Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Saturday Night Sneakeasy

Life has been pure madness over the last few weeks. On top of me hitting the 22-week mark in my pregnancy last weekend, Adam and I recently bought a new residence while simultaneously selling our current one. We are now preparing to move to a new neighborhood next month. And since life always hurls everything at you all at once, we've both also been slammed with work while having to deal with a plethora of other rising "adventures." Hence, why blogging has taken a backseat for me yet again these days.

On a most positive note, my pregnancy has been progressing smoothly, which has been an enormous relief. More on that later. For now, my gratitude is growing for any moments when I can take a deep breath!
Let's shift gears and talk about some running soirees. Nike Chicago has a history of hosting some of the most amazing events I've ever experienced (e.g. the Nike Unlimited Decathlon, getting to meet an elite marathoner, and an NFL-inspired workout at Soldier Field). Whenever the word comes out that they've got something up their sleeves, they always get my full and undivided attention.

Two weekends ago, I learned through the Windy City Bloggers Collective that Nike Chicago was hosting a Sneakeasy party (clever name, eh?). The occasion was to commemorate the launch of Nike's new Air VaporMax running shoe. I was intrigued that the festivities were scheduled to start at 9:30 PM on a Saturday night. It had to be a blockbuster event for a timeslot like that, right?

I arrived at Nike Bucktown that Saturday night to see hordes of runners gathered around socializing amidst a deejay blasting music. It already felt like a party.
The group would be going on a 2-mile fun-run to an as-yet undisclosed location, where a post-run party would be taking place. All the attendees were given the opportunity to wear-test the new Air VaporMax shoes, so I definitely took advantage.

Check out the soles on these babies:
Nike's Air shoe series were previously designed with midsole between the air and your foot, as well as a sole underneath the air pockets. In this new design, the midsole and protective bottom sole have both been removed so the shoe is all Air. (Who comes up with these concepts!?!?!?)

As we were waiting to depart, lots of runners were taking photos in front of this tongue-in-cheek backdrop. I joined in:
Admittedly, I had been hesitant about participating in the run due to being pregnant and having barely logged 10 miles during 2017. To put it bluntly, I no longer felt like a true runner. Being surrounded by that crowd made me feel like a complete and total fraud. But since I was dressed in full running gear and runners come in all shapes and sizes, I tried to remind myself that nobody could pick me out as a laggard.

While the group was filing out into the street, I still considered surreptitiously breaking away and either taking public transit or riding a Divvy bike to the post-run party. But ultimately I got swept up in the excitement of the crowd. I genuinely did want to test the new shoes, and I figured I could probably handle two miles. So I gave in and joined the forces, albeit nervously.

The group of runners hit the streets in a big way. We drew lots of stares as we passed countless Saturday night revelers. Lots of cars honked their horns at us, and many folks yelled, "Run, Forrest, run!" or other similar sentiments at us. It was comical and everyone took the comments in stride (literally).
I won't kid you, at the outset, the running felt awful to me. Almost immediately my out-of-rhythm body was screaming at me for putting it through the now-foreign exertion. Normally during a run, I get frustrated when I have to keep stopping for traffic or red lights. This night, I was grateful for every break I could get to catch my breath.

I didn't talk to anyone during the run because I was too out of breath. But I did listen to the runner-chatter surrounding me, mostly about upcoming and past races. Again, it made me feel like an outsider. I had been worried about being the slowest runner in the pack, so I was glad the group spanned a wide range of running capabilities. I never found my rhythm during the entire two-mile run, which seemed to take forever. Thankfully I did start feeling a little better after the first mile. As I've said before, running while pregnant is truly no joke.
All of my running imperfections aside - the Air VaporMax shoes were fun to wear! They felt very light and springy. The upper was very form-fitting, and were as close to wearing socks as I've ever experienced in a pair of running shoes. The design would take some getting used to since it's so different from what I currently wear, but I loved the cushioning. You are literally running on air.

I had gear-checked my own running shoes in exchange for the wear-test pair. Since the new shoes were so fun, I will admit the thought crossed my mind to just nonchalantly walk out in them and leave my old shoes behind. ;-) But of course, I did reluctantly give the Nikes back.

The post-run party took place at a venue in West Town named Event Creative. The space featured running-inspired designs and art from local designers. Here are some of my favorites:

Being that this was a Nike-hosted event, there were lots of product displays and photo/shopping ops:

When I say party, I should really describe the event as a nightclub. There was an open bar, plus passed drinks and hors d'oeuvres. (Obviously I didn't partake in any of the alcohol, but when it came to the food I stuffed myself!) There was also a stage with live entertainment.

Many other folks who hadn't run with the group were lined up outside the venue waiting to get in. I saw groups of them coming in, and they were all dressed to the nines in their Saturday night club attire. The place was so packed that it became challenging to walk around.

Nike Chicago really knows how to throw a party for a new product launch! They obviously have quite the loyal following to draw such an enormous crowd on a Saturday night. Many thanks to them for hosting yet another incredible event and treating all the attendees like VIPs. I am already looking forward to their next event (and hopefully next time I'll feel more like my old self)!