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:
- 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")
- 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."
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 www.mychicagoathlete.com]
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!)