A story of going from being a non-runner to planning for a marathon in three years...

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Soldier Field 10 Mile Race Report

Last year I ran this race with my friend Holly who flew in from California for a little taste of Chicago racing. This year I didn't have anyone running with me directly but there were quite a few OPRC people doing the race.

I didn't have any big goals for this race, but, as usual, I secretly hoped I could PR. If I couldn't PR, I just wanted to be able to hold a 9 minute pace. Should be simple enough. I'd run a 1:26:40 at the CARA Lakefront 10 Mile back in April and that felt pretty good.

I should have know, though, that my heart wasn't in it when we arrived at the race and I was just generally irritated at all the people. Crowds to find gear check. Crowds for the port-a-potties. Crowds to get into the corrals. I'd already had my fill of crowds at races for the week. I also couldn't find the desire to battle the crowds and try to find a spot to do a 1 mile warm up. So, I skipped it.

My shin was still bothering me some and I hoped it would behave itself during the race. I lined up in my corral near the 9:00 minute pacer and hoped for the best.

My calves felt tight during the first mile, but I tried to enjoy a marching band's version of "Tequila" and settle into an easy pace. I finished the first mile in 8:44. Hmm. Pretty good. Maybe a little fast?

Definitely too fast. Or something. I'm not sure. The air temperature wasn't too warm but the humidity was super high. When we hit the turn around near mile 5 and should have been able to see the city skyline it was covered in clouds. I could feel the sweat rolling down my face but not really evaporating. And I could feel my pace start to drop. When I saw the Garmin flash 9:15 at the end of mile 7 I almost felt like giving up. I had been barely hanging onto the pace I ran at the Lakefront 10 and seeing my mile times creep up and up just put the nail in the coffin.

I admit. I gave up mentally. I just couldn't push myself. Until I saw Coach Holly near mile 9 and Helen just outside Soldier Field. I managed to speed it up for the final mile. Still, I was fighting off tears of exhaustion and frustration the entire time.

As I turned onto the football field I caught up with a guy who I had seen struggling out on the course. We'd leap-frogged each other a few times. "Come on!" I shouted. "Let's do this!" I crossed the finish line at the 50 yard mark of Soldier Field and remembered to look for myself on the jumbo-tron.

And then it was back to the crowds. I was so out of it I stood in the wrong gear check line for what felt like an eternity. Then I had to find my group's meeting spot. After asking several people I finally found my friends. "How'd you do??" they asked. I just shook my head. And then burst into tears. Coach Holly let me cry on her shoulder for a minute and then told me what she told me at the end of the Race That's Good for Life: "You have one hour to be upset."

Truth be told, I'm still not totally happy with my official finish time of 1:29:25 but I know how stupid that sounds. Why?

1. I PR'ed at the Chase Corporate Challenge two days earlier.
2. I still held an average sub-9:00 pace for the race. This time last year I was happy to hold a 10 minute pace for a double digit run.
3. If I couldn't PR then I said I wanted to do a 9 minute pace and essentially I did.

This wasn't the smartest race I've ever run and it wasn't the most fun race I've ever done, but I really do love meeting up with the OPRC group post-race, talking about our results, and sharing stories over impromptu brunches. This girl loves her post-race pancakes.

Soldier Field 10 Mile Race by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details