Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Chicago R'n'R ReMix 2018


The 2018 Chicago R'n'R Remix was quite the epic experience.

I'm no stranger to the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series (I ran St. Louis in 2013 and Las Vegas in 2017), and I also ran Chicago before (in 2014). This particular endeavor, though, will stand out as quite an epic extravaganza.


Granted, there were #AllTheRunningBloggers. My heart felt so full and my smile(s) were nonstop from the moment my train arrived at Union Station on Friday afternoon until I boarded the train back home two days later, a few hours after the half marathon finish line.
Will you just look at all these awesome gals....so much inspiration!
This entire weekend involved a lot sight-seeing, lively conversation, much laughter, many miles walked, and several first-time endeavors.

For starters, I took the train to the Windy City. I have driven to the 'burbs many times, but never actually in downtown Chicago. EEK! This small town gal loves big city adventure, but I am not comfortable driving in it (or paying to park my car for the weekend). I opted for the train since I knew everything would be within close proximity to our hotel (or an Uber ride away). Heck, Union Station was only a few blocks from the hotel, and on the same street!

Unfortunately, the train was 2-hours late arriving, so that meant leaving my starting point 2-hours late...which, in turn, meant arriving in Chicago much later than expected. My train didn't come to a complete stop until after 5:00 p.m. and a few of us had dinner reservations for 6:45, so there wasn't time to make it to the expo to get my race packets. Fortunately, the race bibs are available at the race site the morning of the events (but racers are encouraged to get everything at the expo if possible).

Needless to say, my morning started (not so) bright, but plenty early, on Saturday. The check-in table opened at 6:00 (for the 7:30 start time), so I planned to get there right away to ensure I'd not have to wait in line for too long. Guess what? It was raining! The race venue, though, was a quick 10-minute walk, so I was able to get my bib right away (I may have been the first one there LOL), so I grabbed that and headed back to the hotel room for a few minutes where it was dry.
not my favorite way to start the morning on race day
I was rooming with Michelle, and Deborah also had a room at the same hotel, so we all walked back to the race site together a short while later. The rain had stopped by then, so the threat of more rain diminished. We arrived at the bag drop at 7:00, and met up with a bunch of other running bloggers...most of whom we'd never met in person before. The thing is, we all knew each other, though, from the many blog posts we'd shared.

Before the 5K...Sara, Deborah, Marcia, myself, Michelle, Emily, Kim, and Kim's mom, Cheryla (a few of us didn't  get the memo about dressing in pink LOL)
Ready to line up
The 5K route took us briefly through Grant Park, but had us mostly running along the lake shore, near the marina. My goal was to run with some of the gals, but it was so crowded at the start line, it was difficult. I started with Marcia and Deborah, but after the first 1/4 mile or so, I gave up and just did my own thing.

I had purposely left my Garmin and Ipod behind (like, in Iowa) because I didn't think I'd need either one. I know the GPS is seldom accurate with all the tall buildings anyways, and if I was going to be running with friends, I'd be talking and not listening to music. I occasionally do some of my short runs sans music, but I almost always have my Ipod with me for races. So, there I was...in a big race, running "naked." NO big deal, though. It was just a 5K, after all, and I knew it would be over fairly quickly.

I managed to get through the first mile pretty quickly (after the clusters of runners thinned out). The second mile went well, too....my pace was staying just under a 9-minute pace (I did have a basic stop watch, so I could monitor my splits at the mile markers). The last mile felt good as well.  There were a few speakers set up with music, though, so it wasn't completely silent. All went well.

I crossed the finish line with 27:56 showing on my watch (official time was 27:52). My goal was to run the race easy, and I had done just that. I later learned I placed 7th in my age group (out of 120), 151st for females (out of 1403), and 400th overall (out of the 2235 5K finishers). I'll take it!

All finished!
For the most part, the rain stayed away but it was a bit drizzly at times. We headed back to the hotel to clean up quickly, and then off to brunch...with even more running bloggers (pictured at the top)! Next was the expo...remember, I still needed my 13.1 race bib and shirt. I caught a ride with Linda and we met up with Holly, Wendy, and Lindsey at McCormick Place (the site of the expo).

In addition to seeing all the sights and checking out some of the vendors, we got to spend a few minutes chatting with none other than Kathrine Switzer! She is such a sweet lady! I had met her a few years ago at the IMT Des Moines Marathon (for what it's worth, she did tell me that I looked familiar...ha!).
myself with Lindsey, Linda, Katherine, Wendy and Holly
I should mention this weekend wasn't just all about running, we did a lot of walking, too! My phone showed I had covered over 13 miles for the day! Yikes.

