…but I’m a country music fan. You’re probably wondering, ‘What the heck is this girl talking about?!’ Let me explain. I am a huge fan of the Rock n Roll Marathon Series, which is a racing circuit that takes place all over the world. To date, there are currently 30 different Rock n Roll races in the series located in the United States, Mexico and Ireland! My dream (you can bet it’s on my bucket list!) is to race, and visit, as many of these locations as I possibly can, it’s the runner and traveler in me.
To date, I have run 5 Rock n Roll races which include San Diego, Las Vegas, Savannah, Chicago, and last but not least, Nashville. I currently do not have a favorite, they are all great in their own way and each race has its positives and negatives. I’m here to talk about my experiences with each one and relive those amazing moments back to help get me thru each day of hip surgery recovery. I keep telling myself that one day I will be back to running and training for these amazing races.
I’ll go in chronological order, starting with my first Rock n Roll race in San Diego. Let me just start out with saying that I LOVE San Diego. I’ve been there numerous times and I have family who live there. Any chance I get to go, I take it as should you. The area is beautiful, the weather is fantastic and there is so much to see and do.
San Diego was my first Rock n Roll race (my 5th half marathon) which took place June 5, 2011. (If I recall correctly, San Diego changes their race course almost every year, so keep that in mind when looking to run this race.) A good friend of mine ran this race with me which was a really cool change of pace for me. I unfortunately always run my races solo so when I had the opportunity to run with a buddy, I took it! This for me was a huge positive and one reason why I loved this race. My cousin drove us to the start line area, well, a mile away anyways. Traffic was so heavy race morning (make sure to allow yourself extra time!) that we didn’t have enough time to sit and wait in traffic for him to drop us off right next to the start line area so we decided to hike the remaining distance by foot. We had over 45 minutes left before the race began so we jumped in the porta potty lines and waited our turn (side note: there never seems to be enough porta potty’s on race morning when over 40,000 people are registered to run). As we were still waiting in line, the gun went off for the first corral to start. Good thing we were in corral 13 and had a little extra time. (Insight: each corral gets released separately to allow runners to get into a better running stride sooner.) They released each corral about 1 minute apart so doing the math as I was waiting in line to go to the bathroom we had about 12 minutes to go to the bathroom and get ourselves to the start line. Thankfully, we made it to the start line with literally 90 seconds to spare. I was able to re-tie my shoes and that was it. No waiting in the corrals thinking about the race and allowing myself to get more nervous which in turn would’ve made me have to pee again. This. Was. Perfect. Timing.
We took off and the first few miles felt great. We got to run thru part of Balboa Park which was a really cool experience! I believe after mile 4 or 5, we just wound around the city before ending at SeaWorld. I remember that the sun was out and as the race went on I was getting extremely warm (doesn’t help that I wore all black!). As we came upon mile 9, my cousin met up with us on his bike and rode along next to us as we were running which is totally not allowed. But we do what we want I guess! I can’t even explain how this broke me mentally. I was mentally so strong and running so well (on pace to break 2 hours) and something so small ruined it for me. This is where I started to fall behind and my friend still felt great and forged on ahead without me.
Those last 4 miles were daunting. All I remember is that it felt like an eternity for me to reach that finish line. As I crossed the finish (2:04), received my medal, took my rite of passage picture, I looked down at my watch and realized that I was somehow late for our ‘meeting spot’! We had decided prior to race morning that if we got separated from one another we would meet in a designated spot at a certain time. I didn’t think that I ran that slow to be late to our spot but panic swept thru me and I snuck out a side gate (totally not what you’re suppose to do), hiked thru the desert and finally arrived at our meeting spot to find them not there. What?! I don’t get it? I eventually came to realize that my watch was still on Iowa time, not California time. And I also didn’t run with my cell phone at that time so I had no way of getting in touch with them. Rookie mistake. Therefore, I sat my butt on the ground and waited for them for a solid hour. Not my best moments in life but in the end it worked out. And we can still look back and laugh at this moment in time.
