The weekend that we have been waiting for all summer was finally here!
Friday Morning, Darci, Robin and myself hit the road and drove to Kenosha to catch the train to Chicago! Our ultimate destination? The Women Rock Chicago Half Marathon! When Robin put out a call to her female running friends this past spring, I was quick to hop on board for this awesome weekend! Before long, we talked Darci into coming along – at first to run the 10k, but then she changed her mind and decided that this was going to be her 1st half marathon! This weekend’s race would also launch my Half Fanatics status from Neptune to Saturn! 4 Half Marathons within 37 days!
|Waiting for the train in Kenosha|
The best thing about taking the train into the city… not having to drive downtown Chicago!!! We caught the early train and were in the city by 10:30am! Plenty of time to get checked into the hotel and enjoy the city for the afternoon! We walked the mile and a half from the train station to out hotel, stopping to snap a few pictures along the way, enjoying the warm sun and cool breeze.
|Trump tower, overlooking the river|
I will have to say that my Marriott Rewards status worked to our benefit this weekend! We were upgraded to a room on the 33rd floor with an awesome view of the city! Was definitely a different experience going to sleep with the sounds of the city so far below you!
Once we got settled in to the hotel, we figured it was time to start our afternoon adventure! We had a 2.5 mile walk from the hotel to the Nature Museum in Lincoln park for packet pick up, and find lunch somewhere along the way! Walking up Rush street was just as much about people watching as it was checking out some of the local restaurants to figure out where we wanted to eat! Needless to say before we knew it, we were past all the restaurants and into the residential area closer to the park. So, it was picking up packets before food!
The expotiquie was actually a lost smaller than I thought it would be… I guess I was expecting a little more since it was Chicago, but then again, I’m not really sure how big I was expecting. We looked through the few booths that were there, made a few purchases and were on our way! Time to hike back to the hotel and find lunch somewhere along the way!
Of course, I had to spot the Ghiradelli store when we were walking back up Michigan Ave… so we had to stop… and buy chocolate! This was going to be interesting if I am starting my 21 day sugar detox on Monday! Either I was going to have a stomach ache from eating a half pound of chocolate in 2 days, or I was going to have them staring at me for the next 3 weeks! Oh well!
|Small Cobb Salad for lunch!|
We actually ended up eating lunch across the street from the hotel at California Pizza Kitchen and then heading to Trader Joes around the block to pick up some munchies and breakfast foods! Lunch was awesome, but dessert was even better! It was the perfect shared dessert for us after all that walking!
|Salted Caramel pudding|
The rest of Friday was extremely relaxing as we just lazed around the hotel. I don’t even think we turned the TV on all weekend when we were in the room! It was just nice to kick back and relax after the 9 miles we ended up walking today (mile calculations are all thanks to Darci’s fitbit). After a quick dinner at Big Bowl (again right around the corner from the hotel), I think we were all asleep by 9pm! We were joking at one point about the fact that here we were, in Chicago on a Friday night and we all were in bed before some people were starting their evening! But the alarms were going off early!!
|How many shades of pink can I wear for one race?|
Overall, the first half of the race was pretty good for me, there were however several things over the course of the morning that I was not really keen on. At first, I was keeping a decent pace and the cooler temperature made it easy to enjoy the amazing scenery of running along the lakeshore! However, once I hit about half way, the warmer temperatures started to get the best of me. The lack of adequate water stations was also becoming evident. Granted I always run longer distances with water, so I was not completely relying on the aid station, but today was one of those days that the extra would have been appreciated!
|Coming back south towards the city|
As you can see from the above photo, this was also NOT a closed course. I actually lost count of how many times I was almost run over by a cyclist, even when I was clearly on my side of the running path, or came upon a large group of runners (not part of this race) that had no intention of sharing the path… oh yeah, don’t forget about the rollerbladers that seemed to think it was fun to literally come up right behind you and then zoom past withing inches of you!
It was easy to find Darci and Robin when I got the the finish line – there were sitting in the grass just past the medals and water waiting for me! Robin kicked out another awesome 2hour run and Darci rocked this course and hit a sub 2:30 time for her 1st HF!
In the end, this ended up being my slowest half marathon of 2014. Official race time = 2:40:37, but I finished! It was awesome to be part of Darci’s first ever half marathon. The course although beautiful (who doesn’t love running along the lake!) but the open course and the lack of water stations left me with a not so fuzzy feeling about this one! I heard wonderful things about this race from other friends of mine that ran it in the Twin Cities a few weeks ago, so I am thinking that it was just a fluke here in Chicago, but still makes for a tough day.
We stuck around the post race party long enough to get our pendants, medals, champagne and calendars! We were also a little disappointed in the fact that there were only about 4 of the calendar models around the finish line area! Isn’t that why we ran this one? The hot guys at the end? There was one handing out the pendants at the finish line, one by the Women Rock car and then 2 at another photo spot. Oh well, by this time we were just ready to go back and relax, find showers and eventually find food!
After a relaxing afternoon hanging out in the lobby, utilizing the free wifi, charging our phones and more people watching, dinner was a no brainer – had to be pizza… delivered to us in the lobby! OMG! I forgot how good a true Chicago Deep Dish pizza was! 2 slices tho, and I was stuffed, but oh so worth it!
The my twitter friend Jenn came into town to pick us up to take us for ice cream! Now we are not one to have to pass up on ice cream, but we were not expecting the treat we got. We were expecting some run of the mill ice cream shop like several of the local places here. Nope!
|Jenn and I finally meeting after months of tweets!|
We ended up at Margies Candies. Apparently this is her and her families favorite ice cream stop in the entire city… and I can see why! The sundaes were awesome – but then when isn’t homemade hot fudge not awesome? It was awesome to get to hang out with Jenn, her daughter and sister even if just for a bit. After a long day, it was the perfect way to unwind!
Sunday morning, we all slept in! Yes, we actually slept past 7am! Granted it helped that we closed the room darkening blinds to keep the morning sun out! After munching on some leftover pizza, banana’s and other random stuff we had left in our room, we headed out to catch a few more sights of the city before we headed back to the train station.
|Morning Spark, Women rock style! 🙂|
Although we only planned on heading out for a short walk to Millennium Park to visit the Bean, we ended up walking another 6 miles, taking in Millenium Park, Grant Park, Buckingham Fountain, then back up the lake shore to Navy Pier before heading back to the hotel to do last minute packing and heading to the train station!
The weekend may have been over and we had to head back to reality, it was a weekend that I will never forget! Spending time with the girls, in Chicago, Running my 5th Half Marathon for 2014 and laughing so hard that my abs will never forget… Priceless!
Over the course of 3 days, we figured that we put in 33 miles on our feet – 13..1 running and about 20 walking! Guess it’s a good thing because between the ice cream, pizza and chocolate, there were a few extra calories out there to burn!
This was the second weekend adventure the 3 of us had this year and I look forward to whatever adventure head our way next! Just one more reason that I love my gym – without Fitness Renegades, I may never had met either of these awesome women who share the same crazy love of running, fitness and travel!
Next stop for us… I guess you will just have to wait and see! We are bringing more Renegade friends on the next adventure!