This weekend felt like a complete whirlwind of activities… well, because it was. Sadly, due to my jetlag and delayed flights, I still feel in the thick of it having arrived back home at 3am. But I almost have a pinch myself feeling from everything that took place over the weekend, so I’ll try to break it down for you here. Brace yourself, this post is long, but I’ll have lots of pictures for you to break it up!
BibRave announced their intent to host a July Summit shortly after I joined the team in the late winter/early Spring. I was interested in the opportunity to meet the team around a running event, and I’m always in for a runcation. As I try to check every state off my list for half and full marathons, I’m constantly on the lookout for new destination races. Chicago has always been on my radar, and my girlfriend and frequent runcation travel buddy, Stephanie, is from there, so we have had many discussions around wanting to get there for a race. So when BibRave made the official pro-team announcement that Summit would be Rock N Roll Chicago weekend, I didn’t have to do much convincing to get the two of us on board. In fact, I’m pretty sure we booked our travel that same day.
As the weekend approached, my excitement for the various planned BibRave Pro team activities, my race goals, and a chance to explore Chicago with Stephanie grew. I had only been to Chicago once before for a conference and literally stepped outside to watch the river turn green (it was St. Patrick’s Day weekend), then popped back into the convention center. One of my favorite things to do now is run a new-to-me city, and I find that Rock N Roll races do a great job of showing you the fun sights when you do their various distances. BibRave also had a multitude of team events ranging from community service, donut get-togethers, shakeout runs and photo shoots, an Orange Carpet dinner, podcast recording, etc. We were going to be cramming a lot into three short days, but I couldn’t wait!
Stephanie and I started off our Friday long before the sun was up. We had a 5am flight and then hit the ground running in Chicago. We were able to check in to our hotel early, and then immediately head out for a quick BibRave meetup. We were supposed to do a park clean-up community service project, but the temperatures in Chicago were ridiculously hot, so it was unfortunately cancelled by parks and rec for safety of the volunteers. Heat wasn’t going to stop us from getting in an easy group run, so we met at the park and I had my first chance to meet most of the group in person.
It was fun to finally put the faces with everyone’s names, but soon enough we set out for a couple of miles up to the lakeshore path. I chatted with our community leader, Carolyn, on the way out, and enjoyed finding out more about each other and her history with BibRave. Unfortunately, at our turnaround point, we learned that my friend Stephanie had lost her ID and credit card during the run, so we headed back to try and retrace our route and possibly find them. After we got back to the park with no luck, Steph and I headed out to do damage control while the team had the rest of their meetup. Steph and I had quite a few adventures in the city this weekend, but thankfully we kept them a lot more calm after that initial scare. Unfortunately, we didn’t find her ID, but a kind pedestrian turned in her card to the local bank chain. We had some shenanigans to get ourselves to the police station and the subsequent process there to report the lost ID, but we made sure to keep things far more subdued after that adventure.
Our walking tour of the heart of downtown Chicago took up quite a bit of our morning, though we did get a chance to try some delicious food from Chicago Raw. Steph is vegan and I’m gluten free with some dietary requirements that are generally easier to abide when eating vegetarian/vegan, so we were in our happy place with the delicious foods that they had on hand. We took it to go and made our way to the convention center for packet pickup.
At the McCormick convention center, we once again met up with the BibRave team and made our way through the expo. Packet pickup was a breeze and we compared all of our various distance t-shirts. My favorite was probably the 10k that got a deep dish pizza featured on their race shirt. The half marathon had a Chicago style hot dog. I really liked the look of the shirts this year; my last set of Rock N Roll shirts from last year weren’t quite as whimsical and sometimes you just want a fun design on your race shirt.
