This past Saturday, I was up before sunrise to prepare for my first-ever running of the Soldier Field 10-Miler.
This race is very popular in Chicago. It has always drawn consistently rave reviews for its stellar organization and cool finish on the 50-yard line at Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears. After so many years of not being able to run this race due to being out of town over Memorial Day Weekend, I was pumped to finally be able to participate this year.
Marcia picked me up just as the sun was rising (thanks again for the lift, Marcia!) We zipped down to Soldier Field (no traffic at that hour!) and took advantage of the free race-day parking. Then we headed into the stadium. I was absolutely thrilled that we were able to use the indoor bathrooms and then grab seats in the stands afterwards. I am so used to either finding a patch of grass to sit down, or having to stand the whole time before lining up at the start line. Sitting and relaxing felt so luxurious!
Here's a picture of the field from where we were sitting:
We even got to see the race organizers setting up the finish line:
Weather conditions were excellent - temps in the upper 50s/low 60s, clear, and no wind.
Marcia and I met up with a lot of other friends running the race:
|Upper left from L to R: Anne, Bobbi, me, Marcia, and Chris|
Lower left from L to R: Marcia, Bobbi, and me
Bottom center from L to R: Chris, Bobbi, me, and Marcia
Right from L to R: Bobbi, Marcia, Kim, and me
We watched the singing of the national anthem as part of the event's opening ceremony. We made another visit to the indoor restrooms, then dropped our bags at the super-efficient gear check. We then headed off to the starting corrals. It was super crowded in the corrals, but again very organized. I was grateful to have the company of Marcia, Bobbi, and Chris while waiting to start.
Unfortunately during the wait time, I began feeling the need to use the restroom again. I cursed the fact that there were no portapotties in the starting corrals. I still haven't gotten my hydration strategy down!
We crossed the starting line about 33 minutes after the official gun. The course was very crowded, which made it hard to run the tangents. I focused on staying with Marcia, Bobbi, and Chris. We went through the McCormick Place tunnel during the first mile, which I thought for sure would throw off my Garmin. When we hit the Mile 1 marker, I was surprised to see that my Garmin measured the distance almost exactly on par. Hooray!
I ran with Bobbi while Marcia and Chris began moving ahead. We saw Xaarlin spectating near the Mile 2 marker with her camera. It was so great to see her!
|Photo of Bobbi and me, courtesy of Xaarlin|
It's a bit more subdued than my usual race photo body spasm, but not too bad.
We saw Xaarlin again maybe another quarter mile down the course. I didn't see her run ahead of us, but it was a very welcome surprise to see her again. (Xaarlin is unfortunately dealing with some ankle issues right now. We were joking that even despite her ankle, she is such a fast runner that she still ran by in a blur to the rest of us. =D )
Going into the race, I had been concerned at how my left hamstring/piriformis and right IT band would hold up. Initially, things felt a little wonky but nothing serious. Thankfully, after a few miles, things settled in and I nearly forgot about any injury worries. I was more concerned about the impending need to use the restroom.
The course includes an out-and-back on Lake Shore Drive, with one side closed to vehicular traffic. The runners were spreading out more at this point, so I was trying to run the tangents. Bobbi and I chatted about the Blackhawks, Grandma's Marathon (which she is running!), and various other topics. We were also keeping an eye out for Kim, Chris, and Marcia. Kim had started in an earlier corral than us and she was running with her friends Gina and Steve, who were visiting from Texas. With so much to focus on, the miles flew by.
Before we knew it, we were at the turnaround point near the Mile 5 marker. I hit Mile 5 in 51:10.
In the weeks leading up to the race, I had ideally wanted to run a sub 1:40:00. However, going into the race I wasn't very focused on time goals due to my injury pain. Based on my time at Mile 5, I knew it would require a pretty serious negative split to achieve it. However, I felt good so I thought I would give it a shot. I told Bobbi and she said to go ahead. So I began trying to speed things up.
The course was on the lakefront path at this point, which was much narrower than Lake Shore Drive. I was passing a lot of people, but the path was more crowded and more difficult to navigate. My splits for Mile 6 and Mile 7 came in right around 10 minutes per mile.
