On Saturday I ran the Soldier Field 10 Mile race, a “classic” Chicago race that is hosted at the home of the Chicago Bears football stadium. As you may have heard, I hadn’t been having the best of weeks recently. After a busy weekend with my parents visiting (and a nice weather 6 mile run!) I spent the work-week working too much, not liking the cold weather, and not running at all. (I need to work better at my work-life balance… any suggestions?!)
So Friday evening rolls around and I’m definitely not feeling waking up early for a race the next day. But dutifully (and pushed by M), I ate my pasta with red sauce, packed my race bag, and went to bed.
Originally, my goal had been to run a 1:40, but I set that goal without thinking through a plan to accomplish that goal. I’ve barely run since my marathon, so I was hoping that 1:50 would be accomplishable. I looked up on Friday evening what my PR half marathon pace was, which would result in a 1:48 time, and asked M (my running guru & fiance) about whether I should try to stick with 1:40 or 1:50. He confirmed my thoughts on 1:50, and said I shouldn’t think about pushing faster until at least mile 6.
5:15 AM rolled around too quickly, and I wasn’t excited to get up. But up I went, and got ready to go. We headed out (driving, we’d heard there was free parking @ Soldier Field for the race) and promptly ran into traffic with everyone driving into Soldier Field for the race. So much for my trying to calm myself and center on the race.
We made it into the garage and ended up actually being in a really good spot! Closest parking garage, and the ground floor level! Didn’t realize that until after the race though!
We got out of the car, final preparations before we “gear-checked” our bags in our car. Smart move if you get to bring your car to a race and the weather isn’t super cold! Then we went out into the chaos of Soldier Field!
Getting out there with so many people (and my cranky temperament of the morning) I wasn’t too happy, but knew where I needed to go when there’s only 1/2 hour left before the race: pit-stop at the port-a-potties. M & I split up so he could go warm up and head to his A corral. After the port-a-potties, I also headed to “A” corral… Corral 2 that is!
I found where my pace group was going to be, and then looked around to see if there was anyone I knew. A lot of people from CES were running this race, but I didn’t see anyone from that group! I did recognize Courtney (and her BF Aaron) from Run Courtney Run, and headed over to introduce myself. Courtney and I chatted about races (she & I have had some overlap on recent races: Disney Princess & Illinois Marathon) and I also got to meet Kayla from Running: My Anti-Drug. She was sporting a very cute running skirt and seemed really nice. Hopefully I get to meet both of them again at upcoming summer events!
As the race start neared, I found my way toward the 1:50 pacer and also ran into Joanne & Tim from my CES training programs! It was good to see some familiar faces. They were going to be doing run-walk, so we chatted it up beforehand.
Fun Fact: I learned that there is a clock on my Garmin 305 that I had no idea about before! Apparently Tim knows how to do all sorts of customizations to the 305 for it’s display, so I’ll have to hit him up to customize my display!
The race began with recognition for the members of our armed services who keep us safe and free here in America. It’s funny, conceptually I know that Memorial Day is recognizing the members of our military, but I think this might have been the first time ever that I’ve heard an actual memorial/recognition/thanks on Memorial Day. It was interesting, and shifted my focus toward the bigger picture and away from my personal (& relatively petty) stresses.
As we got going (I crossed start 27 minutes after the starting gun), I felt very comfortable following the 1:50 pace group. Just like any good Chicago race, it was a crowded start and I spent some energy just on staying with the pace group – not getting caught behind people who might not have been going at that same pace, or small groups of people running together.
We ran underneath McCormick Place early on which was very interesting, and we came out right around mile 1. Followed the pace group through the water stops, and I was surprised that I had stayed with them, since it’s seemed like I usually lose the pace groups or get off kilter at the aid stations. Water @ the first three stops (with a shot block or two @ the 2nd water stop), and then we glided along toward the mile 5 turnaround. I still felt pretty good.
Around mile 6 I realized that I had pulled ahead of the pace group slightly. I was still following a few women that had been running with the group, so I appreciated their being my “rabbit” as we continued onward. I didn’t try to pass them, but just to keep up with whichever of the three was the furthest behind. As the miles progressed, they switched up a little in terms of who led, but I “played it safe” and stuck behind. Aound mile 8, I passed one of the rabbits as she slowed into a walk break. As I passed, I said something to her that I hope conveyed my appreciation (who knows if she recognized me from earlier in the race).
As we passed the final aid station @ mile 8.7, I started to kick it up further. I pushed what I could, and ended up passing my rabbit. I kept pushing through the end, and we came upon Soldier Field. It’s a little deceiving, since you run back through the start line and through to turn inside the stadium. I ran, and passed people slowing down. I also tried to keep people’s spirits high as we were running inside the stadium with some cheers: “almost there!” “Just one more turn” and “Can I stop at my car over there?”
And then there was the finale! As you approach the finish line inside of the Soldier Field stadium, they have the Jumbotron streaming the finishers. I tried to keep my pace up while also looking up to see myself on the Jumbotron! I definitely saw myself, although if I do this again, I should try to run more in the center of the path rather than to the side!
I finished in 1:47:47 – just a tad faster than my December half marathon PR pace! It feels good to know that I haven’t lost my speed in the last month of not really running, and inspires me to train to run faster through this summer!
Mile Paces from my Garmin:
- Mile 1: 10:33
- Mile 2: 10:45
- Mile 3: 10:42
- Mile 4: 10:49
- Mile 5: 10:41
- Mile 6: 10:44
- Mile 7: 10:49
- Mile 8: 10:46
- Mile 9: 10:54
- Mile 10: 10:07
- 10-10.1 : 00:56 (9:27 pace)