The expo was medium sized of the Rock N Roll races that I have done. I was surprised that Science in Sport didn’t have a booth as the gel sponsor for the race. As I was testing and reviewing the product through BibRave, I had the opportunity to train with it during this cycle. I was really looking forward to picking up a couple of other flavors to try, but I missed the small display that was by the Brooks checkout. Thankfully, I had packed my own, especially knowing how high the temps were going to be race weekend. I did pick up a new pair of Brooks running shoes. I love their Launch shoe and it’s my shoe of choice for the half marathon and shorter distance. They had a fun, tie-dyed print for the Rock N Roll series this year, so I picked out that design to replace my old pair that was just about falling apart from so much use.
After the expo, we headed back to the hotel to freshen up for our evening Orange Carpet event. Aftershokz and Knockarounds were generous in sponsoring many of our events over the course of the weekend, and Team BibRave coordinated so many fun ways for us to all hang out together. Steph and I got all dolled up and headed out to celebrate our first night in Chicago at City Winery, where we had delicious food and drinks, and got to know everyone a bit more. Afterwards, we headed out to Jeni’s ice cream down the street, to beat the heat and appease our sweet tooth. Then it was off to bed to rest up for the Saturday morning shakeout run and team photoshoot.
I crept out of the hotel early on Saturday morning to make my way to the lakefront for our team shakeout run. There was supposed to be a Rock N Roll 5k on Saturday morning, but it was cancelled due to the extreme temperatures. Being from the South, I completely admit to laughing about what Chicago would call ‘hot,’ but it really was no joke. The temps themselves were in the 90s, but the humidity was also in creeping towards the mid-90th percentile. All of this meant that the actual weather ‘feel’ was a good 15 degrees hotter than it actually was outside; oftentimes with a hot wind adding to it. I didn’t anticipate this in planning for the weekend and while I was able to train in heat and humidity, I had still anticipated that it would actually feel cooler in Chicago. It definitely didn’t, and I had to adjust my effort level throughout the weekend because of this. The upside of Rock N Roll cancelling the 5k, was a few Pros that were planning on running it and missing the morning run, could now join the crew for the photoshoot and spend more time getting to know one another.
We met up by the big boat house building on the lakeshore and set off as a sea of orange. The photographer caught shots of us running as a team, and then we regrouped for individual photos and to enjoy some donuts and coffee together. Afterwards, I headed back to the hotel to get ready for my first Cubs game, once again with the BibRave team.
We met at the stadium for the 1pm game, and loaded up on our refreshments (and my first all-in experience with Garrett’s popcorn). I’ll admit that I am the farthest thing from a baseball fan, but it was pretty cool being at Wrigley’s and seeing a team that seems pretty iconic from someone that knows absolutely nothing about baseball. We stayed for a few innings but I could only handle being stuck to those chairs in a pool of sweat for so long. And we had to get ready for another team dinner! So once again, back to the hotel to freshen up and get some rest. It sounds like there was a lot of downtime, but there really wasn’t. In attending all of the events, in addition to our own activities, we were non-stop the whole weekend.
Saturday night, we headed back out to meet the team and had dinner at the Current Kitchen. We were able to participate in a live recording of the BibRave podcast with guest speaker Cindy Kuzma. Tim, Jess, and Cindy discussed her new book, Rebound, (available for pre-order), that covers the mental aspect of athletic injury recovery, and how to train your mind as an athlete. The topic was fascinating and I could have listened to them talk for hours about it; lucky for you though, they kept it under an hour. The perfect duration for your commute or to listen while you’re out on your run. Then it was off to the hotel to rest up for another early morning… this time for the feature event: the half marathon!
Maybe it was nerves or just all of the weekend stimulation, but I had a rough night of sleep on Saturday. Not ideal for bringing my A-game to the race, but by the time we stepped out of the hotel on Sunday morning, I had been awake for a couple of hours. We had a short walk to the start line and hopped into our respective corrals. The temperature had dropped a few degrees so it was a little cooler, but with storms having taken place sporadically through the night, it was still super humid. Nothing to do about it now other than to stay hydrated!
