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Race Recap: Rock ‘N Roll Chicago 1/2 Marathon

08/15/2011

Well, I told ya I’d be back in Chicago in no time. This time, it was business-related. You know, because lately, running is my job.

I got on the road on Friday after work, arriving in Chicago by 830p CST (love gaining that extra hour). The boys and I did a little Wrigleyville bar crawl since we knew it was going to be our only night to enjoy the nightlife. And enjoy we did πŸ˜‰

Amazing sunset driving in

A very brief summary:

Saturday morning started off slightly “slower” than usual due to our fun night. But eventually we got up, got ourselves ready and made our way over to the race expo! Being the nice brother that he is, Ricky volunteered to drive us down to the McCormick Center since a cab would cost just as much as the parking. More on how that decision ended in a post to come.

It’s pretty amazing to see the differences between all of the race expos. Some that I have been to are just in a little room with a few booths. The Rock ‘N Roll series seriously knows how to put together an expo!

I couldn’t NOT take a picture of this!

Boom!

Free beer samples!

After torturing Mike and Ricky walking around the expo for a good while, trying on shoes and loading up on samples, we got back on the road back to the apartment (Another reminder: Stay tuned!!).

Our pre-race dinner was at Flat Top Grill, which is a fav amongst all. Buy a bowl, make your own stirfry, and voila! Tasty eats.

Both sides of the table

A little motivation for the next morning πŸ™‚

We followed up din-din with a stop at Molly’s Cupcakes.

Rainbow sherbet cupcake

Party in my mouth

We popped in Son-In-Law, then hit the bricks for the early morning ahead. Turned out to be a not very restful sleep for this girl. I always fall victim to pre-race jitters. This time was no different: I was wide awake by 430a.

Gear

Me: Ready! (ps, like my new Bondi Band?!)

From the apartment, we walked up to Clark to catch a cab down to the starting line at Grant Park. The race starting time was 630a, likely due to the unpredictable weather this time of year. Lucky for us, the weather turned out to be absolutely perfect ~ 60’s, cloudy, and breezy.

The energy was already palpable by 6a. We started in Corral 6 out of 29. In other words, nearly 30,000 people were running the race. Holy smokes! I was so glad we were towards the front. There’s nothing worse than starting towards the back of the pack and spending nearly the entire race trying to pass slow runners/ “speed” walkers. This way we could start and keep running.

Pre-race pic

After the national anthem, the gun went off at 630 on the nose. I had been on the lookout for a fellow running friend, Michael (coinky dink?), who was in the same corral as us. It wasn’t until we started moving that I finally spotted him. We had tweeted earlier in the week about keeping each other on pace as our running times were pretty darn similar. My best time: 1:52. His: 1:55. We sought out the 1:50 pacer and got on it.

Per usual, my Garmin was dead as we were about to leave in the morning. So I had no choice but to leave it at home. Luckily, everyone’s watches seemed to be going haywire with the tall buildings, tunnels, and bridges the course took us through. So I didn’t feel so bad about leaving it at home. It was actually nice to not be obsessing with my pace as I ran.

Michael and I rocked the first half of the race. Well, he rocked the entire race, but I’m mostly proud of my 10k.

5K – 26:37

10K – 52:56

When we hit 7 miles at 59 minutes, we knew we were cruising way faster than we had planned. Unfortunately, it was around that time where my body caught up with my mind and said “sloooowwwer downnn.” I haven’t been doing much in the way of speed work this summer, so running at 8 minute miles was wayΒ beyond what I’ve been used to. As Michael started to inch ahead, I kept it in my mind that I was going to stay close behind. I Gu’d up around the 10K mark and again at the 10 mile mark and chugged along.

As we ran, Ricky, Samantha and Chuck were hanging out at the finish line taking pics!

I ran the race in 3 mile chunks. That way the entirety of it all wasn’t so daunting. The last 5k was possibly the most difficult mentally, but it was also the most motivating. Mile 11 started with a sponge station, where instead of water, the volunteers were handing out huge sponges ~ be still my heart! I grabbed a pink one (obvi), rang it out over my melon, and charged ahead. Nothing felt better than that surge of cold to push me through the last couple miles.

