Disclaimer – I am an ambassador for Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series and I did receive a complimentary entry to this event. However, the opinions in this blog post are all my own. Post may contain affiliate links.
On Friday, July 19th I left my in-laws house in [Fort Wayne area] Indiana and headed just a few more hours West to Chicago, Illinois for a weekend of fun! My plan was to attend the annual wear blue: run to remember Gala on Friday night, pick up my race packet for Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon, spend time with my Skirt Sister Elizabeth by running a half marathon and then head back to Indiana.
Friday –Due to event timing and where my friend Elizabeth lives I ended up going straight into Chicago on Friday and to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Expo. Elizabeth was nervous for me about me driving in the city but I reassured her I have driven through many big cities with terrible drivers and I would be ok. The expo was very easy to get to as it was held at McCormick Place. After I parked I looked for other runners to figure out exactly where I was supposed to go; it’s an old expo trick of mine, follow where the runners are coming from, they tend to be easy to spot with their packet bags full of swag.
Since I arrived fairly early to the expo it wasn’t crowded at all and I was able to meet and talk with the famous Katherine Switzer. I have seen her plenty of times at other races but the line to meet her is generally very long so this was a fabulous opportunity to talk with her; she is truly an inspiration and a trailblazer for women in running.
After the expo I headed toward where the wear blue: run to remember Gala was to be held and found a parking spot for the rest of the evening. Since I was going to be spending the weekend at my friends house in Rockford I didn’t have a hotel room in the city or a place to change for the gala but luckily a fellow wear blue president came through for me and let me change in her hotel room; thanks Candice, you’re a lifesaver! The wear blue gala was absolutely amazing and held at the Union League Club of Chicago.
Since I wasn’t staying in the city I unfortunately was not able to stay for the entire gala but I was incredibly pleased to hear that wear blue raised a significant amount of money that evening in support of our Gold Star Programs. Elizabeth and her husband Steve met me after the gala and drove my van out of the city since they had taken the train in. I am glad that they were there because it was very dark and a bit of a haul to their house in Rockford.
Saturday – This day truly deserves a post all of its own because it was a full day of playing tourist in Rockford, Illinois. I’ll leave you with my favorite picture of the day though –
Sunday – RACE DAY! When my alarm went of at a redamndiculously early hour I thought to myself; WWWWWHHHHHYYYYYYYY DO I CONTINUE TO DO THIS TO MYSELF?! I was very thankful that I wasn’t alone in my misery; having friends who do these crazy things with you truly helps. We left in plenty of time to get to the race however due to a terrible thunderstorm and an accident we made it to the start line with only 15 minutes to spare! BUT WE MADE IT! We spotted another Skirt Sister along the way to our corral. Many other Skirt Sisters were at the weekends events and we saw some of them along the course but there were many that we didn’t get a chance to meet up with; that can be the downside to such large events, many people are in attendance but it’s tough to meet up with everyone.
The heat and humidity over the weekend had hit record highs! It was so bad that on Saturday they ended up cancelling the 5K. Since we had driven through a terrible storm on the way to the race I will admit that I had a bit of pre-race anxiety in regards to the weather; lightning even struck during the national anthem!
Luckily though the storms direction stayed away. It did rain a bit on and off during the race but the severe storms stayed north of the course. The storms were a blessing in disguise in a way because it brought the temperatures way down from what they had been the previous days. The humidity stayed though and since the race was in a city the tall buildings trapped that heavy air. I am glad that I force myself to run in all sorts of weather and that I live down south so I’m acclimated but it still can be dangerous. The race did well at putting measures into place of adding cooling stations however some of the water points did not have cold water; one station in particular had gatorade so hot that after taking a sip I almost threw up! I am glad that I chose to wear my hydration vest so I quickly remedied the issue and took sips of my own water. When doing large events like this and when the weather is going to be hot or humid I HIGHLY suggest carrying your own fuel; a hydration vest, belt, handheld water bottle, whatever it may be, practice carrying your own because you simply never know how things will be the day of an event and this will help you stay safe!
Chicago – you’re an interesting city. Certain things are expected when running in any big city but I did NOT like running over the drawbridges. I had heard that for the Chicago Marathon special mats are rolled out to cover the open grates and I would suggest that Rock ‘n’ Roll implements something similar in the future. I ended up jumping on the side walk on those bridges because I was not comfortable running on them. Chicago as a city needs to invest in their infrastructure; I have ran through many major cities and so far Chicago takes the cake for worst roads! Full of pot holes or poorly filled pot holes. There was one section of the course where we ran through a tunnel; it was incredibly dark in the tunnel and the road so bad that we walked through it because the last thing I wanted was to sprain my ankle or trip and wall or something on a poorly lit messed up road. Other than poor road conditions I was pleased with the course; it took you through many scenic parts of the city and you did get some respite from the humidity when you were near Lake Michigan.
My favorite part of the course was the wear blue mile. I had submitted Jeff’s name for the event; I’ve written about him in the past, he is the fallen Marine I run for and how I got started in this whole adult distance running thing in the first place. Jeff was truly with me that day. Out of all the posters on the mile, his stood out; granted it was because there was a puddle there but still, out of ALL the posters when I turned the corner to the blue mile JEFF STOOD OUT! I sprinted to him and kneeled down, said a Hail Mary and continued on through the mile, touching posters of other fallen that I know or have come to know the Gold Star family. I hugged founder, Lisa Hallett; it is always an honor to see her at these events. Going through the wear blue mile gets me every single time; it is such a powerful living memorial. Thank you to everyone who volunteered to put it on.
I am glad that I ran this event with my Skirt Sister, Elizabeth. Most of our friendship is virtual so to actually spend so much time physically together was amazing! That’s another thing I recommend doing; run these events with friends sometime. Travel to meet up with people and spend a few hours together on a long run enjoying a city and catching up with each other. Live by the #runmiga way that if you give your word to run with someone you will run with someone and stay with them – no skirt left behind is the motto. Plus it’s fun to match outfits.
After the race I got my medal engraved and then we went to see some more sites; the famous Buckingham Fountain was just across from the finishers festival. “The Bean” was just a few blocks away as well. Both sites are great spots for finisher pics.
On the way back to their house Steve swung by Wrigley Field for me since my hubs is a HUGE Chicago Cubs fan! Next summer I hope to actually go to a game.
The weekend was great; a much needed mama break for me. I am incredibly thankful to Elizabeth for her hospitality. Until next time Chicago, rock on!
If you’re interested in running any of the other Rock ‘n’ Roll races you can use the following discount codes: