Thursday, July 21, 2016

Rock 'n' Roll Chicago 10k Recap

Warning: A very long post follows this message ... 

During the days leading up to this year's Rock 'n' Roll Chicago 10k, I had a lot of mixed feelings. I was pretty unexcited about the weather forecast - upper 80s and stormy - and also wasn't feeling the race given my fitness has been a bit touch and go lately. Some days are fantastic and others the absolute worst. But I also knew that a race like RNR CHI could be just the thing to snap me out of this training funk. 

Turns out I was right! Everything aligned for this race. The weather was as good as it gets for a July race in Chicago and the course was lovely. I had the most fun racing and it was a total confidence booster as I continue to increase mileage for a fall half marathon. I can honestly say this was, in my opinion, the best RNR CHI yet.   

Before the Race
At most races I skip the expo. But at Rock 'n' Roll races they are a must-attend event. I ended up buying a bunch of stuff at this year's expo. My haul included four tanks, a baseball-style 3/4 sleeve t-shirt, three shoe charms, two Sparkly Soul headbands, a Rock 'n' Roll Chicago magnet, a pair of sunglasses (prize) and, of course, the race t-shirt. 

After the expo, Mom and I headed over to Pizano's Pizza and Pasta for some pre-race carbs. On the way back to the hotel, Mom pointed out a little coffee shop/bakery that had a bunch of cakes and pastries in the window. Of course I was not about to walk past a bunch of desserts so we went inside. This was a total mistake. Mom and I each got a slice of Rainbow Cake. I told myself it would give me an extra boost of energy during the race. Instead I'm pretty sure it led to feeling a bit heavy/sluggish at the start. Oh well - live and learn!

The Race
So ... the race. After several days of worrying about the weather it turned out to be the best weather I've ever experienced at a RNR CHI race. It was about 69 degrees and overcast with a bit of a headwind.  Although the weather was much better than expected, I decided to stick with my race plan from Coach Matt

My corral was packed so I was excited when we were finally able to get moving. I ended up getting stuck behind people a few times during the first mile so didn't really get into a good rhythm until the 10k runners separated from the half marathoners. Once the 10k turned onto the Lakeshore Path it was all good and I was able to settle in. Nothing too crazy - more like a nice and steady pace that felt more like half marathon effort. 

Since I usually think of RNR CHI as having a pancake-flat course, I was pleasantly surprised that this year's new course featured a few small hills. These were great for changing things up a bit plus I like having a few hills during a race for variety. They are also a really great opportunity for catching and passing other runners ;)

I felt really good during the miles and soaked up the race experience - I loved the on-course music and all the friendly volunteers at the water stations. There was also a band toward the end that totes made me giggle with a silly song about donuts at the finish line. If only there really were donuts at the finish! 

I picked up the pace a bit during the final two miles and kicked in the final 0.2 (really 0.33 for me since I didn't run the tangents!). I haven't had a big sprint finish at the end of a race in awhile so it felt great to be able to really get after it

Although my time ended up being a personal worst for me for the 10k distance, I still feel good about the race. I felt good enough during the miles that I know I could have kept with the pace for a few more miles which puts me on track for a nice half marathon race this fall.      
VIP Experience
After walking through the finish area and picking up my gear check bag, I headed over to the VIP section to rest up while waiting for Mom. This was my first Rock 'n' Roll VIP race experience and it surpassed my expectations.

The first thing I did was wash my hands at one of the sinks. I don't know about you but I always feel kind of grimy after finishing a race. So it felt great to wash up a bit. Then I hit the hosted bar area for a Diet Coke with extra ice. There were tons of empty tables so I made myself comfortable and sipped my soda while people watching. I noticed a massage area not too far from where I was sitting but decided to skip it even though there wasn't a line. There was also a changing area which I will definitely take advantage of next time. 

After awhile I decided to get a cup of coffee and saw a bunch of people were getting food. So I decided to check it out and found an amazing spread. Eggs, breakfast potatoes, bacon, sausage, pasta salad, mini sandwiches, tons of fresh veggies & fruit, hummus, cookies and brownies were just some of the items on the tables. I loaded up a plate with bacon, veggies and fruit. It hit the spot! I definitely recommend adding on the VIP Experience if doing a RNR race.