I told myself to push a little more. But then, my Mile 8 split again came in right around 10 minutes. I began thinking that I was ready to be done. At that point, I knew that a sub 1:40 finish wasn't in the cards for me for the day. But I knew that I was going to achieve a negative split and I was happy about that.
The final stretch of the course runs alongside Soldier Field and past the far end of the premises before entering the stadium. It then runs through the stadium before heading out onto the field. Thankfully I had studied the course map and knew this in advance. However, it was still a bit challenging to see the stadium and know that there was some distance left to go before getting to the finish line.
|View of Soldier Field from the lakefront path|
When I made that final turn onto the field, I looked for the scoreboard and was ready to watch it while crossing the finish line. Unfortunately, a few runners in front of me stopped - literally STOPPED - to take some pictures of the field. Grrrrr. Everyone had to run awkwardly around them to get to the finish line.
I did not see myself on the scoreboard as I crossed. But, my official time was 1:41:15, which is a 5:17 PR for me. Yay!
Service men and women wearing their military uniforms gave us our medals. It was very humbling and I thanked them profusely. Dozens of folks were stationed on the field to hand out water. We were then herded back into the stadium. We re-passed gear check, and another large crowd of volunteers offered us Gatorade and snack bags.
I met back up with Marcia. We went to check out the post-race tailgate party for a bit. Then we met back up with some others for a post-race picture:
|Top from L to R: John, Bobbi, Kim, me, Marcia, and Chris|
Bottom from L to R: Gina, Luca, and Steve
- This race is supremely well-organized with outstanding volunteers. Based on everything I'd heard about the Soldier Field 10, I had high expectations going in. Yet, the race organization still exceeded my expectations. There were over 12,000 finishers and it definitely felt like a big race - but I never had to wait in line for anything.
- Would I do this race again? If I knew for certain that I would be in town over Memorial Day weekend and could take advantage of the super early-bird pricing, yes. Otherwise, the registration fee is a little too high for my taste.
- Before starting the race, several of us were saying how happy we were that it was only 10 miles and not a half marathon. This race really cemented the 10-miler as my favorite race distance. Psychologically it is so much easier than 13.1 miles. I wish there were more 10-mile races out there.
- I wasn't really hampered by my injury issues while running (although, I definitely do still need to focus on rehab). I was more hampered by needing to go to the bathroom the whole time. I didn't want to lose time towards making a stop along the course, so I ended up holding it until after I finished! I really, really, really need to get my hydration strategy figured out.
- One of the biggest highlights of the race, amongst many, was how fantastic it was to see so many friends. It gives me even more to look forward to at these events and it helps keep running fun. I am truly blessed to be part of such a wonderful community of runners.
My next race: the Michelob Ultra 13.1 Half Marathon on June 7
Congrats Emily! I didn't realize you ran a giant PR! I agree the race is a great one but the friends make it even better!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Marcia! It was so good to see you and catch up this past Saturday! Congrats to you also for making it through such a vigorous stretch of racing! Enjoy your race-cation and see you at Esprit de She. =DDelete
Way to negative split your way to an awesome PR! I was so grateful to be able to run with you at the beginning - awesome company for sure! I was also glad you didn't stick around to see me fall apart at the end :) You are running so so strong lately!ReplyDelete
How's your body feeling post race?
Loved this race - I would totally do it again! And an emphatic YES to your last bullet :)
Thanks, Bobbi! I can't even remember the last time I got to catch up with you so it was such especially wonderful being able to run with you, too. Having your company really did make the time go by so much faster! I am bummed to hear that the second half of the race didn't go as well for you. =( But considering that you have been rehabbing your shoulder and that you were planning on running 16 the next day, you are a ROCKSTAR!!!Delete
My body felt a little worn down afterwards. But I did a ton of stretching and foam rolling, then took the next day off. Now I'm as good as new. How about you!?!?!?!? Still can't believe you were planning 16 the next day. WOW!
Can't wait to catch up with you at the next race! And I am also SO excited to hear how things go for you at Grandma's Marathon in just a few weeks!!!
