Rock N Roll Chicago – 2017 Edition

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The Rock N Roll Chicago 1/2 marathon is one that I keep returning to, year after year.  Not because timing is great for me (its my momma’s birthday weekend EVERY year).  But because my friends & family love this race.  Since I moved away from the Chicago area, this is a great excuse to come back & reconnect with some people I rarely get to see, plus Aby loves this race.  Its always been my MO to go where my friends go.  Racing with friends is always more fun!!  And for anyone under 30, MO is “method of operation”.  Apparently that’s not a common acronym at this point in time.  I was just informed the other day that Aby has NO idea what that means (and I use it pretty frequently).  Smile

Aby, Nicki & I hit the expo on Saturday at McCormick Place.  Always plenty of parking at McCormick.  Easy in and out.  We even received discounted parking this year which was a bonus!!  Plenty of vendors.  A couple photo ops. 

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Having to go downtown for the expo is a perfect excuse to enjoy the city by walking around, having a late lunch & Aby usually insists on ice cream.  Ghirardelli’s anyone?

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Race day starts bright and early to try beat the summer heat & humidity of the Midwest.  We got downtown around 5:15a for a 6:30a race start.  Temps were probably in the 70s and not nearly as hot & humid as normal.  Thank goodness!

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And we are ready to ROCK!  Nicki for the 10K.  Aby for her 3rd half marathon & as for me, well, I was just there to have fun.  I’ve probably done 30 some half’s at this point.  Not my race distance of choice currently but Chicago offers a 5K, 10K & half marathon.  Great for the whole family & a great girls weekend where there is something for everyone!  I particularly love races that have multiple distances so its more inclusive for runner friends at all levels!

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It took about 2 miles before I realized that I was going to have to say goodbye to my “little” runner girl.  Aby had a poor buildup for the race.  Lack of motivation after losing her favorite running partner this summer!!  But race day brings magic and well, she was ON FIRE.

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Good bye, girl.  I must admit, the miles kinda slogged on from that point.  I wasn’t tired or hurt but had just come off the IM 70.3 Muncie the week before and I was facing down 2 half ironmans within the next month.  I didn’t want to put too much effort into this race.  I want to be healthy and that means that I can’t give it my all every time I hit the pavement.  I’m at that point in life, and age wise, where I have to train smarter, not harder.   So I slogged thru the miles.  Slowly. 

The course winds thru the streets of Chicago.  I’ve ran the race several times at this point so I know the course.  The spectators were concentrated at key intersections but it was otherwise  a pretty quiet day.  Like a training run with lots of friends! 

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Highlight was that I knew I had a chance of seeing Aby around mile 9, where there is a short out & back on MLK Drive between miles 8.5 & 9.5.  So unless she had gapped me by over a mile, which was a real possibility, I had a chance of spotting her.  And had I been even a few minutes slower, I would have missed her.  But I saw her briefly, shouted “great job” and she shouted that she was going to try to “break 2”.  I said, “Go get it!!” and she was off again.  She broke 2 on her 3rd half marathon!  1:56 for her!!!!  Great job, Aby!!!

Once we finished the out & back on MLK Drive, we head toward McCormick Place & the last 3 miles of the course.  There is always a giant inflatable Brooks Running guitarist at the 10 mile mark.  Happy to see him, as usual.  Then on to finish the race! 

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Finished! 

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Aby was flying high from her new PR.  We all agreed that the race was great.  Well ran.  Plenty of aid stations.  Lots of places where the City of Chicago had opened hydrants to cool off runners.  Amazing volunteers, great course support, great crowd/traffic control.  Overall, if your going to run a race in mid July, in the heat & humidity of the Midwest, this is one of the best.  Thanks Chicago for continuing to support the Rock N Roll Marathon series & their quest to bring one of the best running races to Chicago, each and every year. 

SWAG – Gender specific technical tee & race medal below.

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Next up, the Ironman 70.3 Ohio.  So I’ll be back next week to tell you all about that race.  Have a great weekend & I hope you ROCK your runs, no matter how big or small, at whatever distance YOU love! 

** Rock N Blogger – Amanda – TooTallFritz **

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Rock N Roll Chicago Half Marathon – 2016

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Year after year, I return to the Rock N Roll Chicago Half Marathon.  In fact this is my 4th appearance (2012, 2014, 2015 & 2016 – In 2013 I did IM 70.3 Racine which is always the same day).  Why have I ran so many times?  Don’t I like to experience new events vs repeating the same one over and over?  Well, this is a popular race & I always have friends who want to run.  My daughter LOVES this race.  I LOVE Chicago.  And ultimately, I go where my friends & family want to go.  And RNR Chicago is where the fun is in July!   #RNRCHI  So let’s run!

