The BibRave Chicago Summit and Rock ‘N Roll Half 2019 review

Disclaimer: I’m reviewing the Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago half marathon  as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

It may surprise some of you, but favorite part of being a BibRave Pro is not the opportunity to try different brands or races, but the community of people that I have connected with across the United States and world. 🙂 I love that we all run different paces and live in different places, but we all share a love of running, writing/blogging, and encouraging others.

What made the weekend of Friday July 19th-Sunday July 21st so special, though, was the opputunity to hang out with some of the fellow pros and staff in real life. 🙂 Our slack channel is great and a source of nearly daily chuckles for me, but there was nothing like that weekend of real life fun and chuckles. 😛 So without further ado, let’s dive into my experience at the BibRave summit weekend, from group runs to the Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon!

Friday July 19th

Started off the morning with a super hot team run, but it was awesome. It was nearly 90 degrees at 10 am when we all went running. We all met at Washington Square park and then ran 4 miles as a team. I ran to the park, though, so I ran about 7.5 miles total for the day.

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We ended the run with a little swim in the lake, although I’ll be honest, I never jumped in. 😛 I knew I was taking the “L” home and didn’t want to sit on the train in my soggy clothes. haha

A few hours after the group run, we went as a team to the Rock ‘n’ expo to pick up our packets. My husband joined as well, even though he’s not on BibRave. 😛 We got some cool swag and took some goofy photos.

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Then it was time for the Orange Carpet dinner, one of my favorite events of the weekend. The dinner took place a City Winery in the west loop of Chicago. I had always wanted to go, but had never been. 🙂 We all put on as much orange as we good find, hung out as a team, had some tasty snacks and delicious wine. I probably had more wine than I should have, but it was worth it. 😛

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Saturday July 20th

After the City Winery event and an unintentional late night, I accidentally overslept my alarm to make it to the team shakeout run. I’m THE WORST. 😦 I woke up 15 minutes before the run was supposed to start. :/ I know all the people that did the shakeout run had a blast! 🙂 I decided to just take a rest day to rest up my legs for tomorrow’s half marathon.

We then went to the Cub’s game as a team for an afternoon game. I love that we all wore our BibRave summit t-shirts- we definitely stood out at the game with our sea of orange. 😛 I could not resist still wearing my Cubs hat. It was still crazy hot out, so I made sure to chug water the whole time and was grateful we sat in the shade.

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After the Cub’s game I went back home to finish my homework for my summer class. It was due that evening, so I was cutting it close post-Cubs game. Crisis averted, though. 😛 Due to my homework, I missed the team podcast recording event post- game, but all the Pros that went told me it was fantastic. 🙂 I opted for an early bedtime in anticipation of waking up at 4 am for tomorrow’s half marathon race. As many of you already know, Rock ‘n’ Roll was somewhat of a goal race for me, but I knew with all the hot weather I needed to adjust my goal, event hough I’m stubborn and I did not want to.

Sunday July 21st

Race morning started very early- around 4 am. I had to make sure I ate breakfast this time, so I would not repeat the fueling mistakes of last year’s rock ‘n’ roll race. Although, not much could have been done to overcome my lack of training going into that race. haha. Anyway, I had some bland oatmeal and dates and checked the weather as I ate. Thankfully, the weather showed race morning was going to be cooler than the nearly 100 degree weather we had experienced the previous two days, but the humidity was crazy high. I realized I probably needed to adjust my goal of sub 1:30, but I really did not want to.

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Around 5:50 am my husband and I jogged over to the start line so I could make it for a BibRave photo/ pump up chat. I easily found some of team BibRave because orange is not exactly a color that blends in. But not knocking orange- I love it! 🙂 I then made my way into the A start coral with my husband and we met up with my friend Jeff. I also saw Katherine Switzer in the corral near us, but was too shy and starstruck to say anything.  Soon enough the 6:30 am race time arrived and we were off!

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If you follow me on Instagram, you already know my thoughts about the race, so you can skip to the end of those post. lol. If not read below:

I was disappointed with my race result, despite the PR. 😦 The only thing that made me smile on race day was hearing so many people cheer for me, running with friends, and hanging out with friends post-race. From the BibRave corner just before mile 6, to the Heartbreakers and 3Run2 cheer squads around mile 7, I know without those crews I would not have had much fun. Also shoutout to Lydia, my summer internship mentor and fellow Chicago runner who got this awesome photo of me around mile 7 (before I started struggling).

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I know I am too hard on myself, especially because I met my B & C goals, but not my A goal. My C goal was to have fun. My B goal was a PR. And my A goal was sub 1:30. Maybe I should have adjusted my A goal given the hot weekend and humid race day weather, but I was fairly confident it was within my reach based workouts, especially on hot days the last two months. I should have known it was a bit of a reach goal because I was injured until early 2019 & my training has only really picked up the last few months… Here is a look at my 2019 running going into the race:

🔹January : 14 mi
🔹February: 32 mi
🔹March: 73 mi
🔹April: 54.5 mi
🔹May: 140 mi
🔹June: 200 mi

I know I fared better than many others in the heat/humidity on race day, but I’m competing with myself -not others. And if I’m being honest I fell short 😫 I held onto 1:28 pace until nearly mile 10, but then I felt very fatigued, overheated, & I stepped off the gas. As a future dietitian, I admit I probably should have taken in a gel during the race and not just water, so that was mistake number 1. But then I also mentally gave up around that point- I tend to give up/step-off the gas once running gets painful & that’s exactly what I did yesterday. In my training, I’ve had the same issue on hard workouts days, which I primarily do alone. Some people are good at grinding out repeats solo & it’s a great skill to have, but it is for sure a weakness of mine 😅 I sometimes miss my HS/college team because even if we weren’t always the same pace, we did the hard workouts together & that helped motivate me/push into the discomfort zone that you need to go to on workouts sometimes to get better at running. It helps you race stronger 💪🏻 All the more reason I should join a team! But a few weeks after this race, I can say I am likely joining a team- more on this later! 🙂

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So, my takeaway from this half marathon is that I need to work on my toughness in workouts/races even when I’m in pain 🙃I’d love to do more hard workouts with others to help me push the pace, but I also need to work on it during solo efforts. But also a 1:32:11, 3rd in my age group, and a nearly 2 minute PR on a hot/humid day is not so bad. I know a sub 1:30 is in the bag on a more favorable day weather-wise! I can walk away from this race knowing that I learned a lot of important lessons and that all I can ask. Also, shoutout to my husband who was not fazed by the tough weather whatsoever and ran a 1:15:01 good for 57 second PR and 2nd in his age group. But also certain on a cooler day I bet he could run closer to a 1:13 half marathon!

After the race we had fun hanging out with old and new friends over beers in the post-race party. I realized that there was no sense in being upset, my race was over, and no one had a stellar day. It was so fun to meet friends like Matt, Naomi, Austin, Todd, and Jeff for the first time, as well as hanging out with older friends like the BibRave Pros and Michael.

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After hanging out the post-race party for a while, my husband and I made our way home to shower and eat breakfast. We missed the rain! Once the rain died down we headed to Public House for a little BibRave Pro post-race party. It was low-key, but fun to see everyone before they headed back home (I was the only Chicago resident at the BibRave Summit haha).

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I am so grateful for team BibRave for an awesome Summit weekend! And special shoutout to Knockaround sunglasses , Aftershokz , and Rock ‘n’ Roll for sponsoring it! 🙂 I cannot wait for the next summit!

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Did you run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago half marathon this year?! If so, how did it go for you? 

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Shamrock Shuffle 8k 2019 review

Disclaimer: I’m promoting the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8k as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

After not making it to the start line for the 2018 Shamrock Shuffle due to illness, I was excited to not only receive an entry for the 8k race, but to make it to the start line healthy 🙌🏻 I also convinced my husband to run with me as per usual 😉 Well, not with me, with me, because he is a lot faster than I am! As I previously mentioned, my training has not been stellar with my busy student schedule and I’m still easing into hard training post injury. I only did two fartlek workouts going into the race and I averaged 15 mi/week. My goal going into the race was to have fun and run 7 min miles. I was definitely surprised with my race result to say the least! I ran 33:15 (6:42 pace) for the 8k, which is not too shabby for such low mileage and little workouts. My BibRave friends and I decided not to enter the team competition, so I accepted a place on the Recreational Oiselle IL team and our team came in 1st! The results are age-graded, so my time did not put me on the scoring team (top 4), but it was still fun to run on a scoring team like the good ‘ol cross country days.

