People will often ask me what keeps me running? Why do I do all of the crazy races? Long training runs? and everything in between.
I honestly can not say ONE thing that is the ONLY thing that keeps me going. But one of the huge influences is the people that I have been able to meet over the years.
When I joined the ranks as a BibRavePro almost 2 years ago, I felt like I had won the Runners Lottery! Free race entries, free BibRave gear, the opportunity to test out and write reviews about new products… but what I didn’t realize is that many of the other BRP’s would become like my second family
When I found out that they (BibRave) was planning a Summit in Chicago for all of it’s Pro’s, there was no question about it…. I was going to go! I was actually planning on running a different race up in Michigan that same weekend, but thankfully (?) BR announced the dates and details of the Summit before I actually signed up for the race. I guess there is always next year for the other one!
It was an amazing weekend and they packed so much fun into it for us… take warming, this one might be a long one! So grab a snack and enjoy! Don’t worry, I’ll throw a bunch of photos in for your enjoyment too!
Since fellow Pro Renee and I live fairly close, I picked her up on Thursday evening to drive down to Kenosha for the night… we decided that a 4am wake up, to be on the road by 5am to catch the 7:45am train was just NOT an option we wanted. So instead, we drove down the night before, enjoyed a relaxing, late dinner (and cocktails) and a full night of sleep (We didn’t’ realize at the time how important THAT night’s sleep was going to be!)
The commute into Chicago Friday morning was a breeze – part of the reason I love taking the commuter train into the city! It’s inexpensive and takes all the stress out of driving in Chicago for me! While we were on the train, we found out that the Service Project that we were going to do with the Parks Department had been cancelled. The temperatures were just too much and the Parks decided that it was just warm for us to be working outside.
In true BibRave fashion, we all decided that we were still going to get together. Most of the group decided on a short run (yeah, it was too warm to work in the park, but they still wanted to run!) and a few of us hung out in the park to chat and eat cheese curds (because yes of course, the gal from Wisconsin HAD to bring fresh cheese curds)! After than it was coffee and donuts at Stan’s Donuts!
Between donuts and heading to meet up with everyone at the expo, we finally had an opportunity to finally meet all of our roommates at the hotel! This was the 1st time that the 5 of us that were rooming together were officially meeting face to face! (yeah for me, it was 3 others since I already knew Renee). It was like we had known each other and been friends for years! Any nervousness or anxiety that we had about rooming with strangers was thrown out the window. It was as if we were friends from elementary school reunited as adults! I knew right then and there that this was going to be an epic weekend!
After managing to find our way to the right station and getting everyone Metra cards for the weekend (yes this is a big win for those us up “smaller town” folks LOL), it was time to navigate public transportation (thanks to Julie our Cruise Director… aka Jessica) and found out way to the McCormick Place for the Rock & Roll Half Marathon expo. It was a sea of orange converging on the convention center! All orange everywhere… all day long! After getting our packets for the race, we had fun traveling thru the expo together, throwing axes, taking silly photos and picking up snacks and last minute goodies.
After the expo, it was back to the hotel for showers and getting ready for dinner! Friday night featured the Orange Carpet event, sponsored by Aftershokz! What is an Orange Carpet event you ask? Think of it as a black tie affair (ok maybe not quite THAT formal) with orange instead of black! Ditch the running gear and get dressed up in your favorite orange gear… or accent that little black dress with orange accessories!
The event was held at City Winery which added that aspect of class to the event! When we first arrived, everyone received a bag of swag that was well beyond what I would have expected. We each received a special BibRave Orange t-shirt to wear to the Cubs game the next day, a cowbell and not one but TWO pairs of Knockaround Sunglasses! A pair of custom BibRave orange ones and also the brand new, not yet released Second Wind Premiums! We all instantly put on the orange ones and had fun with them through the evening!
Huge shout out to City Winery for an amazing meal! I probably could have eaten my weight in that Wild Mushroom Ravioli!
Saturday morning we all met up at one of the local parks for a short shakeout run. Since we didn’t want to walk/run to get to our morning run, we hopped on the bus this time! Yup, aother mode of public transportation that we managed to not get lost on… well, aside from the fact that we almost got off at the wrong stop, but another pair of runners from a different group stopped us… I guess he knew exactly what part we were headed to! LOL Apparently the Lakeshore trail is THE place to be on Saturday morning! I actually lost count of how many running groups we saw. Team BibRave went above and beyond and even had a professional photographer on site that morning!
He captured the fun of the run and then after we had the opportunity for group and individual photos with the Chicago Skiyline in the background! How freaking cool is that?
After the morning festivities we has a few hours to kill before we had to meet up in the afternoon, so a bunch of us opted to walk back to the hotel instead of taking the bus. It ended up being a 3 mile meandering stroll along the lakeshore (a few of us stopped to put our feet in the water), through Millennium park before making it back to the hotel… and yes that meant a stop at the splash pad with Jessica (aka FunSizeAthelete) to play in the water… again! LOL
After snacking at the hotel and getting in some much needed showers (80+ degree temps means multiple showers a day this weekend!) it was time to head to the Field to meet the rest of the crew! What field you ask? How about historic Wrigley Field! Yup, the sea of orange was taking over Wrigley for the afternoon for the Cubs/Padres game!
