Friday, June 27, 2014

Solider Field 10 Miler

Pre-race with my running big brothers, Juan & Freddie
I've never been a huge fan of running with a tutu.  I love seeing how festive they look, but actually wearing one?  No thanks.  I've worn tutus with Abby to a couple of our 5k races but never for a longer distance race.  You can understand my hesitation when my friend Sam asked me to wear a tutu for the Soldier Field 10 Miler.  Seriously?  You want me to run 10 miles with a giant tutu swaying around me?  I decided to be a good sport and head over to the tulle party to make my masterpiece.  I didn't have a particular design in mind but ended up with a pretty princess tutu with wisps of pink and purple. 

Midwest Vikings in front of the flag

That morning as I made my trek to soldier field I was already regretting my choice to wear the damn thing.  The early morning stragglers just making it home from the bar looked at me like I was the one who was still drunk.  It was cumbersome and kind of itchy.  On the plus side, once I got to Soldier Field, my friends had no problem finding me in all my frilly glory.  I found my Midwest Vikings teammates to get a pre-race picture in front of the big flag (team tradition).  We all wished each other good luck then headed off to our respective corrals.  My friend Freddie and I are slow runners so we found our place in the back end of the corrals.  I was anxiously awaiting my tutu compatriots when just before we started moving towards the starting line they finally found us.  Now at least I didn't look like a complete fool by myself. 

The first few miles were nice and easy.  Umber took off while Sam and I kept a good pace a little further back.  Another friend of mine, Eddie, met up with us for a few miles but he had the need for speed so he also broke off to cruise ahead of us.  When we finally hit the turnaround I was noticing some significant pain in my right hip.  I slowed down and let Sam pass me to keep her speed going.  I struggled between limping and running as I made my way down the lakefront. 

post-race with the tutu crew, Sam & Umber
Early on we had picked out a couple that we decided we were racing.  Our goal was to not let them pass us.  At about the 8 mile mark I noticed them approaching out of my peripherals.  It's go time, I took off with gazelle speed (ok, maybe not that fast but I sure felt like a speed demon).  I knew I couldn't keep that stride going for much longer so I slowly eased back into my comfort zone.  It's go time.  Here's the point in a race where I become like a sniper.  I pick people out running ahead of me and pass them one by one.  In our Chicago Runners group we refer to this as "soul snatching" and keep a record of our kills.  I was on a high as I passed runner after runner.  When I hit mile 9 I realized that I only had 1 mile left and TONS of energy.  I'm used to holding onto those reserves to get me through the last 3.1 of a half marathon.  Time to really put in work.  I gradually broke back into my quicker pace as I neared Soldier Field. 

Even if you hate distance running, this part of the race is what makes it worth it.  Being able to run through the players corridor and onto the field is a truly surreal feeling.  If you had no energy left, this experience will pull that second wind out and push you to the finish line.  As soon as you finish you find yourself in the middle of Soldier Field (yes, the actual field) with a line of military personnel waiting with eager smiles to put that fancy medal around your neck.  This is another one of those tear filled moments as the importance of this moment sinks in.  Here you are during Memorial Day weekend, standing in a place dedicated to those who have fought for our freedom and coming face to face to say thank you as they congratulate your accomplishment.  It's beautiful and I don't think any other race can rival that moment.  So if you're afraid to run the 10 miles, don't be.  Get a training plan together and dig deep to find that inner gazelle just waiting to break out.

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