Saturday, July 23, 2016

2016 Rock N Roll Chicago Half Marathon race recap

Remix Challenge recap continued from here.

Prologue
As some of you already know, I have a rain jinx when it comes to running races. This year my race weather has gone smoothly, though. So smoothly that I was allowing myself to think that perhaps I'd finally kicked my rain jinx to the curb!

I was feeling good because the weather forecast for the morning of the Rock N Roll Chicago Half Marathon was showing 0% chance of rain. ZERO. Zilch. No chance at all.
I told Kayla that if the meteorologists were THAT confident there'd be no precipitation, you could blame me in the impossible event it did rain.

Lest I get too carried away with abolishing my rain jinx, the Rock N Roll Chicago Half Marathon proved I've still got it!!!
On half marathon race morning, Kayla and I rode Divvy bikes down to the starting area. As expected, the scene was significantly more crowded and frenzied than the 5K the day before. This was one of those days I was grateful for chip-timed races and being in a later starting corral.

In the nick of time, we ran into Marcia!
From L to R: me, Kayla, and Marcia
Then we all split to head to our respective starting corrals. 

For a mid-July half marathon, the weather was about as ideal at the start as anyone could have asked for. The temperature was in the low 70s, and it was overcast with some mild breezes. I thought, This is really good! I can actually go out and really enjoy yourself!
My view as I was approaching the starting line
I crossed the starting line and started at a comfortable pace. Almost right off the bat, I had trouble getting fired up. The streets were comparatively quiet compared to my past runnings of Rock N Roll. I was still wearing my sunglasses despite the overcast skies, and it made the streets look very dark. There weren't a lot of spectators, and I don't remember hearing any music for at least the first few miles.

Somewhere around Mile 2.5 I remember seeing a stand with a guy dressed up as Mike Ditka. This made me smile. In retrospect, I should have stopped to take a picture!
Da Coach in all his glory
Around Mile 3, I was already doing the math in my head as to how much time I had left on my feet. Adam said he would try to spectate around Mile 3.5, so I focused on getting to that point. Sure enough, I did see him on the course, which lifted my spirits briefly.

Afterwards, I went back to thinking about how much time and distance I still had left. The course was making all kinds of turns back and forth through downtown streets. I knew at some point it would exit downtown and head south, but it felt like we would never get to that point.
I tried to remember all the mental tricks I'd heard over the years for getting through the mind-numbing miles. I told myself to take it incrementally. At Mile 5 you can take a GU! Around the 10K mark you'll pass by the Hilton Chicago where the Blackhawks Convention is taking place! 

Around Mile 6, I saw a runner collapse onto the pavement. She was holding one leg and writhing in agony. It was scary. Half a dozen runners stopped to help her, and others shouted to some nearby police that she needed medical assistance. The police immediately got onto their walkie talkies and radioed for help. It brought tears to my eyes to witness the scene.

I kept pushing on through the miles. Physically, I felt fine, but mentally, my heart just wasn't in it. My mantras: There will be a day when you can't do this, but today is NOT that day. Just get to the finish line. You'll get some sweet medals at the finish line!
Around the Mile 9 mark, there was an awful half-mile out-and-back along Martin Luther King Drive. All I could think about was how the race organizers had to somehow find a way to add an extra mile onto the course, and this was it.

Then, the course ran through the dreaded McCormick Place tunnel around Mile 11. It was stuffy and extremely dark with very rough pavement. I had to be very, very careful of my footing.

The course is set up so you can see the finish line from literally almost a mile away. The vision is deceptive because you think it's a lot closer than it really is.
Can't remember where this photo was taken, but I think it was around the Mile 12 area?
Around Mile 12.5, one of the deejays suddenly stopped his music. He said, "Ladies and gentlemen, I have an announcement to make." Then there was dead silence for such a long moment that I thought it was a joke. He finally came back and told us the race had been suspended due to approaching storms. He (correctly) noted it probably wouldn't change much for the runners who could hear him at that point on the course, but that everyone should seek shelter immediately.

WHAT?!?!?