I’ll be the 1st to admit that it was a WARM one for the game (temp was 96 with a heat index of about 112), but I was happy to find out that our seats were in the shade! If we would have ended up with seats in the sun, I would have probably made it to about the 1st pitch and then been ready to head for someplace cooler (or indoors!). It was really cool to actually get to check out at least a little of historic Wrigley Field and see how they have updated it over the years. Maybe one day, I will get back to the field and actually be able to do some wandering around and check out the stadium, but that day we were there, it was just too warm to do that!
Jessica and I did wander far enough to find the FREE water station that they had set up because it was so warm, and while on that adventure, we found the showers that they had set up in concourse on the way out to the bleacher seats… so of course, we had to go play in the water… AGAIN!
If our day wasn’t already full enough, we left Wrigley and headed back to our hotel to get ready for dinner. Saturday night’s dinner was sponsored by AfterShokz and we, once again we treated like royalty! Dinner was held at the Current Kitchen, right on the riverfront downtown Chicago. The restaurant is normally only open for breakfast and lunch (Monday thru Friday) but they opened up for a private party, just for us!
We started out the evening with beverages on their patio overlooking the river…
Then we were treated to an amazing pre-race day pasta dinner, complete with 4 different sauces to choose from and the most amazing chicken I have tasted in a long time! Paired with an amazing salad and BibRave themed desserts, we had everything we needed!
But the nights festivities didn’t end there! We were also present for a recording of the BibRave Podcast, with hosts Tim and Jessica, as well as guest Cindy Kuzma of the Injured Athletes Club podcast and author of the upcoming book, “Rebound:Train Your Mind to Bounce Back Stronger from Sports Injuries” (already available for pre-order on Amazon!). It was a really informative discussion and reminder that injury doesn’t have to take you away from the running community and that coming back from an injury can make us into better athletes. Was really fun to be past of the live audience for this recording!
Since this was also race night, the evening stayed pretty low key and we headed back to our hotel right after the podcast recording was done so that we could all get the rest we wanted/needed for Sunday’s half marathon.
Sunday morning alarms started going off early and we all started getting ourselves into race mode. It was only a short walk from the hotel to Grant Park and the start of the race so we were glad not to have to worry about public transportation before the race (I’ve heard in can get pretty crowded on race day). We walked together to the park, found the rest of the BibRave crew near the start line and grabbed a quick team photo. Then it was off to get ourselves truly into race mode and find our corrals.
We had a fairly evenly split crew of those who were running and those we were taking on the job as cheer squad! It was fun knowing that we would have our own Orange Cheer Station out on the course! Thankfully, there was a slight break in the heat for Sunday morning and the temps dropped about 30 degrees from the day before, but it was still really humid. I knew that I was going to take it easy and not push myself for this one! Since I’ve run this race before, I knew what to expect from the course and knew that there would be some places I’d need to conserve my energy for!
I ran a pretty steady race for the first half and just about when I felt like the weather was started to catch up with me, I crossed mile 6 and knew that the Cheer Squad was not too far in front of me! Seeing the crew on that corner as I past was the boost that I needed to get me through… at least the next few miles! I ran into fellow Pro Melissa a mile or so later and we walked together for a bit before I headed off again. During this course, right around mile 9, there is a nice long out and back stretch. Normally I don’t like these out and back sections of road races like this, but for this particular race, and the weather conditions that were sucking the life out of my sails, it was a fun distraction! Spending almost 2 miles high-fiving other runners as we past along the way was the extra boost I needed to keep going. after this stretch it was basically a 5k to the finish!
One of the fun parts about running a race with a bigger BibRave crew is that it is easy to spot everyone at the finish line area! As soon as I entered the park after I finished, I could see the sea of orange waiting for me! We all chatted for a bit and took a few more pics before we all headed off to find showers and get ready to meet up for a post race lunch!
Since we had 5 ladies in our room, all needing showers, I knew that it would be a bit before we all could get time in the bathroom, so I took an extra walk down to Buckingham Fountain to grab some fun post race pics.
Before Renee and I headed back to the train station to start our adventure home, we met up with part of the crew for an informal post run lunch. This was the perfect, relaxing way to wind down from a crazy busy, but EPIC fun weekend.
This was the first bigger BibRave event that I had attended and you can be guaranteed that I will do what I can to make it to another one (or 5)! BibRave is more than race and product reviews, it is about community that is created when like minded individuals get together. We all support each other in our goals to be the best we can be and that is definitely something I am blessed to be a part of!
I spent the weekend with kick ass people, shared a hotel room with my new BRF’s (best running friends) and have been energized and rejuvenated to get out there and live my best life each and every day! I hope to be a BRP for a long time (or as long as they will let me hang around).
I’d love for you to join me on our next adventure! Do you have a passion for running, love reviewing races, and testing running products? BibRave is now accepting applications to join the BibRave Pro community! Yes this is the runners version of winning the lottery! Head to bit.ly/2FxiKT7 and learn more and apply now!
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