Thursday, August 18, 2011

Chicago Rock n Roll 1/2 (Race Report)

State #19- Illinois

B and I decided to do this one since it was flat, a way to see the city, and a way to get another Rock n' Roll series under our belt to earn more bling with the Heavy Medals offered through RnR.

As with a lot of our larger races, we had a half fanatic meet up in front of the infamous 'bean' at 6am to allow time for people to get to gear check in and in their corral before the first corral start at 6:30 am.

B and I stayed at the Red Roof Inn downtown- it was by far the cheapest out of the other options, but we had to walk a mile to get to the bean and race start. I was really looking forward to getting my photo opp with the over-sized Marilyn Monroe, unfortunately its almost too big so its hard to get a descent picture.
B & I with Marilyn
Was debating on trying to 'look up her dress' but decided against it.

We left Marilyn and on our venture to the bean we ran into HF Jeff from Indy- he ran w/ us in Cinci, Kzoo, and then I had one extra race with him in Indy- luckily he knew where he was going and led us straight into Millenium park where we finally set our eyes upon the glorious landmark...

Half Fanatic photo- I hate being in the back 

Kissing the bean 

Dave Mari Sandwich! 

Everyone said their goodbyes and we head off with Nicole F and her cousin to point us toward the start (our photo was 1/4 mile from start) Part ways and make our LONG trek to find the bag check. There were zero signs as to where to go, so we kept trying to following people with bags and they all lead to a dead end. Surprisingly this was B and Is first time bag checking (I know crazy right?) so we had no idea what to expect. 

Since this is a larger race, they had it divided up by last name. Drop off was quick, but it was back tracking from the start line (drop off was near finish line) On our way making it to our respective corrals, we ran into Dave again...
This is our first attempt at being 'matchy matchy'
B and I part ways, she into corral 13, and me 11. I was surprised that putting 2 hrs put me all the way back at 11, but I told myself I was really going to attempt to take it easy. 
Start line from my corral
So as we're waiting for them to count down for the first corral, I"m situating my ipod and head phones.... MY IPOD IS DEAD- SeRiOuSlY?!?! It charged all night on my laptop! This is literally the 3rd race it happened. Luckily I have music on my phone and my iron man yur buds have an EXTREMELY long cord so I was able to have my phone nestled in my Spibelt while still being able to comfortably run and hear music.

Although the race announcers did count down for first corral, that was it, no other count down for other corrals which is different from the standard. I crossed start line about 4 min into the clock- crucial piece to pay attention to for this race....

Miles 1-3
Since I don't have a music playlist on my phone, I just started it on the first song and it went in sequential order- first few songs were slower which allowed me to go out at an even pace- UNFORTUNATELY within the first 1/2 mile we go through a tunnel, the first of many, and I lost my satellite reception, i.e. my splits were WAY off. At one point it said I ran a 7:15 mile- although I know I'm fully capable of running that fast for a mile or 2, I also know when I' AM  running that fast and I was no where near exerting that much energy. Great another race where my garmin is completely useless. 
stupid tunnels

Aside from this mishap, my body felt great. I was so nervous going into this race since earlier in the week my IT band started acting up, but so far, no signs of any pain or discomfort. Aside from the cool temps, 70s and low humidity, I was BURNING UP. I realized that the neckline of my shirt was higher than what I normally race in, so lesson learned for future- the more my neck is covered, the quicker I overheat. Once mile 3 hit I must have run out of fuel because suddenly I was STARVING. I was smart to pack along 2 gus this time around, so I told myself I would take it at a water stop b/n 4-5 miles. 

Miles 4-7
Only 2 notable things happened during this time frame- 1. around mile 5 my quads started spasming- it wasn't painful, just weird and uncomfortable... sometimes I just don't understand my body. Miles 6-7 a lot of time was spent running in parts where the streets were LINED with spectators. To me this is a love/hate relationship. I love it because it motivates me to really focus on form which naturally makes me go faster. I hate it because I end up going too fast, always sub 8, thus winded and have to walk. Right after mile 7 that is what i had to, walk.
I'd also like to point out that there were several spots, not just in between miles 4-7, that the stench of sewage permeated throughout the streets- gross.

Mile 8
Oh mile 8! This is where my IT Band decided to make its presence well known and my knee gave in. Its hard to describe the pain- it wasn't as sharp as before this past winter, it was more of a "my knee is too weak to handle this pressure and at any point I may tear some cartilage or ligaments" type of feeling. Its easy to push through the pain, but the fear of further injury forced me to take repeated walk breaks.

Mile 9-12
Not much to note here- my mind was focused on finishing the race sub 2, but without pushing myself too hard. My watch was finally synching with being 4 min behind the total time, and I was cutting it quite close to 2 hour mark.
Right before mile 10 I decided to text my mom about my IT band- she was tracking me and I didn't want her to freak out by seeing my pace getting slower and slower. At this point I realized during these miles that this race kind of sucks.

