2017 Rock N Roll Chicago Half Marathon

“Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Humana Rock N Roll Half Marathon race 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 been wanting to try out the Rock N Roll series for quite some time since they looked fun and the medals were pretty cool looking!  I was happy to get into the Chicago Half thanks to BibRave and run with my fellow pros Mark, Lisa, and Heather!

 

Registration is a piece of cake and Rock N Roll Marathon Series is definitely on top of things with their communication via emails.  Every week, we received some important details or motivation in the emails about parking, sight seeing, hydration, or training tips.  There were plenty of notices on the packet pickup process at the Health and Fitness Expo.

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The Health and Fitness Expo was amazing.  It’s very similar to the Chicago Marathon expo but a little smaller.  It was well organized with plenty of volunteers to guide you through the process.  The signage was big and bright as you entered the expo and the order of bib pickup and t-shirts was well organized.  Then, you were directed to the shopping area with so much to offer.  Besides the usual trademark gear from the Rock N Roll series, there were plenty of vendors in the health and fitness industry selling their goods or services.

As for the race itself, everything is so bright and bold for this series!  I always arrive way early to any of my races since I’m usually paranoid that I’ll be late.  It gives me time to wake up, stretch a little, and take in the sights.  I walked around the start and finish lines as well as some of the post race festivities area.  The energy and excitement was pretty prevalent and I awaited the arrival of my fellow BibRave Pros for our pictures and chatting.  None of us were in the same corrals but we always manage to meet up beforehand to motivate each other and share our goals.

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The corrals were well labeled though I didn’t see any pacers for my corral.  I was in Corral 7 which is one of the early ones to start and it was exciting to hear the first few corrals begin their race!  The announcer did an amazing job to scream and motivate the runners during the early morning hours.  This gave the following corrals time to get their energy pumping and cattle herd towards that awesome starting line.

The course itself is very similar to many of the pristine Chicago races around Grant Park.  The best part of experience was by far, Adams Street!  The photos of soldiers sacrifices and the tons of American Flags being held by volunteers was utterly awe inspiring.  It definitely got me pumped up!  The energy was pretty heavy through the Loop by fans and their motivating and sometimes funny signage!  As the course headed south for a stretch, the crowd wasn’t as dense as near the finish but still pleasant.  The only part of the course I disliked was the McCormick Place tunnel.  Most of the races go through it and I just think it’s really an unsafe and unappealing section for any race.  I did enjoy the plethora of bands along the course that really did a great job to energize us as we passed by.  Oh, the cold wet sponges handed out in the later miles of the race hit the nail on the head!

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The finish line as with any race, is big and bold with tons of crowd support.  The crowds roar could be heard a mile away and seeing that finish line from a ways back was exciting.  Crossing the finish line to huge crowds cheering you on is absolutely incredible.  The post race goodies like the cold chocolate milk and ice cold towels were perfect!!  The medal of course was top notch and I had to follow the crowds to get a photo of me, the medal, and the real Bean!  The crowds were pretty heavy at the post race festival with cold beer and a great ambience of music!

All in all, I’m very happy with the experience I had in this race and the Rock N Roll Marathon Series really does a good job with high energy and going all out with music and runner treatment.  I hope to run a few more of the series in other big cities!

 

2017 Bucktown 5K

Are you looking for a fun 5K while visiting Chicago?  Take a look at RAM Racing’s Bucktown 5K.  The race is on September 17, 2017 at 8:30am and runs through the fun and historic Bucktown neighborhood.

Another incentive for you?  The Bucktown 5k is proud to support the 100 Club of Chicago.  The purpose of the organization is to provide for the surviving spouses and dependents of law enforcement officers, firefighters and paramedics who lose their lives in the line of duty. This includes all federal, state, county and local officers, firefighters and paramedics stationed in Cook and Lake County.

Use the code BibRaveBT17 when you register for a free #runchi water bottle that you can get at packet pickup here:

Fleet Feet Sports Deerfield
800 Waukegan Road
Deerfield, Illinois 60015
Wednesday, September 13, 2017 – 3pm to 6pm

Fleet Feet Sports Elmhurst
124 East Schiller Street
Elmhurst, Illinois 60126
Thursday, September 14, 2017 – 4pm to 8pm

Fleet Feet Sports Old Town
1620 N Wells Street
Chicago, Illinois 60614
Friday, September 15, 2017 – 10am to 8pm
Saturday, September 16, 2017 – 10am to 6pm

 

2017 North Shore Classic

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the North Shore Classic Half Marathon race 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!”

The North Shore Classic half marathon has always been my favorite race for a few reasons.  I grew up in Highland Park and it always has a place in my heart.  Aside from the great reputation that this race has, the scenery from the Ravinia area up to the old Fort Sheridan army base is just awe inspiring.  Here are some of my reasons broken down by category.

