Thursday, May 30, 2013

2013 Soldier Field 10 Mile: Race Recap

This past weekend I ran the Solider Field 10 Mile Race with 12,500 other people.  It was another fabulous race put together by Fleet Feet Chicago - these guys know how to organize a race!  
This was my second time running this race.  I have only run races once before (except for maybe the Orlando Turkey Trot) so it was neat to run a specific race again.  This was also my biggest race since the Chicago Marathon last year.  I made a training plan and have been better about getting cross training into my schedule.  The day leading up to the race I felt really anxious for some reason... I knew this race was coming up I had been promoting it, training for it, and had signed up months ago, but all of sudden race day was tomorrow!  After a short night's sleep, most of the anxiety had subsided and I was feeling better about the race.

The race starts at Soldier Field which is about an hour away from my place via the el.  After my 4:55am alarm I got changed, packed a pb&j sandwich, and headed to the train.  It was kind of chilly outside, mid 40s or so.  I kept going back and forth on what to wear, but finally decided on my favorite Moving Comfort capris and a New Balance long sleeve shirt.  I was cold waiting for the start, but otherwise it was a good choice.  
Getting to a race in Chicago early in the morning is always fun.  It is early and the trains are packed with runners getting down to the starting area.  On the ride I drank some water and ate my sandwich.  

Everyone filed off the train at the Roosevelt stop and made the walk over to Soldier Field.  I checked my bag, made a quick stop at the port-a-potty and got into my corral.  The race started at 7am.  Just before there was the National Anthem, a moment of silence for those affected by the Boston Marathon bombings, and recognition of all the service men and women who have fought for country and were running the race that day.  Soon after the first corral went off and they played some great music while the rest of us waited to get going.  The course is a little skinny in the start so the waves went off every five minutes or so to help with crowding on the course, which is smart, but makes the wait for slower runners like me in the back very long.  I chatted with another girl and her boyfriend in my corral.  This was her first race, a 10-miler!  She was also signed up for the Chicago Marathon.  We chatted about training and the races.  It was nice to have someone to pass the waiting time with.  

When our corral finally made it to the starting line I wished them good luck before we went off.   My main goal for this race was to beat last years time of 2:03, I really wanted to get under two hour though.  To do this I needed to maintain around a 12 minute pace.  With all the anticipation and energy at the beginning I started off strong.  I knew I had miles to go though and saved some energy for later on.  

Around mile two I started to pass a lady who seemed to be walking a little strangely.  All of sudden she started to slow down and then fell to the ground.  All of the runners around began to shout for help from a nearby course marshall.  He didn't seem to understand why we were all shouting, so we had to yell "Help - Run!"  He finally ran over and I kept going ahead.  A little while later we saw a fire truck and ambulance make their way down the course to help the woman.  I am assuming she was ok, because I didn't hear anything about it, but it was kind of scary.  

For the course we got to run on Lakeshore Drive and had all four lanes to ourselves, which was a nice change from last year when we only had two and cars going past us.  Somewhere in the first half Christina (from blogger book club) caught up with me.  We ran together for a bit before going our separate ways.  
I was maintaining a good pace and knew that if I kept it up I would get that PR.  I only walked through the five aid stations, but otherwise ran the whole way.  I think I had some Honey Stinger chews at mile three, five, and eight and some Gatorade at two of the aid stations.  The turnaround came around mile five and we then got on to the lakefront trail.  Running North to the city on the trail is really pretty, because there is a wonderful view of the whole Chicago skyline.  

It was a nice change of scenery, because I usually don't run down there.   The trail is much smaller than four lane highway, but it wasn't too crowded.  

Soon Soldier Field came into view.  There were a few supporters out there as we got closer to the stadium.  A group around mile eight and half had picture of celebrities with chat bubbles.  One of my favorites was one of Daniel Radcliff as Harry Potter saying "Accio Finish Line!"  ("Accio" is the summoning charm for non HP fans)  It made me laugh and smile.  
the sign looked something like this
I really picked up my speed the last three miles of the race and even clocked a ten minute mile!  The final stretch of the race is one of the best.  You make a turn to enter the tunnels into the stadium and then appear on the other end on Soldier Field.  Crossing the finish line in the middle of the stadium with your picture on the big screen is so neat!  
As we made the final turn to go in a lady next to me was looking tired and started to walk and I encouragingly said to her, "We're really almost there -you can do it!"  After I had crossed the finish line she came up from behind me and said thank you.  We each snapped a picture of our finish line glory for each other!
I crossed the finish line in 1:56:47 which was under two hours and new PR!  Yay!  

After some pictures inside the stadium I went out to stretch and collect my medal.  They were given to us by members of the military which was great.  Solider Field was dedicated as a remembrance of those who have died in service of our country and the race was done on Memorial Day weekend - so this was such a nice touch.  

I thanked the soldier that placed my medal around my neck.  This was the tenth anniversary for the race so the medals were awesome!  

I grabbed my cute goodie bag that had Popchips, banana, and whole Clif bar inside and then made my way to the after party.  It was pretty chilly once I got out there so I didn't stay very long.  As I walked back to the train I started have a bad pain in my upper left leg.  It hurt to walk a bit.  I tried to go somewhere to eat, but everything was packed so I had the banana from the goodie bag and went back home.  Later that day after book club as I was walking home my leg started to hurt again and I started to limp.  It hurt to walk and climb the stairs.  I thought maybe I pulled a muscle so I took some pain medicine and iced it when I got home.  It was still bugging me the next few days and I was worried so I went to my sports doctor.  Thankfully it isn't anything too serious - I sprained my hip flexor.  She suggested I go back to physical therapy.  I have been good about cross training, but have not been keeping up with my hip strengthening exercises, so it's my own fault.  I'm just glad it wasn't anything worse.  I can still run I just have to be mindful of any pain.  So strengthen those hips people - they're important for running!  

Soldier Field 10 Mile is such an awesome race!  I like the course, the volunteers, the cause, the swag, and medal.  Running ten miles is fun distance too - a challenge, but doable with the right training.  If you want a good ten mile race, Soldier Field is the one to do!  
Have you ever run a race you really liked more than once?  Ever seen a race sign that made you laugh during a race?