Monday, December 17, 2012

My Favorite Races of 2012

I did my fair share of racing this year and there were some ups and some downs. When deciding on my 2013 schedule, it is definitely helpful to have an electronic trail of all your previous races, remembering things you liked and didn't like. Here is a list of my favorite races from 2012.

Shamrock Shuffle 8k
This is a big Chicago race and one I have a lot of fun with every year. I have run this race every year sine 2007. I'm already registered for the 2013 event, making it my 6th Shamrock Shuffle. I really like that you get the chance to run through the city without completing a huge distance like a half or full marathon. The entry fee is a bit on the pricey side, (around $40) but I think it is well worth it. The swag bag includes a dryfit t-shirt and that is about it. The expo is pretty big where there are plenty of free samples and good deals to be had. The race is put on by the same corporation (and same race director) as the Chicago Marathon so it is obvious that they know what they're doing. Everything is always well organized, packet pickup is a breeze, and things are fairly efficient. The post-race party is always really fun, filled with plenty of food and a free beer ticket. It is a great place to socialize with friends to talk about the race. As Amanda and I both like to call it the Best. Race. Ever. !! (Official website)

Palos Half Marathon
(aka the First Midwest Bank Half Marathon)
2012 was the first time I had run this race, but I had always heard great things (from both family and running friends alike). I was happy to get the opportunity to run it and I had a blast. That is, before I started to self-destruct because of how hot race day was... The swag bag was amazing, the shirts fit nicely, the expo was alright for being a local small-town race. The only thing I would say could have made this race better would be pace groups, and they are adding them for the 2013 event! A local running store puts on this race and you can tell it is put together by runners. The course is a nice "out and back" and would be a good place to PR. (Official website)

Rock N Roll Chicago Half Marathon
FNRC before the race
Having fun at the expo with Mag Mile Runner
I had never run a Rock N Roll event before 2012 because of the price. If you don't register early the price goes up, by a lot and quickly. Despite the larger-than-usual price tag, I think this is a great race. It is throughout the streets of Chicago, with pace teams, and a big expo. I think I had more fun at the expo than the actual race (but that was more due to my self-destruction because of the heat, as opposed to the actual race itself). Packet pickup was a breeze and things were run efficiently. They put on a lot of Rock N Roll races in tons of different cities and states and I think Chicago is one of the more efficient (and longest-run) ones. The medical staff was friendly and accommodating  the post-race party was great, and I love when races include a free beer at the finish. I'm not signed up again for the 2013 race because I am refraining from lots of summer races this year. If I wasn't doing Ragnar, it would be on my schedule for sure. (Official website)

Old Plank Trail 5k
The main draw for this race is that it is local (about 15 minutes from my house), it was the day before the Chicago Marathon (had my fingers crossed for an age group award), and it was extremely cheap ($15 if you pre-registered). If I was running the Chicago Marathon, I wouldn't have done this race. Packet pick-up was available race-day and things were fairly sufficient. As I arrived early, there was plenty of parking available (this race is still fairly small). The race was gun timed so you needed to start near the front if you were looking to PR. The course was scenic and along the local trail (although, it included a fairly large uphill bridge on the way out and back) but it made for a fun little challenge. The post-race eats were quite delicious including donuts, bagels, water bottles, granola bars, and coffee (my favorite part of local races). We even made it onto the local cable access channel (if you check around 3:14, 5:24, and 12:25 you may see a familiar face). This race was a lot of fun and I plan on doing it again next year.

For all of my full race recaps from 2012 and before, check out the "Previous Races" section of my blog.


  1. Shamrock Shuffle = BEST.RACE.EVER
    Go Green with us as the Shamrock Shuffle! WhoooooHooooooo!

    I love Palos too.

    The RnR....hmmmmm, the only year I've ran, was right after I had Michael and it didn't go well. My body/digestive system was reacclimating to running, it was SUPER hot and I had to make an emergency pit stop on MI Ave and fight the spectators for a port-o-pot. Big problem!!! I registered for 2012 but then tore my tendon and couldn't run. I'm just not sold on it for 2013 (yet). :o)

  2. OMG I'm DYING at that pic of you and maggie.

    New computer background.

  3. Looking forward to my 7th Shamrock Shuffle! Hehe!

    I have heard mixed reviews of the RNR in other cities, but they seem to have worked out a lot of the kinks in Chicago. Except for the fact, that it is always a summer half marathon and horribly hot. I guess is just what happens when planning a race in July or August...

  4. We are pretty cool. It would be a respectable computer background.

  5. Love love love the vertical photos of your shamrock racing adventures! That race is one of my favs! I'll be signing up for my 3rd one soon :)

    RnR is also one of my Chicagoland favorites because of the downtown course... Just wish the weather would be better.

    The other races you mentioned look fun too... I'm always looking for reasons to run someplace off the lakefront. The burbs are so beautiful!

  6. Yes, I would agree that the Rock and Roll Half was one of my favorite races this year (along with the Chicago Marathon)!

  7. I love your pics from the Palos Half. So fun!

  8. Does this mean we are going to see a list of least favorite races too? ;)

  9. I really want to give the Chicago Marathon another go someday, just because it is so well run!

  10. Thanks! Later in the race, my photos were not so fun. The heat just kills me!

  11. The folks at MarathonFoto recently made all of their old professional photos available so I was able to snag some gems from the 2007 race. It was a historic day in my personal life and I just feel like that race will always have special meaning for me. And it is super fun and all that jazz too. :)

    I ran the RnR for the first time this year and really enjoyed myself! I hope to be back again!

    I love running a race that is minutes from my house instead of an hour. Then again, when I lived in the city, I never did races in the suburbs because the city races were minutes from my house!

  12. Haha, I thought about it but I probably won't do that. BUT *spoiler alert* expect more modeling photos regarding 2012 races!