Saturday I ran another race... This time it was the Soldier Field 10 mile. I last raced this in 2008 (report here) and there have been some improvements since then. Which is good because the event has grown even larger. I know it wasn't smart to "race" 13 days after finishing up a marathon but I kind of signed up on a whim. Some friends of ours were running and I'm a sucker for races I know people running. Plus, I saw an e-mail saying there were only 50 spots left open while I was sitting in the Springfield, MO airport 2 months ago. When I got that e-mail I realized I wanted to try and run it again.
Race morning started off early. I had traveled the previous two days for work so I didn't get much sleep the few days prior to Saturday. Never a good way to start. My race sherpa (my husband) and I got out the door with 1 hr and 10 minutes until start time. We drove since Soldier Field isn't easy to get to by train. Also, we were making a day of it! After sitting in the parking lot for nearly an hour in 2008 we got smart and planned a tailgate party with our friends. Of course we weren't the only ones driving but figured that early in the morning it is only a 10 - 15 drive and the line getting into the lots shouldn't be too bad. Ummmm, yea right! The line to get into the lots was horrible! By the time we made it to the lot and then walked up to the stadium I had 20 minutes until race start and I had to pee. After spending 26.2 miles holding 2 weeks earlier it I wasn't about to do that again for this race!
Because this race was at a major stadium there weren't a lot of port-o-potties since they had real bathrooms inside to use. I didn't have time to go through the 1 open door find the real bathrooms and get back to the start. I guess I also didn't have enough time to stand in line for the port-o-potties because the lines weren't moving. I literally jumped out the p-o-p and climbed over and through barricades as the gun for my coral went off. I was going to jump in with the other corral but wanted to make it for mine since it took off 4 minutes before and had WAY fewer people. Luckily the corral police were kind enough to let me past as my group was going by. I have never ever been that last minute for a start!
My game plan was to take it easy the first 5 and push it the last 5. I wasn't looking for a PR and wasn't sure how I would be feeling. Well my plan went to crap. I started off the first mile right where I wanted to be and was feeling okay. I was tired and my stomach started to act up again. This stomach thing has become a pain my last few races. I wish I knew what it was. After mile 1, I instinctively picked it up too soon at mile 2. Race morning started off a comfortable morning that turned hot fast! After running under McCormick place the first mile there was little shade on Lakeshore drive on this out and back course. I started to melt even but still maintained a decent pace. In between miles 3-4 we saw the elites on the back portion of the course. The winner (from Illinois) won for the 3rd year in a row and maintained a 5:05 pace. Side note: Ryan Hall came in 12th. Though I wish I could have seen him on the course. Anyway, I still thought I would be able to pick it up on the back half of the course. Then I hit the turnaround, walked through the next water station, and didn't want anything to do with racing anymore.
The last 4 miles were kind of survival miles for me. I was burnout on running, hot, and tired. Not very good excuses I know but just how I was feeling on Saturday. The back portion of the course was on the lakefront path south of where I normally run so it was nice to run that portion. Plus always cool to finish up on the Bears 50 yard line (even though they rush you off the field quickly after crossing the finish line) after running through the tunnel the Bears run out of for every game.
I finished in about 1:32 which equates to a 9:13 average. Way off of any sort of PR but still a respectable time for how I was feeling.
While waiting for our friend to finish announcements were made that the race had been canceled 2 hours into the morning due to extreme conditions. Racers on the course were directed to walk to the finish. Our friend finished running as did everyone else around him. When I headed to the car people were still running on the course too. It was a hot day (in the upper 70's) sure but I thought it was a bit much to "cancel" the race when it was nearly over. I am sure they were just being careful and I hope all the people who finished have official results.
Overall, the course is decent enough and I would recommend the race to anyone who loves Chicago, the Bears, or visiting different stadiums. Fleet Feet Chicago does a great job organizing such a huge race. The water stops were plentiful and well supported. There are not a lot of fans along the course because they are all waiting for you in Soldier Field! I like that they have a corralled start and it's good that it goes up to those running a 9 minute pace. The race in 08 seemed overcrowded and while this year it was crowded I didn't feel suffocated like I did previously.