Mardi Gras Freezer

Back on My Feet Mardi Gras Chaser 10k

Chicago, IL (Montrose Harbor) – 10 am – February 25, 2017 – Cloudy, “feels like” 9 degrees


Hey guys, I ran another race!! Wahoo!!! This time I took Josh along with me. Well, I actually snagged a deal through twitter for $10 registration. I thought for that price, if the weather turned bad, we could afford to skip it, as the race is for a great charity – Back on My Feet.

So many races are for charity… but few are for a charity that is all about running! Back on My Feet Chicago uses the power of running to help change the lives of those experiencing homelessness in our city. All proceeds from the race will support Back on My Feet in providing programming to change lives one job, house, and mile at a time.

img_2952Josh and I left for Chicago the Friday before the race. We’ve been to the windy city, many times, and weren’t expecting any surprises.  We had no problems on the tollway, yay the construction is done! Then we settled into the Holiday Inn at the Merchandise Mart. We had never stayed here before, but was very nice and accessible.

To keep with tradition we made a stop at Garrett’s Popcorn to get some Chicago Mix and then ate supper at Miller’s Pub. Hey, we like what we like! Also, Miller’s Pub is awesome, it’s like stepping into an 80’s supper club and pub all in one. You want a hamburger – fine, you want grilled octopus – you can get that too.


Race Day:

Another late start… 10 am race time… ya, ya…the weather can be anything this time of year. In fact, just earlier in the week it was 70 degrees. However, the temps for this race wouldn’t get much over 20 degrees with a nasty wind chill around 9, YES 9 degrees!! So, maybe it’s the warmest time of the day for this race….

We were staying 5 miles south of Montrose Harbor, but it didn’t look like traffic was going to be too bad to get to the start.

We got to the race area at about 8:30, which is when packet pick up opened. I can’t say enough about race day packet pick up for a Chicago race!!! It wasn’t an extra cost, and I didn’t have to make an extra trip anywhere the day before to find my packet or ask a friend to do it for me. The parking was also FREE, yes free parking in Chicago, it’s possible!!! There are so many races in Chicago, and when we have to pay for a hotel, these free things make the race affordable.

Josh and I made our way to get our things…. oh I forgot to tell you about the best part of the race…. we met up with fellow Bibrave Pros, Heather, Mark and Frank!!!! We saw Mark and Heather on the way to get our packet….however, it was too cold to chit chat.

Packet pick up was super easy, we just told them our names and they gave us our bibs and 1/4 zip pullovers. We could grab a Mardi Gras mask if we wanted one. It’s nice to get a quarter zip, but this one is white, and well…. it’s white…and you can see through it…anyway, it’s still better than a cotton tee.

On our way back to the warm car, we passed Mark again, where he gave us “Hot Hands.” Spoiler Alert: these were a life saver!


Once in the car, I ate my Nugo Mint Chocolate bar for breakfast….seriously love those things. We kept warm and texted the other pros. We heard Frank was around, so we quick grabbed a group picture, then went back to sit in our warm cars. IT WAS COLD!


It was finally time to race. We all met up again… including Mark’s wife, Tina and Heather’s mom, Marge. We also noticed, Frank wearing his bib…. he is recovering from knee surgery, so this was a surprise to us all…but I think we all knew he wasn’t going to sit it out.

Gear: Purple Chevron Sparkle Athletic Skirt, Pro Compression Socks, 2Xu Hyoptik thermal tights, Nike turtleneck, Moving comfort jacket, Survivor Buff, Bibrave Boco Stocking hat, xx2i France 2 sunglasses, Plantronics head phones, spi belt, Brooks Ghost 9, Garmin Fenix 3, 2 pairs of generic gloves, and Hot hands hand warmers.

The 10k was first, (there was a 5k to follow) we seeded ourselves in the corrals, which were organized by pace. I was already shaking because I was sooooo cold. The National Anthem was sung, and we all started moving.

The race was an out an back, starting on the roads near the harbor and then on the north end of the Lake Front Path / trail. It was coned off and there were volunteers guiding participants. However, it was not closed to pedestrian traffic. It started to flurry.

