I had a really good day at Soldier Field on Saturday, especially considering that I had only signed up about a week earlier. I had been on the fence about this event as I’m trying to be thoughtful toward picking races this year, rather than signing up for so many like I feel I have the past few years.
As it turned out, I decided to run this race to get a better picture of what my marathon time predictor might be for the Chicago Marathon this fall. FWP: I’ve been getting faster and have not been sure that a 10-15 minute boost over my marathon time might be realistic. (of course, if Chicago is super hot like it has been in recent history, then anything more aggressive than that might not be smart).
Back to Memorial weekend. During the week my office had been hosting a conference here in Chicago, so I had some late nights, less sleep, and days on my feet as we played host to 200 people visiting from all over the country. Add onto that some less-than-ideal nutrition as I got much of my food from either bars or food trucks.
My race plan going into the race was to start out at 10-minute miles, and then pick it up at the mile 5 turnaround if I was feeling good. I printed out a pace band for 1:38, and figured I would shoot for 1:39 as I thought I might not pick up beyond the 9:48 pace on that pace band.
I didn’t sleep as well as I would have liked Friday night, as I woke up with some weird, stabbing stomachache. I managed to force myself to sleep for a while, and woke up at 4:30 AM to get ready for the race.
Two slices of toast (with butter) and a big glass of water for breakfast, clothes on, and we were off! I was wearing my purple Athleta tanktop, and a new pair of Brooks Glycerin 2-in-1 shorts. (I did do a single run in these shorts and loved them!), and my Brooks Cadence on my feet.
We got to Soldier Field pretty quickly, wandered about inside for a bit, went to the bathrooms, and then dropped stuff off at gear check. I then headed outside and thought I might wander around to find someone I knew. I mean, it’s not like the Chicago community is that big, right? Actually, I never found anyone I knew at Soldier Field. Another quick trip to the port-a-potties, and then into my corral.
I couldn’t find the 1:40 or 10 min/mi pace group, so I decided to line up a corral or two behind the 1:35 pace group, and settled in for the wait. Unlike the previous “big” race I did (Shamrock Shuffle), the corrals didn’t “shift up” as earlier corrals began running, so we just stood around, shivered in the high winds, and said prayers that the rain would hold off.
Finally we were off! I was trying for 10 minute/miles for the first few miles, and mostly just tried to rein in my energy! 9:50 was feeling a lot more natural, but I didn’t want to burn out too soon.
Around mile 2, I also realized I needed to go to the bathroom (my stomach never quite felt perfect after the middle-of-the-night issues), and started contemplating what my plan should be. I didn’t have to go so urgently to have to wait in lines, so I decided I’d reconsider as I approached each aid station depending on the lines and my need.
I did see my friend Anna from CES around mile 3 at the ACS Determination cheer post! I had my eyes out for her before the race, but I didn’t see her at the ACS test, so I was pleasantly surprised to see her out on the course. It was a boost of feeling good!
We ran onto Lake Shore Drive, blocked off by cones, to the cheers of the cars going by. We were on there for about two miles, before switching onto the lakefront path. The turnaround was at 5 miles, and I was feeling great – although my tummy was still not feeling awesome. I had taken a sip of Gatorade at the 2nd aid station, and that definitely did not sit well. I may need to look at other sports drinks for this summer if that continues.
As we pulled into the 5.5 mile aid station, I ran straight toward the port-a-potties and was surprised that I was only 2nd in line! And a moment later, two opened up at the same time, so I was in and then out pretty quickly! Once done, I ran through the aid station for water to take my Gu (peanut butter all the way!), and got going again.
And going, and going and going! I just kept moving along, sticking at 9:48’s for a few miles, then increasing the pace starting at mile 7 or 8. At this point, I was mostly just concerned about not bonking before I finished, and thankfully I never realized this.
I knew from last year’s race that I shouldn’t gun it in when I saw the stadium, as you have to run past the start to the other end of the stadium, and then in and through the stadium to finish on the fifty! But I was impressed that I was able to endure longer this year and didn’t fatigue in that last quarter-mile stretch.
I finished strong and right on target with a 1:38:05! Literally 5 seconds off of the target time that I was wearing a pace band for. I wandered around, was happy to find Mike in the stands (he was still looking for me to come across), and then we made a plan to meet up outside the stadium.
I gathered up my medal, food bag, gear check, and stadium blanket, and headed outside. I was so happy to see Muscle Milk out there, and picked up a new flavor (Cookies and Cream –definitely a post-workout splurge).
I spread out my blanket and chilled waiting for Mike to find me. When we finally found each other, we chatted (he had a good race too!) and then headed home.
Post run: Brunch was attempted, and finally occurred at Bangers & Lace. So good. I’d never had biscuits & gravy before, and they did an awesome job!
10:00 – 9:50 – 9:50 – 9:45 – 9:47 – 10:29 (bathroom break) – 9:42 – 9:22 – 9:24 – 9:04 – :57 (.1)