Granted, the skies looked like this:
All I could think was, Please don't turn off the timing mats! I didn't come this far to not get an official time! Am I still going to get my medals? Please, please, please keep the timing mats on! Other runners near me echoed my sentiments out loud. That last half-mile felt like it took an eternity.

When I crossed the line I was happy to see volunteers were still handing out medals. Meanwhile, more announcements were being made warning everyone to take cover somewhere downtown, not under the tents. They told us that based on the size of the pending storms we wouldn't want to be there in a few minutes. I managed to collect some refreshments before the skies opened up and rain started coming down in torrents. Within a few seconds I was completely soaked.
I scurried towards gear check. It was chaos. I ran into Erica along the way, who had come down to spectate. We wanted to get a post-race picture with Marcia, but it was raining so heavily that we couldn't.

After reclaiming my bag, I took cover in a tunnel walkway, all the while worrying about Kayla still being out on the course. I later found out that Kayla was around Mile 10 when the rain and lightning started, but hadn't heard the race was suspended. Therefore, she just kept on going until she finished. Way for her to push through! From Kayla's race recap:
That says it all right there, doesn't it??? =D

Thankfully the rain didn't last long. Many thanks to Erica, who had given me a VIP wristband which she had received from PowerBar. While I was waiting for Kayla, I went to check out the tent.

Oh my goodness, what a privilege that area was! They had an extensive catered assortment of food including various breakfast/lunch offerings, fruit and veggie trays with dip, cookies and brownies, you name it. This picture doesn't even begin to do the offerings justice:
They also had ample beverage options, a full bar, a phone charging station, massage tables and foam rollers, private portapotties, a changing area, and plenty of tables and chairs to sit down. They literally thought of everything.
It was an enormous treat to enjoy the generous offerings for a little bit. Huge thanks again to Erica and PowerBar for the wonderful experience!!!

I met back up with Kayla, who looked terrific considering the weather conditions she had just run through. Here we are post-race with our medals:
Below is the total haul from the weekend. Once again, the Rock and Roll race series does the medals incredibly well.
Finally, this is how we celebrated the successful completion of two races and 16.2 miles in one weekend:
Lou Malnati's deep dish pizza for the win!
And that concludes my 28th half marathon! The race organizers and volunteers really did a terrific job, especially amidst all of Mother Nature's challenges.

All in all, the weekend was a lot of fun. I had a terrific time hanging out with Kayla and the time went by so quickly! I am very relieved the Remix Challenge is over, though. Now I am excited for a few weeks where I don't have to worry about any long runs. =)

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Linking up with HoHo and Tricia for the Weekly Wrap (even though this recap is technically from last week), and with Angela and Ilka for the Sunday Fitness & Food Linkup.

36 comments:

  1. Great job! I'm so glad you pushed through to the finish. I'd be so mad if I was that close and they shut the race down.

    We're having Lou for dinner tonight.

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    1. Thanks so much, Wendy! Yes - there's definitely a point of no return with these races, and nobody wants to run 2+ hours to not finish!

      Buon appetito with the Lou's for dinner!!! I hope it was as delicious as it always is!!!!

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  2. OMG, I am so glad you made it to the finish on time before the storm! It was nice that you got to hang out in the VIP tent and wait for your friend. I'm gonna head over and check out her race recap. Curious to see if they were gonna just stop the race or divert runners to make the course shorter?

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    1. Thank you so much! I did think about what would have happened if I had started in a different corral! Please do check out Kayla's recap - she talks a bit more about her experience on course during the storm. From what I hear, they didn't pull anyone off the course - but it may have depended on where on the course you were when the downpour hit!?!?!?

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  3. 0% chance of rain to suspending the race for storms? Got to love weather forecasting. RnR has the biggest race bibs ever! Don't you think? I swear it's like wearing an apron. Great job in pushing through to the end! The VIP experience sounds wonderful. Thanks for linking, Emily!

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    1. I seriously think I made the wrong career choice. I should have been a meteorologist because you can be SO COMPLETELY WRONG yet still have job security. It must be nice! YES on the RnR bibs feeling like aprons, that is the perfect way to describe them! Thank you so much, and as always, thank you to you and Tricia for hosting the linkup!!!