The Registration: RAM Racing has always made it easy to register on their website and having an account makes filling in the registration easy.  Plus, you can see past races and results as well as your current and upcoming race information.  The email confirmation is quick.

The Packet Pickup:  I love how RAM Racing has a few packet pickup dates and locations for this race.  It’s very convenient to stay local for me and not drive down to Chicago for the packet.  The North Shore Classic uses Fleet Feet Sports in Old Town and in Deerfield for convenience.  I went to the Deerfield store since it’s close and I needed a few extras from the running store.  I went on the last day (Saturday) and there was no line at all at 10am.  The pickup was extremely quick and I was in and out in less than 10 minutes!
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The Swag:  This year, the North Shore Classic gave us a great tank top.  I like the colors and the sizing was spot on.  I’ve amassed quite a collection of race shirts and the best quality shirts always are from RAM Racing with some of the most bold colors.
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The Prerace:  The start line energy is always intense at this race and the communication and words from Fleet Feet owner David Zimmer are always inspiring.  They are truly energetic and wake you up with their positivity.  As always, the Star Spangled Banner being played before the race begins gets me every time and this years singer had such an amazing voice.  The corrals were perfectly sized and well designated.
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The Course:  What can you say about a course that runs through downtown Highland Park?  The race begins in the downtown district with tons of energy and crowd support.  It heads south towards the southern most end of the town in the old Ravinia district passing the Ravinia Festival grounds.  Then you head north through plenty of smaller neighborhood streets with lots of support from the residents.  As always, the Park Avenue Beach hill after mile 7 is always on everyone’s mind but we like that!  It’s a great challenge in the middle of a half marathon.  After that, it continues north towards the old army base of Fort Sheridan that had plenty of historic buildings and views of Lake Michigan.  The course gives runners some tremendous views and some hills to test out your legs.

The Finish:  The crowds of the finish line are always huge with overwhelming support from families, volunteers, city employees, and race finishers.  It’s a lot of energy and a warm feeling seeing that last 1/4 of a mile.  The cold water bottles, misting fans, ice cold wet towels are icing on the cake!  This comes after this years race was super hot and humid.

Overall:  The RAM Racing North Shore Classic will always be the first race I sign up for every year and as long as I’m able, I will run it.  The race directors are top notch and the volunteer support is the best around.  Every water station had Nuun or water with plenty of friendly faces who truly care and are supportive.  I can’t thank them enough for everything that they do for the runners.

AfterShokz Trekz Titanium Mini

Disclaimer: I received a free pair of AfterShokz Trekz Titanium Mini wireless headphone 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!”

If you know me, then you know that I cannot run without my music!  I honestly can’t remember the last time I ran without some headphones.  So, what do I use?  There is no doubt that the AfterShokz Trekz Titanium headphones are the best on the market.  Aside from the quality product, these things are light and comfortable!  I’ve tried many different types of headphones that just didn’t fill my needs.  I like a snug fit as well as being wireless.  Nothing has worked right for me until I tried the AfterShokz Trekz Titaniums.

I primarily listen to music when I run but also the occasional podcast and sometimes an important phone call comes in.  Working as a firefighter, I need to be able to hear the emergency calls that come in and the safety feature of an open ear design is a perfect solution.  I can still hear the crystal clear music and hear the ambient noises without affecting the quality of the music!

These are the benefits that I have found:

  • Two different sizes for a perfect fit.  The Trekz Mini are perfect for a smaller head or an even snugger fit.
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  • The color selection is pretty cool even though I’m a purist of black.
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  • The open ear design is ideal for running with safety in mind!IMG_0696.JPG
  • The crystal clear sound in both music and phone calls doesn’t interfere with the safety features.
  • The ease of use in setting them up and syncing them with my iPhone.
  • Customer service that is second to none!
  • The durability and flexibility of the headphones is a huge selling point.
  • The water resistive feature so I can run in light rains.

Other features and specifications for their website:

  • Bone conduction technology delivers music through your cheekbones, ensuring ears remain completely open to hear ambient sounds
  • Titanium wraparound headband is lightweight and flexible for durability and portability
  • OpenFit™ design ensures maximum situational awareness and comfort during long-term wear
  • PremiumPitch+™ guarantees a premium audio experience, including wide dynamic range and rich bass
  • Wireless Bluetooth® 4.1 connectivity and convenient multipoint pairing
  • LeakSlayer™ technology significantly reduces natural sound leakage
  • IP55 certified to repel sweat, dust and moisture, from workouts to wicked weather
  • Enjoy six hours of continuous music + calls on a single charge
  • EQ presets boost bass and reduce vibration on the go
  • Dual noise canceling microphones exclude surrounding noise, effectively enhancing speech
  • Audrey Says™ voice prompts guide users through power, pair, play and talk
  • Hassle-free 2-year warranty
  • Speaker type: bone conduction transducers
  • Frequency response: 20Hz~20KHz
  • Sensitivity: 100 ± 3dB
  • Microphone: -40dB ± 3dB
  • Bluetooth version: v4.1
  • Compatible profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, HSP, HFP
  • Wireless range: 33 ft (10m)
  • Battery: rechargeable lithium ion
  • Continuous play: 6 hours
  • Standby time: 10 days
  • Charge in: 1.5 hours
  • Weight: 1.27 oz (36g)

You can read my review of the original size Trekz Titanium headphones here!