My Garmin was not working, so most of the race I had no idea of my pace and just tried to maintain a “comfortably hard” pace. Plus, I found myself distracted by all the race views and reminiscing on when I ran the same streets for my first marathon last October. 🙂 Anyway, when I hit the 5k in 20:39, I realized I was running sub 6:40s, even though I thought I was running 7 min miles. Then, I got a side stitch around mile 3.5 and slowed down considerably (or so it felt) 🙃 I am not sure if it was the oatmeal and dates I ate 1 hour before the race start (I usually need 2-3 hours to adequately digest) or my lack of training, but I told myself to jut try and hold on for less than 1.5 more miles, despite the pain.

Chicago Road Runners, a local running club, snapped the picture of me below trying to focus through the side stitch pain. lol. I was able to bring it home and only add 8 seconds per mile to my pace, so I am proud of that. And I’m seriously proud of what I was able to do in this race considering my circumstances. I think with hard work and consistency, I’ll be able to chase some of my upcoming (and lofty) running goals! 🙂

I have my sights on a sub 30 minute 8k in future years and I know I have to put in the work to achieve that goal. I cannot just coast by on 15 miles per week! Although, Ashlyn is helping me train more seriously and consistently starting now (Do I really have to do 400 meter repeats this week? :P) So hoping that helps me achieve my goals at my half marathons in May and July-do not worry there will be a blog post all those in the near future 😛

Other race notes:

-Expo/packet pick-up: The packet-pick and expo were held at the McCormick Center, which was coincidently the same weekend as a Comic-Con. So it was crazy crowded 🙃 experience at the expo last Saturday was fine, though. I was able to pick up my packet and swag, chat with some brands, and force my husband to take the below picture with me. He loves when I make him take pictures 😛

-Parking/transit: The race starts at Grant park and parking can be both challenging/expensive, so I recommend public transit, biking, or running to the start. My husband and I walked/jogged to the start line, since we live pretty close to downtown.

-Gear Check: This race had gear check, so I was grateful to be able to warm up in layers and then ditch my warm-ups at gear check. Although, after the race it took gear check over 10 minutes to locate my bag…that was frustrating and an unusual experience. Usually my experiences with gear check are smooth. I found out the worker just put my bag in the wrong section. I got a little short with the workers because I was chilly post race and I feel bad, but sometimes we are not our best selves post-race when we are hungry. Or maybe that’s just me?! I doubt whoever worked the gear check reads my blog…but if you do I am sorry for being short about my misplaced (and later found) bag. It was not a big deal!

-Start line: Unlike the Chicago Marathon (which also starts at Grant Park), it was super easy to get into my corral. That experience at the Chicago marathon was kid of stressful, I will not lie! I barely made it to the back of my corral (C) at the marathon. But at the Shuffle last weekend it took less than 5 minutes to get into corral A. I noticed a lot of corral jumping and lack of regulation at this race. It was stricter at the marathon. All around me there were people who should have been in corral D, but were in A with my husband and I. Oh well, though 🤷🏼‍♀️

-Swag: The swag this year was SWEET! I am obsessed with the hat. Although, I wish I did not need to run in such a warm hat now that it is the beginning of April, but also at least my hate is cute🤣I’d be fine waiting to wear it again until next winter, though 😛 We also received dry-fit short sleeve tops that I plan to rock all spring and summer. The medals are AWESOME (see above!). Mariano’s had a lot of free post-race eats at the finish as well. I took everything I could hold from mixed nuts, to fruits, to granola bars. I was grateful that they had a lot of vegan options. I actually forgot my post-race beer somehow 😭 But, we did get oat milk cappuccinos with my sister-in-law after the race, which made me feel better. haha.

-Post-race/Meet-ups: After the race we had a nice little BibRave met up in Grant Park. It was so fun to hang out with Mark and Ben again. And to meet Melissa for the first time. She even brought her dogs and they were the cutest! I missed Zenaida this time 😦 Maybe we can photoshop her into the picture below? I love that BibRave connects me to so many amazing runners across the country, but nothing beats actually hanging out with them in real life 🙂

I also FINALLY got to meet Amanda (not me 🤣) in real life after becoming Instagram friends, so that was awesome. I cannot wait to hang out and run more of the same races!

Overall, the Shamrock Shuffle 8k was an awesome race! It is flat, fast, and it’s such an obscure distance, it is almost a guaranteed PR. The swag is worth it and I love how everyone gets decked out in shamrock and green attire. It is the race that signifies that start of the Chicago racing season and one that I plan to run again!

Did you run the Shamrock Shuffle this year or in previous years? What did you think?

