Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Race Recap: Rock 'N' Roll Chicago Half Marathon Weekend

Disclaimer: As a Rock'N'Blog Ambassador, I received a free entry to the Rock'N'Roll Chicago Half Marathon. My experience and my opinions are my own.

To think I considered not running this one at all. My knees had been bothering me and my endurance was AWOL. With so many blogger friends heading to my hometown to participate in the Rock'N'Roll Chicago weekend, I had to make a decision. Do I drop down to the 10k? Drop out? Who me? I contacted my rheumatologist who recommended steroid injections in my knees. Following the procedure, Mother Nature gifted us with some cool, low humidity days which led to some nicely paced, pain-free runs.

It's funny how things work out, isn't it? With some success on the road and a boost in my confidence, I stuck to my original plan to run the half marathon. I knew it would be tough. I made a race plan to use my 4:1 run/walk intervals. I set a goal finish time of 2:11 but realistically figured I'd finish around 2:15.

I was ready.



Holly was scheduled to arrive Friday evening, Her flight was delayed by a couple of hours and after circling around the terminals, I finally spotted her on the curb at O'Hare about 8:00. We went to a Mexican restaurant, Mago, in my town. The downtown area is pretty lively on a Friday night, with live music and people enjoying the summer night. Holly and I caught up over drinks and tacos. When we got to my house, she was greeted by Cocoa, the Cocker Spaniel Guard Dog. It didn't take long for Holly to win Cocoa over and they became BFFs very quickly.


Saturday morning, we headed into the city to meet up with a group of bloggers who came to run the races. In case anyone reading this is feeling the FOMO, I want you to know that this weekend was not a planned meet-up. As it turns out, a bunch of us running bloggers realized we were all planning on running RnRChicago this year. Since so many of us were running this weekend, I created a FB chat so we could plan to get together.  It was fun to see it all work out! Brunch was at Beatrix, a fun Chicago restaurant. The food was good and the company was better. It's a funny thing about running bloggers--we already felt like we knew each other! I kept getting teary-eyed every time another blogger walked in.

Back row L->R: Kim H, Linda, Me, Deborah, Sara, Michelle, Kim G
Front row L->R Marcia, Holly, Susie
After brunch, Holly, Lindsay, Linda, Kim H, and I headed over to the expo. We walked around, sampled ice cream, and checked out all the vendors. We posed for some pictures.

from L->R: Lindsey, Linda, me, Holly, Kim H
A highlight (at least for me) was seeing Kathrine Switzer. If you remember my RnR experience from last year, I had a special meeting with KSwizz. I was shocked that this year she remembered me! It was so wonderful to see her again.


Sunday morning, Holly and I met Marcia at the El station for our ride into the city. It was gloomy but not raining and we hoped we'd stay dry for the race. Marcia had to pick up her bib for the 10k, so once we were in the race village, we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. We didn't have a lot of time to check our gear and use the portapotties before we went into our corrals. We ran into Linda before making our way to the corrals. The corrals were closed, but I opened the gate and we snuck into Corral 7 (we were supposed to be in Corral 6). We couldn't make our way forward. The corrals were packed. More people were streaming in through the same opening I had found. This was my big complaint about the race last year. Since I knew I'd be running slow, it didn't bother me this year. Perspective...

It was a misty, gloomy, foggy morning!
The Special Olympics were being held in Chicago this weekend as well.
The Star Spangled Banner was sung and the skies opened up. The rain came down in buckets. The good thing about being packed into the corral like sardines was that we probably didn't get as wet as we could have! We slowly made our way forward and about 11 minutes after the start of the race, we crossed the start line. As usual for most Chicago races, we headed straight up Columbus Drive. It was crowded but you could move and I settled into my pace easily. About a half mile into the race, the 10k runners split off from us and the crowd thinned nicely. I didn't stop to walk during the first mile, taking my first walk break right at 9 minutes.

I was familiar with the course, having run the race last year, but I forgot about how many turns the race takes in the first half! I think I did a pretty good job of running the tangents, but my Garmin measured 13.6 miles. I don't really know how accurate that is since the buildings in Chicago really mess with the GPS. During one of my walk intervals, my watch had me at a 7:58 pace! Ha! I tried to ignore that, but it did kind of mess with my head. Once I was on the straightaways, it was much easier to stay on top of my pacing. Looking at my splits from RnR, I did a great job with my pacing.


Throughout the race, the rain came and went. There were even peeks of the sun. It was the craziest day! The air was thick and I stopped to drink water at just about every water station. I also sipped on my Tailwind throughout the race. I never had to stop to use a portapotty, which kind of surprised and shocked me. It just goes to show you it's not the heat, it really is the humidity. I was well hydrated throughout the race and the rain kept me cool.

Don't yell at me for posting these. I'll be purchasing them once all my photos are uploaded.
A coupon would be nice! 
There was plenty of entertainment along the course, with bands almost every mile. I loved that in spite of the weather, the musicians were out there as enthusiastic as if they were under the bright sunshine! I also stopped to take a picture with the 5 Elvi that were on the course. My dad asked me which one was the real Elvis and you know what, I wasn't sure. Kind of like Santa Claus, right?