Photo Credit – Mark D.

My toes were numb until mile 2… have you ever ran with numb toes, it’s like rocks in your shoes… I finally warmed up, about the time I saw Mark and Josh headed back. Then I hit the turnaround where volunteers were handing out Cliff Bars. There were many stops with water and Gatorade. I then saw Heather running with Tina and then I saw Marge and Frank, while out and back courses can be annoying, it’s nice to be able to cheer on your friends.
If you want more of my official race review – check bibrave.com

I came to the finish line near 1 hour… which I was happy with… in fact, I told Josh I would finish in that time, so he knew when to greet me with more clothes. Which he did!

I was handed some Mardi Gras beads, my finisher’s medal, and then there was a buffet of post race food. There was more water and Gatorade, bananas, mini muffins (2 kinds,) chia bars, cliff bars and mini bagels. I was happy I had pockets in my jacket.


I put on my coat and another layer of pants and cheered in my friends. I stayed mostly warm, but the hot hands didn’t keep my finger tips warm, and I could barely feel them as I took pictures.


Yay, we were all finished! One of my favorite things is meeting my friends at races. We hung around for a little bit, and the the race organizers told us to take as much food as we wanted… I escaped with a bag full of mini bagels…and there was still lots of food left. I hope they were able to donate it to a shelter.

Photo Credit – Heather C.


We said goodbye to Frank, and then ran back to our cars to get warm.  The rest of us decided to go check out the post race party at the Fat Cat bar. They had a $15 buffet and a free beer for runners. However, don’t be fooled, there were 3 choices – Blue Moon, Coors Light and Leinie’s Honey Weiss. They were also having a raffle.


We waited around for a table to open up. When a table opened up, we got our buffet plates and filled up. It’s a good thing all those post race goodies were sealed to eat later. The buffet had rice and beans, yogurt, biscuits, chicken, bacon, potatoes, eggs and french toast casserole.

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Yes – I put sprinkles on my biscuits

Once we were full, it was time to say goodbye…always sad…I mean I get to talk to my friends on twitter, but always nice to get to hangout in person. I will see them again soon too.


As luck would have it, we were really close to Wrigley Field, so after Josh and I grabbed some Dunkin Donuts coffee, we drove by the baseball stadium. It was undergoing lots of construction, so even if we did get out to take a picture, we wouldn’t have been able to get too close.


Then after what felt like an hour, we were back on the tollway, headed back to Iowa… it was a quick trip to Chicago, but a fun one. Spoiler Alert: I will be headed back for the BTN B1G 10k in July, Go Hawks!

 

 

 

 

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Rock N Roll Chicago Half Marathon

Note: I was given entry to this race as a BibRave Pro. However the opinion of this race is my own. I also have a review at bibrave.com.

The personal section is at the end. Grab some popcorn, this is long

Sunday July 20, 2014. Chicago, IL. 70 ish degrees, high humidity. Partly Cloudy. 6:30 am

Registration: Available online and at the expo. In the price range of $100. Included with your fees were a Brooks short sleeve tech tee, timing chip,finishers medal & post race beer.

Expo: The expo was held at the McCormick Center. Parking was pricey, but you could also get there by bus. It would be quite a walk from downtown. The expo was held near the back of the center, lot of walking just to get to it. It was the usual, lots of vendors, free samples, pushy sales people & photo opportunities. It was also easy to pick up your bib and get your shirt, there was even a shirt exchange for the half.