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  4. Great job pushing through when you really didn't feel like getting it done. Its definitely hard when your head isn't in it..I know I have been there before. I'm kind of jealous of no long runs but I think I may give myself 1 week without a long run and hit it hard next week :)

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    1. Thank you so much, Kayla! Like I said before, it was a good there you were here over the weekend, otherwise I would have been tempted to skip out on everything! Yes, a 1-week break would be fantastic - cutback weeks make a HUGE difference both mentally and physically. Once you get back to it, you'll kill it!!!

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  5. Wow- this is some recap Emily! I was glued to every line. I can't believe it stormed so hard after the forecast said there was a zero % (!) chance of rain. Who would have thought that? So happy for you that you got to finish your 28th Half-Marathon! What a huge achievement! This Half really was well organized! I can't believe they offered foam rollers and phone chargers1 So sweet! How awesome you guys got to meet Marcia! Such a fun post!

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    1. Thank you so much, Ilka! Thank you to you for hosting the link-up, too - I am loving all the food contributions!!! Yes, the organizers did a terrific job with the foam rollers and phone chargers, clearly they have folks on staff who understand what is important to runners post-race. Marcia is awesome, indeed, she truly does it all and she is such an inspiration. Thanks again, Ilka!!!

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  6. Awesome job!! I ran the Chicago R'nR Remix in 2014 and thought it was a lot of fun. We didn't have any rain, but extreme heat and humidity...lots of downed runners in the final miles.

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    1. Thank you so much, Kimberly! Very cool that you did the Remix in 2014 - I think you were one of the pioneers for when they first started offering the challenge! I remember RnR Chicago weekend that year, too - those weather conditions were super challenging! The last few miles are killer, too, since there is almost no shade. It's a triple-whammy at that point on the course, for sure!!!

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  7. Gosh, can't imagine them stopping races in the UK when it rains...we'd never have any races!! :-) Well done for a fab race! :-)

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    1. Thank you so much, Eb!!! LOL - normally race organizers allow events to go on in most weather conditions, but lightning is where they draw the line and apparently there were a number of lightning strikes during the race!!!

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  8. I may have done what Kayla did if I was that close to the finish. I was worried at Tink when it was raining as we were walking to the corrals, but thankfully there was no lightning, and the rain stopped before the race.

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    1. You definitely reach a certain point of no return with these races! Once you're that far in, you might as well finish, right? What are the odds that it would rain during Tinkerbell, considering California's drought situation. Talk about bad timing! Glad it didn't change the race organization. =)

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  9. Great job Emily!! And aren't those VIP bracelets the best? I had one when I ran the RnR Las Vegas and loved it. The best part was post race because I was cold and tired but I was able to relax and warm up a bit.

    So it was a new course this year, huh? Why do the race organizers think the runners like running through the McCormick Place tunnel? I hate it.

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    1. Thank you so much, Zenaida! The VIP bracelets are a GODSEND. It's too bad they are so darned pricey, otherwise I'd love to indulge at RnR Las Vegas in November. BTW - were you able to get any credits on your SW airfare?

      Yeah, the course has been changed up a little bit from prior years. As you know, it used to mimic a lot of the Chicago Marathon course, but not so much anymore. The McCormick Place tunnel is really trying, indeed, especially that late on the course!!!

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    2. I did not. I paid for the flight over there and used points for my return flight. The difference was $5 so I left it the way it is. I will keep checking so I might get lucky and it will be more than $5.

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    3. Congrats on getting your TSA pre-check, by the way!!! =D

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  10. Oh my god! I was not expecting a full storm at the end! wow! can you come to VB Rock and Roll in Sept? or send your Storm powers ? I am thinking I will need a bit of rain, depending on how hot it is that day!

    Congratulations on finishing your 28th Half Marathon ! that is amazing!! Just amazing!

    I'm sorry you were not emotionally feeling this race, and I hope you enjoy your break!

