Race day started far too early. I got up at 4:30AM in order to meet my friend at 5:15. My body was in complete revolt as I had so little sleep during the week. The weather was chilly and dreary which didn't help. I was just cold, tired, and miserable to start the day. I couldn't even get my body to take in any liquids. Thi wasn't a good sign. We took the red line down to Roosevelt with many other runners and made our way to Soldier Field. Once there we made our way to gear check and spied the prize waiting for us at the finish line.
Lots of shiny medals
Waiting to start in the shadows of Soldier Field
Corrals begin to fill
Since I had PR'd just 6 days prior at the half marathon distance, the plan was to take it easier for the Soldier Field 10 miler. I had fully intended to run the race at around a 9:00 min/mile pace and treat it more like a fun training distance day. Once things got going, I did not stick to that plan. I referred to the race as a tale of 2 halves since things changed so drastically during the run.
Miles 1-5 Total Time: 45:57-
Our corral was held up for about 6 or 7 minutes after the corral before us to space us out. In the meantime we had a group sing a long to Sweet Caroline. Once that was over we were released. I started out the run pretty slow. I just was not feeling it. I was struggling to even run close to a 9:00 min/mile pace. I started making mental excuses on how I could quit the race. I made it to the first aid station and walked through it sipping on Gatorade. I told myself if I could keep doing this I would be ok. I also really had to use the restroom, but the line here was too long. I kept going and kept hoping for an aid station soon. It finally came just past the 3 mile mark. I was loosening up a little by now and took in more Gatorade. I used the port-o-let here and was much relieved. First time I've ever left the course to use a restroom. During the course of my slow running it felt like the faster runners from at least 2 corrals passed me by, and then when I left the rest room I saw a pace group and knew another group had passed me by. I was starting to feel re-invigorated though and started to pick up the pace. I was behind target pace, but starting to gain ground.
Miles 5-10 Total Time 39:51
Yes, you read that split correctly. The last 5 miles (6.5 really) were such a turnaround from the start of the race. It was like some switch flipped and I felt awesome again. I just started having fun with it all and letting my body just let loose. I wasn't even breathing hard, but I'm sure I had a big smile on my face. What's even crazier is the last half of the race featured a headwind and was a bit hillier than the first part, yet I didn't let that slow me down. I started passing runners left and right. Pretty soon I started seeing people I had started next to in my corral before the race. Then came the most unbelievable thing yet. I don't know if it was the adrenaline from approaching the stadium and knowing the finish was near or what, but I logged my 2nd sub 7 minute mile ever. I cruised into the stadium, fists raised and took it all in. It was an amazing finish to an amazing race.
That's a pretty cool finish line
I found someone to take my picture on the field
After the race I went to grab my gear and headed to the post race party. I knew my friend would be taking awhile, especially since her corral started nearly an hour after mine. I was ok with this since I was definitely feeling a runner's high. First I went to the stands to get a few more pictures.
Finish line view from stands
Finish line area
Entering the stadium and runners on jumbotron.
Once I left the stadium I made my way over to the post race tailgate and claimed my free beer. I parked myself near the stage and watched the awards ceremony. They had to delay the awards ceremony a little longer than most races because they printed out custom Bears jerseys for the men's and women's winners. That was pretty cool to see and a nice touch. After the awards were over there were some additional announcements and thanks given before Soul Asylum took the stage. They sounded just as good as they did 15 years ago. I was in my happy place with beer in hand, singing along and waiting for my friend.
The spoils of running.
I don't think Dave's hair has changed in 15 years.
I had got to listed to about 6 or 7 songs before my friend texted that she had finished. I tried to get her to bring me beer, but she was in pain from not having trained for a race this long. I met up with her near the beer tent and took her ticket since she doesn't drink beer. We talked about results, she PR'd and was excited that she ran more than planned. I finished the beer and she was sore so we left. I got to hear 3 of the 5 Soul Asylum songs I liked so I was happy. I also rarely drink anymore so a couple beers on an empty stomach and after running 10 miles wouldn't take long to hit me. I got home and had lunch before falling asleep. I was awoken from my nap by work calling with an emergency. At least they didn't spoil my awesome morning. I loved this race from the tribute to the soldiers to the finish on the 50 yard line to the post race tailgate party.