive to their house. While I crashed shortly after we got there, Nick and Jim were able to spend some time catching up with their friends (he is a night owl- I am not!!).
Friday evening, Jason was kind enough to drive Nick and I to our hotel. Note: I never once thought of parking when I made reservations. I have never stayed in a big enough city that I had to think about paying to park. Lesson learned (and $70 saved- thanks Jason!).
Saturday afternoon, Nick and I headed out to pick up my race packet. The expo was held at the McCormick Place, and for anyone who knows Chicago, you know this place is huge! Anyways, we were using driving directions from Nick’s cell phone and once we reached the Field Museum, we couldn’t figure out how we were going to be able to walk the rest of the way, so we caught a cab (my very 1st cab ride!). Once we reached the expo, we quickly got my bib, shirt, and swag bag. The areas were clearly marked and each bib station had 2 volunteers, so I didn’t see any big lines. The rest of the expo was similar to other expos I have gone through. I only have one complaint, and it isn’t limited to just this expo- more space was needed between aisles. It was very hard to get to some of the vendor tables, or even down an aisle. Oh, and a surprise vendor- McDonald’s had a booth! I have never seen a fast-food booth at an expo! When we left the expo, we found ourselves near a bike path. We decided to see where it would lead, and started walking. Wouldn’t you know, one of the places it comes out at, is right across the street from the Field Museum! Oh well- we both laughed at that one!
That night, Jason, Laurie, Jim, Drew (another Chicago friend!), Nick, and I, went to Lou Malnati’s for deep-dish pizza! I have never had an authentic deep-dish pizza before, and I really wanted to try some while we were in Chicago. It was so good! I only made it through one slice, but I enjoyed every bite!!
Sunday morning was sunny and very humid. At 6am as we were walking towards the corral areas, Nick told me the temperature was 75 degrees and the humidity was 76%. I thought the starting area was very well done. There were booths with bottled water, bananas, and plain bagels, available for the runners. The corrals were clearly marked and easy to find. I really liked the way they started the race. Corrals have a staggered start, every 30 seconds, with a 10-second countdown! That means there wasn’t a big push to get to the start line. That was really nice!
The route itself is pretty flat. There were stages set up along the route for the bands that were performing. A couple of spots had cheerleaders, and one of the sponsors XSport Fitness, had quite a few people out, cheering on the runners. There were 8 water spots along the course, with Gatorade being available at 4 of those spots. With the heat, it would have been beneficial to have a couple more water spots, but I think a lot of runners planned accordingly and had fuel belts or hand-helds (like I did). There were a number of medical tents along the route, and each tent offered the usual (band-aides, vaseline), but they also were handing out salt packets and handfuls of ice.
Once we finished, there was water and Gatorade available immediately. Then we received our finishers medal, and continued walking through the runners area. Bananas, chocolate milk (Refuel had a booth), pretzels, fruit cups, Jamba Juice smoothies, and popsicles were all available. I never seem to want food when I am done, so I grabbed a bottle of water, some chocolate milk, and a popsicle. I quickly ate the popsicle and went back and asked for another one. It tasted so good (even if it was grape!). The volunteer was kind enough to give me another one (cherry this time- yay!) and that one didn’t last very long either!
There were so many people waiting just outside the runners area. I’m kind of out of it (spacey!) for a few minutes after I finish a race, so all the people made me feel lost. I was able to find Nick rather easily though- he picked a really good spot, so that was nice. There have been races in the past that I have wondered aimlessly trying to find him- even if we have designated an area to meet (told you I’m kind of out of it for a few minutes- I have no sense of direction!). Jason and Laurie had come down for the race (I saw them, and Nick, about 7 miles in), so we all headed back to the hotel room. A quick shower for me, we checked out of the hotel, then on to Jason and Laurie’s for a cookout!
Overall, I enjoyed this race. I really liked the course- it could easily provide an opportunity for a PR, because it really is a flat course. I had some difficulties with the heat, so while I didn’t have a PR, I’m not unhappy with my time. Each race is a learning experience for me. I’m still figuring out my strengths and weaknesses and then learning how to improve upon those weaknesses. #11 is coming up in September!
Wow! Did you make it all the way thru? Thanks for reading!!!