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Pre-race: The race had about 17,000 runners, so there were a lot of people milling about Columbus St. There were port-o-potties and if you signed up for the $120 VIP package you could use special bathrooms. The gear check was easy, organized by race number, but any bag was permissible, which could be a security concern. Parking would have been available near downtown Chicago, which is pricey. There were 36 corrals, the bib numbers reflected your placement, no one was checking bibs, many people in the wrong corrals. The 5k also started with the half. The National Anthem was sung live and then the race started, in waves with about 2 minutes between each

Race / Course:

  • The race was run through downtown Chicago and along Lake Michigan. It started by snaking through downtown, the streets were paved or asphalt, many in need of repair, or a man hole cover could have tripped a runner up.
  • There were a lot of people, but beyond the start is was never too crowded, the streets were wide enough for everyone to have space. In fact maybe too wide as the 5k timing mat could have been missed as it didn’t stretch across the entire street.
  • There were spectators, many with signs, but there were also long boring stretches with no spectators.
  • No bands were on the course until between mile 5 & 6, there was a stage near mile 2 with some performers. Word on the street is the city didn’t want the bands down town. However when there was a band, each of them were rocking! There was a DJ near mile 10, he was the party, had speakers stretched out, so you could hear him for a while.
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  • There were water & lemon lime Gatorade stations, all in paper cups. Water was always in the white cup, Gatorade in a green Gatorade cup. Some of the aid stations were behind on keeping the cups filled, or they were lacking in adult supervision.
  • One Gu stop, but no food on the course.
  • There was a misting station and a wet sponge station, but I didn’t see any other advertised cooling stations.
  • The course was flat, there were bridge overpass incline & declines, but nothing steep. The last 3 miles were near the lake front path which was narrow. Also to get to this point had to cross a grass section, if it were raining it would have been a muddy mess. Also had to run through the “tunnel” at the McCormick center, it was dark and the surface was uneven, easy to trip.
  • Marathonfoto was on course taking pictures.
  • The finish was easy to spot with a clock and giant arch.

Post – Race: Medals were handed to you. A tub of bottle water was first available and a wet towel. There were bottles of gatorade, chocolate milk, bananas, bags of granola, pretzels & powerbars. Off to the side sat a tent with boxes of covered bagels, which no one handed out. Encouraged to move along and go to the post race party / family reunion area. En route to this area there were vendors with free samples. Once to the party area there was a stage with a band performing, the beer tent (Michelob Ultra was the post race beer), medal engraving and many more sponsors with samples. Not many areas with shade.

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Overall: I would only recommend this race if you want to get the medal for your collection. It was pricey and there was nothing too special about it.

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Personal: I started the day with 5 pre-race miles at 4:30 am. I was staying with Bari and she is training for the Detroit marathon, and 18 were on her schedule for the day. We were able to finish the 5 in plenty of time before the race, so I stopped and got a bagel and coffee at the nearby Dunkin Donuts.

One of the 5k’s was also being ran with the half marathon. However this year they added a Saturday 5k too, so you could get an additional medal. That 5k race took place Saturday morning, which would have meant an additional hotel room stay.

This was not my race. I was going to run it for fun, expecting things to see and picture opportunities along the way. However I didn’t stop for anything fun. There was only one theater marquee lit, pockets of spectators, and only 6 or 7 bands. I even ran without music, I overheard someone say “This is the quietest Rock N Roll ever!” The lack of bands did make for a boring course. I did hear lots of runners’ music though, through their head phones, people turn it down!

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Also all the turns and twists of downtown Chicago weren’t to great, I thought maybe there would be fun store fronts or groups of businesses supporting the race, but there was nothing. Also the last part along the lake was minimal, most of it was on the highway near the lake.

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I am not sure if was because I ran a total of almost 19 miles ( my Garmin had 13.64) or the fact that it was humid, but I posted my 3rd worst half marathon time ever. I hope this isn’t clouding my judgement of the race. I had a time of 2:19 or something, I don’t want to remember it, lol.

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Really all the organization was fine, but it just didn’t do anything for me. The medal is cool though. I was happy to get to run the race and experience it for myself. I just don’t see me running it again.

The best part for me was the VIP access I scored with the Run Westin Concierge (yay twitter!) At the post race party area we were granted access to a tent, (shade!) with fresh fruit, trail mix, bagels, peanut butter, tea, juice, water, coffee & free massage if you wanted to wait.

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After all was said and done, I met up with the BibRave group for some post race drinks. It was nice to collectively recap the race and put names to twitter faces.

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