Race: Soldier Field 10 Mile
Location: Chicago, IL
Well this last weekend I ventured down to the city of Chicago to complete my quest on to historic Soldier Field. If you had in you to run the course, them you received the privilege of completing the 10 miles on the 50 yard line. I went into the race not really sure what to expect. I had been keeping up my base mileage with runs between 5 and 8 miles since I finished the marathon.
Really I was hoping for my goal pace for my next half marathon. Sub 9 minute miles. That's all I was going to ask myself for. Keep in mind that my current PR for 13.1 is a 9:16 pace. I realized once we had bib assignments that I was in the corral that would pace at about 8:30. I don't know what I was thinking back when I signed up. I didn't doubt myself but I certainly wondered if I overshot myself.
Nonetheless I decided to hop into the assigned corral, near the back. I went out at a comfortable pace and realized I was running a 8:48 first mile. Around mile 4 I decided to start pushing the pace, which around mile 8 I regretted. I still finished the race in 1:28:11. 2 of those last couple miles were just over 9 minutes per mile. I stopped to suck down a Cliff Shot for one of those miles. The normal GPS was off and over measured the course by .1 miles. For those of you familiar with USATF official measuring guidelines are ware that this is completely normal. While your gps in the car will get you directly to your destination, it can't calculate exact distance traveled with pinpoint accuracy. USATF measurements go the shortest point to point turn route...most humans can't run that exact measured route. So I measure this race in compare to others, with the same margin of error. Still finishing with a 8:49 pace per mile, I was stoked.
The finish on the 50 yard-line took us through a back entrance to Soldier Field. Perhaps it's not possible logistically, but there really should be a grander entrance. I wasn't expecting to go through what looked like the players entrance...it really was kind of boring and left hardly any room for people to cheer. I totally missed myself on the big screen, I was too focused on running sub 1:30.
This was not the first time I've raced along the Chicago lake shore and bike path. The course is through an unfamiliar area to me, farther south than the Chi-Town Half but included some of the same route as the Hot Chocolate 15k which I bonked. It was incredibly flat, except for one larger hill which was a path overpass about half way through the course. If you do any light to moderate hill training, you'd be able to conquer that incline. I don't know what it is about races in Chicago, but they all seem to have awkward turnaround points and this was no exception. At the turnaround, there were plenty of volunteers letting us know to be careful and to make sure no one tripped. Nice job for that, seriously, if anyone tripped then they weren't paying any attention.
Most of the water stations were well staffed, and those which weren't all had pre-poured cups of water and Gatorade, so you could just grab one off the tables if you needed to. The last hydr action station was what seemed off the course. You had to veer quite a way off the course to get it. Not that it took me much of pace, but it was off the course.
There were a bunch of people out playing music, including a school band. Some people may not care too much about this, but I thought it was cool. About 7 miles in, there was a Cliff shot station. I did something I don't normally do, but was glad I did. I haven't ever used Cliff shots, but I didn't get the usual GI issues as I do with GU gels. For Chicago Marathon and Dopey Challenge training, I'll be giving these a shot.
Typical Chicago course, it's flat! Just check the elevation chart! Hill training definitely helped out on this one...
Lets start with the shirt. We got a Nike Dri-fit shirt, the color of "Chicago Bears Blue" with orange and white lettering on it. It was a pretty cool design, considering it was the 10th anniversary of a 10 mile race. Since it was Nike, fitting was normal. Since lots of race shirts use off-brand name items, sizing is very unpredictable. This was really nice! I've got a shirt I'll actually wear in training.
The medal is fabulous. It's nice and heavy, almost rivals the size and weight of my Illinois Marathon medal. It's the longest race I have to compare to, and it stacks up. It has a fabulous 3D design, a large roman numeral "X" on it's circle body with what look like sun rays coming out behind it.
The post-race bag was okay. I have to thank Doug and Elizabeth for picking up an extra bag. I'm not sure how I missed it inside Soldier Field. All I remember being in the bag were some coupons, PopChips, water and one other snack. Not an overwhelming success, they should find better advertisers and product samples for the post-race bag next year.
This is for sure a race I'll run again. Thanks to Fleet Feet and all the organizers for putting on a top-notch race! I was nervous about paying the race fee, but when you factor in the quality shirt, awesome medal, name on bib, free parking, great race management and beer & snacks, it's well worth the price.