30. Run the Soldier Field 10 Miler

I’m not sure why I’m so shocked that I can run 10 miles. Just this past January I ran 6 miles, and have continuously been running longer distances since then. But it’s true. I can run 10 miles. And I did it with the most memorable finish ever.

After the Shamrock Shuffle, one of my running buddy friends suggested that we run the Soldier Field 10 Miler. She said this was the first run she did a few years ago after taking a hiatus from running and it was the perfect run to get her back into it. Another friend of mine and I looked at each other and thought “what do we have to lose?”

So training began the week after the Shamrock Shuffle. And from the beginning I should have realized what a slacker I am. Haha..seriously, look at this training calendar:

Hal Higdon would be so disappointed.

Hal Higdon would be so disappointed.

The problem is that I had a brother, sister-in-law and nephew in town for a week in April. And then my sister in town for two separate weeks in May. So there went 3 weeks of training. The other weeks I have no excuse for, except that things were probably busy at work. Or there was something else to do that was clearly more important than this training.

The morning of the race, I woke up at 5am and got ready to go. Picked up my running buddy on the way downtown and headed to Soldier Field. We got to our corral around 7ish and waited to get moving. It was the perfect day for a run – 60’s with a nice breeze off the lake. Since we were literally the last corral, we had plenty of time to stretch and wake up a little bit before the run. (I’m used to running anywhere from 10am – 2pm, definitely NOT at 7am). Slowly, we moved towards the start line, where they had announcers getting everyone ready to go. Just before 8, we were off. We headed south, away from Soldier Field, under McCormick Place, then out onto Lake Shore drive, where we ran for about 4 miles before turning around and heading back north. Running down Lake Shore was the best because with 4 lanes open (they shut down this section of LSD), everyone had space to spread out and run comfortably. When we turned around, things got a little more crowded because we went from 4 lanes of highway to 2 lanes of a running path. I found myself running on the dirt or grass next to the path more than on the actual path.

*A rant, if you will allow me: what is it with people slowing down or walking in the center of the road/path? Isn’t it etiquette to move over so that you aren’t slowing down the runners behind you? These are probably the same people that drive slowly in the left lane. Ugh. Rant over.*

There were water/Gatorade stations throughout the course, and at Aid Station 4 (right before mile 7), I grabbed myself a drink. Now, I’m not sure what had happened post-drink – if it was because I was just really winded, or if it was because I wasn’t used to drinking during my longer runs – but drinking that gatorade gave me the worst side ache ever. I tried to breathe through it, but I realized quickly there would be no way for me to finish the race if I didn’t slow down. So from mile 7.5(ish) to about mile 9, we slowed down to a more comfortable pace.

But then, at mile 9, we were coming up the path towards Soldier Field. People were cheering for us and we realized we were almost done. And it felt oh so good to be almost done. So we picked up the pace. We ran around the east side of Soldier Field and into the stadium we went. Under the stands, through the loading dock, and at the end you could see the shining sun and the green grass. And that’s when we started to cruise. We couldn’t go fast enough (because my legs were falling off). And just like that, we were on the field. Running from the end zone towards the 50 yard line, hearing the fans cheer us on, and the announcer calling people’s names as we finished – this is definitely the way to finish a run.

On the other side of the finish line

On the other side of the finish line

Final pace of 10:52 (I blame Gatorade and miles 7-9 for that). I was disappointed with my pace because I thought I had been training closer to a 10 minute/mile pace, but was happy to have accomplished this. My running buddy looked at me after we were done and said “We are doing a half marathon. What’s another three miles?” My response? “Eff that”. (For now…)

Finishers!

Finishers!