It was a long straightaway to the finish line, but seeing the skyline in the background gave me all the energy I needed to finish strong. By this time, Michael was long ahead of me and I had no clue how I was doing since I was watchless. The crowds were amazing in the final stretch, and while I was constantly on the lookout for my family fans on the sidelines, I was beyond determined to just get to that damn finish line!!

As I crossed the line, the overhead timer read 1:53. I knew my chip time had been faster than that the entire course, so all I could do was wait patiently for my final results, knowing that I kicked this race’s ass when all I had intended to do was finish under 2 hours πŸ˜€

After claiming my medal and some snacks, I headed to the celebration area around the fountain where I stretched, grabbed my free beer, and met up with my cheerleaders!

Tired hooves!

Beer & Bananas

My biggest cheerleader!

Twitter Michael finished at an amazing 1:48 (PR!) while my best racing bud Michael finished at a solid 2:10, tying his previous PR from the Freep 1/2 Marathon last fall! An amazing finish was had by all!

And my final chip time,,,

PR FOR ME TOO!!! πŸ˜€

As the rain came down, we cruised our way through Millenium Park. Hard to believe I’ve never been here in all my Chicago visits. So in standard fashion, I played tourist.

The rest of the day was full of refueling, showers, and couch time. I got back on the road around 4p and was back in my stomping grounds by 9p EST (dang that lost hour!).

The bod is feeling good today after such a great race. The combination of the weather + the company + the race setup = a #winning day. Not to mention the unexpected motivation to ultimately just do well. Mike said it perfectly: “It’s hard to just show up in an environment like that and just say ‘ah, I’ll take it easy.'”

The entire weekend was once again beyond what I imagined, though I’m never doubtful in my ability to have a good time when surrounded by some of my favorite people. Esp in Chicago πŸ™‚

Bling bling

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. 08/15/2011 12:02 pm

    Awesome Job!! Congrats on the PR!

  2. Nancy Kaminski permalink
    08/15/2011 12:22 pm

    I love reading of your race day!!! So happy to hear you are enjoying it and lookin’ so good doing so!!! Keep it up! I’ll watch for more posts………Love Ya!

    • 08/16/2011 10:55 pm

      Thanks cousin!! I love keeping all my fam/friends in the loop. Glad you enjoy πŸ™‚ Love you!

  3. 08/15/2011 12:23 pm

    Im curious, what happened on the drive back from McCormick???

    • 08/15/2011 1:16 pm

      I told you, STAY TUNED!! After consultation with Mants, it absolutely deserves its own post.

  4. 08/15/2011 1:25 pm

    Excellent recap and awesome pictures. Because of previous plans, I couldn’t run this one this year, but it looks like everyone enjoyed the perfect running weather. Glad you enjoyed the city – keep it up!

    • 08/15/2011 1:37 pm

      Thank you! It was a great day for a race. Esp after the brutal weather we’ve had this summer.

  5. 08/15/2011 2:17 pm

    A big congrats on an awesome race and PR! Hopefully it leaves you flying high until your next race.
    And great post and recap, too.

    • 08/16/2011 10:56 pm

      Thank you so much! Few weeks til my next half. We’ll see how that one goes πŸ˜‰

  6. 08/15/2011 4:50 pm

    Yup, this time of year Chicago temps are usually in the 70s in the morning and 80s/90s by the afternoon, with lots of humidity. Sunday DID NOT feel like mid-August in Chicago! I was amazed. Felt much cooler than when I spectated the Chicago Marathon last year, and that’s in October. Also the corrals at RnR Chicago went fast. I was in 19 and we crossed the start line about 9 1/2 minutes after the start. I was surprised! Anyway, awesome job and great post!!

    • 08/15/2011 7:45 pm

      No kidding on the weather! I’ll take it though πŸ™‚ Great job on your finish too!!

  7. 08/15/2011 6:15 pm

    Congratulations! Great recap and great race!!!

  8. 08/15/2011 9:11 pm

    As always, you are freaking awesome! LOVE the bondi band! I want oneeeee πŸ™‚ I need something to keep my hair back! We should get matching NURSE bondi bands!

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