Monday, August 2, 2010

Rock N Roll Chicago 2010 Race Report

Okay I'll add photos to this post later as I don't have access to them now.  Bare with me here as this may be a very long race repot.

The Journey to Chicago

I left Friday afternoon via Greyhound bus to Chicago.  Long story short, the Greyhound was the best way for me to get there in the evening when my cousin would be getting in.  If I flew, I would have to leave early morning as that is when the reasonably priced flights took off and there is no way I wanted to spend the entire day in Chicago all by myself.  So I boarded the bus.  I had read tons and tons of bad reviews of Greyhound so I was very wary of all of the warnings. Initially, a teenage boy who was very polite sat down next to me so I was doing alright.  Then, he went to sit with his mom when another seat opened up and a different lady got on and occupied the seat.  She was alright as well but then left at an earlier stop.  Somewhere in Wisconsin, I was graced with the smelliest dude ever to sit next to me.  It smelled so bad my eyes started to water.  I wanted off the bus but I had at least another 2 hours to go (which turned into 4).  As we got into Chicago, the traffic was very thick and we ended up spending an additional 2 hours just getting to our destination.  I was supposed to arrive at 7:30 but didn't get in until 9:00!  The bus dropped us in an area that seemed to be a bit sketchy and I was hassled right away after getting off the bus.  I hate traveling in a city that I don't know in the dark.  I ended up finding the train where I needed exact change and didn't have it.  I ended up finding a pizza place, sitting down and eating a few slices to calm my nerves before heading back out (I was starving by this time!) I headed back to the train station and got yelled at by the attendant because I didn't know that I needed to place my card in before going through the gate.  In Minneapolis our train runs on somewhat of a trust policy and if you get caught then you get fined.  Anyways, I figured out the whole bus system and finally made it the Congress Hotel where we were staying.

Saturday in Chicago
Saturday, Stephanie (my cousin) and I went to McCormick place to pick up our packets.  We had to walk a very long distance from our hotel to get to the packet pickup.  We ended up buying some IRunLikeAGirl shirts and browsed around before we left.  We then proceeded to walk all over the city.  We found a nice place to eat lunch before heading back to the hotel to drop off our packets.  Then, we hailed a cab to the Navy Pier but we only had 40 minutes there before we had to head off to the pasta dinner with the NF Endurance Team for this event.  We hailed another cab over to the pasta dinner and met up with the team.  Everyone was really nice and we had a great meal.  We took a quick group photo and then
Steph and I headed off to see the set from Transformers 3.  Then, we stopped for ice cream and bought some reduced fat muffins from Dunkin Donuts for in the morning.  By the time that we made it back home, it was 9:00 at night and we were completely exhausted.  We were both regretting our decision to walk all over the city on the day before our big race.

Race Morning
My alarm went off at 5:15 AM and I got up and threw my outfit on and ate my muffin while Stephanie continued to sleep.  Her alarm went off sometime around 5:45.  She quickly got ready and we were out the door around 6:15 and headed over to the race just a few blocks up.  I lost Stephanie as I had to run back to get my hat and sunglasses in the hotel.  I returned to the start line and found carral 20 which is where I needed to start. Steph was in carral 27.  The national anthem was being sung as I was trying to get into place and then before I knew it, the horn blasted and the first carral was let loose.  I'd never actually been to a race where they let each carral out with a separate start so I was suprised when we weren't moving shortly after.  It took about 30 minutes for them to finally get to carral 20 and let us loose.  They had announced that Jake from the first Bachelor was a few carrals ahead of me and Al Roker was also up there somewhere.  After waiting so long at the start, I needed to use the restroom right away but there were no porto-potties to be found until Mile 2.  I was trying hard to take in all of scenery but it was really difficult with a full bladder.  When I finally got to a Porto-Potty, there was a decent sized line.  The way the race was going so far, I didn't want to risk waiting for another one to show up down the road so I stood in line. 

After a quick visit in the John, I was off. The race was looking up from here. I held a steady pace and just took in all of the bands and fans along the course. I enjoyed running through the city and seeing all of the people who came out to watch.  They were giving out a product called Cytomax on the course instead of Gatorade or Powerade and I actually seemed to enjoy it at first.  Gatorade always leaves a gross taste in my mouth and I have to take lots of water along with it but the Cytomax seemed to be a little lighter.  However, I would later find out that my stomach didn't enjoy drinking too much of it.

Around mile 5 or 6, I realized that my face seemed to be beat red.  I was burning up hot.  I also kept getting stuck behind a bunch of people running really slow or walking.  It seemed like I was doing a lot of dodging during this race.