2018 in review

Hello friends! Long time, no post and Happy New Year’s Eve! How is it only one day away from 2019?! 😱

Life got a little crazy since my last post in October: I ran my 1st marathon in a BQ, got injured during said marathon, finished my 1st semester of nutrition classes, and focused on injury recovery! All those recent events reminded me that it’s been a crazy fun, tear-inducing, challenging, awesome, amazing, and unpredictable year. 😜

So why not recap/reflect on the highlights from each month of 2018, so I can start 2019 on a high-note? Without further ado, here are my top moments for each month of 2018, running and otherwise:

January:  The top moment of January was running the F^3 Lake 5k and meeting a few of my new BibRave teammates. It was my favorite moment because I spent a lot of the fall injured, so it was exciting to be able to lace up and race a 5k, even though I only had a few weeks of training under my belt and no workouts. I treated the race as a tempo, somehow won, and had an overall great time. My husband ran the half marathon and earned a personal best time of 1:15! We were fortunate to have weather in the high 30s and the post race party was fun. If you want to read more about this race check out my recap 🙂 I am recovering from injury (again) now, so I likely won’t run the race in 2019, but I highly recommend the 5k or half marathon on 1/26/19!IMG_5111

February: The top moment of February was a tie between the unexpected snow day (and day off work) on Friday February 9, 2018 and being chosen by BibRave to test out the Aftershokz wireless headphones. And yes, I’m sure you’re wondering how one single day could be my top moment of 2018…but if you are a regular follower/reader here you may remember that I used to be a high school chemistry teacher. In January- March 2018 I was working as a temporary chemistry teacher for a teacher on maternity leave. The teacher had been on leave since September, and the school had trouble finding a teacher to take the maternity leave, so the students had been without a permanent teacher until I took the position in January. Without divulging every detail, it was tough situation that really tested me, especially when I was already fairly certain (not yet publicly at this point) that I did not want to teach, but rather go back to school to become a Registered Dietitian, but more on that later 😉

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Anyway, after a particularly tough Thursday with some unruly students and a mountain of grading, we got an unexpected snow day on Friday, February 9th. For those of you who aren’t in Chicago, it is incredibly rare for the Chicago Public Schools to declare a snow day. It happens maybe once every 5 years. 😛 It was much needed! I was able to fit in a snowy run with my new trail shoes, my new Aftershokz, and in the daylight hours on a week day. Friday, Feb. 9th was AWESOME! It’s still funny to me in December 2018 that a simple snow day was my top moment of February 2018.

March:  Hands down the best moment of March 2018 was winning an Instagram contest for of three months of coaching with Heather McKirdy of McKirdy Trained. She had been a runner and coach I looked up too since I made an instagram page for this blog. 🙂 She’s positive, hard-working, a dreamer, speedy, and extremely knowledgable about running. In my short three months with her as my coach, I grew so much as a runner! I set a half PR, integrated more workouts and recovery, and took my running more seriously for the first time since running for my college in 2010-2013. I also watched many of my other Instagram friends become her athletes around when I did and make awesome running gains (I’m especially looking at you Teagan, Meghan, Laura, and Nicole :P). I was very sad after my three months ended because I decided to exit the work world and go back to school to study nutrition, so unfortunately I could not and still cannot afford a coach and I loved working with Heather 😦 It would have definitely been helpful to have one when I trained for the Chicago Marathon because my training was kind of a mess 😂 ANYWAY, if you are looking for a coach and it’s in your budget I HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend Heather or any of the other McKirdy Trained coaches. 🙂 A majority of their athletes BQed or set PRs at their races this year and those are results you cannot ignore! 😱

Honorable mention/a close second was finishing off that maternity leave teaching position and figuring out my now public next steps. More on that below 😉

April: Okay, okay! I can’t pick just one moment because this month was freakin’ awesome. Hands down the BEST moment was deciding to change my path and go back to school to study to become a Registered Dietitian. I also ran a personal best in my second ever half marathon (1:34), while sick, under the guidance of my new coach Heather. My husband ran the full marathon that same day in a stunning 2:42, cutting 26 minutes off his previous best time and securing a ticket to Boston 2019. You can read much more about my experience at the Illinois Half Marathon here.

Last, but not least I was able to meet and become real-life friends with two of my Instagram friends: Katie of 2fabfitchicks and Danielle of Feed Me Happy. Danielle and I are also now real-life classmates and future RDs, so that’s pretty awesome. 🙂

Meeting and running with Scott Jurek during his North book release tour also deserves an honorable mention! April was truly an amazing month!

