Wednesday, June 06, 2012

[I Finally Did The] Soldier Field 10

The Soldier Field 10 is the only race I've ever signed up for and not done. Twice.

The first time was 2007 when I was a distance newbie. I over trained and found myself with a hamstring injury that sidelined running for six weeks.

The following year I was out of town for a wedding.

Soldier Field seemed like bad luck for racing. That is, until this year.

Kim A. sent an email out over winter suggesting we sign up for the race before the registration price went up. Sounded like a good idea.

After a great Chicago Spring Half (time wise, not weather wise), the Soldier Field 10 seemed reasonable.

Kim, Karey and I headed south around 6am. We passed Roosevelt and saw traffic backed up on Lake Shore Drive. This was race traffic. We pulled a few classic Chicago driving moves to merge our way onto the 18th street ramp then over to the parking garage.

The parking garage was nearly full on the lower level when we pulled in. As we parked and headed up to the stadium, people parked in the remaining handicapped spots. These people were going to run 10 miles and they choose to park illegally in the closest parking spot? Doesn't seem right to me.

The Soldier Field 10 has a large field. I believe it's somewhere around 10,000 people. The field was divided into sections based on your bib number. The 1000's started first. Followed two minutes later by the 2000's and so on. This process, though it helped with congestion in the first few miles of the race, made for a long waiting process to start. Every few minutes with the start of a new group, a trumpet from Arlington Race Track did the infamous race start call. This got old. Fast.

By the time we crossed the start line, the race clock was closing in on 30 minutes.

Over excited to finally be running and with the wind at our backs, we went out at a more aggressive pace. A few miles in, we decided to pull it back.  The weather was overcast. Dark clouds rolled over us in a passing weather system. We hoped the rains would hold out.

The wind was in our face as we turned back north. Now I was feeling the affects of the faster pace. The wind seemed to take my breath away and I tried to get in a rhythm. As we came up on a water stop, Karey and Kim continued at their pace and I slowed down a bit. Actually, I slowed down a lot. Ok, I walked through the aide station.

And I walked through all the remaining ones as well, with the exception of the last one.

This is a humbling experience for sure. In racing, along with so many other things in life, you have good days and bad days. Sometimes you can equate your bad days to one or a series of actions. Other times you can't. As you get step by step closer to the finish line your mind can fill with these thoughts.

I had looked up my Perfect 10 mile time from last November before the race. I knew what overall pace I needed to maintain in order to tie 1:37. The first half of the race had me out ahead of that pace. if I could maintain my slower pace, but not loose too much ground, maybe it would still be within reach.

Once we reached the stretch of road leading in to the stadium I found that quicker pace again. We can't have far to go now.

After entering the stadium we ran in dark hallways until we saw light at the last turn. It had to be the stadium opening. And it was. Now just to sprint that last 50 yards to the finish. And done.

I catch my breath and look at the spectators in the stands. For a moment I soaked in what it must be like to be a Chicago Bear. I check my watch. It says 1:37.

We'll mark the Soldier Field 10 as a win today.

1 comment:

Pete B said...

Congrats on the finish. So far, I am 1 for 1 on paying for the SF10 and not running. I signed up early but had to sit this one out due to an injury.