This is the second time I've run the Soldier Field race and I hope to run it many more times. I originally signed up with a goal to beat last year's time but when my buddy Carolyn signed up, I decided to tackle it with her as it was her first double digit run. Go Carolyn!!!
Packet Pick Up
Fleet Feet is awesome with their packet pick up process and this was no different. Due to the large volume of runners, bibs were picked up in the lobby area of Piper's Alley and shirts were picked up in the normal holding room.
I really like the shirts this year and the fact that they actually fit relative to size was a huge relief (last year's shirts caused quite a stir). They also had an immediate shirt exchange available, pending sizes that were swapped in.
Being Carolyn's first endurance race, I wanted to take her out for a traditional "carbo-loading" dinner. We went to Olive Garden. So trashy yet so good. Mmmmm....
We went down to the stadium separately and I didn't find her until she dropped off her stuff at gear check. The reason for the separation was that I organized a group of her friends and family to come down to the stadium separately and I wanted to make it as much of a surprise as possible! So I drove a number of her cheerleaders down to the race and got them situated on the course.
Getting pumped up!
We were in different corrals but I jumped back a few so we could do the race together. The announcements about our servicemen and women was touching and hearing "Taps" beautifully played on the trumpet made everything absolutely perfect.
There are several corrals for this race so naturally, we had to play the waiting game. But our corral was soon up and off we went! About a quarter mile after the start line, the cheer team was spotted and Carolyn saw them for the first time! I unfortunately did not have my phone in hand and didn't get any pictures of them. :(
The weather was pretty perfect, though I knew it would get a little to warm towards the end. The race started at 60 without a cloud in the sky.
So close yet so far! But really, much closer!
But really..still far
We quickly found ourselves at the 5 mile turn around and the intervals were very strong. Things started to tank a little around 6.5 and the walk intervals became longer as the temps continued to climb. The skyline in the distance was beautiful to look at but was definitely a "is the glass half full or empty" reminder. So close yet still not quite there!
After a few more mantras and aid stations, we were at the backside of McCormick Place (where cheer team #2 was) and quickly approached the stadium.
The finish line was so close! You could hear the cheering in the distance and I knew we were about to turn into the player's tunnel, which was truly the final stretch. Out onto the field we went and poof - we crossed the finish line!
Medals were awarded to us by servicemen and women and it was a great way of thanking someone personally for their sacrifice. We meandered through the chute, collecting our gear and snack bags, before making it back outside of the stadium to reunite with friends and family. Congrats, Carolyn! I'm so proud of you!!!
The fabulous cheer team!
My only issue with the race was that the screen is being replaced and therefore was not on to capture the runners at the finish. A minor thing to me, really, but I know it is a unique and cool perk, especially for those doing the race for the first time.
Time to go off to St. Louis to see the hubby and try out my first trail run!
Did you hear? I'm running this year's Chicago Marathon on behalf of the American Cancer Society! I am more than halfway to my fundraising goal so click here to read about why I am running and donate on my behalf!