Rock 'n' Roll Chicago

Rock 'n' Roll Chicago

Ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago half marathon, my second half marathon race and fourth time running this distance. Really hot and uncomfortable race and disappoining event overall, to be honest.

I did another 12 week Nike+ Running coach training program to get ready for this race, although resigned in advance to probably have to take it easy given the heat of July. I was not as consistent with my training as I was the first time around- primarily because I had an 8 day work trip to Europe that I was super busy preparing / traveling for in the middle of the program and then when I could finally relax afer I returned I promptly got sick. :( I ended up basically skipping long runs three weeks in a row, with only sparse runs between.

Some why-did-i-do-that’s with this race-

  • Got up super early (3:30-ish) for the race start at 6:30 am (so early and still too hot!) and still managed to miss the bus to downtown. No matter how early I leave I’m always running for the bus.
  • Didn’t time my port-o-potty visits right so drank too much and then waited too long so ended up still waiting in a really long line when the race had already started. Didn’t really matter though as my corral didn’t get to the front until 7 am.
  • Put a packet of salt in my water bottle (which I’d never done before) because the event organizers were handing them out and emailing us all about how it was hot so we should all take salt. Just made my water taste like hot sweat. No thanks.
  • Wore a new dri-fit tank that I’d bought at the expo the day before. Figured it was Nike and nice material so would be fine. Was ok except I realized afterward that my left arm rubbed on the tank arm hole enough to chafe a little ouchy burn patch. Never had that happen before! Guess that’s why they say nothing new on race day.


2015 Rock n Roll Chicago short sleeve Brooks shirt (Womens' medium), the finishers' medal (nicest thing about this race), and some more Brooks swag from the expo.

The expo at least was pretty nice for this race. I pigged out on free samples of protein bars and energy bars and Sargento cheese sticks (awesome). Also, the Brooks Run Happy Island was neat. I randomly won a certificate for a free pair of Brooks shoes! Basically made the super expensive race registration ($93 after a $15 discount) worth it. I’d been needing to replace my Adrenalines (which now have just hit 500 miles).


I was assigned to the 24th corral of maybe 35 corrals for 12,025 (finishing) runners, 7,171 of whom were women (60%). Was a pretty big race. It didn’t ever get crowded for me (despite the poor zookeeping of the corrals), but there were lots of other problems/issues.

  • The race was advertised to have “bands at every mile.” I even considered not running with any music since I figured there would be a lot to enjoy on the race. Nope. Basically one lone cellist until mile 6 and then maybe there were 3-4 bands towards the end? Not very rockin’. If you say there are going to be bands and the theme is “Rock n Roll” you better have some music!!
  • The aid stations were very poorly organized/staffed. :( There were several of them that I wanted to stop at to get a drink but maybe only one person was at a table struggling to keep up with the runners coming by. I completely ran by one station because I just didn’t want to have to wait that long. There was one stretch also that I felt like really needed an aid station because I was basically crying in my head “WAAATTTER!!!”, so I feel like they were weirdly placed. Also, the last or second to last aid station around mile 12 had TOO MUCH stuff and was overstaffed. I only noticed because they had three layers of drinks already poured sitting on top of each other, and I thought “where the heck were all those drinks back several miles ago.” Really crappy.
  • Whatever ice sponges they were handing out ran out by the time I got to them (and I finished in the top half), so I didn’t get one and also I just had to run over a bunch littered in the street.
  • There were supposed to be misting stations. I went through one at the end and it barely sprayed.
  • There was a turnaround out-and-back part of the course between mile marker 9 and 11 that made it easy for people to cut the course. A friend later told me she saw 4 people cut the course there. If you’re going to have the course like that, you should at least have a timing mat at the far end.
  • I left messages for my friends who were running that were supposedly to be displayed at mile marker 12 as people ran by. I looked for it and didn’t see any display board. Neither of my friends saw messages for them.
  • At least 10 people went to the hospital (says the internet), and I felt really crappy in that hard-to-breathe kind of way for the last mile. Not good to have these conditions and not have the aid stations prepared!!!

If you can’t tell by now, I think this race SUCKED.

Rock n Roll Chicago Nike+ course map. Hotter and harder as it went on. The turnaround at mile ~10 was a horrible idea, and a lot of people were cutting the course there.

There was no way I was going to PR for this one, and I wasn’t going to even try- it was around 80 degrees with 80% humidity. I finished with an official finish time of 2:26:16, which put me at a 11:10’ pace. My Nike+ was way off and thought I’d done 13.6 miles by the end and set a new record.

Anyway, compared to the other runners, I was

  • Overall: 5,823 of 12,025 (51.6%);
  • Gender: 2,837 of 7,171 (60.4%);
  • Age/gender group: 531 of 1,278 (58.5%);
  • 2 mile split: 22:04;
  • 5k split: 33:54;
  • 10k split: 1:09:25;
  • 6.9 mile split: 1:16:58;
  • 10 mile split: 1:51:06;
  • 11.8 mile split: 2:07:39


Me at the finish, happy to be done.

After the race, the signage was really poor, and I didn’t even understand where to go for the post-race party. There was Gatorade and water bottles and small ice-cold wet towels, which was nice. Would have been much better to have some real food besides bananas/bagels. For almost $100 regisration, I want some pizza or something and also real (non-Michelob Ultra) beer. Sat in too much sun while finishing my two beers (they were handing out so many beer tickets, might as well go for quantity) and complaining about how crappy the race was before heading home to air conditioning.

In short

Over priced, poorly executed, too hot, never again.