Saturday morning I joined 12,000 other runners to complete the ninth annual Soldier Field 10 Mile; my first 10 mile race!
It was another early race morning with my alarm going off at 5 am Saturday. Solider Field is just south of the city so it takes a while to get there via public transit. I went to bed later than I should have the night before because I couldn't decide what outfit to wear for the race. I got in about five and half hours though. I set up everything the night before so leaving in the morning would be easy. For breakfast I toasted an english muffin and smeared it with peanut butter and raspberry jelly (one of my favorite things) and had a big glass of water while getting ready. Once I was out the door I took a bus and the el down south, with more runners getting on at each stop. It was cool outside and the sky looked cloudy. There were concerns it would be a hot day, but it looked like that might not happen until later. When we all finally reached the stop we still had a mile walk to get to the stadium, I could have taken another bus, but I figured the walk would be a good warm up for the race. I followed the hoard of people and checked my gear inside before finding my way to the corral.
I was supposed to be in corral 15, but by the time I got there it looked pretty full. I wasn't the only one standing on the side hoping to fit in when we finally took off either. After standing there for 15 minutes one of the corral leaders told us we would have to go to the back of 16, the last corral. We weren't really happy about that, but I tried to find my way as close to the front of 16 as I could get. Then we all waited, and waited some more. It was kind of chilly with the cloudy skies and gusty wind. The first wave went off at 7am and it was 7:40am before things started moving in the back. Then I saw corral 15 start to move and noticed more people were allowed to get into that corral. I was already pretty well into the 16th corral and couldn't make my way back around to get into 15. I was frustrated. I know it was only one corral difference but I was tired of waiting and ready to run! Around 7:52am we made it to the start and were finally starting the race!
The course had us run about 4.5 miles south, mostly on Lakeshore Drive, so the two lanes of the highway were blocked off for us to run down. There wasn't much to see during this part, so it was a little boring, but there were some friendly cars who honked their support as they passed.
There were five aid stations throughout the course and that was the only time I walked during the race. I also stopped about twice to snap a picture, but other than that I was running. My goal was to average at least a 12:30 per mile pace. I always try to start off slower and gradually get faster near the end if I have the energy. I picked up Gatorade and water at the aid stations and ate a few Honey Stingers at mile four and mile eight. My pace always picks up a bit when I eat those chews!
Once we reached the turn around we were running along the south side lakeshore. The sky was still gray, but the view of the lake is always nice to see. The waves were kicking with the gusty winds too. There was a great view of the Chicago skyline the whole way back though. I really liked the second half of the course and my pace picked up some from there.
There weren't very many spectators for this race, just one here or there. As we approached the stadium music was playing and more people were there to cheer everyone along for the last half mile. The course had us turn to run into the stadium. Then we got to run through the players tunnel onto Soldier Field.
Now this was amazing! You run from the dark tunnel into the gigantic and bright field. Plus you got to see yourself on the big screens in the stadium crossing the finish line on the 50 yard line. I sprinted through the finish with a smile on my face! I completed my first 10 mile race in 2:03:21 with an average pace of 12:07! I sometimes still think of myself as a 13-14 minute miler so seeing that I ran 10 miles at that pace was exciting. After grabbing a bottle of water I took a moment to take in the awesomeness of being on the field- it was really cool!
I exited through another tunnel before receiving my medal and grabbing some of the post race snacks and stadium blanket. Once I got my bag back from gear check I went outside on the green to check out the post-race tailgate. There were small tents set up and a great band playing. I tried some of the Naked Juice samples; I liked the Mango Oat smoothie best. I also tasted a peanut butter Clif recovery bar and a s'more Mojo bar which were both really good. Some of the FF Cheer members were going to meet at the Fleet Feet tent, but since I started so late I didn't catch anyone there.
Once I left the tailgate I walked back a mile to go get some food. Waffles is a breakfast and lunch restaurant that is relatively new so I decided to check it out. I am not usually in the South Loop so I figured I should visit it while I was. It was Saturday morning, so I knew there would be a wait. There were lots of people waiting outside, but there happened to be a seat at the bar and since it was just me I was seated immediately. The place was hopping! Lots of things sounded good, but when the server told me about the flight of waffles I decided to go with that and some scrambled eggs for some protein. It took awhile to come out and I was so hungry!
The scrambled eggs were nothing great, really generic, but I knew I needed some protein, so ate about half of them. The four waffles I got to try (counter clockwise from the top) were Red Velvet, Mexican Chocolate, Liege, and Green Tea. The Red Velvet came with whipped cream cheese whipped and strawberry compote and it was just kind of blah, not enough flavor for me. The Liege waffle is made with pearl sugar which caramelizes and makes for a rich, chewy waffle. It was served with blackberry compote and whipped cream and was good. Next, was the Green Tea one which intrigued me when I sat down. It was served with lemon ginger Chantilly cream, ground pistachios, and candied ginger. This was really tasty! The waffle was light and the combination of flavors was delicious. The Mexican Chocolate was also a favorite. It was topped with orange Anglaise, spicy cocoa powder, and shaved dark chocolate. I have never tried this combination before but it was so good. There were some misses, but those waffles were pretty darn good and I'm glad I got to try them. The name clearly states what they make best, waffles!
I was told Soldier Field 10 Mile was good race and after running, I agree! Although I was a little frustrated with the corral and start, the view the second half and the finish were awesome! Plus who doesn't like a race where you get a medal!
Right now I am trying to decide if I am going to run the Fleet Feet Chicago Women's Half Marathon which is in four weeks. I know I can run the distance, but I have to see if it will work with my schedule. I have also been holding off on registering, because I didn't know how I was going to feel after this race. I am really considering it though, we'll see. Also I have to finalize my Chicago Marathon training plan. I was speaking with a runner today who said there are 19 weeks of training left until race day! Ahh!
What active things or good food did you enjoy over the long weekend?