I actually felt better at the end of my 16 than I did at the end of the race. I think I let myself get a bit dehydrated...had the shivers later which is a tell tale sign for me.Delete
Glad you are feeling good after a solid effort! Way to leave that injury behind before it got too bad!
I know that feeling of getting dehydrated and getting the shivers. It is really scary when the weather is warm out, but you still feel cold. I am sorry that you had to go through that. =( But I am glad that your 16-mile run went well! You looked fabulous at SF10 - I would never have guessed that you've been rehabbing over the last few months!Delete
Wow, more than a 5 minute PR?! That's awesome, congrats!!!! Glad to hear your legs cooperated too :)ReplyDelete
I hear you on the photo-taking on the field. Someone right in front of me stopped to take out his phone and set it on video so he could capture running across the 50 yard line. I get it, it's a cool experience, but it would have been nice if he had looked behind him/pulled over to the side first - I nearly slammed into him.
Thanks, Anne! Congratulations to you, too, on your PR!!! Way to push through after your calf issues, too. Isn't it the best feeling to think that 10 miles is easy after training for a half marathon!?!?!? Now it's time for lots of us to focus on rehabbing and cross-training. Can't wait to start doing some swimming!Delete
GRRRRR on the guy who wanted to videotape crossing the finish line. (That would have made for a great video if he recorded himself being hit by other runners due to his sudden stop, eh?)
Hahahaha, oh man, I wish I had thought to photo-bomb like that! I was just SO ready to be done, I just kind of moved away from him.Delete
I totally know that feeling! And you really did the smart thing because you wouldn't want to lose any of your PR time by posing for a photobomb, anyways. =)Delete
Nice finish... but wait, where's the finish line pizza? :-(ReplyDelete
Thanks Natalie! GOOD QUESTION on the pizza, every race should serve pizza at the finish line. =) If I ever become ruler of all races, you better believe there will be pizza and ice cream at EVERY post-race party!!! NO EXCEPTIONS.Delete
Woohoo! Great job on the PR! And nicely done on the negative splits even if you didn't end up with the sub 1:40. You went for it and that's what counts! I did this race once but never have done it again because I usually do a local 10k near home that I love. This weekend, I didn't race at all. Did a free fun trail run with a local running store and biked. Nice job again!ReplyDelete
Thanks Amanda! It always feels really good to be able to run a negative split. I've positive-splitted SO many races that it always comes as a shock when I run even splits, let alone negative ones! Which 10K do you usually do that is near home? It must have been great to have the entire weekend to just relax this year - you've been doing a lot of races and you've got a busy schedule coming up! Yay for a free fun trail run and biking, too - it's always great to mix things up. =) See you at 13.1 in a few weeks!!!!!!Delete
The 10k I would normally do on Memorial Day is called The Ridge Run in Beverly. There is a 5k, 10k, and they've added a challenge where you can run the 10k and then do the 5k back to back. I haven't done that (yet).Delete
The Ridge Run! I've heard of it and saw it on some local race calendars. It looks like a very cool race! And it would be really fun to do a 10K and 5K back to back! I've seen a lot of races organize those types of challenges lately. Can't wait for both of us to try it in the near future!Delete
Congrats on the PR. Love the pics, looks you guys had a "picture" perfect day for a late May race. One of the things that would be frustrating would be trying to navigate around people when running on the narrow trail. Also, I can't believe people stopped right before the finish line. Move off to the side, people! There is a race going on! :)ReplyDelete
Thanks, Pete! I can't remember if you've done SF10 before? It was a really gorgeous day, indeed, and I can only imagine that the race organizers had all breathed a huge sigh of relief. =) It's funny, though - even though I did get annoyed at the folks who stopped right before the finish line, it was still nothing compared to what people were doing at the Corporate Challenge! That one takes the gold standard as far as improper race etiquette, LOL.Delete
I admit, the years I've run this race with a goal time in mind I've never hit it. I'm usually done with crowds and people after Chase a few days earlier and this race just always feels so crowded. Still, it's a well done event. But, like you said, the price is a bit high. I suppose, though, it's not cheap to rent out Soldier Field!ReplyDelete
As for your hydration strategy, do you think you're just drinking too much water too close to the start time?
