Race Report: Soldier Field 10 Mile

Soldier Field 10 Mile ... done! #sf10
Yes, he is making a face

Yesterday, the Sailor and I ran the Soldier Field 10 Mile at … wait for it … Soldier Field in Chicago, IL. Home of the Chicago Bears, woot woot!

I had been looking forward to this race for awhile for two reasons:

  1. The finish was on the 50 yard line at Soldier Field. That is super awesome for any Chicago sports fan. 
  2. I haven’t done as well as I’ve liked in my only two longer-distance races, so I was really hoping the third time would be the charm. 

Let me back up. Last May, I ran my first race longer than a 5K, the Palos Half Marathon. It went well, but not as well as I had hoped. And I could blame no one but myself because I had one bad long run a few weeks before the race and slacked off on my training after that. Not smart.

Last November, I ran the Hot Chocolate 15K and around mile 4.5, my knee started hurting with a pain I’ve felt before while running, but unlike previous runs, the pain didn’t go away. So I had to walk the second half of the race. Major bummer.

I wanted to sign up for the Solider Field 10 Mile ever since the race last year, when one of my friends ran it. So earlier this year, I signed us up. And got down to training.

In the Navy!!Going into the race I felt great. My training went well, I didn’t have any bad runs, and I was using a foam roller on my IT band and doing wall sits to build knee/quad strength and never experienced any of that knee pain that I had felt before and during the 15K. I was pumped for this race.

Anyway, so, back to the actual race.

We got downtown around 6:30, surprisingly didn’t hit bad traffic (bad for Chicago – it’s a relative thing) and parked in a garage right next to Soldier Field. AND GET THIS CHICAGOANS – PARKING WAS FREE. I am not kidding. FREE. I was shocked. I was fully prepared to pay $20 or more for parking.

Anyway, we got to the starting area around 6:45 (race time was 7:30), got through the port-a-john lines, and lined up in our corral around the 11min pace sign shortly after 7:00am. I had been running around 10:30-10:45 pace for my long runs leading into the race.

The weather was perfect for running. Overcast, mid-50s. It was really humid, and there was a cool breeze, so pre-race I was chilly, but I knew once I started running I would feel fine. I’m glad I didn’t wear pants or a jacket like many other racers. I had a garbage bag rolled-up in my super awesome flat fanny pack, but I never used it (as a “jacket”). 

There was a short pre-race ceremony (it’s no coincidence that a race at Soldier Field was held Memorial Day weekend). I felt super proud to be lined up next to my husband, who was wearing his Navy PT (physical training) gear. (Which is just navy blue shorts, yellow t-shirt and navy blue sweatshirt, all covered in “NAVY” or the Navy seal, as you can see from the photos.) The race started at 7:30am, and since we were in Open Corral 2, we crossed the start line around 7:59am.

Running races with my husband is a good strategy for me. I’m usually so cautious about starting off too fast, that I start off kind of slow and stay slow. He, however, has been through boot camp, and tackles every workout like he still has an RDC (that’s Navy for drill sergeant) yelling at him. And I try to keep up with him. We bobbed and weaved through the crowd and my running app was telling me our pace was around 9:55. However we both felt the call of nature and decided to give in at the water/etc station around mile 3, and lost around 3-4 minutes waiting in line. BUT felt a lot better afterward, so we probably would have lost that time anyway due to full bladders.

After that we kept up our pace more or less together, but around mile 7, we split up and I was ahead of him. He told me before the race that I can go on my own pace and not wait for him, so I went with it. I was feeling really great, I was on pace to finish around 1:45-1:50. When I hit mile 8, I still felt great and kept weaving around people. Around mile 9, I felt even better and picked up my pace. Sometime between mile 9 and the end I caught back up with the 1:50 pacer. (We started pretty close to her, probably passed her before our pit stop and I assume she passed us while we were in line.)

The course runs back through the start corrals (on the east side of Soldier Field) before going into the stadium, and eventually out onto the field. I was picking up the pace even more at this point and passing people. I felt so good knowing that I had run 10 miles and sure my pace was slower than most, but I felt great. I crossed the finish line on the 50 yard line, looking up at the jumbo-tron and I was done! I had just run 10 miles and it honestly felt good. I was truly becoming one of those sick people who enjoys running. My chip time was 1:48:42, a 10:53 pace.

Sailor down #sf10 #ffcheer
The Sailor on his stadium blanket

The Sailor finished about 2 minutes behind me (1:50:40), and we got our water and left the field for the concourse area to get our bananas and medals, get out official picture taken and then get our stadium blankets.

Me: 1:48:42, 10:53 pace
Overall: 9,220 / 12,313
AG: 1,264 / 1,747

The Sailor: 1:50:40, 11:04 pace
Overall: 9,640 / 12,313
AG: 1,054 / 1,172

So … this might get a little sappy, but I don’t care. Lately I’ve been thinking about my Uncle Tom when I run. He was my mom’s brother, and he passed away on June 8, 2003, after a battle with cancer. He was also a runner, and I didn’t know that until after he died, and my mom and her siblings were going through his things and found all of his race bibs and race photos. So now when I run, I think about my uncle, and think of him like my “running angel.” My parents and brothers aren’t runners, really this is something I’ve picked up on my own (with tons of encouragement and advice from my best friend Vera [who ran the Comrades Ultra Marathon today!] and other friends/cousins who are runners, and also with The Sailor – he was never a runner either). It’s just kind of nice to know that running is something my uncle and I have in common, even if we never got to run together. Also he was a career soldier, serving in the Army, and was buried in his uniform at a national cemetery, so patriotic holidays make me think of him as well.

AND on that patriotic note, The Sailor and I are thinking about running a race at Great Lakes Naval Station on 9/11/11. Hopefully that won’t be my next race – there are quite a few I’m looking at running before then.

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