My friend Jackie and I decided to take on the Rock ‘N Roll Challenge of running both in Chicago and St. Louis this year. First on the list, the Rock ‘N Roll Chicago half marathon. We had the most fun ever exploring Chicago, hitting up the expo, hang with the cool kids at the #WeRunSocial meetup at The Bean and running through the streets of Chicago!
We left on Friday afternoon to head up to Chicago with my dad and my cousin’s boyfriend. The drive from St. Louis to Chicago is about 4.5 hours. We chatted in the car about various things the whole way up and got to Chicago a little before 9 pm. My aunt and uncle live downtown overlooking Millennium Park so we stayed with them! So close to the start line – no worrying about getting up super early to drive to the race and find parking in the busy city of Chicago. We spent the rest of the night looking around the building and checking out the rooftop garden and snacking and chatting.
The expo opened at 9am and we decided that we wanted to get there right around opening since it tends to get so busy. We hopped on a bus (love a city that has public transportation and is so easy to get around) and headed to McCormick Place to pick up our stuff for the race and shop around. Of all of the Rock ‘N Roll expos that I have been to, Chicago is by far the best! There are so many vendors with fun samples and so much variety of different running products! We all picked up our bibs and headed to the check out all of the awesome stuff. We picked up quite a bit of free samples and even bought a few things.
After the expo, we headed to grab some lunch in Chinatown. Jackie had never been to Chinatown in Chicago so it was definitely a new experience for her. The walk about a mile from McCormick Place to the restaurant. We all enjoyed some delicious Chinese food and then headed back to the condo.
I really wanted to go to the #WeRunSocial meetup at 4pm at The Bean to meet all kinds of fun people who I follow on Instagram and Twitter. Jackie and I headed down to The Bean around 3:45pm to take some selfies and meet up with the group. Wearing our shirts, we easily found the group. This might have been, by far, my favorite part of the weekend! We met so many awesome new friends and took some pretty epic pictures! Lots and lots of selfies were taken!! The meetup was being hosted by Steff (@sas_rubel), David (@fitfam6) and Auggie (@justrunchicago). Jackie and I had such an awesome time talking to everyone we met! I met some people that I follow along with lots of new friends. I can’t say enough good things about #WeRunSocial and how it brings all the like-minded people together in one place! I have met so many INCREDIBLE people through social media, who have become super awesome friends in real life.
From top left to bottom right: Kim (@kookyrunner), Steff (@sas_rubel), Greg (@nycsweat) and Lacy (@laylanoel)
My FAVORITE picture! Jackie, Me, Steff and Dave (@dave_mari) Dave takes the best pictures!
Selfie fun with Jackie and Steff!
The #WeRunSocial meetup was a blast!! So much fun! So many selfies and lots of good times!
After the meetup, we walked around for a little while so that I could get my mile in for the day and met up with one of Jackie’s friends and her little girl for a little bit. We headed back to the condo to see what the dinner situation was after our fun in Millennium Park. We all decided together that we would eat at the condo instead of going out to dinner, so we headed to the grocery store to pick up some things…spaghetti, meat, bread…you know all the typical pre-run food! CARBS! Lots and lots of carbs! My uncle cooked us a delicious carbloading appropriate dinner and then we all got ready for bed since the race started at 6:30am!
Jackie and I both set out our clothes the night before…we were going to be matchy-matchy for the run! Sparkle Athletic skirts and visors and shirts, Fellow Flowers to clip on our visor and of course we had to #KeepItTight with our ProCompression socks!
The alarms all went off bright and early Sunday morning and we all got ready and headed to the start line. Jackie, my dad, my cousin Haley and her boyfriend Frank and I were all running the half marathon! Since we were staying so close to the start line, we didn’t have to leave the condo until pretty close to the race start time. There were 36 corrals, so there would be a lot of waiting around before we started running. We got to the corrals and jumped in with everyone else to wait to start the race! As we made our way to the start line, we took a few selfies, because there of course had to be start line selfies!
Pre-race selfie fun!
We started the race just before 7am, and were off for a fun-filled, music-filled 13.1 miles of awesomeness! Thank goodness it was cloudy and wasn’t too hot because that would have made for a long 13.1 miles and I already wasn’t feeling the best overall. We weren’t shooting for any PRs this race, just looking to have an awesome time running together! It took a couple of miles to settle in but then we were in a groove and took in all the sights around us. Around mile 9, there was an out and back turnaround and we ran into Dave (@dave_mari) and he jumped on the other side to take some pics with us while he ran and then jumped back on his side to continue on his way. I was definitely not feeling so great during the race and we had to stop several times at bathrooms (first time I’ve ever had stomach issues while running). Not all races are sunshine and butterflies and little did we know it was about to take a turn for the worse. We headed to McCormick place and the long dark tunnel the course takes and it started sprinkling. After we exited the tunnel we heard a random runner off to the side saying the race was postponed because of the storm coming through. It definitely had started raining harder by the time we reached the end of the tunnel. We decided to keep going as everyone else was still running as well. And then…we ran into Dave again! He took a few AWESOME pictures of us and are way better than any race photos I’ve ever come across!
Jump for Joy! We’re almost finished!
By the time we reached this point it was raining and beginning to rain really hard. There was even some lightning and thunder to go along with it. Despite all this we were so close to the finish line and I just wanted to be done running so we kept going. Probably not the smartest idea, but we were just about 2 miles out from the finish line. We ran up Columbus drive towards the finish line where we passed a few museums, Soldier Field and had a decent view of Lake Michigan. Then the finish line appeared in front of us and we ran with everything we had left in us to get there. We made it!! We just ran 13.1 miles…partially in a thunderstorm. While this part was not new for me, it was a first for Jackie. After we crossed the finish line, we got our medals and grabbed some water and Gatorade and snacks and headed to the beer garden to meet up with the rest of the group.
After the race, we hung out in the beer garden to listen to the band Echosmith. Thank goodness for my aunt and uncle!! They were at the finish line and saw my cousin and her boyfriend finish and as it started raining they decided to head back to the condo for some dry clothes and towels for everyone. I was definitely freezing after cooling down from the run and am incredibly thankful for everything they brought!! As we were sitting there I looked over and spotted Lacy from the meetup and she was also with someone else I follow on IG, Tom (@tomruns_262), so I jumped up and went over to talk to them!
The concert ended and we headed back to the condo to shower and then grab some delicious post-race protein. We went to the Shake Shack for burgers, fries and shakes. What an awesome and delicious place to eat! The weekend was then coming to a close and we went back to the condo to pack our things and take them all to the car.
This was one of the best races simply because of all the fun people who I got to meet and family I got to spend time with all weekend! Can’t wait for the next Rock ‘N Roll race here in St. Louis to complete our challenge!