Monday, July 21, 2014

Rock n Roll Chicago Half Marathon #racereport #rnrchi

So I ran this "little" half marathon yesterday - the Rock N Roll Half in Chicago as part of my weekend 18 mile long run for Detroit Marathon training.  I had won a free entry from Megan and managed to convince my almost 17 year old daughter to make it a girl's weekend and run the 5k. The promise of bling is what got her (she is her mother's daughter after all).

*warning - this post is picture heavy and will be a bit long, kind of like the 18 mile training run. You might want to grab the beverage of your choice*

The Expo

The expo was held at McCormick Place - a huge convention center on the lake.  My twitter/DailyMile friend, Angie M, was staying with us, so we hooked up with her when we got into town and grabbed lunch. Since we were staying a few miles north, we navigated the CTA bus to get there.  You had to walk about 3 miles inside McCormick to get to the expo (we joked they should've held the 5k there in the AC, running back and forth down the massive halls).  The expo was quite large, with all the usual booths. We spun some wheels for giveaways, collected water bottles and chapstick. Crap like that.
Obligatory staged finish line picture with my girl.
We were just walking around the expo, checking things out, and then this happened....
OMG that's Dorothy Beal!
Dorothy Beal (aka @mileposts) noticed my I Run The Body shirt and waved me over.  She asked to take a picture with me :)  Talk about fan girl freak out.  She was super sweet and very adorable, and even commented on my instagram of the picture.  Definitely the highlight of the expo for me.  We left after walking around for an hour or so, and then did more walking.  My girl wanted to walk to Navy Pier and then we walked some more to find dinner.  For the record - I do not recommend this the day before running 18 miles.  Luckily, our bus passes got us the almost 2 miles back to our hotel in time for light's out at 9:00.  
Sun starting to go down behind the skyline.
Race Day

Angie and I got up at the butt crack of dawn (actually 3:45 is much earlier than the butt crack) to run 5 miles before the half marathon.  Let me tell you, there are a lot of very interesting people on the streets of Chicago at 4:30 in the morning.  I think my favorites were a really stoned guy without shoes on asking if he could run with us and the 2 girls doing their walk of shame and one commenting "OMG, they are already out running".  Yep.  We are badass like that.

5.13 miles along Michigan Avenue and Lake Shore Drive in 56:47 (11:04 pace).  Being bad bloggers, Angie and I did not take a post 5 miler selfie.

We got back to the hotel and I helped Kaylee get ready for her 5k.  Then we walked the couple blocks to the starting line. (Note - if you plan to run this race, the Congress Plaza Hotel, while being the #1 most haunted place in Chicago, was ideal from a location standpoint.)
Beautiful sunrise over Grant Park.
Awake and ready to go!
There were 36 corrals, which is simply insane.  Kaylee was in 17 and Angie in 16, so hugs and off they went while I joined the mid-pack people in corral 21.  It took almost 30 full minutes for my corral to get to the starting line with the wave start format, and even with that it was still pretty congested.  

Once I finally started (remember it's been about 90 min since I finished the first 5 miles) it took awhile for my legs to want to get going.  I had decided to run 5 minutes/walk 1 minute for the 13.1 but in the first 2 miles I just ran to try and get away from the crowds.  I was also a little pissed to see how many people from corrals 34, 35, 36 had already started as I passed them in the first mile (you could tell corral by the first numbers on their bibs).  I get that had they started in their actual corrals they probably would not have made the cutoff times, but really? What's the point of having corrals if they aren't enforced?  
Chicago Theater and the "L".
Saw my girl with her bling outside of our hotel at mile 6.
The race snaked around downtown for about 7 miles and then headed south to Bronzeville and out to the lakeshore.  For a Rock N Roll race, it was very quiet.  There were some pockets of great spectators but there really wasn't any on-course entertainment until after mile 5.  I think there were some magicians or something before that.  The bands were all really good but you only saw them for about 5 seconds as you ran by.
I was very happy to see the water around mile 10.
We ran through the underground tunnels at McCormick Place, where I saw one girl fall (it's very dark) and my Garmin got all screwed up.
Fun inflatable outside McCormick's tunnel.
I was sad that we didn't stay along the lakeshore longer, but the lake trail does move back toward the city just south of Soldier Field. The trail was also very congested with walkers at this point and I was trying not to piss people off when I would pass them to run and then do my walk breaks.  (The run/walk experience should be it's own blog post.)
Sun's out/Guns out! Soldier Field is just beyond the trees.
I had managed to drink about 60 oz of Nuun/water during the course of the 18 miles.  I even stopped a couple times to refill my bottles during the race and I'm glad I remembered to bring an extra Nuun tablet with me. The heat and humidity really kicked my ass and I was getting discouraged.  I was also mentally DONE at about mile 8 during the race (mile 13 for my run) so knowing I could walk every 5 minutes became a lifesaver.
Done!
I finished the half in 2:34:48, which was an 11:49 pace average and as races go, one of my worst.  Over the course of the 18 miles, I averaged an 11:36 pace, which was a little bit slower than my prescribed training pace (I was supposed to run 18 at an 11:29 average).  Considering the heat and humidity, I need to just be ok with this.

Finish Festival

There was the usual assortment of gluten-laden items at the finish line, so I grabbed a banana and a chocolate milk.  The ice-cold wet washcloths were heavenly and a very nice touch. (There had been wet sponges around mile 11, too, which was awesome.)  I met up with Kaylee and Angie and we hung out in the Westin VIP tent for awhile (Angie had scored us passes).

Neither Angie nor I wanted to fight the lines for Michelob Ultra (and Kaylee wouldn't have been able to get into the beer tent area anyway) so we held off on beer until lunch.  Before we left, I had to get a picture with these guys though.  They had been on the course and were actually really funny and super enthusiastic.
Stilt guys!

Overall Impressions

Honestly, I was disappointed in the race itself (not my run but the overall race) and unless I scored another free entry I would not run this one again.  I had really high hopes for Rock n Roll but I thought it was kind of boring.  There weren't enough bands/entertainment for all the hype and while the course was ok, after awhile the city all just kind of blurs together (this coming from someone who really loves Chicago and running in the city).  The HM race shirt is nice but the 5k shirts were unisex.  Had I know this, I would've gotten Kaylee and XS because the small is really big on her.  The medals are really cool, though, and bling definitely matters.  My girl managed to PR her 5k by almost 3 minutes, but said it was very congested for the entire 3.1 miles and it made it hard for her to hit the goal she really wanted.  I'm still super proud of her for getting outside her comfort zone and racing.
It's not a Chicago race unless there is a bling pic in front of The Bean.
Did you race this weekend?  Have you ever run Rock n Roll Chicago?

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