Sunday, July 14, 2013

Home Team Charity Run 10K race recap

This morning I ran the Home Team Charity 10K.

This is the first of the four races that I'll be running in the next eight days.

I've mentioned before that after being an avid runner through college and my early- to mid-twenties, I took a running hiatus for several years.  After resurrecting my running life a few years ago, the 2011 Home Team Charity Run 10K was the first race I ran post-hiatus.  Given its alignment with the Chicago Blackhawks, Bulls, and White Sox, this rabid Blackhawks fan would have had a hard time finding a more perfect race to get back in the swing of things.  I had a blast at this race in 2011 and was excited to give it another go this year.

Fast forward to this year's race.  A lot of the race's characteristics have changed:

In 2011:
  • Only a 10K was offered
  • The race took place in early April
  • The course ran from the United Center to US Cellular Field
  • Jim Cornelison (legendary Hawks anthem singer) sang the national anthem pre-race
  • At the post-race party, there were opportunities to meet legendary former Hawks, Bulls, and Sox players and get their autographs
  • The Bulls and Sox championship trophies were on display (no Stanley Cup, unfortunately) and certain runners got to take their pictures with the trophies
  • They played team sports-themed music at the start and finish line (e.g. "If I could be like Mike")
This year:
  • Both a 10K and a 5K were offered
  • The race took place today, in mid-July
  • The course started and finished at US Cellular Field, with the finish line being broadcast on the Jumbotron.
  • The man that sang the national anthem was not someone that I recognized (I don't even remember his name)
  • The music at the start had no specific theme and a local band was playing their own songs at the finish line.
  • There were no former players on hand and none of the championship trophies were on display. Instead, sponsors were giving away posters, signs, etc. and there were opportunities to take green-screen pictures superimposed with each of the three teams' mascots.
The first of my three superimposed pictures with each of the team mascots.
From L to R: me and Blackhawks mascot Tommy Hawk.

Now onto the race itself, via "the good, the bad, and the ugly."

The good

  • Ample free parking at US Cellular Field for all runners and spectators.  Given that the CTA Red Line is not running to US Cellular Field due to construction, I bet nearly everyone took advantage of the parking.
  • Spectators got to watch the finish line inside the Cell.  As I mentioned above, the finish line was broadcast on the Jumbotron.
  • Portapotty lines moved VERY quickly.  I think I only had to wait about thirty seconds to use one.
  • Good aid station coverage.  The course was an out-and-back and there were two stations that runners passed by twice each.
  • The course ran mostly through local neighborhoods, and some areas had fairly decent patches of shade.
  • Fabulous race t-shirt.  I have had a really tough time finding a technical shirt with a Blackhawks logo on it, so I was really thrilled to finally get one.  This was one of the biggest selling points for me with this race.
  • The superimposed pictures with each of the team mascots were fun.
From L to R: me and Chicago Bulls mascot Benny the Bull.
The bad
  • It was hot and sunny.  Temps were in the mid- to upper-70s, and along the final stretch of the course there was minimal shade and the sun was shining directly into our eyes.
  • Considering the amount of parking available at the Cell, the line to park was very long and moved quite slowly.  When I arrived at the Cell, I knew what parking lot to go to; however, I ended up being forced to take a circuitous loop around the entire complex just to get in line.  There was no signage and there could have been more well-placed people to direct traffic.
  • Even though I used a portapotty about 15 minutes prior to the race start time, I felt like I needed to use the bathroom again for nearly the entire race.
  • The course ran over a bridge/incline with a steel grate surface, which made me nervous.
  • Course spectators were nearly nonexistent.
  • There was no Gatorade available at the aid stations or at the post-race party.  Just water.
The ugly
  • Receiving the following email at 8:14 pm LAST NIGHT (sorry about the small text):
  • I was floored when I read the above email.  What race of this magnitude doesn't have a gear check? How could the organizers not come up with a better solution than this?  And how could this only be communicated less than 24 hours before the race's start time?  Did they not realize that some folks would be taking public transit and that some folks (like me) would not have any spectators to hold their gear?
  • Since gear check was eliminated, that basically quashed the Chicago Running Blogger pre-race photo meet-up.  It had been set to meet at gear check 30 minutes before race time.  So much for that.
  • I had been planning to change into my race t-shirt after the race so I could be wearing it in my pictures with the mascots.  Plus, my running clothes were completely soaked from perspiration plus the cups of water that I'd been throwing over my head during the race. So I really, REALLY wanted to change clothes.  But since I had no race spectators, I had to leave everything in my car (which was parked pretty far away).  I wasn't sure they'd let me back in to the stadium if I stepped out, either.  So my wet clothes made for an uncomfortable post-race party and an uncomfortable drive home.
  • According to the race website, official race results will be posted on July 21 - an entire week from today!  How is it that other races have their results posted within a few hours (or even available right at the finish line), yet this race will take 7 days? [Edited: I found my race results later that evening on]

[End rant.]

Now, on to race specifics.  But first, here is my second-ever picture with South Paw:

From L to R: me and Chicago White Sox mascot South Paw

My official time as posted on Chicago Athlete's website was 1:02:49.  Here are my splits:

Mile 1: 10:02
Mile 2: 10:23
Mile 3: 10:12
Mile 4: 9:26
Mile 5: 10:24
Mile 6: 10:22
Mile 0.2: 2:00

I am incredulous at the mile 4 split.  I certainly did try to pick things up during the second half of the race in an attempt to run a negative split.  However, it seems weird that I would run that single mile that much faster than the rest?

