- 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|
- 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 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.
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