Thursday, September 25, 2014

rock 'n' roll expo and 5k recap

I was on the fence about running at the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon, as the weather is usually pretty miserable in July (sooo hot and humid), but since we were having a fairly tame summer, I decided to register. Another thing that helped make my decision is that they added in a 5k for Saturday in order to receive an extra medal Sunday (for completing both the 5k and half marathon). I have a hard time saying no to more medals! I only registered about a month prior to the race. Generally, I register much sooner to get the cheaper rates... and by earlier, lets say that I'm often registered a year in advance haha.

If you want a short version, check out my review here.

The Rock 'n' Roll Health and Fitness Expo was held on July 17 (12:30–7 pm) and 18 (9:30 am–5pm) at McCormick Place, Hall D1. It seemed like a well run event, though I got there at about 6pm on Friday night and didn't have much time to wander the exhibitors like I had planned. It took such a long time to get there from the bus I hopped on at Michigan Avenue... I was pretty bummed about this. You needed to know your bib number to know what line to jump in. 

I had only received one waiver via email to bring in (that had my half marathon bib number), so was hoping maybe the people participating in the festival were all grouped together and would get both bibs in the same location. False. I ended up needing to go to the solutions desk and get another waiver and have them look up my bib number (I couldn't find it anywhere on the lists they had posted), then hit up the 5k line.

The Course.

After receiving our bibs, we went over to the t-shirt line. I had ordered the half marathon women's shirt up a size, since they suggested it (said sizes ran small and was best to order up). I'm really glad I did – fit perfect! I really liked the blue color, too. Unfortunately, the 5k shirt was HUGE! So disappointing. I had ordered medium, and the smallest size was a small, so I swapped the medium out for that. My mom's registration said she had requested an XS, but again, they didn't come in that size. Weird. I wish they were available. When I took it home, I held it up with one of my husband's large shirts, and it was BIGGER than that. Bananas. They were nice shirts, and made by Brooks, so I really wish the 5k shirt fit better. I do love the half marathon shirt, though, and wear it often.

Inside the expo.

Blurry, but this was the bib pickup area.

Before heading out to check out the other exhibitors, they had some samples for everyone to grab. I got some sunscreen and a few other things. Then, it was to the Brooks Rock 'n' Roll area - lots of great stuff! I ended up getting a tank, a shirt, and the obligatory pint glass. Between my mom and I, we had enough to split it up so we'd both get the VIP bathroom pass for the half (which, I have to say, was AWESOME... I'll elaborate more when I write that recap). 

After paying for our fun Rock 'n' Roll gear, we headed out to the rest of the vendors. Unfortunately, by this time, we only had about 10 minutes left. I was sad because I had a list of vendors I wanted to stop by to purchase product or check it out (curiosity). With the time I had, I was able to try out 'The Stick' roller and purchase two bottles of Tri-Berry Nuun (I also got a Nuun water bottle that was Rock 'n' Roll themed - pretty cool!). Unfortunately at this point, they were making announcements that everyone had to leave. It was the quickest expo evacuation and shut down that I've ever seen. For such a large race (and the addition of the 5k on Saturday), I found it odd that it would close at 7pm. It's not an easy place to get to, whether you are driving in from the burbs or taking public transit from the city. I was shocked at how long it took to get there, and then we barely had any time to enjoy the great expo! I would have loved an 8 or 9pm closing time.

Sculptures in the park by the Art Institute of Chicago.

The morning of the 5k was beautiful - sunny, and upper 60s. The race was set to start at 8am, and mom and I got there around 7:15ish. We hit up the port-o-lets, as usual, which had a bit of a line. Oddly, it was just one long line for a set of maybe 10–15 bathrooms. Usually there's atleast 1 line per set of 2 toilets. They had hand washing stations (yay water and soap!).

I'm really not sure how accurate this course map is.
I don't remember doing that square shape at all. I feel
like it's a bit off - pretty sure that from the start weran down
the sidewalk and did a small half turn down near
the museum campus and then ran the rest of the way back
on the lakefront trail down by the water... ?

The race began on time, and it seemed like they just let everyone go. I don't recall seeing a pace line-up, but we started at the back and passed people along the way. Nothing too spectacular about the course, it was a usual up and back by the lakefront, though coming back it did go down by the lake rather than up on the sidewalk (by lake shore drive). It was mostly flat with one short hill. It's a beautiful view, even if I do see it often during races, I don't really get too tired of it ;)

Beautiful day in the city!

At the start line.

A band on the course.

Great day for a run by the lake!

I like to smile.

After finishing, we received our 5k medal, which I really liked, along with a banana, pretzels, water, and a bagel. We sat by the lake enjoying our post-race snacks and then worked our way to check out the after party. While walking by the start/finish line, I got a glimpse of a blonde ponytail - it was Shalane Flanagan! I took some candid photos and we mosied on our way. While walking to the party, Shalane passed us on a golf cart and stopped at a tent that had a line. I realized she was headed to a meet and greet or autograph signing, so we hurried over to get in line.

Enjoying my post-race bagel.

The goodies!

Awesome medal received in an awesome city ;)

Hey! It's Shalane!!

The start/finish line.

Off to the festival.

Rock 'n' Roll Chicago 5k medals.

Now, I don't know if I just missed something, but I don't remember receiving any info regarding her doing a signing. I knew she would be at the expo Saturday and racing over the weekend, but I would have headed over sooner for her autograph if I knew about it. The line moved fairly quickly, even though she was talking with everyone, signing medals and bibs, and taking photos. It was pretty hot waiting in line – the sun was beating down on us and there was no shade. I honestly was trying to hide in the shade of people's shadows. I could tell my skin was getting burnt... no good. When it was my turn, I told her what a big fan I was and how inspirational she was. It's a bit of a blur – I was just so excited! She was sweet as can be (and super adorable!). When my mom told her she was doing the half the next day as well, she told her how impressive that was. I think that made my mom feel pretty good, as it should.

Ahhhh - one of the greatest moments in my running life!
Super excited.

The festival grounds.

After mom and I got photos with Shalane and she signed our ribbons, we headed on home. I was giddy with excitement from the 2 minute interaction haha. It was time to rest up for the half marathon the next day, where I was sure it was going to be hot hot hot.


  1. Sounds like a great time. I wish I would've done both the 5k and half in Philadelphia but I only opted for the half. That is a great medal for a 5k. Jealous you got to meet Shalane. Kara ran Philly but unfortunately I didn't get to meet her.

    1. Yeah I had a lot of fun! I was very impressed with the medal, but disappointed with the shirt :( I love wearing race shirts... all the time haha. Bummer you didn't get a chance to meet Kara! Congrats on another great race, though :)

  2. Ah! So jealous you got to meet Shalane! And I'm totally with you on the option to earn more medals, I rarely say no!

    1. How could you? Especially if they're cool ones ;)

  3. So awesome that you got to meet her! And run with your mom!


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