Monday, May 28, 2012

2012 Soldier Field 10 Mile Race Recap

Saturday, I had the pleasure of running the Fleet Feet Soldier Field 10 Mile race here in Chicago. I was really looking forward to running this course since it was this time last year I was diagnosed with my stress fracture, just two days before the 2011 Soldier Field 10 Mile. The other reason being I’m working on solidifying my A corral for all the upcoming Disney races (I should already be good, but have time to improve my standing).

Overall, the race was very professional and well done, and while being a die-hard Buccaneers fan, running on the Soldier Field grass was kind of amazing. Also, I was super impressed with Fleet Feet’s social media team, they were on the ball all weekend with updates and personal Facebook replies. They are a top-notch organization. Kudos, Fleet Feet Chicago!

The week leading up to the race certainly wasn’t without drama. The weather forecast looked to be in the high 80’s, which would be murder, and then changed to severe thunderstorms to happen right as we were to step off. Therefore, the EAS warning watch was set to YELLOW (best to keep your wits about you as anything could happen).

Saturday morning, I was up at 4a (my corral started at 7a and Devin’s 7:30a).  We had to get to Soldier Field and while we live in the city, it’s a tough journey to get to there through public transportation, so we were going to have to cab it. I was nervous remembering how we almost missed the Hot Chocolate race in November due to the jack hole cabbies that wouldn’t pick us up as they knew they could get larger fares farther north.

Luckily, we caught a cab without much issue and got to Soldier Field with time to spare. The sky looked a thick grey and ominous, but I knew we’d be okay as I checked the weather before leaving and the storm was going to skirt us by about 10 miles (looking north looked like a hurricane as the sky was black). The air was damp and cool, perfect for running, but the wind was howling making it feel colder.

My corral closed at 6:40a, while my wife was in a later one giving her more time to settle in. I wished her luck and headed over to my area. The runners around me looked like they just got off the Olympic Trials bus, so I just closed my eyes and visualized the racecourse and went over my strategy (which really was anything under 1:24:00). The course was to take us south to Hyde Park and then back to Soldier Field where we would finish on the 50 yard line.

After some well-done Memorial Day fanfare (and the announcement the EAS warning had been downgraded to GREEN (all clear)), the elites set off and we moved into the chute just as one or two rain drops started, but quickly dissipated. The horn went off and we headed on our way.

As expected, some runners quickly gobbled me up, but I just moved over to the right and kept to my race strategy. Oddly enough, later in the race I was able to pick off most of them, which felt great. The first 4.5 miles were all tail wind so I could just set my legs on cruise control let the wind do all the work which really helped me conserve energy for the back half which would be all headwind on a path right next to the lake.

The race put us on Lake Shore Drive, supplying us runners ample room to run our own race. However there was still a lane for car traffic, which always makes me nervous. All it takes is one idiot on a cell phone and serious damage could happen to me, my wife, or any other racer.

Making the turn at mile 4.5, I could immediately feel the headwind which must have been about 20-25 mph and made me feel like I was standing still. I popped a Tri-Berry GU gel, took some Gatorade at the 5 Mile water stop and then tucked in close behind a runner who was taller than me to draft for a while. I never really believed runners could “draft” off of a single runner, but I could really feel it working so mental note for next windy race. I rode that guy’s coattails until about Mile 7 where he started to fall back and I shot by him Ricky Bobby-style (“Shake and Bake!”).  Mile 8 was such a tease in that you could see McCormick Place, which seemed so close, but it really wasn’t. Plus, by this time I was so close to the lake the whitecaps were spraying me (it was that windy). I knew that if I could keep this pace until Mile 9 adrenaline would take me the rest of the way.

As anticipated, at Mile 9 I felt that warm bubble of energy know as the “runner’s high” and picked up the pace as I neared Soldier Field. Upon getting to the stadium we turned left into the player’s parking lot and then into the bowels of the stadium. Turning left, through a tunnel of light and boom, we were on the field! To be honest, I can’t remember the finish only that my final kick was what I am calling “the stuff of legend”. My legs took off like Usain Bolt and I jammed past about 60 people who appeared to be just standing still, it was awesome! Passing the Finish Line, I checked my Garmin, 1:20:50! I had just PR’d by over 5 minutes from my previous 10 Mile race and also killed my 10k time! Although excited to PR, at the same time I felt like I didn’t leave it all on the course, but there’s always next time. 




The Finish Line


BOOM!


I picked up my Soldier Field medal (kinda meh, but then Disney medals kinda blow all others out of the water) and branded blanket and headed into the stands to wait for my wife.

My wife did a great job too! This wasn’t a PR for her, but she had not been feeling well and put in a solid effort.

Overall, this was a tremendous and well-executed race, both by Fleet Feet and myself. The course layout was fast and relatively flat, allowing for some serious running. Again, hat’s off to Fleet Feet, they really have their act together when putting on a race. I can’t wait for next year’s!

Official Time: 1:20:36
Overall Place: 1,623 (12,845)
Gender Place: 1,234 (5,526)
Age Place: 208 (1,012)


***NOTE*** I wanted to call out that some of my loyal readers are not runners and keep asking when I am going to be putting up a Disney Parks related post (that’s not running). Therefore, in the near future I will be launching a blog specific to running (both Disney & non), while keeping All Things WDW specific for Parks posts. Stay tuned!

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