Rock ‘n’ Mud Part 2: Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon

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.

The course was fun. Lots to look at. Lots of shade from the buildings. Lots of spectators. Definitely more entertaining than the last couple races I’ve run.

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.

I also got a chance to meet up with some of the Chicago Running Bloggers afterward.

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.

My phone died at the finish, but I managed to get a random stranger to take this post-race photo of me and send it.

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!

9 thoughts on “Rock ‘n’ Mud Part 2: Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon

  1. Congrats! I think you are one of the few that did better than anticipated! :D And after doing muddy buddy the day before!! Thats awesome!! And for the expos at mccormick place, i had a friend drop me off and loop around, then even have a “pick-up” waiting area! The parking prices are too crazy.

    • Thanks! I feel like I should clarify though – I did better than expected, but that’s mostly because I went in with extremely low expectations. And I may have beat my last two HM times, but one of them was in 90-degree weather while I had a cold, and the other involved tainted water along the course. :) The perks of being slow as a snail, is that I am still at a point where it’s not too hard to beat my times.

      I totally should have had a friend drop me off and pick me up. Smart thinking.

  2. So happy you had a great race! Like Gingerfoxxx said, it seems like mostly everyone did not!

    The course does look like fun! It would be fun to run in the Loop since I work down there. I bet the messed up satellites would make me bonkers. FWP, for sure!

    I like the idea of bags at the end of a race for food and drinks. I have struggled with that too. They give you a bag at the end of the NYC marathon, but the food in it is not that great (surprisingly!!!).

    • Yeah, the messed up satellites were annoying for sure. My Nike+ ended up telling me I did 14.4 miles. So, at one point it told me I only had .5 miles to go, even though I still had almost 2 more. That’s when I started swearing at it.

  3. Awesome, congrats on two great races in one weekend!! I agree with you on the good and bad aspects of this race. Another plus is all the freebies you can get at the expo. However, I must have missed the bags at the finish. I ended up balancing a ton of stuff all the way back to my friend’s charity tent and thought to myself a bag would have been great.

  4. I can’t believe you ran two races in a row…so impressive! Congrats :)

    I completely agree with all of the pros and cons you listed about the race. I ended up paying the $21 for parking and immediately regretted it. And the bibs are too large!! I have a bib holder with hooks and this bib is too wide to fit. On the other hand, the course itself was great – lots of shade, nice views, and water stops. I thought it was the ideal race to run as my first one!

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