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First, the headlines:

1: Finished the race with my “B” goal time. Had a blast.

2. I adore an organized race, and I’m not sure I’ve been to one that was more organized. A+++, Soldier Field 10-miler.

3. I don’t know how you Chicago people run on concrete all the time. By mile three I was like: Image

And they still are! Your running surfaces may be flat, but man they beat up my legs. Last year I got shin splints after being here for two weeks and running a lot. Imma have to find some trails to run.

Back to the race:

My sister, brother-in-law and I went into the city Friday afternoon. We hit packet pickup at Fleet Feet. This was a pain to get to, and not worth the trip–will have packet mailed if we do this race again.

We ate an early dinner at the Lincoln Park Whole Foods. I know, I know, we’re in an awesome food city and ate at WF. But! This store has awesome smoked meats and tons of vegetables, so it’s a very safe pre-race choice, as opposed to eating, say, Chicago-style pizza or a hot dog. I had smoked chicken and a baked potato with broccoli. Delicious. We also got our breakfast goodies. Oh, and some fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies because I like to have a simple dessert before a race. It’s the little things, right?

Baked Potato. With Broccoli. And BACON.

Baked Potato. With Broccoli. And BACON.

Made a quick trip to Niketown.

Made a quick trip to Niketown.

 

We went back to the hotel and got to bed about 8:30 and got up at 4:30. If this isn’t your race-day alarm ring tone, well, I don’t know what’s wrong with you:

I got dressed and went down to check the weather. It was pretty perfect–about 48 degrees or so. I grabbed coffee for my BIL and me and headed back up. We finished getting ready (breakfast: Cherry Limeade Nuun, miniature whole wheat bagel, and honey roasted peanut butter) and headed to the race at 5:40. We wanted to be in the garage at Soldier Field by 6 AM because I figured there’d be a rush about then. Parking was organized, and there were portapotties in the parking garage. Genius. In fact, everything was so organized that we had some time to kill. Goofy pictures in front of Soldier Field? Check. Another portapotty trip? Check. Try to find friends who apparently hadn’t arrived yet, eat a banana, shiver in the cold? Check, check, check.

Goofiness.

Goofiness.

Finally it was nearing 6:45 and time for me to be in my corral. I said goodbye to Lesley and Clay and got in place. There was a really lovely pre-race ceremony that included a lot of thankfulness for the soldiers that have sacrificed everything for our country, and a beautiful rendition of Taps. I hadn’t made the Memorial Day weekend/Soldier Field connection before then–duh, Lindsay. I’m sure what was happening on stage was very touching; it was touching even where I was, where I could only hear what was going on.

Soon enough the race had started and we were moving toward the start. I was in corral 7 and we crossed the start around 7:20. They do a really nice job of keeping the runners spaced. There’s plenty of room on the south-bound part of the course, but coming back north, on the trail, there’s not as much room, but it was never crowded.

In the first mile, it was still hard to maneuver, and there is a good long portion where you are running underneath McCormick Place. Here, it is dark and you really need to concentrate on not losing your footing because the road is not perfect. I lost satellite reception, but knew my clock was still running, so I didn’t stress out. But if you run this in the future–update your software. My sister has an older Garmin and she never updates the software, and even her clock didn’t work under there–her actual chip time was a full 4 minutes slower than her Garmin time because her Garmin basically shut off in the tunnel.

We got out of the tunnel and I found a bunny to pace off of. We were maintaining a pretty even 8:40 pace for miles 2-4 and she stayed just ahead of me. I’d lose her and find her again, and while I knew I might not be able to maintain the pace when we headed north and into the wind, this was no an un-do-able pace, either. This was the point at which my shins started to hurt, and I spent some time being surprised at how quickly that had happened.

So, here’s the stupid-ish thing I did for this race. I didn’t even think about race nutrition until the day before, and I grabbed some Jelly Belly Sport Beans I’d gotten at the factory in Kenosha earlier this month. I’ve never used Sport Beans before. But I knew they’d at least keep my blood sugar from dipping, and they probably wouldn’t give me any GI issues I couldn’t run through. And they did just what I predicted: blood sugar stayed up, and my stomach was a mess. I have a new theory: my stomach doesn’t like things with added vitamins in them. When I trained for Myrtle Beach, with the Trader Joe’s stroopwaffels, which are literally just little cookies, I was fine. But when you start throwing gels, shots, blocks, beans in there that have vitamins, my stomach rebels. My stomach doesn’t like regular vitamins that I take without food, and it sure doesn’t seem to like them when I’m running. But again, nothing I couldn’t run through, so onward we went.

I found my pacer bunny at the aid station near mile 7. She had 2 cups of water in her hand, and some Gatorade. I never saw her again, so I’m not sure if she petered out or what. It was definitely harder running into the wind in the second half, but not terrible. And there was the skyline to look at. Just after that, there was the only real hill on the course, and so the Alexi Pappas in my head said “You know this hill!” and I attacked it.

At mile 8.5 I was in the mood to be done, so I started picking people to take down. Matchy-matchy Lululemon outfit? You’re gone! Fishtail braid girl? Goodbye! Other fishtail-braid girl? Later! I finally came on a young woman with a ponytail, and passed her. Then she passed me. Then we finally ran side-by-side as we came into the final stretch beside Soldier Field. We went through the tunnel and when we came out on the field, I waved her on, and we both sped up and crossed the line. I also totally forgot to look for myself on the Jumbotron. Oh, well.

I got my medal, my food, and found Clay. He had my bag with a change of clothes so I got warm(er) and we waited for Lesley to come in. We used the Find My Friends app on our phones to track Lesley–this is a great tool if you are tracking someone at a race. We made a lot of noise for her when she came in, and then collected her, too.

Getting our medals.

Getting our medals.

Clockwise from left: Medal, the field, Lesley and me, the finish.

Clockwise from left: Medal, the field, Lesley and me, the finish.

Afterward, I got to see Jenny and Chrisy, who are the ones who hooked me up with my Ragnar Chicago team last year, and we also went to a little after-party with our actual teammates.

With Chrisy and Jenny.

With Chrisy and Jenny.

Not a Chicago dog, but really delicious after a race.

Not a Chicago dog, but really delicious after a race.

 

Can’t say enough good things about this race. Very organized, and lots of fun. I also like the 10-mile distance a lot. For the record, my A goal, back when I was hopeful for a flawless training schedule, was 1:25, my B goal was 1:30 and my “Hey, my foot hurts” C Goal was 1:35. My official time was 1:29:47, so I’m fine with that. It was a solid training run for Ragnar Chicago, my foot didn’t hurt (!!!!!), and it was a good reminder that I need to baby my shins while I’m here.

Thanks, Chicago!

Shin therapy.

Shin therapy.

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