I was sorry to have to leave the lovely VIP area but needed to get back to the finish line area to find Mom. So after eating I headed toward the finish line and then walked along the course a bit til I saw Mom running. I jumped in the race and ran with her a bit and then hopped back over to the spectator area to wait for her at the end of the finisher's chute. As you can see, she looked fantastic and finished strong!

Fun in Chicago

After the race, Mom and I enjoyed Chicago. We shopped along Michigan Avenue and indulged in several delicious eats and drinks. A few of my favorites:

Brunch at Mercadito

Dinner at Chicago Q

Deep Dish at Gino's East (with Bucky!)

Macarons from Alliance Patisserie

So that was my race weekend! I highly recommend adding Rock 'n' Roll Chicago to your 2017 race calendar. I'm already looking forward to next year's race :)

My questions for you:
  • Have you raced a Rock 'n' Roll race? If so, what was your experience?
  • A night-before-the-race treat - do or don't?
  • Where are your favorite places to eat in Chicago? 

- ST    


  1. Awesome report and big congrats, sounds like a fantastic weekend! That cake, wow. I love running RnR races, it's always an experience, never just a race. I usually have ice cream or frozen yogurt the night before and I avoid carbs. It makes me happy! Hope to catch you at a RnR race sometime!

    1. I completely agree - Rock 'n' Roll races are always an experience - and a really fun one at that :)

  2. So cool that your mom ran this race too! I know you said this wasn't your best 10K but wow, you did awesome! I agree that RnR races have awesome expos and the VIP experience never disappoints. I've only done VIP for VA beach but I bet chicago was awesome too! Congrats again!

    1. Thank you! RnR races are the best in terms of total race experience. I bet VA Beach has a fantastic course :)

  3. I have not run one as of yet, but after reading this I now want to run for sure! Running and good food, my two favorite things in the world!

    1. You should for sure run one - RnR races are the total race experience. If you decide to sign up, you can use code EatRunStyle to save on registration!

  4. I have not run one as of yet, but after reading this I now want to run for sure! Running and good food, my two favorite things in the world!

  5. I have never run a RNR race and right now I'm not sure if it will fit in the race plans. But it does sound like you and your Mom had a great time. Although you think your time wasn't good, it still beats my best! :) I am already signed up for the winter series and will once again be chasing the sub 50 10k time.

    And cake at anytime is a good plan! Well, maybe not right before the race.

    I am not a big city fan so I don't know anyplace to eat in Chicago. Big cities scare me!

    1. I had no idea the winter series races are open for sign up already - I'll have to check it out!

  6. I enjoyed RnR Nashville so much. My only complaints were the crowded corrals and folks seeding themselves in the wrong place -- I had to dodge so many people. Besides that, it was a great experience. I've never raced in Chicago, but it's on my to-do list. 10k sounds perfect because you never know what kind of weather to expect in the summer. I think I'm going to look into this one!

    And finally, good job. Even if it wasn't a PR time, at least you know you're good to go for your next half!

    1. It seems there will always be people that seed themselves incorrectly - I think I encounter that frustration at nearly every race. Definitely do Chicago sometime - even though it's during July and likely to be hot, it's a great race :)

  7. Oh my gosh, you did seriously AWESOME! RnR races are huge too, and to place 2nd in your age and still come in within the top 20, that just shows your incredible talent! Great job!
    Love the mother daughter race weekend pictures, how fun to be able to share this sport with your mom!
    FYI I probably would have tried the rainbow cake too, looks so yum!!!

    1. Thanks Kristy! Ha, I'm glad I'm not the only one tempted by rainbow cake - it was just too amazing looking to pass up!

  8. Congrats on placing 2nd in your age group! How fun that you and your Mom both raced! It's fun to make rainbow cake - so easy and pretty!

    1. Thanks Tina! I've never made rainbow cake - it seems really difficult with all the different color layers! Maybe I just need the right recipe :)

  9. Congrats on placing 2nd in your age group! How fun that you and your Mom both raced! It's fun to make rainbow cake - so easy and pretty!