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    1. LOL - I have brought rain to so many races that I was joking about the state of California hiring me to run so I could help ease their horrible drought situation. =) I'll do my best to send my storm powers to you at RnR VB. =D

      Thank you so much, Ana! I really appreciate it! You've been knocking it out of the park yourself, my friend. =) And I'm thankfully already feeling better after having a week where I didn't HAVE to do any training runs!!!

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  11. I'm so glad you were able to finish despite the weather! It's a long way to go (especially when you're heart isn't it in) to not get an official time. It seems like they might be extra cautious about cancelling races for weather since that one deadly hot year.
    I spend way too much time during races calculating what pace will get me what time for the remaining miles. That's a habit I'd like to break.
    Those little out and back jogs to get the full distance are always the WORST!

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    1. Thank you so much, Kelly! Yes, you definitely reach a point of no return with these races where unless something REALLY catastrophic has happened, you want to get to the finish line. I'm like you, I spend a lot of time doing mental math on the splits, checking my Garmin, etc. I want to try running a race without my Garmin or any kind of pace guides, but I'm too paranoid to do that! What about you? YES - the out and backs just to add distance are so awful, I always think about cheating and skipping them altogether! Sigh...

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  12. Glad you were still able to finish up! The weather around here has been CRAZY. Did you see the video of the CTA stop getting hit by lightning last night?

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    1. Thanks so much, Alexandra! OMG - I did see the video of the blue line stop! What are the odds that the women driving by would be videotaping it right when it happened, too? CRAZINESS!!!!!!!

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  13. 28 half marathons! Holy smokes, no wonder you've felt burnt out on running! I mean, obviously I know you haven't done all of those within the past year or so, but I didn't realize you had been run so many half marathons over your running career! Since I started doing distance running, I've usually done two half marathons/year (with last year being the exception, when I did three), but you must be averaging MUCH more than that annually, unless you've been running half marathons for the past 14 years. I'd be ready to hang up my shoes for awhile, too, if I had consistently kept my mileage so high! Anyway, I'm really glad you were able to finish the race with the weather. That storm was pretty intense, and I wouldn't have wanted to be out running in it at all!

    Bethany @ Accidental Intentions

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    1. Ah yes - I've averaged around 5-6 half marathons per year, and I plan on trying to tone that number down going forward. Each year I get more and more selective with the races I run since there are so many of them to pick from! Let's definitely focus on quality over quantity, yes? Thank you so much, Bethany - we were very fortunate that the storm didn't last very long and that it occurred towards the latter part of the event!!!

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  14. Well, at least for me your rain jinx only cut my beer garden festivities short - and not my race. Ha, ha! I might spring for that VIP experience next year! Awesome! :)

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    1. LOL - I thought about how the super-speedy runners like you weren't impacted at all by the storms! I'm glad I can even somewhat diffuse any jinx blame on your side. ;-) Congrats again, Mr. PR-Man!!!!! And thanks!!!

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  15. Nothing like a little added stress at the end of a race! It's great that you were able to cross the finish line and get your medal. Congrats on the finish!

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    1. Indeed, there's no better time than the very end of a race to give you a little jump in your step, yes? Thank you so much, Tina! It's funny because the spectators were probably thinking, "Let's get the heck out of here!" while all the runners were worried about the timing mats still being on. Different perspectives. =)

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  16. My feature for this week's Sunday Fitness & Food Link-Up, Emily! Congrats! Happy Running!

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    1. WOW - thank you SO much, Ilka!!!!! I really appreciate it!!!!!!! Happy running to you too!!!!!!

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  17. That's scary! I HATE running in the rain, so you would have seen some epic sprinting out of me at the finish line! That storm looks pretty threatening.

    Sorry it wasn't the most fun race. I look forward to the bigger events like this because of the spectators and crowd support, and it's a bummer when things dont go that way. Great job getting it done, though!

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    1. Thanks Jennifer! Yes, rain definitely helps motivate you to still push yourself even when the legs are feeling like jello! Thankfully I've run RnR Chicago several times so I know more of what to expect. Big races definitely have their pluses and minuses, that is for sure!!!

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