32B's Blog

…where I write my words

2012 Soldier Field 10 Mile

This was my first time running this race. I usually try to sign up for different races since the Chicagoland area has plenty to choose from and I think it’s kinda boring to do the same race, same course, same thing every year.  Soldier Field was built to honor the men and women of the Armed Forces so it’s only fitting that their annual run in its 9th year annually takes place during Memorial Day weekend.  It was pretty easy getting to the stadium; I took the Fullerton bus at about 4:32am to the Redline which took me to Roosevelt.  It was about a mile walk to the Stadium….or maybe it just felt like it was a long walk.  But, there were other runners walking with me so I was in good company.

The weather was awesomely cool.  No sun, no heat, no humidity; all pluses for me!  It seemed to take forever to start the race and each corral got its own starting shout-out so instead of my Blue corral starting at 6:40am, my 4th corral of the Blue corral started about 7:15am.  While waiting, we felt drops of rain here and there and wondered if we’d get soaked way before the race even began.  Rain is still better than humidity any day so I didn’t care….just start the race, please!

My mile splits:

Mile 1 – 09:17

Mile 2 – 08:55

Mile 3 – 08:49

Mile 4 – 08:45

Mile 5 – 08:59

Mile 6 – 08:58

Mile 7 – 09:04

Mile 8 – 09:06

Mile 9 – 09:15

Mile 10 – 09:04

As you can see, I started off well for my 1st mile which is very hard to do because the crowd rushes forward and you so wanna go with them, the excitement has built, the adrenaline is flowing, and your legs are fresh!  I talk to myself more times during running than I ever do in regular everyday life.  “Slow down, D”, “Feel your pace”, “Run YOUR race”, “Settle into this speed”, “Let them pass”, “Breathing cool…thighs hurting…time still on pace. Maintain it”, “Don’t look down…look up the incline”, “Ride the downhill”, etc.  The hardest thing to do was find my pace, settle into it, and ignore the people who ran past me because I had to stay in my groove and finish my own race.  I knew I’d “die” if I went out too fast but I also didn’t know at what per mile pace I could sustain for the entire race before my legs felt like giving from under me.  Well, they wouldn’t give completely at first.  They’d slow down slowly but surely ignoring my brain telling them to pick it back up.  Then, my mile splits will increase instead of decreasing or remaining consistent.

Between mile 6 and 7, I sucked down a Gatorade Energy Gel I’d brought with me.  I’d never taken one during a race but my quads were tightening, my splits slowing, and I was nowhere near the 50 yd line of the finish.  I was honestly happy to use the gel because it’s kinda heavy so, hanging from my running belt, it was bouncing with each foot strike I took for the last 6 miles which is really really irritating.  But, I blocked it out of my mind and focused on what was more important…a consistent pace.  I ripped the top off the gel, placed it in my mouth for a small suck, pulled it back out, splashed some on my arm, put it back in my mouth, ignored the need to vomit (not at the taste of the gel), squeezed it all into my mouth mid-run still, and threw the empty pack on the ground.  I don’t think I felt the slightest difference until I officially reached the 7 mile marker which was maybe 800 meters later.  I didn’t stop not once during the race to get a cup of water or Gatorade from the aid stations.  I wanted to see what my body could do esp since this was the first time I’d run a complete 10 mile course without stopping for a traffic light, cars, or pedestrians.

Occasionally, I passed some people and then some people passed me.  The weather remained cool throughout but I was starting to feel the burn literally towards the end.  As you can see from my mile splits, I first mile time became my 9th mile time which means I got faster, peaked, and then slowed back to where I began.  Not sure how good that is but I definitely checked my breathing throughout….it was pretty strong and stable.  That tells me my cardiovascular system can handle a faster pace or push but my legs weren’t feeling it.  My legs, this time around, just weren’t up to par with my breathing.  On the last mile, the spectators and race staff were shouting about how close to the finish we are but I didn’t believe.  I knew we’d finish on the 50 so I wasn’t gonna push it until I was inside the stadium turf.  I got to the last 800 meters and you’d think I’d be overjoyed but my thighs were still burning.  The lady yelled out, “if you have any gas left now is the time to push it in”.  I should have listened to her because right around the next 2 corners was the finish line.  The most beautiful sight ever!  Before I knew it, I was on grass, I saw the “FINISH” banner in front of me, and I saw the huge screen inside the stadium showing us running in.  I even smiled, waved my hands overhead, and forgot all about the pain in the thighs.  Instantly, my body was feeling high….until I stopped running.  I crossed the time-sensor at the finish line, stopped my watch, and was still smiling when I felt my quads tighten and I said “owwww!”

Yayy, I’d finished and I’d finished in 1 hour and 30 minutes (unofficially) which is a PR for me so I had reason to be happy but I also wondered how much faster could I have gone.  I have another 10 mile race I might sign up for in July so we shall see.  This time though, I did a visually and physically painful walk tot he guy handing out water bottles, to the table with bags of after-race snacks, to the gear check to retrieve my running bag I’d brought with me, and to the blanket table to get my Soldier Field blanket which is blue.  Blue?!  Why not green, or, I don’t know…..navy and orange for the team’s colors!?!?!  I took 2 pictures which I’ve posted here and had some comments.  My cousin said, “that’s why you’re still skinny cause you run 10 miles in an hour!”  Was I supposed to be fat by the age of 31?  Thicke?  Curvy?  I feel like I didn’t meet some unspoken accepted standard for myself as I aged.  Others just wanna know how I can run for so long.  I don’t view the time or distance as a “long ass time” but as something I know my body responds well too.  If I am feeling slow, out-of-shape, or like I’m putting on the pounds around my midsection…then I go run.  When I run long I get better results.  I am not one for running fast contrary to most thoughts related to black runners.  I enjoy a slower pace that I can sustain for a longer period of time.  I love the discipline, the strength, and mental battles I face doing something most think is purely physical.  I run alone usually and enjoy it.  There’s camaraderie & encouragement with a running group but imagine the tenacity that is required to be your own coach, cheerleader, critic, etc.  I gain more than a good physical workout

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May 27, 2012 Posted by | Life | , , | Leave a comment