Sunday, May 26, 2013

Soldier Field 10 Mile Race Recap

My second go at back to back weekends of racing. My first time was in April with the Lakefront 10 Miler followed by the Nashville Half Marathon. I'm trying it the other way around this time with a half marathon being followed by a 10 miler.

I had the day off work on Friday so volunteered helping set up for the race at Soldier Field. I spent my day opening and shifting the boxes of medals and then unpacking said medals.

There were a lot of medals.

It was a little strange holding the race medal before the race

I also had a peek at the playing field as it was my first time there.
The plastic mats reduced the experience somewhat.

And after all that work I was tired so spent the rest of the day lying about and getting my legs prepped.
Compression sleeves and a wall. Get ready legs.

On a side note, I've seen quite a few people wearing these sleeves back to front. I'm not sure if they don't realise or if they're doing it on purpose. While I can't guarantee the science, it does sort of defeat the purpose of wearing them if you don't wear them the right way.

I have been trying out different running related things since moving to Chicago, with one of the them being signing up for Spring Training with Chicago Endurance Sports. The Soldier Field 10 Mile was the goal race for the training season which meant I got a few perks for the race.

Packet Pick Up:
Didn't have to do it - got race day pick up with CES.

Race Tshirt:
It's a Nike technical top and I like the design and colour. High likelihood of being worn.

Gear Check:
There was a CES area with gear check for the Spring Training members. I used this which was awesome because I could wear my jacket right up until the time I wanted to enter the start corral. No gear check line and I was super close the the start line.

It wasn't the nicest of days and there was a forecast of rain. Luckily that never eventuated and it was just overcast and cold. I felt terrible before the race and couldn't decide whether to go with a short sleeve or long sleeve top. In the end, with my stomach feeling decidedly off, I went with a long sleeve.

The race:
Getting to the start corral was a bit chaotic. I couldn't get into my corral so was hovering just outside. There were marshalls telling people to get into the corral but it was just too crowded. As they released groups from ahead of us, space opened up and I got into my starting area.

My wave was sent off to the sounds of Kickstart My Heart by Motley Crue - perfect race starter for me as I love me a bit of 80's hair band action.

I wanted to do this race as an experience, rather than a PR attempt, especially as I haven't been feeling that great when running recently. But I wasn't going just make it a walk in the park either.

As with any big race, the first mile was congested and that kept my pace down. We also had a stretch where we ran under the McCormick Center which restricted the flow. Mile 1 was my slowest for the race (actually a win after last weekend).

From there we ran along Lakeshore Drive until just short of Mile 5. One of my favourite parts of a big race is being able to run on the streets, so I enjoyed this. I had forgotten my music, which wasn't a big concern for me as I usually have it down so low I can't really hear it properly anyway (safety first!), but they had DJs and music playing a various places for a great pick me up and entertainment. The Lakeshore Drive stretch was visually fairly bland and I spent my time focussing on staying relaxed and running a solid first half of the race. Looking at my splits, it is very clear that I ran two races on Saturday - the first five miles and the second five miles.

Losing satellite reception under the McCormick Centre threw of the distances.
This ties in perfectly with my mental state during the race, as I really did just focus on the first five miles initially and only thought about the second five miles once I passed half way. Very useful learning for race strategy and pacing going forward.

The second half of the race came north along the Lakefront Trail. This provided a more scenic route but also tightened up the course and resulted in me having to run a bit of cross-country to maintain my pace.

Coming into Soldier Field to the finish line wasn't quite as exciting as I had hoped it would be. It was a novelty to do it and I'm glad that I can say I've had the experience. Maybe it's because I don't have a connection to American Football that it lacked the same excitement that I have got running into the MCG at home?

Finish time: 1:41:09. Solid effort and I'm very happy with the result on my overtrained legs.

Making my way to pick up post-run water, my finishers medal and food bag was tricky with people all over the place and no clear sightline to where I needed to be. I got through it in the end and headed back to the CES area to pick up my bag and put my jacket back on.

CES also provided a food voucher which meant I got a free burger after the race too. Not the world's best but putting something solid into my system is required to stop me from getting very sick.

This was a fun novelty race. It confirmed to me that I prefer the smaller races where I don't have to wait around for hours just to start the race and where I have some more room to move.

Probably wouldn't do it again next year as I've got my novelty factor done now but would definitely recommend it to anyone who was interested in participating.


  1. I ran the Soldier Field 10 a couple years ago, and as a life-long Chicago area resident and Bears fan, the finish was a little anti-climactic, so maybe it wasn't just you. Running into the stadium was exciting, but then you get on the field and it's like ... this is it? I was expecting more. Maybe some players or ... cheerleaders or something? Although I heard this year they had sailors giving out the finishers medal, which is a nice touch and I don't remember that from a couple years ago.

  2. I'm glad to hear it isn't just me feeling like I was missing something. I agree, it was nice to have the medals handed out by those in service.