All in all, I felt pretty good for most of the race until the final mile or so.  However, I wasn't thrilled with my finishing time.  I had been hoping to run sub-1:02, or better yet, break the hour mark. But it was definitely way too warm out there today to put forth very high expectations.

In the end, I don't know if I will run this race again.  It is pricey for a 10K, the mid-July timeframe is challenging, the gear check cancellation was disappointing, and a lot of the special Hawks/Bulls/Sox features that I had enjoyed so much in 2011 are no longer in existence.

OK - time to rest my legs for my next race, the Strike Out ALS 5K coming up on Tuesday night (coincidentally also at US Cellular Field).  And later I will post about yesterday's stand-up paddleboarding lesson (which was fun!)


  1. Sounds cool, aside from the lack of a gear check. I'll be at Strike Out ALS 5K on Tuesday so maybe I'll see you there - last year Strike Out ALS handled the gear check issue by putting all the gear check bags into these giant boxes and then relocating those boxes inside the stadium for collection after the race. It wasn't the cleanest solution but it's MUCH better than just eliminating gear check!

    1. I think if you're a White Sox fan, you'd enjoy this race more than if you were just a Bulls and/or Hawks fan since you get to finish on the field at US Cellular. Although, Strike Out ALS also finishes on the field so Sox fans have plenty of races that gear towards them. =) And agreed, the way that Strike Out ALS handled gear check was more than sufficient last year! Will see you at the Cell tomorrow night!!!

  2. Great time on the race!

    That sucks on the late communication from the race planners and the hot weather! No gear check? I don't check gear anymore but it is there for a reason and many people count on it.

    Love your pictures with the mascots!

    1. Thanks, Zenaida! I am like you in that I usually don't check gear but one of the few times I want to is the time where they decide to cancel it. Go figure.

      See you at Strike Out ALS tomorrow night!!!

  3. Hmm. Sounds like a case of a race getting too big for its britches. I'm sorry that they took a lot of the good things about the race and changed it. What a let down!

    I think your overall time is pretty darn good! Especially given the heat. I know it's not quite what you were hoping for, but it is close. And you can't really look at your finish times without taking the weather into consideration; it's a huge factor. So if it was hot (which it was) and you still had a good time (which you did) that's something to be proud of! Good luck at your next race!

    1. Amy, you are exactly right. I think this race may be starting to try to cater to too many different types/groups of people in the hopes of attracting a bigger audience. But at least I got a great race shirt out of it!

      Thank you for the kind words on my finishing time. I know that in the end, it's just a number and it doesn't matter that much - but it's hard not to get frustrated when you don't achieve your goals, you know? I am starting to think that I'm just going to nix doing any more summertime races altogether! =D

  4. Wow that email is pretty unbelievable! Sorry you weren't able to meet-up with other bloggers. But I hope Tuesday goes better!

    1. I was flabbergasted when I saw the email. I seriously don't understand how they couldn't have come up with a better solution than that. Grrr. But tomorrow night will definitely be better in terms of getting to meet up with folks!!!

  5. Congrats on your race! I wonder if you hadn't run it before if you would have liked it more. It's a bummer they took out some of the things you liked!

    I am really surprised race results would take so long, especially in this day and age!

    1. Thanks, Kim! You are right, if I were running this race for the first time I would probably have just thought it was super cool to finish on the field at US Cellular.

      I found out that race results were posted on Chicago Athlete last night, so that was good. Still don't understand why it would take them so long to post on the race website. But whatever, right?

  6. Very, very interesting since this race was actually on the CARA Circuit this year. I have a feeling it won't be back next year! That email was incredibly unprofessional (uh, typo much?) and definitely too late in the game. They should have stuck with their sports theme all the way around. Sounds to me as if the race director didn't plan very well overall.

    1. I had forgotten that this race was on the CARA Circuit! Yes, assuming CARA learns of the gear check mishap, that should certainly disqualify this race from being on future circuits. I was astounded by the lack of professionalism in the email, too. It was very disappointing, especially since this race is expensive compared to most 10Ks/5Ks out there

  7. Wow! No gear check? Kind of ridiculous!

    I have to ask - do you love the race shirt? I was mostly thru the registration process (because I WANT THE SHIRT) but then I noticed that it wasn't gender specific and I aborted. But still wondered if I should have done it. Like you, I've been hunting for and unable to find a Blackhawks tech shirt...

    1. The gear check cancellation was ridiculous, indeed!

      YES! The race shirt is one of the saving graces of this race - I do love it!!! I'll send you a picture when I get home tonight. =)

      Incidentally, I know they had extra race shirts left over in 2011 that they ended up donating. Assuming they have some this year, it might be worth it to email their race director ( and ask about getting one. I got a size small and it fits me perfectly (I typically wear a women's medium).

    2. I just emailed the rd...I'll keep you posted :)

    3. Just saw your other note. What a huge bummer that there are no Hawks shirts left. Booooo! =(

  8. Benny the Bull should have still shown up! Ugh! Sadness. Boo to mid race tummy issues!

    Nice to finally meet you yesterday!

    1. Benny, Tommy Hawk, and South Paw were actually all at the start of the race so that was cool. It would have been nice to take pictures with them in person after the race instead of the superimposed picture images. Oh well.

      It was nice to finally meet you this past weekend, as well!