Are You Ready to Rock?! Review of Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago

*Disclaimer: I received a free entry to Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago 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’ve heard a lot of hype about Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago, so I was pretty hyped to do this race.   I started my weekend with a trail run in the morning, and then went directly down to Chicago for packet pick up on Saturday.  Parking was not my friend around McCormick place.  The race offered $10 parking in Lot C.  However, with all the construction around, Lot C was a pain to find.  I did eventually find it and made my way into the expo.

The expo was HUGE! Not on the scale of Chicago Marathon, but way bigger than I was expecting.  First you get your bib and t-shirt before walking into the full expo area.  I got to try tons of different health foods and hydration drinks. I even managed to meet up with one of my BibRave friends! After an hour of walking around, I left the Chicago to rest up for the evening.

Race morning was going smoothly.  I woke up early and was in the car by 4:30am so I could make it to Chicago by 5:30am.  I used ParkWhiz to reserve my parking spot only 2 blocks from the start area.  When I arrived at the parking garage, the attendant told me that they were past capacity and he could not let me park there, even though I had already paid.  I was furious, and that left me with only 45 minutes before the race would begin to find new parking.  I quickly scrambled around to find the nearest lot, and didn’t have time to search for a deal.  This new spot cost me $38 along with the $15 I already paid for parking.  Speed ahead to after the race.  I was able to get a hold of ParkWhiz customer service through text and they were able to refund me. They also credited my account $5.  That was a definite positive customer service experience!

My adrenaline was pumping after the parking ordeal. I managed to run to the start area fast enough to meet up with my BibRave buddies! After a short visit, we headed to our designated corrals.  The race route was completely different than other Chicago races I’ve done.  This route wound us through 5 miles of downtown streets before shooting south on Michigan Avenue and eventually coming north along the Lakefront.  Throughout the entire route, musicians were positioned to keep the runners entertained – everything from full rock bands to drumlines.  But the best part of the entire run was around mile 5, the entire street was lined with people waving American flags.  I felt a wave of emotion and excitement come over me which drove me through the rest of the race.

I knew from the beginning of the race that I wanted this to be a stress free experience, especially after the parking situation. I decided not to look at my watch and run a pace that felt comfortable and conversational.  I wanted to enjoy each band, take pics along the route, and enjoy the Chicago skyline views.  I managed to finish the race in 2:00:37. IMG_2875 Maybe I should have looked at my watch once at the end so I could have finished under 2 hours, but oh well! When the race was over I walked through the finisher area and collected a massive amount of goodies.  I had no idea what to do with all the food and drinks! They also gave us an ice cold towel and a sweet looking medal.  I ended up using the towel to help carry all the free food.

I eventually made my way to the post-party where there was a live band, free beer and a large lawn to relax on.  This is exactly the type of atmosphere I want after a race. A fun, chill party where friends can hang out and mingle without feeling rushed.  Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago is a definite weekend adventure, from the expo to the post-party.  And even better when experienced with friends!

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