I waited for Holly to finish and we made our way to Butler Field for a post-race beer and some treats. No sooner did we stop to take our finisher picture did the skies open up again and it started to pour. We never made it to the beer tent. Butler Field was a mudfest. Along with many other runners, Holly and I took refuge in the merchandise tent, waiting for the rain to stop. When it finally did, we made the decision to leave to meet some of the other bloggers for brunch. On our way to the restaurant, it started to pour again. By the time we got to the restaurant, we were freezing. Looking like two drowned rats, we said hi to everyone and headed to the bathroom to dry off and change our clothes. The rain washed away all the sweat from the race, which I considered a win. There was no need to use the tips I posted on getting clean after a run without a shower.


At brunch, we recapped our mornings. I think all of us agreed that we need to plan another weekend together. We also agreed that we all feel so lucky to be a part of such an amazing community. There were no surprises--everyone was exactly as they portray themselves on their blogs. I loved that--the genuineness is what makes me love our little blogging community all the more. I can't wait until our next adventure.

L->R: Kim H, Linda, Michelle, Holly, me, Deborah, Erica, Melissa (Erica's high school friend)
For me, this weekend was special in so many ways. Once again, I slayed RA. I didn't let it beat me. I conquered 13.1 and executed the race exactly as I planned. Was I happy with my finish time? I don't know if I'll ever be happy with slowing down, but I'm happy that I can still go the distance. This race was a mental victory for me too. When my confidence is flagging, my running performance suffers. So last week, I took charge, got my knee pain under control, and ran a good race. I also had more fun at a race than I've had in long time. I saw so many friends and that made it extra special. My friend Pete was near the finish line, just like last year and he videoed me coming in. You can see it on his recap. Be sure to congratulate him on his first place AG finish!!!

Crossing the finish line feeling good? A huge win!
What an amazing adventure!



Have you ever participated in a blogger meetup? I don't know about you, but the race felt anti-climatic compared to meeting everyone! Consider jumping into a race if you find out that a lot of bloggers are planning on running it. Like the ZOOMA Great Lakes Half Marathon and 5k. Marcia, Erika, and I will be there--we'd love to have more of our blogger friends join us! Interested? Use the code WENDY2018 to save 10%!  

I'm linking up with Tuesdays on the Run: Marcia, Erika, and Patti and Running Coaches' Corner with Debbie, Rachel, Lora, and Marc.


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56 comments :

  1. I am bummed I missed out this weekend. Congrats on another great race! Ugh, that weather was yucky but I was it was better than hot and humidity. So cool that Kathrine remembered you, she is so sweet! I will be there in September for the ZOOMA Great Lakes Half Marathon. Looking forward to it!

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    1. Oh good! It's going to be another fun blogger weekend. I hope we have better weather!

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  2. It really was an epic weekend and yes, I agree the running was secondary. Hooray for feeling GOOD!

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  3. It definitely was an #epicbloggerextravaganza ;-) Rain be damned, we still had a rockin' grand time in the Windy City!!

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  4. Best finish line picture ever! Congrats on slaying the race!

    I LOVED blogger meet-ups and have stayed friends with several gals outside of running! ZOOMA Cape Cod was one of my favorite weekends for just that...I even went the year I couldn't run just because I didn't want to miss seeing everyone!

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    1. I hope more bloggers sign up for Zooma. I'm really digging these meetups!

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  5. It sounds like such a fun weekend! I'm glad it ended up being a good race experience. I love that finish line photo :)

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  6. Congrats on the finish and thanks for the shout out! How did yourlegs feel after the race?

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    1. I felt surprisingly well after the race! Even yesterday, I wasn't really sore, just tired. I'm really happy about that!!

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  7. I'm so glad you had such a great time, even with all the rain! I haven't done too many blogger meet-ups (except BlogFest and that can be overwhelming because there are just SO MANY!) but would love to do that! I wonder if I can make that ZOOMA race work? Hmmm.......

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  8. I was bummed I missed the group that was in Vegas last November. I want to do Vegas again since I had so much fun during the race. Glad you stuck with the half and you came in when you figured you would. You slayed RA and the rain!

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  9. Well, there was Panama City which was super and then LV. Hopefully there will be another for me.

    I love your attitude about running. I need to be less competitive but I have never been fast so I am not ready to slow down....yet.

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    1. I'm not ready to slow down yet either! Unfortunately, my body has other plans.

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  10. I can't wait to meet you at ZOOMA! I hope we can convince some others to join us - I will find a way to hang out at least a bit while I'm working.

    -MCM Mama

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    1. I'm working on a few people...I'll keep you posted.

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  11. Great job on your race! I am sure you are glad you decided to stay with the 13.1 distance.Even with the rainy weekend, looks like you and all the other bloggers had a blast!

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    1. You know I am happy I did the half. I was really not loving the idea of doing the 10k.