  • The scenery is NOTHING spectacular- you'd think running in this city would be cool, but frankly I don't want to stare at dingy buildings. 
  • its completely flat so there were no challenging parts to break up the monotomy- everyone I talked to that has done the course before me said "oh you' ll love it! its such a great easy course!" Ya it was easy, but at the same time, I don't do well when races are EXTREMELY flat- my body aches since uphills take pressure off joints and living in Nashville... lets just say unless you are at a park, it is IMPOSSIBLE to run 1 mile without hitting a big hill. 
  • race support was great on a few streets, but otherwise disappointing for a RnR- all other RnR races I've been to there was support the whole way... not that I need it, its just something I expect for the series. 
  • and to top it all of the stench was overpowering. No one should have to smell sewage when running. 

Around mile 11-12, they were handing out sponges- I've heard other races doing it, but yet to experience it... it.was.glorious! I poured it all over my back- that mixed with the spitting rain off and on since mile 5 caused me to be DRENCHED.
photo courtesy of Dave M

Mile 13-
A little before mile 13, I  pulled out my phone and put on the song right before my 'power song', Through the fire and flames, so that way by the time I was into mile 13 it would come on and I could pick up the last mile. Unfortunately, Sisqo's "Thong Song" is much longer than I anticipated, so it was several minutes into mile 13 before my song came on. I swear its gotten to the point where its like Pavlos Dog- instantly when my song comes on, my stride opens up and I go faster. The faster I go, the less my knee hurts.... strange but oh so grateful!

I'm literally racing the clock trying to get sub 2, however the finish line is one where you can see it in the distance for what seems like FOREVER before you actually reach it. Unlike your car side mirrors- the object is NOT closer than it appears.

Literally the entire last mile I was secretly hoping to beat this girl in front of me wearing a red and zebra striped skirt- it was awesome and I wish I would have found out where she bought it. Several other girls were dressed similar... all working for Dodge, one of the race sponsors
Thanks Nicole for taking this photo. You can see zebra print girl in far right. 

I wish I could say that I was victorious in passing Zebra girl, but sadly I was not. The whole last mile was a constant fast pace, so I had no juice left in me to kick it in. I did however run a 7:43 last mile, which allowed me to break 2 hours-
Official time 1:58:41- yay for finally making it back under the 2 hour mark!

Generally I like to get my photo after the race, but the lines were ridiculous so I just got my wet towel, my medal, and made way for the food.
Popsicles, oranges, granola bars, pretzels, water, cytomax (the tropical, not the gross lemon lime) were all that was offered. Severely disappointed in no bananas or bread.

Gear check was extremely disorganized and took forever, but once I got my bag I immediately stripped off my shirt and put on a dry one. I haven't been this sore after a race in a L-O-N-G time so I went off to stretch and call my mom. Within a few minutes the sky opened up and it started pouring and cooled off. Seriously its August, I shouldn't be cold in August! 

B called when she was finished and I got in line for gear check so she could get in and out faster than I did. Got some ice from the med tent for my knee, and on my way back to meet up with B I ran into Erin- a fellow Miamian who lived next door to me in the dorms sophomore year of college- small world
She lives in Cincy, and since everyone from Miami moves  to Chicago, she runs this every year and visits friends. 
Caught up with Erin for a few minutes and then met B back in front of the infamous fountain

Apparently B had similar views on the race as well- nothing spectacular, kind of boring, smelly, and equally as sore. We sound like a bunch of old bitter ladies haha.
Originally we had planned on having a beer and staying for musical guest Brett Michaels (who actually ended up cancelling his appearance) but the rain caused us to just call it a day and walk the mile home.

Rock on P.F. Changs dude
I believe this is my 3rd gecko photo
free massages using foam rollers- OUCH! 
On the trek home we did see a set of 2 stone walls with water flowing from them and pictures....

you're never too old to play with water!

it feels soooo good on your feet! 
We finally make it back to hotel and just lay in bed watching trashy tv for a few hours before we decide to shower and eat. 
All in all I'm glad we came, however if there were another race in Chicago I would probably have chosen that one. This didn't live up the RnR standards and since these are larger races, there NEEDS to be better organization. 

State #19 DONE!
Official Time- 1:58:41
Overall Place 3817/15259
Division 459/2488
Gender 1476/9480


  1. Congrats on a sub 2! I ran that race last year and thought it sucked as well. The RnR allure is lost on me. Hope your ITB is ok!

  2. Wow, congrats on sub 2, even though your IT band and knee was acting up. Congrats!!

  3. As always love love your pics!!! Way to go on hitting your goal!!

  4. Congrats on your sub 2! I also thought that Chicago was nothing great to look at. Very boring course. Chicago was also one of my fastest time. Sounds disorganized for an RnR... but they are SO BIG.

  5. Finally got around to reading your review. Very well done (review and finish time, too!).

    There are sponges in Maui, just sayin'.

  6. That sounds like so much fun. Okay - so there were some downsides, but really, overall sounds like a fun time. I love those big races so much! The sponges look awesome. I've heard of that but have yet to have them in a race.

    Is Dave M everywhere?? I think so!

    Love that you were listening to the Thong Song! I love that song, as corny as it is!