Check out the reviews from some of my fellow BibRave Pros:  Jenna, Mai, Amy, Jessica,

Please join us on May 30th at 8pm CST for #bibchat on Twitter for your chance to win a pair!

2017 Rock N Roll Half Marathon

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Rock N Roll Half Marathon race 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!”

While the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in Chicago may be a couple of months off, it doesn’t mean it’s too late to start considering your nutrition and hydration.  The site has put up some great information for you here!  I know I can definitely be much better at taking care of myself before, during, and after the races!

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2017 North Shore Classic

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the North Shore Classic Half Marathon race 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!”

In just about 30 days, I’ll be running the RAM Racing North Shore Classic in Highland Park.  I’ve run this race just about every year for a few reasons.  I encourage you to look into running the race this year and see what a great event it is.

Here are my top 10 reasons to run the North Shore Classic:

  1. Registration is always a breeze on the RAM Racing website!
  2. The race is in early June so it’s usually not brutally hot out!
  3. Parking is plentiful in downtown Highland Park!
  4. The crowds are plentiful throughout the course!
  5. The course runs through beautiful neighborhoods!
  6. The Park Avenue Beach hill is a fun challenge!
  7. The Fort Sheridan section is just historically beautiful!
  8. The crowd support along the course is amazing!
  9. The finishers medal is always cool!
  10. The finish line goodies are vast!

Ravenswood Run 5K

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Ravenswood Run 5K race 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 really wish I ran this race in the past because I didn’t realize just how awesome it was! The crowds were much bigger than I anticipated and the energy was immense! Though, I shouldn’t be too surprised since I’ve run just about every RAM Racing event. They always do such a great job with the course layouts, swag, and prerace energy. Here are a few of the highlights.

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Registration: RAM Racing always makes it easy with the website registration and remembers you from previous races. Fees for the race are definitely reasonable and being that this was a great charity race to support the community, you can’t put a price on it.

Packet Pickup: There was no suburb race packet pickup for this race, probably due to the fact that it was a true local neighborhood race. Fleet Feet Lincoln Square is easy to get to and there were multiple days to pickup your packets as well as race day pickup which I rarely take advantage of! I came on Friday to get my stuff and the staff is always friendly and smiling.

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Parking/Bag Check: If you read the participant guide prior to the race, then you knew which streets were going to be closed and what times they lasted until. I know that neighborhood well enough so parking was plentiful and I didn’t get there too early. The bag check was easy to find near the start line and it looked like many took advantage of it.

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Race Start: There’s something about the start line energy that gets me pumped up for every race. RAM Racing always kills it with motivational loud music and words of support for the runners. There were plenty of announcements as well as time updates so people could start to migrate to the corrals. Another great thing that RAM Racing includes is the start line National Anthem. They always seem to pick a singer with a great voice! The 3 corrals were started with about a minute interval between them. I didn’t realize that there were 2500 runners for this race!!

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Course: The course runs through one of my favorite Chicago communities and right next to my all time favorite pizza place ever. The course is pretty flat but there were plenty of speed bumps throughout the streets. The awesome volunteers stood by each bump with megaphones to warn all of the runners. The support along the smaller race was incredible, Many people were sitting outside their homes to watch and cheer the runners along. There was one aid station with Nuun and water but for a 5k race, that was more than enough.

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Finish Line: Seeing the enormous finish line marquee always gives a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. The crowds were enormous along the entire last quarter mile. The volunteers were amazing as they always are with every RAM race. The post race area was filled with the usual freebies like bananas, water, chips, crackers, and nutrition bars.

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Swag: The t-shirts for this years race were great! I love a red tech shirt with a cool logo and this didn’t disappoint. The sizing was just right and while I don’t wear the race shirts on the day of the race, I do wear it for training the day before the race.  You can’t forget the free race photos that can be downloaded!!

This is a must do race through one of Chicago’s beautiful neighborhoods.  The crowd support is huge and the race organizers did an incredible job.  The volunteers were super supportive along the course.  Mainly, the charity that the proceeds go towards gives back to the local community!  If you haven’t run a RAM Racing event before, add this one to your list for a short beautiful course.

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