Foggy conditions before the start

It was a humid and rainy day for the 10th annual Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon. This race is a Chicago classic known for its scenic course throughout some of the best Chicago landmarks, live music along the course, and finish line festival with close to 15,000 runners. It is a huge event; in addition to the half marathon, there is 5K and 10k distance to pick from.

The Rock ‘n’ Roll series has a two-day expo with great vendors and fun race merchandise and apparel. The Health and Fitness Expo is at McCormick Place, located in the south loop neighborhood; it’s not my favorite venue, or most convenient to get to, but due to the size of this race it makes sense.

This is my second time running this event — the last time I ran it was 10 years ago! The race organizers treated me to a VIP experience, including private pre/post race tent, gear checking and body messages. Unfortunately, with the crazy rainy conditions, I did not get a chance to enjoy all of these awesome perks, but it is a great upgrade for those of you looking for some extra special treatment.

The morning was humid and cloudy, grey clouds and foggy conditions with temperatures in the high 60’s. As soon as the race started, it started to drizzle and by mile one it was pouring rain. I just laughed out loud: typical unpredictable Chicago weather. I met my friend Erin and Greg at the start and I ran the first few miles with my training buddy Sam. It helps to run with friends to motivate each other, or should I say commiserate about the weather? In any case, it’s just good to see friendly faces along the way. Thanks for all the cheers!

Something that got my attention was the size of the bibs; I personally thought they were a bit large and I overheard lots of people saying the same thing. On the other hand, the race T-shirt and finisher medal were nicely designed.

As far as the course, I will admit I was a little surprised and disappointed by the limited number of bands and entertainment along the course, despite its claim to have music at every mile. Maybe I missed some of it, or if it was weather related, but there weren’t that many.  Also, the course itself was a bit complicated this year, with multiple turns through the downtown and the south loop neighborhood, finishing up with some hills as you run back to Grant Park toward the finish line. And, I think I only saw mile markers 4, 8, and 13.

The finish-line party is definitely the highlight of this event, featuring Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials playing live music and free beer for all finishers. I love hanging out at race music festivals but unfortunately the rain kept most people from sticking around long.

Overall, it is a well-organized event and I do want to take a moment to thank all the volunteers at the aid stations; they were spectacular, with huge smiles and cheers in less than ideal conditions. The aid stations had plenty of water, Gatorade and the new SiS gels, which apparently are big in Europe.

I am always amazed by the dedication of endurance athletes and the running community, despite the crazy weather I saw lots of smiles. It was a great day for some mental toughness training. And congratulations to my teammates who had some incredibly fast performances.

The male winners:

  1. Trent lusignan 1:08:57
  2. Tyler Pence 1:10:46
  3. Andrew Rylaarsdam 1:11:02

The female winners

  1. D. Bogantes 1:18:56
  2. McClellan 1:21:19
  3. E. V. Heerden. 1:23:46
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Erika has been an endurance athlete for over 20 years. She fell in love with running in her 20’s in graduate school, working full time and being a single mother. Running became time for reflection. She has run over 30 marathons and countless triathlons; qualified for 70.3 World championships. To qualify for Kona is her next goal! She loves being a mom to a wonderful young lady and a fur puppy (cocker spaniel). Travel and exploring new places to train around the world is a passion. She is a licensed clinical counselor who specializes in the treatment of anxiety, depression and trauma. She spent 15 years in academia and has recently taken a role as a clinical director to focus on her clinical work. Erika believes in the therapeutic benefits of endurance training for people who struggle with mental health illness and stress. She is patiently waiting until we can all travel and race safely again, until then she recommends staying active, healthy. and consistent.


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