May: May’s top moments are a tie between being interviewed for my first ever magazine article in Voyage Chicago and my birthday BibRave run meet-up at Millennium Park. It was nearly 95 degrees, but I still had a blast running with Steph, Ben, and Frank on my 26th birthday! 🙂 Joining such an awesome team of supportive and fun runners/ambassadors may have been my greatest decision all year, besides deciding to go back to school 😛

June: It was a hot day and not my best race time, but I still pick my first ever 10k at the Run for the Zoo as my top moment of June 2018. I even managed third female overall somehow 😛 It was a fun race to rep BibRave and somewhat kick off my Chicago Marathon training!

July: My husband got a new teaching job and we moved to a new apartment. I absolustely love my new loft apartment and it’s proximity to awesome places to run along the Chicago LakeShore path.  I  was honestly hoping that the Rock ‘N Roll Chicago half marathon would be my top July moment,  but I just did not have a good race and you can read more about it on my Instagram 😦 I’m still glad I ran it even if my time of 1:36 was very far off of the 1:30 I was hoping for at that point. 

August: A hot month full of marathon training and long run PRs (mileage wise) every single week. I even made it through my through my longest run ever (20 miles) and nailed my fueling strategy with Spring Energy (ElectroRide in my hand held and Canaberry gels ).

Running the Nike unsanctioned 6k race deserves an honorable mention, as well. It was a fun race and a great way to fit in a mid-week workout.

September: Oh man September was a tough month! I was struggling to balance my classes, work, my extremely long commute to/from school, and training for the marathon. I had a few 0-10 mile weeks and I even contemplated not running the Chicago Marathon. Thankfully, after turning around my training a bit, some reflection on how far I had come (despite a less than ideal training situation). and the kind words of so many of you I decided to still run. That is definitely my top moment of September 2018. It was not an easy decision!

October: Completing my first marathon in a BQ, enough said! 😛  Although, having to stop multiple times to stretch due to hip and IT band pain and then becoming so injured I just started running again a little over a week ago also serves as a bit of a low point. :/ You can read more about my race on Instagram.

I am extremely grateful that Dale of Marathoner Dale ran part of the marathon with me. She had a fantastic race (earning a 3:22 PR) and helped me at my lowest, most painful points. I am also grateful that Jess (the cofounder of BibRave) and I were able to run together for some of the race! 🙂 I am positive with better training (and honestly a coach ), I would have a had a much better and injury free race, but hey- a 3:28:01 is not bad for my first one!

I am proud, but am also dreaming bigger (and training MUCH smarter) for my next marathon! 😛 I had a blast meeting a lot more of my BibRave teammates at the Chicago Marathon summit and the race and would not change the race or this weekend for anything, though. I can only hope to perform at what I am actually capable of next time I run a marathon 😉

November: No running at all for me in November, as I focused on cross training, resting, and gaining hip/glute strength. BUT the best moment was watching my husband cut two more minutes off his personal best marathon time at Indy Monumental in a blazing fast 2:40! 🔥 I am also grateful for Ashlyn, who is the kindest human and an amazing friend, who put together a strength training plan and will make a running plan once I am able to run more. I am not sure what I did to deserve her help, but I am grateful because this injury has been a struggle and an uncertain time for me. :/

December: After not being able to run post-Chicago marathon, hands down the top moment of this month was the pain-free mile (even if it was on the dreadmill) I ran three days ago! I am cautiously optimistic about my return to running as enter 2019! I am not sure anything I will do in the remaining hours of 2018 can top that, unless I am able to run 10 miles 😉 But don’t worry, I’m won’t try such a foolish thing!

Finishing my first semester nutrition school finals and earning good grades also earn an honorable mention, but clearly being able to run again is more exciting to me 😛 I also got accepted to be a BibRave Pro for another year, so I am grateful that they want to keep me! 🙂

So now, I want to hear from all of YOU! What were your top moments of 2018, running or otherwise?! 👇🏻

Run for the Zoo 10k review

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Run for the Zoo as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador) and check out BibRave.com to find and write race reviews!

