After Saturday’s Muddy Buddy, I woke up at 5 am with a pretty sore upper body, but luckily my legs were okay for Sunday’s half marathon.
After my RNR Las Vegas experience, coupled with the atrocious fees for any Rock ‘n’ Roll event, (you even have to pay for runner tracking!) I was really on the fence about doing this race. Chicago has so many other (and cheaper) half marathons to choose from, so I didn’t really get why this particular one is so popular.
However, I ended up pleasantly surprised with this race. Here are a few of the things I really liked.
The start line was in Grant Park. Every other Chicago half I’ve run starts way far south, and public transportation has never been an option. This race was much more convenient for me.
Lots of water, ice, and sponges. I was very happy to have gotten ice at several different spots along the course. Although the cloud cover made for a slightly cooler run than it could have been, it was still a hot one and I was trying my best to stay cool and hydrated every step of the way. The event organizers did a great job with this. (And compared to the water incident in Vegas, this was a HUGE improvement.)
Course entertainment. I’m usually not one to make a big deal about course entertainment, because even if there is a lot, you run right past and it doesn’t entertain you for very long. However, the bands (and 2 DJs) along the course all seemed to have a lot of energy and really seemed to get the runners pumped up. I was pleased.
The finish line party was pretty great. I usually stretch, grab my beer, and head out. But there was a ton of space, lots of room to spread out, and fun concert-in-the-park feel. I ended up sticking around quite awhile, despite being alone. I got some snacks and beer, utilized the Athletico stretching station, picked up some freebies, and enjoyed the music. I really do like races that end in Grant Park.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed this race. However, I still have a few gripes about the Rock ‘n’ Roll series in general, so I feel I have to list them here.
- Too corporate.
- Too expensive.
- Packet pickup at McCormick Place. I hate McCormick Place.
- $21 for parking at said packet pickup.
- The race bibs are too freakin’ huge!!!
- I’d love it if they handed out bags at the finish for all the food and beverages. Not that I’m complaining about the post-race food/drinks, but when you’re dizzy and dehydrated, holding 3 drinks, a banana, a smoothie, a bagel, and Marathon bars all at once proves a very difficult task.
That said, they do put on a good race, and they seem to have their act together (except at Vegas 2011). If you don’t mind paying a steep entrance fee, at least you know it’ll be a good race.
And as far as completing this one, I turned out surprisingly pleased with my race. For only being midway though my “official” half marathon training (I jumped up from 8-miles last weekend for the Chicago Half, to 13.1), and for how bad my last half was, I went in with extremely low expectations.
But I think the cloud cover and the shade of the buildings helped, I stayed hydrated, and I actually came in with a better time than my last two half marathons (and just slightly shy of a PR).
And the best part is, finishing this race also helped me complete the Rock ‘n’ Mud challenge. 2 races, 2 days, 3 medals, one very sore and tired girl.
But I did it!