RnR Chicago HM 2009 Race Report – Part 1

I really enjoy reading other people’s race reports. But I’m so bad at writing my own. Here it is almost a month later and I’m finally getting around to starting my report for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon.

It was a very quick trip to Chicago for me. I flew out Friday after work and arrived sometime after 11pm. Instead of renting a car, I took a taxi to the hotel. I stayed at the Congress Plaza Hotel because it was right across from the start/finish in Grant Park and I got a great rate. There are a lot of bad reviews about this hotel online, so I had very low expectations going in and was pleasantly surprised. I think I managed to get to bed by 1am Friday night.

Congress Plaza Hotel in Chicago

My only real gripe about the hotel is that the curtains didn’t fully block the light coming in from the window. I tried to sleep in as late as possible on Saturday morning, but eventually gave up because it was too bright. Time to start my day… On the way to brunch, I walked through Grant Park and saw workers preparing for the race. It was a funny contrast to see the pretty gardens and then rows and rows of port-a-potties lined up.

Rock 'n' Roll Chicago Half Marathon - Grant Park

I have a college friend who lives in Chicago who’s a foodie and she recommended some great restaurants for the weekend. My first destination of the day was the Bongo Room. After reading reviews online, I had pretty much already decided that I was going to try the Chocolate Tower French Toast. Here’s the description from the menu: bittersweet chocolate chunk bread stuffed with maple mascarpone, banana creme brulee sauce, bananas & shaved chocolate. It was as sweet and delicious as it looks and sounds. A main course and dessert all rolled into one. And this was only a half order. (I think the full order comes with three slices of bread.)

Chocolate Tower French Toast at the Bongo Room

After brunch it was time to head over to the Expo at McCormick Place. On the way I walked past the Field Museum and Soldier Field. I enjoyed seeing the architecture of the buildings because we don’t really have anything like that here in Phoenix (that I know of). I also liked the look of this random building that I saw.

A random building in Chicago

The interior of McCormick Place looked sort of like an airport to me. It was about as confusing as one too. To get to the hall where the Expo was located, I had to go up like three flights of stairs, then down one flight. At least they had signs pointing me in the right direction.

Rock 'n' Roll Chicago Half Marathon Expo at McCormick Place

There was basically no wait to get my race packet, shirt, and goody bag.

Rock 'n' Roll Chicago Half Marathon Expo

Rock 'n' Roll Chicago Half Marathon shirt and bib

I also bought another race pin and t-shirt. I liked how the shirt had the little 13.1 on the back

Rock 'n' Roll Chicago Half Marathon shirt

The Expo seemed a bit small compared to Arizona and Seattle. I guess it was probably because this was just a half marathon instead of a full and half. I didn’t really get any good freebies at the Expo, but I didn’t mind too much because I didn’t have that much extra room in my little carry-on suitcase anyway.

Rock 'n' Roll Chicago Half Marathon Expo

The highlights of the Expo were:

  • Getting a poster and a pretty pink tiara from the Disney booth.
  • Talking to the Nuun representative who was very nice and answered a gazillion questions for me. I bought a tube of orange ginger Nuun.
  • My mock Runner’s World cover from the Nissan booth. At first I was hesitant to have my photo taken, but it ended up being really fun.

After the Expo I walked over to Chinatown.

Chicago Chinatown

I picked up some of my favorite Chinese pastries. At the top left is a wintermelon pastry, also known as a sweetheart cake. The top right is a cocktail bun, sometimes called a coconut bun because of the filling. These are my favorite pastries and I actually got four of them to bring home with me. The bottom right is a pineapple bun. It doesn’t have any pineapple flavor, the name is because the topping resembles a pineapple. The bottom left is a fried taro turnover. (I took a bite before I decided to take a photo.) These are normally found at dim sum, but I rarely get to order them since Troy doesn’t like them and they come in threes. Everything but the fried taro, I packed into a tin to take back to Phoenix with me.

Pastries from Chicago Chinatown

I took a train from Chinatown back to the hotel, rested for a bit, then set out again for dinner. On the way I stopped at the Threadless retail store. I’ve been eying the t-shirts on Threadless for awhile, but was hesitant to buy one without knowing how it would fit. It’s not a perfect fit, but I decided to get this Alphabet Zoo shirt anyway for just $12.

I met my friends at the Crepes and Coffee Palace. It’s been about four years since I’ve seen them and it was great having the opportunity to catch up on all the happenings since college. Of course we all had crepes for dinner. I ordered the savory special of the day: arugula, avocado, anise seed, caramelized onions, dried figs, grape seed oil, smoked salmon, and aged balsamic vinegar. It was a gigantic crepe. I wasn’t going to take a photo until my friend pulled out her camera, so then I did too.

crepe from Icosium Kafe

dinner at Icosium Kafe

We lingered over dinner for awhile until I reluctantly decided it was time for me to head back to the hotel to try and get some rest before the race the next day.

(Go to Part 2)

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3 Responses to “RnR Chicago HM 2009 Race Report – Part 1”

  1. Mica Says:

    Ooh, I’ve never been to Chicago’s ChinaTown. I’d be afraid to go by myself. You should come with me and help me pick out tasty buns!

  2. fiftystateshalfmarathon Says:

    Hi,
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    The 100 HALF ANYWHERE CHALLENGE is exclusive to half marathons and half ironmans, but can be completed in ANY state.

    BUT our 50 STATE CHALLENGE accepts marathons, half marathons, half ironmans, and full ironmans ALL TO COUNT TOWARD YOUR 50 STATE GOAL (any of those events can count toward a state)!

    We are having a member event for members to meet other members from all over the US on January 30th down in Florida at the weekend event of ING Miami Marathon and Half Marathon for those club members that can make it. And then we will be holding an annual event and give out awards annually in a different state every year.

    Check the site out and hope too have you as new member soon!

    Nicole Blomgren
    Founder & CEO
    Fifty States HALF Marathon Club

    http://www.HalfMarathonClub.com

  3. RnR Chicago HM 2009 Race Report – Part 2 « Silly Lisa… Says:

    […] RnR Chicago HM 2009 Race Report – Part 2 September 8, 2009 — Lisa (Go to Part 1) […]


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