This year I decided to change things up. After talking to my runner friend Mike (who I dated a little in the beginning of the year), I decided to do the Soldier Field run. He has done it the last several years (and runs it in about 1:10!!) and he loves it and others that have done it have always said good things.
The run starts outside of Soldier Field and runs South 5 miles and comes back to the stadium where you run through the tunnel the Bears players run through out onto the field and they show you on the jumbotron and you finish on the 50 yard line. I thought "Ok, sounds fine...I don't know what all the hubbub (technical term) is about."
I rode in with some of my Yankee Runner friends, Shelby and Curtis, on the Metra Electric train. The run started at 7:00 so we had to get on the train at about 5:30 am, which meant I had to get up at 4:20! Sometimes I wonder why I do this! I hate getting up early, but anything for a run, I guess! Shelby was having some stomach problems while we were on the train and really started panicking and not feeling well. We finally made it to the Stadium and I went to gear check and to use the bathroom while Shelby and Curtis tried to figure out Shelby's issues. I really felt bad for Shelby and she said she wasn't going to run. I was hoping she would change her mind (this was their first time doing this run also). When I finally met back up with Curtis in the start corral, he said that Shelby isn't running. I was hoping she would change her mind and end up running.
|Outside of the stadium before the run. (I stole this photo)...I was too worried about my friend to take any pictures.|
As with so many Chicago runs, we usually run North and there is a viaduct we run under where all garmins and GPS devices lose signal, in which case it screws everything up on your watch for the remainder of the run! I wasn't thinking this would happen since we were running South, but of course, right away we ran under the tunnel at McCormick Place and sure enough...we lose signal. Damn Chicago!! It doesn't matter to me since I was running easy but I still would like accurate results! I skipped the first water station at mile 1.5 and figured the second was around mile 3 and maybe I could just run there before walking. But after 2 miles, I was really struggling with my breathing and was trying to push through to mile 3. It's really frustrating for me to be having these problems with breathing because my body feels fine (after all those injuries). And I haven't had to walk this much during runs in years! Even when I was more overweight, I could run 6 miles without walking, or even more....running 9 miles at a half marathon before walking at a water stop).
I was trying to push through and not walk until the water stop at mile 3 until we came to a uphill around 2.5. I forgot to mention, the course is an out and back course...kind of. We go out but are running on Lakeshore Drive and on the way back, we are running on the Lakefront path. So since we were on Lakeshore Drive, we would sometimes have to run up the exit ramps and things like that. So when I came to that uphill exit ramp around mile 2.5, I decided to run up half of it and walk up the rest. And I stopped again to get water and gatorade at the mile 3 aid station. I was trying to make my walking breaks short, just enough to catch my breath and then start running.
I was actually running fast the first 3 miles. I was running about 9:30-9:50 and kept trying to slow up my pace. But with the walk breaks, I was running about a 10 min pace. Over the next several miles, I would try to run as long as possible but usually not more than 1 mile without having to walk for 20-30 seconds. By mile 6, I was running about a 10:10 average pace. I was kind of impressed with that since I was giving myself an expected finish pace of about 10:30 by the end. At this point, I was more than half done and was way below that. I then started to get a little competitive and thought maybe I could finish better than 10:30 (maybe even close to 10:15-10:18?). But I lost a lot of time between 6-7.5. And when we turned the corner to come back at mile 5 (running along grass uphill to make the turnaround), the wind really picked up since we were now right next to the lake.
I stopped at a water stop at mile 7 and had to stop again at 7.5. How frustrating this is becoming! By the way, check out the photo I took at the mile 7 water stop. I decided what's 30 seconds to stop and take a beautiful photo!
|Chicago is a beautiful city - sometimes you have to stop and admire the beauty!|
I knew Maggie from MagMileRunner was working the water station at mile 8.7. So after I walked at mile 7.5, I thought I just needed to get to Maggie. In my head I thought I would need to stop again at about 8.25 but when 8.25 came I just thought, "Maggie is close, I don't have to walk, just get to Maggie." That actually was my chant from mile 7.5 to mile 8.7... "Just get to Maggie! Just run to Maggie!" lol. It actually worked because even thought I was going to have to stop beforehand, I didn't. And when I saw Maggie at the aid station, I stopped to walk, grabbed my water and gatorade and then started running again. Thanks Maggie! I totally helped and we all appreciate you helping out!
Now it was mile 8.7. The finish is mile 10. I thought, "Just run to the finish." Even though in my mind again, I thought I might have to stop at mile 9.25. But in mile 9 I thought, I can run the last mile! I shouldn't have to walk. So I did. I just decided not to walk. I wasn't going to collapse. I knew I could finish. I even tried sprinting a little bit but I was having trouble breathing so decided to stop that!
Right around this time, I saw a camera guy and remembered that I said before..."The next time I run a race, I'm going to do a "Kelly" pose at the camera!" The Kelly pose (Kelly from Running Kellometers) is throwing your arms up in the air and smiling at the camera. I never do that. I hate all camera people while running because 9 times out of 10, I look miserable in the pictures. But hey, I said I was going to do it and dammit, I was going to do it! So throw up my hands, I did! I may not have smiled though, not sure. My Kelly pose needs practice. (See examples of the Kelly pose here).
And then we were running alongside the stadium. And still running along the stadium. Geez! Where were we going in at! Finally we turned the corner and inside we went (where of course we lost all signal on the garmin...again!). As we ran through and I saw the exit to the tunnel and ran onto the field, I looked around...ok, this was pretty cool! I saw the jumbotron. I saw all the seats in the stadium. I smiled for a minute. Oh, and of course, did my Kelly pose as I finished! I feel stupid doing the Kelly pose. lol.
I found Curtis and he said he had just finished too. Come to find out, he finished about 50 seconds before me. He ended up slower than normal because he did speedwork the day before. So I told him to do speedwork every time before a race so that I have a chance to beat him! He said we should have just run together and would have had more fun!
We got our medals and our football blankets and met up with Shelby. I had a fun time. Not sure if I will do this race again though. I may do it once more just to beat my time. Need to earn the PR! My official time was 1:44:48 with an average pace of 10:29. Wow! I came close! I wanted to finish under 10:30 and under a time of 1:45. Guess that was mission accomplished! My watch said 10:20 pace but with it losing signal twice, that makes sense.
|The medal. Pretty cool and definitely different from all the rest! |