Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Race recap - Soldier Field 10 Mile

For those who don't know, the Soldier Field 10 miler is the race that I've been worrying about over the last few weeks.  My training topped about at 8 miles two weeks before and I missed my 9 mile training run so I was pretty down and a bit worried.  I ran a nice 10k the Sunday before which boosted my spirits but I was still worried.

The Soldier Field 10 is an iconic Chicago race in it's eleventh year.  Held on Memorial Day weekend, you run 10 miles and finish on the 50 yard line of Soldier Field.  You are then awarded a medal by a service member.  How awesome is that?!

Packet Pick Up
The expected race turnout this year was roughly 14,000 people so Fleet Feet had a five day packet pick up option at their Old Town location.  We were actually directed out of Fleet Feet and into the Piper's Alley mall as they separated the sections to reduce traffic.

There was a slight delay with the bib searching system (some people's confirmations didn't have their bib numbers included so you had to look it up on a laptop) but everyone was being as helpful as possible.  But besides that minor delay, packet pickup was very smooth.  I had to exchange my shirt for a size bigger because they ran very small this year but that was very easy as well.

As in traditional Fleet Feet fashion, the packet didn't include much:  shirt, bib, safety pins, gear check tie and an athlete guide (which was super helpful).

The Race

The weather forecast called for a beautiful sunny day with no clouds and a starting temp of 55.  Realizing my mistake with last Sunday's race (my t-shirt and long tights were way too hot), I wore a sleeveless tank and capris and prepared myself for the "standing in one spot" chill.  Many stories were shared and those who served were asked to raise their hands.  The energy from the crowd was awesome.

The corrals were marked not only by number but by color (elite, purple, blue, orange and green) and moved quite quickly.  The elite runners started right at 7:00am and my corral got out around 7:45.  The race started outside the southern end of a Soldier Field, went south onto a car-free Lakeshore Drive, turned at Hyde Park, north along the lake and finally into Soldier Field, through the players tunnel entrance and onto the field.  

I started out a little fast for me (11:30) and pulled back the reigns to 12:00 for fear that I would plop out around miles 6-8.  I certainly didn't plop out but really struggled through mile 8; I really needed to pee and was reminded of my terrible port-o-let experience from this past Sunday's race.  However, I came to terms that my last two miles would be painful if I didn't go so at the final aid station, I ran over to a port and was so pleasantly surprised to see that it was CLEAN.  I quickly ran out, grabbed some more Gatorade and continued on at the rate of a shuffle.

Once I saw the marker for mile 9 and could hear the cheering in the distance, my legs founds themselves again and I began picking up my pace.  We entered through one of the side gates and shot out onto Soldier Field where I found myself on the jumbotron screen!  And suddenly, I was done!

I'm the little pink shirted arm person!

Post Race
I quickly snapped a picture of myself on the field and moved on to allow room for other runners.  I was awarded my medal and a bottle of a water.  I even found John in the stands!  After winding out of the tunnel, we were given more Gatorade and our runner refresh bag, which is an awesome resusable a Soldier Field bag filled with water, a banana, pretzels, fruit chews and a Clif bar.

After making it outside and reuniting with John, I grabbed a bag of ice which was great for cooling down and icing joints.  I didn't make it over to the tail gate party because I wasn't drinking and really wanted some real food, so off we went.

All in all, this was a fantastic race.  Super clear, well marked, awesome volunteers and a unique finish on Soldier Field.  Fleet Feet consistently puts in a good race and I felt so honored to have taken part of this meaningful race during Memorial Day weekend.  Definitely one I would do again and one to add to your bucket list!

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