Next up was Rock n Roll Las Vegas (my 8th half marathon) on November 16, 2014. Prior to running this race, I had read online of a lot of people who wrote about not expecting to PR with this one because of all the people who flock to Vegas to run this race. Unfortunately, I took that advice with a grain of salt and still trained pretty hard for this one. Needless to say, I should’ve listened. You will not PR when you run this race. There are too many people, people who start in the wrong corrals, people who show up to the start line drunk or those who show up to the start line about 45 minutes after the race has already started. This race is meant to be a fun time, so try to have some fun when you’re running it!
Rock n Roll Las Vegas is a little different than other races. This one is ran at night, on the Las Vegas strip, and has the free concert before the race. That year, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis performed and they were awesome! They put on a great show, high energy and lots of interaction with the crowd. Great way to get ya pumped to run 13.1 miles!
Let me tell you, I have never seen so many people pop-a-squat on a race course as I have in Vegas. And I was one of them! However, I at least waited until I ran to the edge of a privacy fence that was next to the airport and hid behind it to pee. No one who was running saw me unless they, for some unknown reason, turned around to look behind them. The people who were on an airplane that was landing at that moment might have.
But what was cool about this race was that we literally got to run up the strip, loop around by the Old Las Vegas and run straight back down the strip to the finish line. The concept was great and all but I was way too busy trying to run around people, not get run into by those not paying attention, and those who just stop right in front of you to take some picture of the strip or of themselves. Needless to say, I saw nothing of the strip when I was running. It’s a cool thought and I’d be first one to tell you that I would totally go back and run it again tho. I understand that sounds silly but I would just have more fun the second time around.
My third Rock n Roll race was Savannah, GA on November 7, 2015 (my 10th half marathon). Let me just start out by saying southern charm! We stayed at this beautiful bed and breakfast called Forsyth Park Inn right next to Forsyth Park. This is such a beautiful location with a gorgeous water fountain. I fell head-over-heels in love with this area the moment I saw it. Just breathtaking!
The half marathon race course was pretty nice for the most part. The course did take you thru a little bit of a ‘rough’ neighborhood within the first couple miles. During the later miles the course also wound you thru more Savannah neighborhoods and I will say that there was so much runner support from the community throughout the entire race course! This was so cool to see and feel considering the weather was SO hot and humid that day. The weather was so hot that they ended up having to re-route the marathon runners and most were unable to complete the full 26.2 miles. There were 3 people who suffered heat exhaustion or heat stroke and who were transported to the hospital via EMT from the race course. Goes without saying, not ideal running conditions.
The cool thing about this race was the fact that the ‘remix challenge’ was a thing now (for about a year I believe) and I took full advantage of this opportunity. You may ask yourself, ‘what is a remix challenge?’ A remix challenge is when you run either the marathon, half marathon, or 10k (depending on the series and which races are provided) and turn around the next day and run a 5k or 1 Mile! (Again, depending on which races are provided.) You get a medal for each race you participate in and a 3rd remix challenge medal! More bling for your buck! The second day of racing is where you start to challenge yourself as a runner, especially coming off a hot and humid half marathon the day before! But to my benefit, the weather on Sunday for the 5k was almost chilly! A cold front had come thru and the temperatures had dropped drastically from the day before. I can’t say that I minded since I’m a cooler temperature type of runner anyways. Obviously, this 5k felt great compared to the half marathon!
What was even cooler about this 5k was that I was able to convince my husband (boyfriend at the time) to run the race with me! I should mention tho that he is NOT a runner and running is not his idea of a fun time, but he was a trooper and participated anyways even tho I left him eating my dust, lol. I should add, he has not participated in another 5k since!
Overall I really enjoyed this trip to Savannah. There is so much southern charm wrapped up in this city, I can’t even handle it. I loved the experience here and I would love to go back again! I will mention that there are a few other places that are worth your time if you are in town and want to do some sight-seeing! First is River St. downtown Savannah. The area just has an old, rustic feel to it and that’s where all your bars/restaurants are. Supposedly they have one heck of a fun time on St. Patty’s Day. Also, the statue of the waving girl (located very close to downtown/River St.) is pretty cool to see since my half marathon medal was dedicated to her. And lastly, if you’re looking for some awesome food, The Pirate’s House was one of my favorites (besides the delicious breakfasts served to me at the Bed and Breakfast each morning).