So, all of our weather apps (on Saturday night) showed scattered thunderstorms (some with lightning bolts, some without) for most of Sunday morning (ugh). When we awoke on Sunday, though, the sky was light and the precipitation was a no-show. Michelle, Deborah, and myself walked to the race site and looked for the others. Race time was 6:30 ((yawn)), so we were hoping to meet up for a group pic around 6:00.
With (the other) Kim and Michelle
We lost Deborah at the porta-pots (the lines were long, and we weren't able to find her before the race started). They all were doing the 10K, but I was doing the half marathon so I was searching for Holly and Wendy...but no luck.

Then....the rain started to fall. Right before the first wave of runners was released, the heavens opened up and dumped on us. Seriously???

Ready to line up...and there's the rain. 
Well, this was gonna be an interesting undertaking! My first big race with no music to entertain me or give me mojo...I made it through the previous day's 5K unscathed, but I didn't know if I could do it for 13.1 miles. Oh well.....it was the Rock'n'Roll Half Marathon, after all. I knew there would be music along the way. And this was Chicago...I'd have 13.1 miles of architecture to admire. 

So, off I went. By the first mile mark, my clothes were completely wet. The rain wasn't heavy (at that point), but it was steady. Oh well, onward!

With the drab weather, and my sole self for entertainment, I was determined to simply run and enjoy the city. And, guess who showed up? When I ran R'n'R Las Vegas, I passed Elvis near the 8-mile mark, and my biggest regret was not getting a picture with him. I think it was near the 2nd mile mark, in Chicago, when I spotted THE real Elvis (and a few others impersonating him), so I decided to capitalize on the situation.
Elvis isn't dead!
A short while later, I pulled over for a potty stop. Why not? I knew a PR wouldn't be happening (and I had no intention of trying for one at an event such as this). I also spotted a guy wearing an Iowa Hawkeye hat, so we shared a quick "Go Hawks" greeting. 

Then, I turned the corner onto Monroe Street and saw the pictures. Lots of pictures of fallen heroes. Literally hundreds of pictures. Then, there were numerous people (who I assumed were active officers), standing in the rain. Each of them were holding an American flag and cheering for us. Immediately, I starting thanking each of them for their service. All the way to the end of the mile, I kept saying, "Thank you! Thank you for our service! Thank you!" By the time I made it to the end, I was completely out of breath, but I think I was able to thank them all. Seriously humbled. I later learned this was called the Blue Mile, and it was such a beautiful tribute, even in the rain. 
The Blue Mile
Not too far after the Blue Mile, I spotted this Picasso sculpture. Yes, the art geek in me was having quite a time seeing all the sights. I couldn't help but wonder if the absence of music may have actually helped me to appreciate my surroundings even more. 
I wonder how that would look in my front yard...
Not too far beyond the Picasso, I passed the halfway point...and the skies unleashed more rain upon us, this time a little bit more of a harder rainfall. By then, I was near the 7-mile mark and still feeling pretty good. I had been checking my pace at each of the mile marks, and had been staying around a 9-minute pace. I had eaten a Honey Stinger chew at the 3-mile mark, so I ate a couple more at the 8-mile mark as well.

Low and behold, the rain had tapered off (again), and the sky started to lighten...it looked like the sun was about to peek out for us. As much as I would have loved to have some sunshine, I had left my sunglasses back at the hotel. And, the humidity would have sky-rocketed if there had been any sun.

Before I knew it, I was passing the 9-mile mark and saw the route had a lengthy out & back segment. I have mixed feelings on out & backs....they can be frustrating as you're approaching the turn-around, but they also can be a lot of fun sharing high-5's with each other. 

Just past the 10-mile mark, the rain started back up (down?) again, and this time it was pretty forceful and there was a nice headwind to battle. Thankfully, I just kept my head down and let my new purple hat (purchased at the expo!) do its work in shielding my face.

As we approached the 11-mile mark, the 10K route merged back in with the half marathon. I had thought of eating one more HS chew (to give me a kick to the finish), but I suddenly felt an incredible rush of energy, so I passed on the extra fuel. We did have a rather long (and dark) tunnel to run through, I think for the better part of a mile. 

The final mile felt like a dream. My body felt great, although I could tell my squishy shoes were making my poor toes feel a little beat up. My clothes were so wet...it felt like my shorts were about to fall off, they were flapping against my legs with each stride. 