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I was lucky enough to run my first ever 10k at the Lincoln Park Zoo Run for the Zoo on Sunday June 3, 2018. Even though I ran cross country/track in college, I never made it through a track season due to injury and thus never got the chance to run a 10k race. The weather on race morning was absolutely perfect for a shorter race: sunny, no wind, and in the 70’s. 🙂 I was fortunate to be joined by my husband, my good friend Michael, Michael’s mom, and fellow BibRave Pro Ben.

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My training for this race was virtually non-existent. I ran the Illinois Half Marathon on April 28, 2018 and after the race I took a couple weeks off/very low mileage due to some knee/hip pain. Once I finally started running again, I did not do any speed work and only ran 9 times between the half marathon and this race, so I was very surprised with the outcome. I came in 2nd overall and 1st in my age group with a time of 43:58. So not bad!

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Although, next time I run a 10k, I want to do speed work and train hard because my ultimate 10k time goal is sub 40 minutes 😱

My husband had a speedy race for his first ever 10k: 35:03 (5:39/mile!!!) and came in 5th overall and 2nd on his age group.

 

Michael and his mom were also happy with their races! I did not get a chance to catch up with Ben after his race, but his recap is here and it sounds like a solid race, especially because he ran two tough races in the span of 24 hours!

Other race notes:

Expo/Packet pick up: The packet pick-up was held the Friday and Saturday before the race at the Lincoln Park Zoo. It was easy to find and the volunteers were friendly. I picked up packets for myself, my husband, Michael, and his mom since I was off work the Friday before the race.

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Parking: It was a little tough to find parking at the Lincoln Park Zoo lot and it was a little expensive, but it was worth it to get a close parking spot. Michael and his mom found a parking garage about a mile from the zoo for cheaper. Free Street parking is hard to come by in the area, so you should either take public transit or be willing to shell out some cash for parking.

Waiting for the start: The start line was easy to find and had different sections of the corral depending on your projected finish time pace. I lined up a the appropriate spot, but I felt like a lot of other people did not. There were definitely people who started too fast and then faded, but I feel like this happens most races.

Race course: The course was relatively flat and fast. It started on the road in front of the Lincoln Park Zoo, then moved to the Lake Front Running Path, and then you finished with a loop inside the Zoo. There were lots of beautiful views to take in on the 10k course! The only parts of the course I did not like was the start of the race/end of the race were run on the uneven road and the slippery board walk in the last half mile. I felt nervous that I was going to slip, but I luckily did not. It is not the race’s fault either- it had rained the night before. Overall, they did a great job of marking the course and ensuring our safety.

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Post race/after party: As soon as I finished the race inside the Zoo, I was greeted with all kinds of beverages and treats. My favorite was the post-race popsicle! There were various vendors out and about, so you could get a lot of free treats. Kind bars, beer, water, Gatorade, and Bobo’s Oat Bars to name a few. You could take a walk through the Zoo to say hello to the animals, take pictures in any of the ionic locations in the zoo, or dance to the post-race music.

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Swag: Every finisher got a cool dri-fit shirt. The top male and female 5k and 10k winners each won free flight tickets, so that was cool. As mentioned above, there were treats galore. There were also free race photos and they definitely captured some great moments during the race. 😛

Athlinks: Since this was my first ever 10k I get to consider the race a PR 🙂 So, of course I claimed my shiny new PR on Athlinks. I’ll be sharing a post about what Athlinks is later this month. You can see my claimed results here! Athlinks is an awesome way to track all results for your races. I also use it to figure out what goals I should shoot for my next race by adding myself to the start list. I definitely suggest creating an account and claiming your results too. Share your Athlinks profile link in the comments below and I’ll follow you! 🙂

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Overall, it was fun race! It’s flat and fast which is perfect for obtaining a 5k or 10k PR. I’d run it again next year!

Did you run the Run for the Zoo this year? If not, you really should register for next year! I’m already thinking about it 😉

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P.S. Check out my review on Bibrave. It is a great place to go when you are looking for races to run because you can read about the experiences that other runners had at that race in the past! 🙂

Illinois half marathon review

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Illinois half marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador) and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

I had the fortune of running the Illinois half marathon on April 28th. I say fortune because with my injury history there is no guarantee that I will toe the line for the races I sign up for. :/ Luckily, I made it to this race in one piece..although I was unlucky enough to pick up a cold a few days prior to the race. 😦

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I credit making it to the starting line to my amazing coach Heather! She helped me get up my mileage after a stressful job ended, I solidified my new career path, I started two part time jobs, and I missed many runs due to illness the week of the Shamrock Shuffle. 25-30 miles per week is not ideal for half marathon training, but that is MUCH better than my mileage was while I was teaching. Heather made sure all my miles counted and provided me a good base for my further out races (like my 1st marathon in October 😉 ). Despite having a cold, I am happy to say I crossed the line in 1:34:06, good for a 6 minute PR. The highlight of the race weekend, though, was my husband’s massive 26 minute PR in the marathon. He finished in 2:42:57 good enough for a 2019 BQ!

