Tuesday, August 9, 2016

2016 BTN Big 10K race recap

Over the weekend, I completed my second running of the BTN Big 10K.
Let's go with the "good, bad, and ugly" format to recap.

THE GOOD
  • In prior years, this race has been held at Soldier Field. This year it took place in Grant Park, which was great. Getting to/from the festivities was so much easier. 
  • The new course was a spectacular, beautiful tour of the downtown Chicago lakefront area.
The familiar start line for Chicago's biggest races: Columbus and Monroe
  • By August standards, the weather conditions were terrific. It was sunny with moderate humidity and temperatures in the mid-70s. By comparison, just a few days earlier the temperatures were in the upper 80s.
  • The event emcee warned us that even though the weather felt comparatively cool, that conditions were still not ideal. He reminded us to still hydrate well and listen to our bodies. The advice was spot-on. 
  • Chicago Cubs left fielder Kyle Schwarber was the grand marshal. He got a loud round of applause when he was announced.
From the ABC news broadcast later that morning
  • By some miracle, I was assigned to Corral A. What a treat! The race started at 7:00 AM on the dot, and I crossed the starting line less than 30 seconds later.
  • I already mentioned how much I like the race shirt. Additionally, each finisher got a medal adorned with a ribbon signifying the university of their choice. Very nice!
The Illinois medal collection area
  • The post-race party is a giant tailgate, complete with grilled sausages, beer, and a Combine area where you could practice kicking a field goal, throwing a football, running a 40 yard dash, et al. Fun stuff!
Scenes from the post-race tailgate party

THE BAD
  • No starting area map was provided and onsite signage wasn't very good. Since the course map showed the start line at Monroe and Columbus, I rode there on a Divvy bike. I ended up fighting through the massive crowds looking for gear check before learning it was all the way south on Congress (4 blocks away). Had I known this in advance, I could have Divvy'd to Congress directly.
  • The course included every known hill in Grant Park. This included our good old friend Mt. Roosevelt (the infamous stretch between Michigan and Columbus, aka Mile 26 of the Chicago Marathon); the pedestrian underpasses leading to/from the museum campus; the inclines in front of the Field Museum; and a sudden and jolting transition from the lower path to the upper path near DuSable Harbor.
  • My hamstrings were tight throughout the entire race, and my heart wasn't into the running at all. After about 2 miles, I was already ready to be done. I was wishing the race distance was only a 5K instead of a 10K.
  • I didn't have any time goals other than to finish sub-60. Normally this wouldn't be difficult for me. However, I was feeling so lackluster, especially towards the end, that I wasn't sure if I could do it. I did end up squeaking it out in 59:47, but it took way more effort than anticipated.
THE UGLY
  • The prerace portapotty lines were an unmitigated disaster. They were located near the later starting corrals, which weren't open yet. This meant the crowds were jammed onto the sidewalk and stretched all the way down the block. It was very difficult to walk through the area. (Thankfully, I knew of some park bathrooms a little ways away, which had no lines at all. This saved my life.)
Dramatization of what the lines looked like
  • The gear check lines also left much to be desired. I don't think plastic lock tags were provided in advance (I had used a safety pin for mine), nor were any tags sitting out on race morning. Therefore, most participants were handing their bag and unfastened gear check number to the volunteers. The volunteers were adhering the numbers one by one while everyone in line stood and watched. It took an eternity. I don't know why they didn't just hand out tags to the folks in line to adhere themselves.
  • I ran a very positive split. I think I ran every mile slower than the one before. I haven't even bothered to go back and review the exact numbers because I don't want to see how badly they degenerated.

IN CONCLUSION...
While the 10K made me realize I am still burnt out on racing, I did enjoy the gorgeous morning and beautiful scenery. Only a few races go through some of the streets this event covers, so this course was a treat. Plus, I always enjoy opportunities to exude my Illini pride with my fellow alum amidst our Big Ten counterparts.
My next race: (tentatively) The Great Race 10K in Pittsburgh on September 25

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Linking up with MarciaPatti, and Erika for Tuesdays on the Run.

24 comments:

  1. No start area map?? Shame on them! Also, unorganized gear check is one of my biggest pet peeves. I mean, I know it's staffed by volunteers but, still.

    Anyway, I suppose there are always trade-offs for awesome swag and post-race fun :-)

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    1. Yes, since no start area map was provided, I figured everything would be located right near the starting line. WRONG. I'm glad they moved to Grant Park since they certainly have the participant numbers to support it, but I think some kinks still need to be worked out. Likewise, I get frustrated with unorganized gear check. I was remembering stories we had from the ITU triathlon, though, and thinking maybe someone didn't have enough racing experience for their role??? Who knows. Absolutely there are always tradeoffs, and thankfully the positive definitely outweighed the negative here. =)

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  2. I hate when the start line is so unorganized. I'm sorry to hear you're still burned out, but I understand. I haven't decided on a fall race yet just to keep my schedule open.