My fourth Rock n Roll race was in Chicago on July 17, 2016 (my 12th half marathon and 2nd remix challenge). I have always wanted to run this race because it’s in the summer and I normally have the time to do so with work but the normally hot and humid temperatures have always deterred me from registering myself. However, that year I said that I wanted to run this race and therefore I took the plunge and signed myself up. I knew the only way to get my husband to agree to this trip is if the Chicago Cubs were playing in town that weekend, and lucky for me, they were. So to Chicago we went!
This time, the first race of the remix challenge was the 5k on Saturday. The weather was absolutely perfect. The sun was out but there were cooler temperatures which made this 5k a breeze! (I was so fortunate that a cold front had come thru Chicago that weekend and I needed a long sleeve shirt at night and, of course, I didn’t pack one and was cold most of the time! Good problem to have if you ask me.) This was a nice warm-up, get the legs moving for the race tomorrow, type thing. The race started and ended on the corner of Jackson Drive and Columbus Drive (halfway between Millennium Park and Grant Park). What’s cool about this course is that you were able to run along Lake Michigan for one mile before they turned you around at Shedd Aquarium to run along Lake Shore Drive back to the finish line. Scenic, beautiful and picturesque . I had a blast with this 5k and would totally participate again.
Sunday morning I woke up to overcast skies and chilly temperatures. I secretly thanked God the entire way to the start line for perfect July running weather, which was my total saving grace for this run!
The race course had you start in Millennium Park, looped you thru downtown Chicago for about 6 or 7 miles which included running over the Chicago River twice and running past the Chicago Theater. These first 7 miles went by so quickly because there were so many things to see and lots of turns to keep you mentally present. Once we left downtown and headed south, there was nothing but open road until they looped you back to the finish and you ran by Soldier Field and Shedd Aquarium before finishing by the Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park. I will say this tho, the half marathon course is long! My Garmin watch, the Forerunner 25 (which I LOVE and am obsessed with), read my total distance when I crossed the finish line as 13.9 miles. My guess is that the course was closer to roughly 13.4-13.5 miles in length. So just keep that in mind when training and running this race!
I successfully completed another remix challenge weekend! I truly enjoy these remix challenges and if they keep offering them, I’m gonna keep running them, but shhhh! Don’t tell my husband that, lol.
My fifth and final Rock n Roll race thus far was Nashville on April 28, 2018. I was registered to run the half marathon but with some medical issues arising (a torn labrum in my left hip and the fact that I was having surgery 9 days after race day to have my labrum fixed) I had to drop down to the 5k.
We were fortunate that the weather was perfect this year for the race where in years past the weather has been hot. The 5k start line was located on 8th and Demonbreun St right next to Nashville Music City Center & the half marathon course started on 8th & Broadway. The cool thing about this race was the fact that there were plenty of porta potties, short lines, and the most important part, hand sanitizer!! Win-win! I was told that this year the half marathon race course was new, taking people more into the community where there was more shade cover. As for the 5k route, I don’t remember much of it. The race was a blur because I was looking down, trying not to trip over anyone. I know from looking at the race map that the race course early on took you by The Gulch neighboorhood, thru a small section of Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park (we ran by the backside of Nashville’s Farmers’ Market) and ended at Nissan Stadium. The last section of the 5k is all downhill, which in my opinion, is a perfect way to end a race. The fun wasn’t over there tho. Later that night, the Rock n Roll Concert Series took place at Ascend Amphitheater where Hunter Hayes performed for about an hour. This was a great experience except the fact that it was cold outside and I wasn’t dressed appropriately. As one would expect, we took off a little early so we could get warm and hit up Broadway for the last time.
I’m excited to hopefully go back to Nashville someday and experience the half marathon for myself! Nashville is a great city with lots of things to do, 4 days and 3 nights is not nearly enough time to see it all. Broadway is a good time so be prepared for some sleepless nights if you plan to experience the Broadway scene to it’s fullest!
Well there you have it folks! My Rock n Roll Marathon Series races (and experiences) to date! Thinking about each race gives me goosebumps and the motivation to keep running (well going to physical therapy for now!!) and striving for more! There are more races and cities to see and this girl won’t stop until she sees them all (hopefully)!
What are some of your experiences with the Rock n Roll Marathon Series?! Leave a comment below!