The corrals were released and I set off on my 13.1 mile tour of Chicago. A couple of miles in and I took my first SIS gel. I wasn’t going to risk dehydration and I felt the weather just sucking the life out of me. I needed a boost. My starting pace was where I wanted to be, and while I didn’t feel like it was a stretch, everything just felt heavy because of the weather. I tried to keep a pep in my step as the race progressed, and I got a nice little pick-me-up at the halfway point when I saw the BibRave team cheering us on shortly after mile 6. I took my second SIS gel and upped my water. I brought my Orange Mud hydration vest but there were still a couple of instances where I popped into the water stations to grab some gatorade or ice water when they had it. I was being very aware of my temperature and didn’t want to risk dehydration.
I think my favorite part of the race was around mile 9 and 10 where you do an out and back before setting off for the final 5k of the race. I ran in the middle and everyone was high-fiving the people that were about 10 minutes ahead or behind of them on the course. It was the little boost I needed to get me out of my negative head space (I go from runner’s high to ‘why am I doing this’ in the span of about 15 minutes). You then take a tunnel that I wouldn’t want to be caught in during a zombie apocalypse under McCormick place, and spit out into the smile mile. Then it’s basically the home stretch to the finish line. There’s a couple of small hills (mainly road overpasses) but I reminded myself that ‘I train in Raleigh for goodness gracious, and I eat hills for breakfast.’ So I did, and I picked my pace back up for that final mile. The course ran a little long (my GPS read it as almost 13.5 miles and I heard many others complaining about this) so I was just over my 2:20 goal time (2:22). Though thankfully my Strava has my back and recorded 2:18 for the half. Either way, it’s the fastest half I’ve done in over a year, and probably even longer than that. I’ll do a separate post on how this stacked up with my Endure Strong training program.
After crossing the finish line, I picked up my medal, grabbed some boxed waters, chips, and made my way to the orange crowd in the festival field. We got some pictures together, I hydrated and munched on some carbs, but then I had to head back to our hotel to finish packing and freshen up. I took one of the best showers of my life and collected all of my soaked clothing to be disinfected (ok, maybe even burned) after all the sweat that saturated them from this weekend. Steph soon joined me and we gathered our things to meet up one last time to say goodbye to the BibRave team and get some veggie goodness. Everyone was meeting at the somewhat nearby Public House restaurant, but after running 13.1, I knew my stomach would already be in a precarious spot to throw some non-GF and dairy filled foods its way. So we made our way to Native Foods and grabbed some delicious eats there.
Afterwards, we headed back to the heart of downtown because we made the best last minute decision to pick up a couple of tickets to Hamilton from Stub Hub. We are both HUGE fans of the show, and had heard great things about the Chicago production. Jessica from BibRave is also a mega fan so she ended up joining us. While our muscles started to atrophy from sitting in the theatre post half marathon, we couldn’t care less (until we had to stand up). It was the best decision. I mean, air conditioning, entertainment, and being immobile for three hours is really the best scenario post heat-stroke inducing half marathon. Afterwards, we picked up our aching bodies and made our way to the stage door where we were able to meet a few of the cast members. It was such a fun experience and a great way to round out the weekend.
As much as we enjoyed our police department tour of downtown on Friday, post-show we decided to get a few more iconic sights in. Steph and I walked to the Bean, tried to get some GF and Vegan donuts at Stan’s (sadly, by the afternoon, they were sold out of all of the dietary restriction friendly option), and then met up with Tia from BibRave for more veggie goodness at the Chicago Diner, a vegetarian/vegan restaurant. Our flight was showing as delayed due to the severe weather in surrounding areas, so we had some time to kill before we made our way to the airport.
Dinner was delicious but it was time to get back to real life. We took the longest CTA ride ever (construction and detours… note to self, we’ll take Lyft next time), and eventually boarded our two hour delayed plane. We made it home safely, but well into the wee hours of the morning. I’m so thankful for the whole weekend, and still can’t quite process how much we fit in to three short days. I’m keeping this next week pretty low key, but then it’s time to get moving for my next few goals! More on that shortly.
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