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  12. I'm just so proud of you Wendy! Every time RA tries to be an ass you come back swinging and you're always victorious. Great job on the half marathon!

    I was so happy to meet you and give you multiple hugs! I agree that we need another epic blogger meet up and I'm totally volunteering to help plan that!

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    1. I know I was over the top with the hugs, but hey, what can I say? I was beyond thrilled to finally meet you in person. Still smiling!

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  13. Way to go Wendy! I knew you'd not let RA get the better of you. You continue to inspire me! Cannot wait to see you again and spend more time with you!

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    1. I am so happy that we made this happen! I can't wait to see you again.

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  14. What an epic weekend it was! I was having so much FOMO, and then when I unexpectedly got the day off of work AND that awesome deal on my registration fee, there was no way I couldn't join along! Looking forward to the next time we can all get together!

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    1. We have no excuse since we live so close to each other! I'm so excited we were finally able to connect.

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  15. You did an amazing job! I wish the weather could have been a little kinder to you all, but it is nice to get the sweat washed off lol That is a wonderful to feel good when you cross the line :) Congrats Wendy! I confess to to FOMO ;)

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    1. I wish you could have been there. With your Bib Rave ambassadorship, you'll get a lot more opportunities for blogger meet ups! Let's keep in touch!

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  16. Love all the pictures of everyone and sooo wish I could've made it. Glad your knees felt good and you conquered the distance in the rain! Congratulations!

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    1. We sure missed you! We'll just have to plan another adventure!

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  17. I am still smiling and talking about our adventures! Everyone was so genuine and sweet. I feel as though I've made friends for a life time. Can't wait to do it all again

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    1. We are just so lucky to have our little community! I was smiling the whole weekend and reading everyone's recaps brings that all back!

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  18. Congrats! I'm glad you were able to execute the race you wanted. That's always a boost to the confidence.

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    1. Yeah, I was so pleased with how it came together. Of course, the rain kept me cool and that helped a ton!

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  19. Super jelly of the blogger meet up! Huge congrats on running a great race in that crazy weather!

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  20. Really happy you had such a good race! I've met up with many bloggers over the last 10 years, but one-on-one, not a big group meet up. What a fun weekend!

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    1. If I have to slow down on the course, I'm glad that I have this blogger world to keep me smiling!

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  21. Congratulations, and you slayed RA once again! I'm glad you all had a blast with the blogger meetup. I so wish I could have been there to meet you all! Too bad about all that rain, yikes! We've been drowning in it over the past couple of weeks with no end in sight!

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    1. The weather was crazy but it didn't stop any of us from enjoying ourselves!

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  22. It was so good to meet you and the other ladies - I will be back to Chicago and I will be sure to let you know!

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    1. You have no idea how happy I was to see you!! I'm glad you made it happen. I hope we do it again!

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  23. I've never done a RNR race or a blogger meet up but it sounds like a fun time! I love that there were so many of you there!

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    1. The funny thing is--last year I didn't know hardly anyone running this race! What a difference this year was.

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  24. Congratulations! I love your mindset and attitude and this looks like a really fun event. I am glad you soaked it all in and made the most of it.

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    1. I guess it's either I adapt to my new reality or I miss out on all the fun! It's hard to let go of finish times--it's definitely a work in progress.

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  25. I definitely had some FOMO about your blogger meet up! I wanted to be there too! Aside from meeting you, I've only met Susie at Blogfest a few years ago. Congrats on your great race! It's a victory to feel good!

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    1. I knew I was well prepared to run a half--it was all going to be dependent on things that were out of my control. Like the weather. That rain was like pennies from heaven. Seriously.

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  26. Congrats on your race!!!! I was looking forward to your recap and looks like all went well and how fun to meet up with the other bloggers!! I have never met another blogger but hope to join a meet-up in the future. That would be awesome. Maybe I missed it but I am not familiar with your friend Pete, what is his website?

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    1. The link to Pete's blog is in my post--scroll up to my congratulatory sentence! He's a super nice guy.

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  27. I am SO glad you were able to run the race and have a good time, despite the rain!
    How fun to have a pic with the Elvis impersonators!
    All the blogger pics make me SO happy! I love that so many of y'all were able to get together!

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  28. It sounds like you had so much fun! I definitely had runvy seeing all of the IG posts and have loved reading everyone's recaps. Congrats on doing so well considering the obstacles leading up to the race. And believe me, I totally understand what you're talking about when you mention getting slower, but are not mentally ready to accept it...

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  29. Somehow in my travels I missed your recap! That's great that you had such a good time at the race after all the struggles leading up to it. I guess it really does prove that it's all about how we react, not always about what actually happens.

    I did the half I did because I knew I'd be able to meet up with some people (one of whom I ran a half with last year, too).

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  30. I love this so much, I'm almost tempted to book and come and do it myself just to get that stuff, all the lovely blogging ladies. Course, that'll be the year you all go somewhere else, right? Love the pics, and can't believe you've met KS twice and she remembers you - wow! Not enough exclamation marks and love for this post.

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