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    1. Thankfully, the actual start line went off without a hitch! It was just the portapotties and gear check leading into getting to the start line that took a long time. It is a nice feeling to have a wide open race calendar and being able to pick something at will!!! How are things in DC going?

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  3. Thanks for making me feel better about missing this race. I think you texted me the best part anyway. 😅

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    1. LOL - when I saw Bucky, I immediately thought of you and sprinted to take his picture! Since I was wearing my Illini gear, he was probably confused. =D I actually did take a few other pictures of Badger supporters in their gear, but you're right - you've already got the best one. =)

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  4. This looks like such a fun one, I want to do it one of these years but it sounds like some logistics need to be worked out. Nevertheless sounds like you enjoyed a nice morning!

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    1. Marcia, I think you'd really enjoy this race! It's super fun and festive. The organizers just sent out a survey asking for event feedback, so hopefully they'll work out the kinks on the location next year.

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  5. I read another race review on this as well as this one and I have to say that I really like the concept of this race and the whole school thing. Very cool. Yay for the good weather and squeaking in under 60. Boo for all the hills!

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    1. Was it Suzlyfe's recap that you read, out of curiousity? I know Susie ran the race (though I didn't see her, unfortunately) and I saw Meranda commented on it. If so, small world. =) Thanks so much!

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  6. Tight hammies are tough! My left hammie is my nemesis area, I feel your pain.
    That is great you ran a sub 60. I am sorry your heart wasn't in it. I guess you need a little more time before you hop back in to running.
    It sounds like a pretty fun event minus the long lines to the P-O-P
    At least you had a good corral to start thee race :)

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    1. Isn't it weird how one side can be so much tighter than the other side? For years I had problems on my right knee, but then I favored it too much and started getting problems on my left knee, too. Thank you so much for the positivity and LOL at the P-O-P acronym. It makes it sound much more pleasant than it really is. =)

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  7. The post-race party looks great! And so fun that you can choose your tshirt and medal. Bummer about the port-a-potties and gear check. (In general I avoid the gear check if at ALL possible.) Super congrats on finishing <1 hr! Positive split or not, You met your goal!

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    1. Thanks so much Kelly! Yes, I think folks love being able to customize their race experience/swag, yes? It's super fun for the participants but I can imagine it's a little more challenging for the organizers. I've had so many issues with gear check over the years that I'm going to start trying to avoid using it in the future, too!

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  8. This was the first year I didn't do the Big 10K, and I feel kind of sad that I missed it! But only kind of. I'm a bit over that race. The post race party, though - nothing compares!

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    1. I was wondering if you were running this year! I figured you weren't since you hadn't said anything about it, but I was still keeping an eye out for you just in case. The post-race party is awesome, indeed - I think all races should serve grilled sausages at the finish. =D

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  9. That after race party sounds delicious!

    Wait, don't we all wish at 2 miles that we had picked the 5K instead? I know I do!

    I'm sorry to hear you are still burned out from the race, I hope some rest will help !

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    1. No matter what distance I am running, I get to a point where I wish it was over. At a half marathon, it's the 10-mile mark. At a 10-miler, it's around Mile 8. On and on and on. =D

      Thank you so much, Ana! I hope some rest will help, too!!!

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  10. I know this race has been going on for years so how can there not be a start area map? But that also sucks about the port-a-potties and gear check. It was cooler in the beginning but then it warmed up. I struggled to get my 12 mile run done.

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    1. I was surprised, too! Hopefully they'll share a start area map in the future, and improve upon the POP and gear check. The rest of the race was very well done, though!

      As beautiful as it was that morning, it was indeed still warm from a running standpoint! I can imagine it would have been tough to push through 12 so way to go on getting it done!!!

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  11. Congrats on the sub 60 finish and beating your goal! I have toyed around with running this one but it seems like a lot of effort for 6.2 miles. Now, based on your recap I might not run it for awhile (although the post-race sausage is a huge plus!). Where was packet pickup?

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    1. Thanks so much, Pete! I think this is a very fun race that any Big Ten alum would enjoy. If you don't have a Big Ten affiliation, then there's probably not as much of a draw. The new Grant Park location is much easier than the old Soldier Field location, though, which does help a lot from the effort standpoint! Unfortunately packet pickup was at Fleet Feet in Old Town, which I consider an extremely inconvenient location. They did not offer event-day packet pickup, either. So that is one of the lowlights!

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    2. Yes, for any race distance less than a half marathon (except for the Shamrock Shuffle), I don't want to drive more than 5 minutes away from my house for a packet pickup! Also, in Old Town I'd probably have to pay for parking. So, let's review: $60 entry fee + $5 extra registration fees + $5 packet pickup parking + $20 race day parking = $90. Not to mention the time spent/wasted for packet pickup and it might not be worth it for 6.2 miles!

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    3. Yeah, I was thinking about the fact that a lot of us could easily spend more time going to pick up our race packets than actually running the race itself! From a cost perspective, too, all the parking costs do add up super quickly. No bueno!

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