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!

Weekend of Insanity

Normally Wednesdays are my hardest day of the week. I teach up in Rogers Park in the morning, then come back to the office in River North for meetings, then go up to Roscoe Village for tutoring, and for the past 3 weeks, I’ve had apartment showings after that.

I’ve officially survived my Wednesday, just in time for what I’ve come to call “The Weekend of Insanity.”

Don’t get me wrong. This type of insanity is the GOOD kind. It’s all things of my choosing, rather than stressful things that have been thrust upon me. However, take a look at what’s on my agenda, and you’ll see why I’m still considering it insane.


  • Lead a field trip at work.
  • Carly Rae Jepsen free show (I decided to skip this because I really was spreading myself too thin.)
  • Midnight showing of Dark Knight. In Warrenville.


  • Get to bed around 4am.
  • Day off (THANK GOD)
  • A couple apartment showings (not in the fun category)
  • Rock n Roll packet pickup at McCormick Place
  • Drive to Algonquin
  • Carbo-loading home-cooked dinner at Mom and Dad’s


  • Muddy Buddy race in Gilberts
  • Drive back to city
  • Work 3-hour shift at Taste of River North for work


  • Rock n Roll Half Marathon
  • BBQ and Summer on Southport (If I’m still alive)

I think I am officially crazy, but there’s something about keeping busy with things you actually WANT to do, versus things you’re obligated to do, that make it so much better.

I’ll do my best to give a decent recap of both the Muddy Buddy and the Rock n Roll, but if I’m a little exhausted, you’ll know why.

In Honor of National Running Day…

I finally caved and registered for the Chicago Rock n Roll Half.

I’ve been debating registering for this for months now, primarily because I think the RnR series is WAY too overpriced. I mean, even today with a $20 discount for National Running Day, the race still cost me $100. That is way over my price range for races (other than Disney, which is still pricey but at least you’re at Disney!)

However, the prices are only going to continue to go up, and the way I have been obsessing over this I knew I’d probably end up caving at the last minute and costing myself even more money. So, I took advantage of the “discount” to get myself signed up for the Rock N Roll Chicago.

AND, because I was already registered for the Muddy Buddy the day before, I am now also entered into the Rock n Mud Challenge.

As they say…


And now, some numbers to prove I am insane.

  • This will be race 8 of 10 CARA runs.
  • It makes a total of 16 races in 2012 (so far).
  • This will be the 4th half marathon I’m registered for this summer.
  • It brings my total race mileage for the year to 132.75.
  • And I am not even going to count how many dollars I’ve spent on registrations.

After this, I seriously will be better about my race registrations. For the rest of the year, I am going to only register for races that work toward my three goals: CARA participation, A Race a Month, or Run in all 50 States. And I am seriously sticking with my price limits. No more expensive races, and NO MORE ROCK n ROLL! I hate you, RNR. I really do!

My Name is Cary and I Have a Half Marathon Problem

I suppose there are unhealthier addictions to have – like my other vices: coffee, beer, ice cream, and Facebook. But half marathons are probably the most expensive addiction I have. Or actually, races in general.

Today I signed up for the Muddy Buddy race, which I’ve been wanting to do forever. (It’s on my List.) You’d think that would be enough, but oh no. It only made me thirstier for more.

While registering for the Muddy Buddy, I also noticed that this year they’re pairing up with the Rock n Roll Chicago Half Marathon for the Rock n Mud Challenge.


What is this, you ask? Well, it’s the dumb brilliant idea to sign up and run the Muddy Buddy obstacle course on Saturday, and the Rock n Roll Half Marathon on Sunday. Perks for the crazies athletes who take on this challenge include special race bibs at both races, extra beer after the Muddy Buddy, lunch after the Half, and a special Rock n Mud medal.

I haven’t committed to the RNR half yet, but I am weighing the pros and cons. Here’s what I’ve got so far.


  • The RNR half is another CARA race, and I am still 3 short for my goal.
  • RNR medals are cool.
  • It’s one of the most conveniently located half marathons to where I live.
  • Whenever I find myself thinking “I kinda wanna do this” it should be a sign to go for it.
  • The Rock n Mud challenge sounds awesome.
  • I just got a discount code for RNR registration
  • Prices go up next week.


  • I’m slightly anti-Rock n Roll after how big and corporate and expensive its become.
  • After the Rock n Roll Vegas debacle, I lost a little respect for them as an organization.
  • Rock and Roll races are WAY too expensive.
  • Registering for this would bring my summer half marathon total to 4. (Which I don’t really see as a problem, but maybe it is a little crazy.)

So, I don’t know. Really it comes down to this:

  • Yes, I do it because I want to, and it would work toward not only the Rock n Mud challenge, but also my CARA participation award.
  • No, I don’t do it, because Rock and Roll races are way too expensive, and I’d rather support smaller races.

What do you think? Should I do it? Or save my money?

Also, have you run the RNR Chicago before? Would you recommend it? I’ve heard (and witnessed firsthand) other RNR horror stories, but I’ve also heard the Chicago race is a ton of fun. I’d love to hear your experiences below.