I really didn't feel like getting up at 5am after working late the night before. It was going to be a hassle to drive downtown and fight the crowds to get in a corral for the start of another race that I hadn't even trained for. But two days before, I realized I had to do it. I just can't stay away. The Rock and Roll Chicago half marathon is in my DNA.
I've been doing this race in the heat of July in Chicago since well before it was owned by the Competitor Group and known as the Rock and Roll half. Back when ABC-7 sponsored it, it was 20k, or about 12.4 miles, and was known as the Chicago Distance Classic.
Competitor group has brought a whole new energy and identity to this great race. Not to mention big name athletes and thousands of runners. The field this year included more than 18,000 runners, including Olympian Shalane Flanagan, who holds several American records, and set a P.R. at the Boston marathon in April of 2:22.
The course winds through downtown, passing several landmarks, like the Chicago Theater right accross the street from my office. It's always pretty cool to run down city streets, like State Street, without concern for traffic!
I ran pretty easily, hoping just to get a long run in, and enjoy the morning. I caught up with some friends along the course at about the 3rd mile, and ran most of the rest of the way with them.
My colleague Michelle Gallardo, and friend Tom Ahern were among the throng of runners on the street, though I never saw them until after the race was over. And that's when the fun begins. There are few post-race parties like a Rock-n-Roll post-race party. They set up a stage by the Petrillo Band Shell, and after completing the run, everyone was able to chill out with some music and liquid refreshment.
If I had anything to criticize about this race it would be that they promise bands about every mile along the course, but for some reason I don't believe I saw, or heard, a band for the first five or so miles. And there were no more than 4 or 5 bands after that. There was a DJ at the 10th mile playing music. But the speakers carried his voice for a good mile or so after that welcoming runners to the 10th mile, even though I was well into the 11th at that point!
Regardless, the finish eventually came. It's always fun running down Columbus as you near the finish of a downtown race. The views of the city are awesome, and the feeling of accomplishment is wonderful.
The date of this race also coincides pretty nicely with most fall marathon training programs, which have runners doing long runs of about 13 miles at this point. For those doing the Chicago Marathon, that run down Columbus toward the finish line will look pretty familiar!
See you on the roads.......