Race Report: Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago 2014

I think the Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon (4th year in a row!) is the only time in my adult life that I willingly go to bed before it’s totally dark and get up before it’s light. But it’s an excuse to try to get a picture of the beginnings of the sunrise.


I wasn’t sure how this race would go. My longest successful run as of late was 8 miles. I tried to foam roll as much as I could, and I got KT Tape applied to my knee at the expo. I did Divvy over 11 miles yesterday, probably not the smartest decision. But I like biking and it’s an efficient mode of transportation in Chicago. I regret nothing.

Anyway, I had no race goal. I wasn’t even sure if I would finish. I looked up the course time limit (~ 20 min/mile from the start gun). I mentally prepared myself for the options of walking a significant portion of the race, or dropping out.


Thank you Erica for the VIP wristbands! I let Shalane cut in from of me in the bathroom line before the race. She needed to get to the start a little bit sooner than I did. 

My bib was for corral 6 (who was I kidding when I registered?), but I started in 19 with my husband. I ran into Mo shortly after the start and ran with her a bit, but she was doing a run/walk with her friend, and my motto for the day was “can’t stop, won’t stop. ” It’s the stopping that causes problems, when I try to start running again. I even bought a big 22oz handheld water bottle at the expo in the hopes that I could make it through the race without stopping. (And I actually didn’t hate it, I might like it better than my 10oz handheld.)

My knee started feeling feelings and getting all emo sooner than I expected. I started limping a little bit with my gait. By mile 5, it was painful. I had to stop running. I tried not to cry. I knew in about a mile, the course would go back onto Michigan Ave, by Grant Park and the finish area, and I planned to drop out. I was not in the mood to walk 8 miles to the finish.

Right before the course turned back onto Michigan Ave, I figured what the hell … let’s try running again. And … it didn’t hurt. That bad. So I kept running. Let’s see how far I can go. I kind of had this weird gait where I was landing on the front of my left foot (emo knee side), and mid-foot on my right (or heel striking, whatever) and that seemed to be the least painful. I alternated between that and my normal gait. Whatever works at this point.

I made it to mile 9, then the pain got to be too much, so I started walking. But hey! I was only 4 miles from the finish! That’s not so bad.

I walked until mile 11. (Side note: WHO thought it would be a good idea for ANY part of this race to be on the Lakefront Trail? Luckily I walked that section, mostly in the grass or gravel, but UGH.) Two miles to go. Maybe I could run it?

Surprisingly … I did. Dare I say that I felt good? (Not sure, the pain might have been creeping back, but I was too distracted by the sight of the finish line.) Because of all the walking, endurance-wise, I felt great, and I was passing a lot of people.

And I freaking finished the damn race. Second to the marathon, I have never wanted to demand a race medal at the end as much as I did today.

Screen shot 2014-07-20 at 12.20.30 PM

And it wasn’t a personal worst. By two minutes. (Possibly additional motivation to run the last two miles.)

So … This is promising? With walk breaks, I can do it? Maybe the KT Tape did help?

I wanted to use this race to decide how to proceed with marathon training. When I was walking around mile 5, I thought to myself … that’s it. It’s done. Sell my marathon bib, drop down the 5K at the next two half marathons I’m signed up for, and work on rehab.

But … I finished. I was able to run 5 additional miles after I thought my knee was toast for the day. So, I’m still in this. Keep moving forward. I know there’s still a chance I might not make it to the end of 26.2, but I’m definitely not ready to give up.

This probably won’t be pretty, but let’s see how far I can go.


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17 Comments on “Race Report: Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago 2014”

  1. KT tape is the best, isn’t it??? Congrats on finishing despite your knee “feeling all the feelings”! Keep on trucking, girl! Sending you good thoughts!

  2. Sorry your knee was acting up again 🙁 I think you are in the right mindset for long term success and knee relief.

    I liked that the course went so close to my place but it looked like so many turns and running on the LFP is just a big nooooooo!

    Hope you can move beyond the emo knee soon. And I’ll email you my PT hip stuff soon- I wrote down all the stuff I do for my own records and will type it up tonight.

  3. How does the tape compare to say, a brace (if you’ve ever used a brace in running).

    I have to fall back to wearing my brace on my sad right knee a little more regularly than I’d like, and my biggest complaint always ends up being that I can not stand the sweating and shifting that comes from the brace.

  4. Shalane cut you in line…swoon… Only thing better would have been MEB 😉 sorry about the knee. CEP makes a knee sleeve which is pretty firm. Check out the website. May be worth a shot. Hope you feel ok today!

  5. That is so exciting you got to see Shalane! 🙂

    How does your knee feel today? I hope okay! It’s concerning that it’s flaring up so much during the HM distance, and that it’s affecting your gait so much as well (but promising that it felt better at the end). Have you been going on PT to work on it?

  6. YAY! Congrats on finishing!!!

    I haven’t done the race since 2010 but even then I hated the portion on the LFT because it was fully sun exposed and crowded… can’t imagine that has changed much.

    1. For the past three years, they actually had a really great course that did not include the Lakefront Trail. I don’t know why they changed it this year.

  7. Man, that stupid emo knee! Cut it off! I’m dealing with a pirifomis issue but luckily it doesn’t hurt when I run. Only when I’m lying down or sometimes sitting.

    Great job on pushing through but still being smart! I know you would have totally dropped out if you really had too. I’ve realized this year that the time of a race isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Just finish and hopefully finish happy.

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