We started to head up to Soldier Field and the specatorship started to dwindle a bit.  There was hardly anyone on the stretch out there and back.  We went through a few dark tunnels and I was bit afraid that I might step onto a sewer plate that I couldn't see or something.  It also seemed to be pretty warm in the tunnels as there wasn't a breeze.  The nice thing about this race is they did provide a misters, ice, and cool wet sponges on the course to keep you cool. 

Mile 11 was the very last water stop.  I was a little shocked when they announced that it would be our last one.  The last few miles are always the hardest!!  Mile 12, indeed, ended up being my hardest mile of the entire 13.1.  I was exhausted and the Cytomax was not sitting too well in my stomach.  I started to get the goosebumps and I felt like I was going to puke.  I walked for a few minutes and then trying to push through.  I started to get frustrated with every spectator who told me that it was "Only a 1/2 mile up" or "Only around the bend" because they all seemed to be telling me that even though they were at least a 1/2 mile apart from one another!!  I ended up needing to walk about in the last 1/4 mile of the race as my body felt like it hit a halt.  Soon, I could actually see the finish line ahead and I started to run (rather slowly) towards the finish.  I made it through, heard my name screamed out from the sidelines and saw Martha and Bill from the NF Endurance Chicago team.  I said hello to them briefly and then continued on to get my medal, an ice cold wet towel, and some post race food. 

I knew that Stephanie would be a little ways behind me but wasn't sure exactly when she might come through because of the carral starts.  I headed back over to where I had gotten my medal and waited for her.  So grateful that our jerseys are bright because there were so many people going through.  I was worried I wouldn't spot her anywhere.  Eventually, Steph came through and said she wasn't doing so hot.  Her quad was killing her.  We both hobbled over to the beer tent and got our 2 free beers but neither of us could really drink more than a cup.  We then headed back to the hotel because we needed to shower and get checked out.

We got all cleaned up and packed up and Steph kept saying she wasn't feeling so great.  We both decided we just needed to get something to eat and then she should be better.  We headed out of our hotel room and over to the elevators.  One elevator came down and it was very full.  The people on the elevator kept trying to get us to go in and then Stephanie just took off and bolted back to the hotel room.  I wasn't sure what was up.  I watched another full elevator go by and then headed back to the room.  Stephanie was in the bathroom and had just puked all over the floor.  She said she never wanted to drink Cytomax again. She said she felt better and then we headed back down to check out and place our luggage in a holding place until our flights out that evening.  We went to eat lunch and Steph still wasn't feeling well so it took her awhile to eat.  We both agreed that we didn't feel like adventuring too much further our into the city as we were sore and tired.  We went back to the hotel and took a nap in the hotel lobby on the couches.  Then, we went to get ice cream and headed off to the airport.  I was so happy to be flying out this time instead of taking that bus!!!

Feeling a little sore today...and my face is a bit burnt.  Overall, I think this race needs to get a few kinks out before we will ever attempt it again.  Mainly being they could have used an extra water stop in the last mile.  They also really need to limit down the number of people they let in or work out their carral system a little better.  I was constantly getting jammed up in this race.

Chip Time: 2:27:14
Gender Place: 1686 / 2980
Age Grade: 44.7%


Julie said...

Hi Rach,
Congrats on a great R & R Chicago Half! I would really love to run that one some day:) So sorry to hear about your cousins bad experience after the race:( I can't take anything other than water when I am running...I feel for her. When I ran my second half they were handing out cups of something and I assumed that it was water. I was so thirsty that I just chugged it down. Mistake, it was blue! I felt so crappy after the race and my tummy was doing flips! Yuck! Live and learn:) Take care Rach!

The Alien said...

Congratulations on getting to the finish line, the races that get tough and you manage to finish are the ones that you will be looking up for inspiration in the future when things aren't going your way.

Too bad cytomax and your stomach didn't agree, when I ran the SF marathon they were giving cytomax and I didn't have any issues with it.

Dani Luffey said...

Hi Rachel,
I'm not sure if you got my previous message, but anyway, I wanted to congratulate you on the Chicago half marathon. Even though you got a bit sick, there's nothing like finishing.

In my other message, I'd asked if you would be interested in running the 13.1 Minneapolis race on Aug. 22 -- there's a half marathon and a 5K. If you or some of your followers are interested, I could get a discount code for the registration.

Let me know and congrats again!

Rachel said...

Hi Dani,

Thanks for the comment! I appreciate the offer to run the 13.1 Minneapolis but I am in overdrive trying to plan for a fundraising event that weekend (Aug. 21st) and I think I am going to need to skip out on that one. Thanks though!


Anonymous said...


Amy said...

Great report, it seems that the Chicago Race has been rocked by the runners. Nice report!!!