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Other race notes:

Expo/Packet pick up: My husband and I encountered wicked Friday late afternoon Chicago traffic and an hour into the trip knew we were not going to make the expo in time. Thank goodness for our friend Mikey (who ran the 10k race) and saved the day! He picked up the packets for us and then delivered them to us at dinner at Biaggi’s.

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Parking: Parking was free and easy to find. We were able to leave our hotel, drive, and park in less than 20 minutes. Definitely a huge pro to have a low stress parking situation!

Waiting for the start: It was a little chilly so I wore a “throw” shirt, but everything was easily marked with signs. I made my way seamlessly to coral A. I actually run into fellow BibRave Pro Zenaida on my way to the start line, so that was pretty cool! We chatted, wished each other luck, and took a picture.

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Once I was in corral A I ran into another fellow Bibrave Pro, Kim and I met fellow instagram runner Katherine in real life. It was nice to run into some familiar faces!

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Last start line note: there seemed to be enough porta potties and the lines moved quickly. I didn’t use one, but that’s always a pro in my book!

Race course: The course was flat and fast! Perfect course for a PR. It went though campus, nearby neighborhoods, and a park. There were tons of spectators throughout the course, which was a nice morale boost. There were ample aid stations. I only took in water, because I don’t fuel for half marathons, but they also had Gatorade and GUs. I also remember one aid station that offered sliced oranges. I’m not sure how to eat while running (hence one of the many reasons I’m not ready for an ultra. lol), but it was a nice gesture.

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The energy toward the finish was unreal! The last mile of the race you made your way toward to finish in the stadium and it was so cool! I was in awe of how beautiful the campus was and excited to be close to the finish. 😛 I can imagine that people who attend/attended University of Illinois for college felt emotional at the finish! I know if I ever return to my alma mater to run the race that finishes on our track that I will get emotional.  The stadium finish was hands down my favorite part of the race! 🙂

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Post race/after party: At the finish, in the stadium, I was wrapped in a heat sheet, offered water, offered a sports drink, and offered a stretch from the Athletico station. There were also ample opportunities for photos, which I took as I waited anxiously for my husband to finish the marathon. I took some photos with Mikey after his 10k, Kim, Katherine, and alone while I waited. I also got stretched out at the Athletico station which felt awesome on my tight hips and IT band.

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Once my husband finished in an astonishing 2:42:57, we took a few more photos with and without the PR bell. The PR bell had received a lot of love at this point and was broken…we took photos anyway, but that is why we are laughing 😛

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After the photos we made our way to the post race party to check out the beers and snacks. My husband got a beer and there were a lot of snack options! None of us were hungry at that point yet or we would have eaten something. Mikey and I cooled down and then we all headed back to the hotel so we could all shower before check out and the long drive home.

Swag: Every finisher got a sweet medal (regardless of race) and free finisher photos. For running the half I got a dri-fit long sleeve shirt and my husband got a quarter zip for running the full. Our hotel was super cute and made us little good luck goodie bags as well, but I forgot to snap a picture 😦

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Athlinks: At the Illinois Half Marathon race, I was able to run a new half marathon PR, even with a cold! 🙂 So of course I claimed my shiny new PR on Athlinks. I’ll be sharing a post about what Athlinks is later this month. You can see my claimed results here! Athlinks is an awesome way to track all results for your races. I also use it to figure out what goals I should shoot for my next race by adding myself to the start list. I definitely suggest creating an account and claiming your results too. Share your Athlinks profile link in the comments below and I’ll follow you! 🙂

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Overall, it was fun and well organized race! It’s flat and fast which is perfect for obtaining a PR or BQ. I definitely want to return!

Did you run the Illinois half marathon (or a different race distance) this year? If not you really should register for next year! I’m already thinking about it 😉

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P.S. check out my Illinois half review on Bibrave. It is a great place to go when you are looking for races to run because you can read about the experiences that other runners had at that race in the past! 🙂