Oh yes, I remember you mentioning that the cumulative crowd effect gets to be too much after running the Corporate Challenge followed by SF10 just a few days later! But it was such a breath of fresh air to run SF10 alongside experienced runners who actually know how to handle aid stations and corrals. Good lord, I can only imagine how much it must cost to rent out Soldier Field. Fleet Feet must have a lot of clout!Delete
Yes, for the hydration, I always seem to feel thirsty in the hours leading up to a race (partially due to paranoia about dehydration, I'm sure). So I try to stay well-hydrated but don't stop soon enough for everything to flush out of my system. I've been told to stop drinking for an hour prior to the race start - but that makes me nervous. Maybe I need to work on hydrating better in the days beforehand, and not just in the hours beforehand?
Congrats on a great race! And your PR! I am happy to hear your leg pain didn't bother you :)ReplyDelete
I think the people stopping right before entering the stadium is my only complaint about the race. Everything else felt like a typical city race (crowd size) to me.
When I feel the need to pee before a race, it goes away as I start running. Does that not happen for you? Good idea for them to have porta potties in the start corrals!
So happy I got to see you and chat a bit! You always make me smile :)
Thanks, Kim! Congrats to you, too, on a great race as well! It was awesome to finally get to meet Gina, Steve, and Luca in person. What an amazing experience for them to have while in town! How did the rest of their visit go?Delete
Yes, I have had it happen a few times where I needed to use the restroom at the beginning, but then it went away. That actually happened to me at the Illinois Half Marathon, which was great. I think sometimes it's just nervousness, right? Unfortunately at SF 10 I wasn't that lucky. =( But yes, porta potties in the starting corrals, please!
I am so happy I got to see you and catch up with you for a bit, too! You always make me smile, as well. Sorry that I haven't gotten a chance yet to respond to your email from this morning, but I wish you a speedy recovery from being under the weather!!! We'll meet up for lunch another time SOON when you are 100%!!! =)
I am so happy you got to meet them! They did have a good visit. It was so great to have nice weather so we could spend lots of time outside. I had a LOOOONG list of parks I wanted to take Luca to. Ha ha!Delete
That is okay! I would have been BAD company at lunch. I went to pick up food and everything seemed so loud to me. I hope it's just fogginess and not an ear infection!
Congrats on your PR! I am so happy for you. It is a great race and I am glad you ran it this year. Hopefully I can run it next year.ReplyDelete
Glad the leg pain didn't bother you and you were able to run strong.
See you on the 7th! Looking forward to running with you. :-)
Thanks Zenaida! Have you run it before yourself? It was incredibly well-organized. I was blown away!Delete
Sorry to hear that you didn't run any of your planned races for May! But I am looking forward to seeing you next weekend. =)
Yes I have and hopefully can be there next year. Time for another PR! :-)Delete
Oh that's OK about the races. At least I saved money. Saturday it is.
Congratulations on a great run and a new PR!!! I love reading race recaps :) I've heard great things about this race year after year and unfortunately never had the chance to run it. I know the pain of having to go to the bathroom while running, but the pain of running itself near the end of races usually makes me forget all about the need to use the bathroom haha.ReplyDelete
How is your body feeling after the race? It appears that you didn't have to deal with any aches or pains (thank goodness!!!!) which is great :)
Thanks Irina! I love reading race recaps, too. Congratulations to you too on your recent 5K PR! I really enjoyed your recap but haven't had a chance to comment. It sounds like such a fun race that you did and I've never been to that island before!Delete
The body is actually feeling really good, thanks for asking! I think that taking so much time off in the weeks beforehand to rest my hamstring made a big difference overall. =)
Huge PR! Congrats! I've done a 15k before, but not 10 miles. There is, however, a 10 mile race here in August that I'm planning to participate in. I'm really excited to try my hand at the distance, especially after reading how much you love it.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Amy! I've actually never run a 15K but I think I would like it a lot. =) It really is the perfect mixture of a race distance where you can run a decent pace without feeling like you're going to vomit, but don't get bamboozled by the amount of distance. I think you'll enjoy it very much. What 10-mile race are you looking at? Can't wait to hear what you think after you've done it!Delete