When you're taking a trip to a city, always check for local races. You never know when the Rock N Roll Half Marathon is in town.
That's how I came upon running Sunday's Rock N Roll Half Marathon in Chicago. My family and I were going there anyway, and of course an early morning run along the waterfront had to be a part of my itinerary. But, for 120 dollars more, I could do 13.1 at 6:30 am, with aid stations, cleared off streets, and signs along the path included, and be back at the hotel before 9 am.
The race went off wonderful. The corrals were well organized, the water was plenty and didn't run out, nor did it make anyone sick (as was said to have happened in RNR Vegas). There could have been another water stop, I thought, but what made up for that was the cold, wet sponges that were handed out. It was my first race day cold sponge, and I'm all in. Right on the back of the neck and it was like an injection of ice down my spine.
|A nice, smooth race start is very important.|
Yes, it was hot as a fother mucker, but if you hugged the buildings close enough, you could stay in the shade, and during my 'fully exposed to the sun' time a nice cloud cover came by. The humidity was such that the air I was breathing was just dehydrated sweat off the shirtless runner in front of me, but it could have been worse.
|Being Chased is a good way to bring out fast times.|
I didn't wear my headphones as usual, partly due to hearing about the bands on the course. I always feel a little guilty running by groups who have wokened at 6 am to play for runners, and here I I'm blocking them out with headphones. As it was, I fully enjoyed the groups, but yes, there could have been a few more, considering the theme. Yes, it was a half Rock N Roll through a half marathon. I got to believe a million garage bands would sign up to play given the opportunity. With my headphones off, I tried to chat more than usual with runners alongside of me, but my theory of "the bigger the running event, the less anyone will say a word to you" held true, so I shut up and ran my own race.
And, I confess, I was ready to give a more scathing review for this Rock n Roll corporate conglomerate type of race sponsor. Let me explain why.
|Hey, you want to get runner updates text to friends and family?|
I signed up late, so didn't so much mind the $120 fee. I found a coupon code for 10 dollars off, signed up, and then 'wham' an 8.95 registration fee. Huh? Um, isn't that really 128.95 then for the event?
But what really got me was they typical "sign up for runner updates, texted to friends and family" email a few days before the event, and then being asked for 2 dollars per text message for runner updates. Stop me if I"m sounding ignorant or have a booger in my nose, but isn't this just a nice race freebie perk most places? 2 dollars huh?
|I want my Two Dollars.|
I emailed back, of course, and wrote: "Sorry, My little brother got his arm stuck in the microwave. So my mom had to take him to the hospital... and my grandma dropped acid this morning, and she freaked out, and hijacked a busload of... penguins. So it's sort of a family crisis. By"
To put this into context, I never mind paying whatever the fee is for local events. I feel like running stores and clubs do so much for the community and I reap the benefits. And, in fact, I didn't mind paying the hundreds for the NYCM entry fee. I pay top dollar for some things, like cuts of beef or seafood, yet I also love my Target Brands and Costco supplies (Hello Kirkland) and often buy the product if the costco sample lady is especially nice.
But these two dollars killed me.
Okay, beyond that, my run was an excellent one. There was a fun feeling in the air, and I was happy with my race. Yes, I set a PR. No, not a PR for time, my 1:39 was ten minutes off of that, but it was personal record for 'soonest I have ran a half-marathon after running a full' at just 35 days after running the Ann Arbor Marathon. My next closest was 42 days running Dexter to Ann Arbor after Boston.
I lined up at the start not sure if I was racing or just marathon pacing this run, so started slow and cautious at a couple 7:50 minute miles. I started to feel plenty smooth, and sped up plenty as the event went on, did negative splits, and mile 13 was my fastest at 7:08.
And there's nothing like seeing the heart of a city while in the throes of a nice, Sunday morning run. Crowd support was just fine, the course was a great mix, not too many turns, the swag at the end had the typical hoarders grabbing supplies to last them a week, and I would do it all again in a second. Well done, Rock N Roll organizers.
|Everybody Wants Some|