Friday, July 22, 2016

Rock 'n' Roll Chicago Half Marathon Recap

Part One: Road Trip and Expo

Sunday morning I woke up before everyone else and was ready to go. The weather was going to be a little hit or miss with storms, but it wasn't going to be hot. WINNING! My plan for this race was simple, try to be consistent and break two hours. 

This is the first half marathon I was going to do in full compression socks. It is also the first race I was going to do in my Hoka's. I figured for my 15th half marathon, why not!

I was provided with VIP by Rock 'n' Roll for this event, so I had a private bag check and a plethora of bathrooms to choose from. Joe and I ended up leaving before everyone since I was in corral four and they were all in 24. 

Private potties FTW!

We had just a few minutes before I had to get in my corral so we took a few pictures. 

Joe and I said our good byes and I made my way to my corral.

When I got in my corral I looked in front of me and there was Kristen! It was so nice to have someone to chat with, even for a few minutes. We ended up starting with corral three, which was about two minutes off the start. 

I knew Kristen was racing so we said our goodbyes quickly. I knew I wasn't going to be able to keep up with her. After the 5k, I needed to stick with the plan. I wanted to run the first 5k around an 8:30 pace then hang on to an 8:45 pace for as long as I could. After racing the 5k, then walking almost 30,000 steps on Saturday, I thought this was a pretty good plan.  

I knew my watch would be off, and it was actually on until mile four! The first 5k had  a lot of flat. I mean, I knew it was going to be flat, but that was something. We also ran on an open grate bridge or two which was strange and scary all at the same time. There wasn't a whole bunch of crowd support, but that was fine. It was cloudy and slightly muggy - like going to rain muggy. 

The first 5k wasn't crowded at all. My legs felt great and I was keeping a good pace. I knew it wasn't a pace I could hold on to, but good nonetheless. 

5k split: 26:29 (8:32 pace)

In the next 5k the course started to change. Sure, we had some slight up and downs, but mostly it involved turns. LOTS OF TURNS! Since I'm not overly familiar with Chicago, I just felt like I was going around in circles. We would go under the train tracks and then be between buildings. I just looked down at my watch at some point and it said I was running a 14:20 pace. Yep, I'm doing it blind the rest of the race. 

Ummmm watch? 

I remember seeing the six mile marker and thinking "HOW AM I ONLY AT MILE SIX!?! I'VE BEEN RUNNING FOREVER!!" This seriously was the longest half marathon I have ever done. I think it was a mix between all the turns and genuinely having no clue where I was. 

10k split: 53:40 (8:39 pace)

I have never been so done with a half marathon before. I was so checked out. It wasn't the races fault, I just don't do well on flat courses. Then let's add in the equalizer. Head wind. Yes folks, Chicago is the Windy City for a reason. From the six and a half mile marker to about mile eight there was an awful head wind. At times I didn't feel like I was moving. 

I had to stop to fill up my water bottle anyway, so I did it in this stretch. I had also used this race to work on my fueling, which is a huge problem for me. 

I remember taking another turn on to an out and back. The head wind just stopped. Man, no air movement with rain coming was legit! The smell of rain was in the air. It was so cool to see the people ahead of me. They all looked so strong. I made sure I cheered for them. All of a sudden, after the struggle fest, I was already at the 15k mark!

15k split: 1:17:19 (8:42 pace)

Okay, still doing alright. My 10 mile split would be able to really tell what I was doing. I hit the mark with a 1:26 and some change. Alright. I can run under a half hour 5k, I'll get my sub-2. 

I could see signs for McCormick Place, which was where the expo was located, and knew it brought the final tunnel with it. HOLY DARK! Like DARK! I was just looking at the man in front of me and his reflective parts of his clothes. Once I came out of the tunnel was about where the last of the 10k participants were. They would join the course with us and finish at the same spot. 

It was also around this time that this magical sponge appeared! If I could have hugged that lady who gave me my sponge I would have. My salty sweaty self was so happy!

Okay, eye on the prize - see how far under two hours you can get. 

This plan got a little derailed around 11.5 miles. This was the last "hill" (overpass) of the race. Now let's add in 10k runners with us, it was crowded. I couldn't get any speed which made me mad. Just bad timing.

At the 12 mile marker I grabbed some Gatorade, tried to take my last chew (spit it out) and made the last turn! It was a straight shot to the finish. 

Literally, a straight shot. 

The finish line felt like it was getting further and further away! There was a bro next to me getting cheered on by his friends "Just do it! Think about how much you hate Flynn!" Tons of other incredibly supportive crowds as well. Yes, you are moving forward - it is almost over. 

I hit that finish line and thought my legs were gone. I didn't feel them. Jello. Checked my watch, 1:56! It's been quite some time since I ran a 1:56 and I felt great about it!

I saw Kristen in the VIP area after the race. While she didn't hit her goal, she still had a really awesome race. 

Joe ended up with a huge PR (about eight minutes) and right as he crossed the finish line a huge thunderstorm hit. Gloria, Allison and Kelsey got stopped to wait for it to pass. I was getting a massage lol! 

In all, I did like the race. It was fun to explore a new city, and that VIP experience was AWESOME! Would I run it again, I don't think so. If I did I would probably drop to the 10k instead of the half. I just don't do well on flat courses. 

Below is the course map and elevation chart. 

Disclaimer: I was provided entry to this race as part of the Rock 'n' Blog program. All opinions are my own. 


  1. Congrats! I loved flat races at one time but they do get monotonous. The race seems to go on forever!

  2. Congrats! I'm so bummed I didn't get to meet you. As a Chicago native, I smile when you speak of headwinds. To me that was a gentle, refreshing breeze. Haha! But yes, very flat and SO many turns.

    1. I'm sorry we missed each other! I bet your are totally use to that breeze!

  3. Excellent job, girl! Chicago is such a beautiful city.