I spotted the finish line, way up ahead and couldn't believe what I had accomplished. I had run 13.1 miles in almost constant rain with no Ipod music to rely on for mojo. This route had kept me entertained the entire way, and I really hadn't missed having my familiar tunes at my disposal. Maybe I'm a much stronger runner (with a lot more grit) than I give myself credit for.
The stats showed I placed 61st in my age group (out of 291), 1670th in the females (out of 5080) and 3798th overall out of 8909
I crossed the finish line with 2:11:27 showing on my little watch (official time was 2:11:23). For having stopped for a potty break, and a few photo ops, I was quite happy with my finish time. Considering all the rain, I'm very pleased with how I fared.
Even though I was happy with how the race went, I was glad to be done
Even Kathrine Switzer's autograph (on my bib) endured the journey with me.

All of the runners who do the Remix (run the 5K on Saturday and then also run the 10K or the half marathon on Sunday) receive a bonus medal...and isn't it sweet? It's bigger than it looks, and it's heavy!
The guitar pick in the center actually spins around
The Rock'n'Roll Marathon Series does offer quite an amazing race day experience. There was plenty of music along the route (live music as well as an occasional speaker blasting tunes), probably every 1-2 miles or so. The t-shirts are tech fabric, usually with pretty cool graphics pertaining to the city of each individual race. And, the bling! R'n'R certainly knows how to do the bling!
5K race shirt and medal
Half marathon shirt and medal
As mentioned, this weekend was nothing short of epic. The running-and-blogging community is pretty incredible. Of all the gals pictured above, I had met Wendy and Marcia (and had raced with each of them, too!), but all the other gals I had only known via social media. There's just something about meeting fellow bloggers for the first time...it feels more like a reunion than a meet and greet. I spent the entire weekend surrounded with all kinds of awesomeness and the warm fuzzies are still going strong.

**side note** if you're interested in doing a Rock'n'Roll event, you can get a $15 discount on any US or Canada-based R'n'R marathon or R'n'R half marathon by using the code RNRRNB2018 (offer valid through Nov. 25, 2018).

**As a member of the Rock'n'Blog team, I received free registration for both the 5K and the Half Marathon, but all of  the opinions expressed here are my own**

So, talk to me! Have you ever done a R'n'R event? Ever done ReMix? How many races have you done in the rain? Running "naked"....yay or no way?

**I'm linking up with Marcia and Patty and Erika for Tuesdays on the Run.

**I'm also linking this with Debbie and Rachel and Marc and Lora for the Running Coaches' Corner
Running Coaches Corner Logo

41 comments:

  1. Nice recap and I had such a good time too! Glad you enjoyed the race. I think the rain actually helped keep us cool! I felt pretty good too.

    BTW, the Blue Mile honors fallen soldiers, not law enforcement.

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    1. It was a great time in the Windy (rainy) City ;-)

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  2. Back in 2013 I purchased a Tour Pass and ran 14 half marathons. :-)

    I am bummed I missed out on the blogger activities this weekend. The weather sucked. It has been weird here in Chicago. It is usually hot and humid on race day. I saw you on Columbus before the finish line. Well, I saw you just as you passed me so then realized it was you but you were in your zone and about done. Great job on racing both Saturday AND Sunday!!

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    1. You Know, I thought I heard my name...was that you? ;-) That last mine was weird...it seemed real long because I could see the finish line f.o.r.e.v.e.r....but I felt like my body just took off flying. Probably my rainiest race ever LOL

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  3. I love that you all got to spend so much time together!!

    My very first RnR half in Providence was a downpour pretty much the whole race. The following year they offered a full refund if the same thing happened (it didn't).

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    1. The rain was a bit of a buzz kill, but not as much of a downer as I thought it would be. I mean...it was Chicago, and there was a lot of sight-seeing to be done along the race course ;-)

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  4. It sounds like you managed to have a really fun race even with all the rain and the lack of music :) My first RnR DC was one where it rained the whole time.

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    1. Thankfully, the race was really fun despite all the rain being dumped on us

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  5. Wow! That sounds like an incredible weekend! I'm sorry you had both races in the rain. :( But, it definitely sounds like you made the best of it! I've run a few races in the rain - Salt Lake City Marathon was definitely the coldest one (that race is in April and it was supposed to be 60 degrees that day. .instead, 40 and rainy. ugh) but it was actually one of my favorites. LOL The people were amazing and the city is beautiful and my friend and I had such a terrible awful amazing time. haha!

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    1. The weekend was pretty epic...wish you could have been with us ;-)

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  6. My toes are commiserating with your toes. Wet shoes and socks are never fun, and I've had my fare share of those. Great job on both races.

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    1. Oh gosh...my shoes were soaked with the first mile, and by the 13th mile, my toes were burning. I've never had my wool socks get SO WET.

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  7. When are you all meeting up again?? I want in!

    Great job on the race! I have run a few half marathons in pouring rain - as long as it's not too cold, I enjoy it.

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    1. Yes, as long as it's not too cold...the temps actually were on the warm side, but the rain balanced all that out. A bunch of us are thinking Cherry Blossom...heads up!!

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  8. Me too. I want to join another meet-up.

    Too bad abut the weather. But it sounds like it was a great time for everyone.

    You know that your relaxed slow times are faster than most runners your age and even younger.

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    1. ha ha ha...I have learned that speed is relative. Although some of my finish times are faster than others...there are always gonna be a lot more runners who are MUCH faster. And I'm alright with that ;-)

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  9. Running a half "naked" and in the crazy rain is quite the feat for sure! So glad I got to share the weekend with you :)

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    1. I'm so glad, too! It was a blast hanging out in room 508, and also all the adventures on foot everywhere #theBean #OldNavy #food #uber #AdamsStreet #rain #speedwalking ;-)

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  10. I'm glad to see you took the train into the city. I was actually thinking about you on Friday when i saw the tornado that came through Iowas and wondered if it effected your plans in any way.

    Way to go on all those miles sans your own music. There were races were i did not listen to my ipod but I've always had it with me just in case. You were very brave with leaving it at home..lol. -M

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    1. Amazingly, the race was alright without the Ipod...a good lesson in not being co-dependent on "outside" sources for mojo

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  11. Awesome recap Kim! I am so impressed that you were able to run the half with no music and the crappy weather, but like you said, the city has plenty of sights!

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    1. I had constant entertainment along the entire route.....apparently, I'm not co-dependent on my Ipod after all ;-)

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  12. Not even all that rain could dampen our fun! It was great to see you again. Congrats on two strong finishes!

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    1. Thanks, Marcia!! As always, it was awesome to see you, too ;-)

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  13. Congrats on TWO great races! So jealous of all of you wonderful bloggers meeting up in Chicago. Looks like you had a great time!

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    1. It was a grand time. I'm glad so many were able to make it work to get there!

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  14. Well done on your very soggy race! that does take some grit. I've never done an R'n'R....or even a race big enough to use corrals. They intimidate me a bit!

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    1. The most intimidating thing (for me) is the slight panic in getting into the corral...there are very few "entrances," so you have to either climb over the fence (not a prob for me and my extra-lengthy legs) or find a gap...somewhere...

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  15. Such a fun weekend. It sure did feel like we all knew each other already and we were having a catch up weekend with long lost friends. I did not realize how much we all walked all weekend too! Can't wait to do it again

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    1. When I checked my phone (thanks to the info from Linda on the pedometer feature), I was astounded on how much walking we had done!

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  16. What a great weekend, and your recap brings back all the fun memories! And look at you checking your steps on your phone! Don't forget to fill out your emergency contact/medical info--and have your kids do the same! There is a Blue Mile at MCM--those are pics of fallen military and each of the signs shows their names, ages, and where they were serving when they were killed. Typically the people to follow carrying the big flags are their friends and family. So humbling to have them out there cheering us on. It was so fun meeting you and circling the city with you! Can't wait to see everyone again!

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    1. I was wondering about the pics (it was too hard to read the info printed on each of them). I assumed they were law enforcement personnel or military members, and I wondered about the people with all the flags (some looked like they were in uniform). Thanks for the info!! It was fun exploring the city and McCormick Place (and there abouts) with you ;-)

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  17. You guys look like you had so fun! I've never done an RNR race. I hear good things about them all the time though!

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    1. The R'n'R races are fun, but are pretty crowded. Not everyone likes the massive numbers, but I find them invigorating!

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  18. Looks like you all had a ton of fun! Way to enjoy yourself and make it a great weekend.

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  19. I had so much FOMO about the weekend! I wish I could have made it there and met you and #allthebloggers!

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    1. Awwwww...and we wish you could have been there with us! #nexttime ;-)

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  20. It definitely sounds like an epic weekend! And I can tell how much fun you had, despite the rain. I've had a few rainy races, but not downpour-rain. Apparently sunny & hot are more what's likely to turn up for me (and shhh! who knows what the next one will throw at me?).

    I don't run with music. I did when I started, but I stopped about 3 years ago & so far so good.

    My first few races were RnR, but I'm not super in love with the company, and it's been many years since I did one.

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  21. Congrats on two great races! I loved reading your recap and felt like I was running right along with you. I definitely have runvy (run envy) and will have to try to make it next time. :-)

    I've run one Rock 'N' Roll race, the Virginia Beach Half in 2002. It was so frustrating because there'd be a band, but right in front of it and right beyond it, there would be cheerleaders. They drowned out the sound of the bands so you'd only hear the music when you were directly in front of the bands.

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  22. Yay for a super amazingly fun weekend! Bummer your train was late and for all the rain, but YAY for lots of fun time with blogger friends!
    Seriously have been loving all the pics!!

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