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Part of this year’s RNR CHI crew.  From Left:  Nicki, Me, Julie B, & Aby. 

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Aby & Nicki ran the 10K.  Julie B & I ran the half. 

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I must say, this was the most fun I’ve had (so far) at RNR CHI.  This was a no pressure year. I’m currently focusing on my nutrition & recovery so I can hopefully kill IM 70.3 Steelhead.  Therefore,  I wasn’t worried about the weather or what was to come, I just settled in with Julie B and ran.  The weather was amazing this year.  Coolish, high 60s at the start.  In the 70s at the finish.  Cloud cover.  Light breeze.  Little did I know that the great weather was due to a storm brewing nearby.  Hmmmm…..

Early 6:30am start, cuz its July & we want to beat the heat!!  Corral start.  Corrals were separated by 2-3 minutes.  Course was crowded but I never felt hindered.  Once thru the first mile, our corral had already thinned out and we were free to run whatever pace we could manage. Aid stations & porta potties every mile or so.  Bands every couple miles.  Gels between mile 9 & 10.  Cold sponges at mile 11.  The half was 100% on the streets of Chicago this year, from start to finish.  Nice course.  As for the 10K, they started with the half, then split early, within the first 1/4 mile of the race.  They turned off the streets and onto the lakefront path at Dusable Harbor, then ran the path to McCormick Place.  They finished with the half route for the last 3ish miles.  A couple pics from the course.

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This race is about fun.  I know some feel the need to race every event and that’s great, but that’s not where I am at this point.  I’d rather enjoy the run with friends than rush off and try to win.  Smile  So I’m thankful for my run friends, like Julie B who put up with my non-stop chatter while we run.  Fun day in Chicago!  And we beat the storm but just barely.  We finished and I immediately made a dash for my car.  It started raining, just as we hit the parking garage.  By the time we were out of the parking garage it was a total downpour.  So I missed hooking up with some of my other friends who ran.  I missed utilizing the VIP tent for the after party.  But ultimately, I go to an event for the running aspect and I loved RNR CHI this year!  Thanks Chicago!  Thanks Rock N Roll Marathon series!!!

At the finish with Julie B. 

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Swag.  Finishers medal.

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If you are interested in running Rock N Roll Chicago next year, they are doing an early bird pre-sale now!  The half is only $50, the 10K is $35 & the 5K is $30.  You can register here.   If you are interested in any of the remaining 2016 Rock N Roll events, feel free to use my discount code (TTF2016) for $15 off any half or full events.  I believe its active for every race EXCEPT San Antonio, as of right now.  I’ll be running the full in Vegas in November, then San Antonio in December, in case your interested.  Smile

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** Rock YOUR Run ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Aby’s First Half Marathon …..

I’ve always put limits on Aby.  She wanted to run her first 5K when she was so small that she called them K5s.  She’s wanted to run a half marathon for years and I told her, “not til you are 13”.  She wants to run a full marathon and I say, “not til you’re 16”.  Good or bad, that’s what I’ve done.  I see kids a lot younger than her running longer races and I don’t judge those parents but for Aby, I worry about injury and burnout.  Quite frankly I want her to be a runner and fitness enthusiast for life, not one who has accomplished everything before she can drive.  So we have limits.  

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I did let her participate in the Mini Muddy Buddy when she was 5. 

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Her first 5K was at age 9.  She took 2nd place in her age group.

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In the interim between that first 5K and now, we’ve ran a lot of 5Ks, 4 milers, 8Ks, teamed up for duathlons and ran countless miles together sometimes when she would have rather ran alone

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She’s also ran a few Cross Country seasons.  And she’s been there to support me and spectate a “few” marathons.  

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Now she is 13 and has finally made it to her first half marathon.  We had planned this race for quite some time.  She picked it last year before she even turned 13.  I registered us both.  Created a training plan.  And she ran all summer, slowly building up to the 10 mile long run and race day.  The Rock and Roll Chicago Half Marathon on July 19th (2015) was her first half marathon.  We spent the weekend in the Chicago area.  Picked up her XC spikes for the upcoming Cross Country season.  Hit the expo.  Spent time with friends. 

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Race day arrived and it was hot.  And humid.  Temp was upper 80s with a “feels like” time of 96 degrees.  The plan was to run slow.  Very slow.  And to make sure we finished under our own power.  I’ve seen way to many people go down in hot races.  I’m always overly cautious about pace in the heat. 

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We stuck together.  Walked thru the water stops since a lot of the volunteers hadn’t showed up since it was so hot and we had to wait in line for fluids.  Took our time.  And enjoyed ourselves.  I didn’t want her first half to be miserable even though the conditions were less than ideal.

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At mile 11, she took off toward the finish and notched off her first half marathon finish!  Goooooo Aby!!!  She was flying!

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My baby girl is growing up!  She ran a smart race and had fun.  Lots of time to add speed later but her first half marathon was fun and that’s something she will always remember. 

Cheers to our friend Nicki who spent the weekend hanging out with us!  She has ran a lot of races with Aby and I over the years. The weekend wouldn’t have been complete without her there to witness Aby’s first half finish.  Thanks, Nicki!!. 

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I know that I won’t always be able to run and race with Aby but I certainly cherish the times we’ve had thus far.  She’s getting older.  She has her own agenda.  But fortunately, at this point, she doesn’t have a driver’s license so she still depends on me for a ride.  Smile

** Making Run Memories, One Race At A Time ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Rock n Roll Chicago – 2014 Half Marathon

I’m a big sucker for all things running but that doesn’t include events that are hyped up without delivering on the promised race experience.  In the past, I’ve ran Rock N Roll events but always walked away feeling like RNR got more from me than I got from them.  So when friends were signing up to run this 2014 Rock n Roll Chicago, I was hesitant but ultimately decided to suck it up join the fun.

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First order of business, packet pick-up. RNR Chicago is one of the only events in the CHI that mandates each participant pick up their own packets. Normally not a problem for me but it was a huge problem this year. While I did manage to pick up my own packet and as a result was late to the closing on my new IN home, I did hear from a “top secret” source that RNR does in fact have race day packet pick-up. Too late for me but hopefully this info will help one of you!!

Race day started bright and early with the gun going off at 6:30 am. Some might complain about this early start but with a July race in Chicago, I’d start even earlier if it were an option! There were 20,000+ participants, 34 corrals. However, corral placement was apparently “optional” and runners just jumped in wherever they wanted without any intervention from officials. Normally this would cause a real “cluster” effect but not here. The corrals were all spaced apart by 2 minutes and there weren’t a ton of people in each corral. So when our corral hit the start line it kinda felt like we were at the front, preparing to race for the win. I had runners all around me who should have been back an additional 10+ corrals but it didn’t bottleneck. In fact, I was in awe most of the race at how much space I had to run and how well the unmonitored RNR corral system actually worked.

Hitting the Start!

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I will say that I’m not a runner who needs music. I may turn it on when things get slow, then proceed to sing and dance my way thru the ugly miles. However, I rarely have headphones so this is sometimes annoying to other runners. Sorry, all!  I kinda expected that a Rock n Roll race would deliver, well, some rock n roll!  Not so much. There were some bands on course but not as many as I expected.  And some of the bands were singing the blues, so to speak. I would have liked a bit more pep from some of them. Oh well, maybe next year?

As for the course, I liked it a lot.  It was open and on decent streets. Aid stations about every 1.5 miles. One GU station. One sponge station. We did run on the Lakefront path for a short jaunt but it wasn’t too crowded. We even ran thru the tunnel under McCormick place and they added strobe lights and made it a fun and not too dark atmosphere.

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For all of you bling chasers, the medals were super cool. Here is the SUN 5K and the half marathon medals. Plus they added a SAT 5K option for additional bling and that 5K medal was slightly different (less ornate than the SUN version).

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But for me, this race was about friends.  Here is a photo of Lisa (my BFF from way back), Rachel, Allison & I before the start.  Those two girls in the middle came to Chicago to run their VERY FIRST half marathon ever.  I didn’t want to miss that!  They killed it too!

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Aby, me & Nicki at the finish.  We have ran so many races together over the last several years.  And thanks Nicki for never complaining about Aby coming along even when it means we can’t get into the beer garden.

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So that’s a wrap for me.  I still think the race is overpriced compared to it’s Chicago counterparts.  I still think they should deliver more Rock n Roll.  However, it’s a great race on the streets of Chicago and well, you can’t put a price tag on making memories.

** Go Out and Make Your Own Memories ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **