Yeah, OK, so I’m a little behind on my blogging and now I have to backtrack. I guess I should throw up a quick entry on Soldier Field. Here’s how it all went down….
I have a friend who was planning on driving so I hitched a ride with her. It meant getting picked up at 5am, but in the grand scheme of things that’s not that much earlier than I usually get up to go running anyway. I ate a piece of peanut butter toast and had a big glass of water and managed the all-important PRP (pre-race poop). We parked with no problem in one of the Soldier Field garages and headed to the CES/Fleet Feet Racing Team compound where we could check our bags (I recently signed up for CES training and my buddy is a FF Racing Team member). I have to say that whatever you have to pay to access a VIP compound like this, it’s totally worth it. Tents to keep you dry or escape the sun, private gear check, tables & chairs to hang out around and best of all – a private bank of portapotties. I was wearing a pair of Roadrunner house-brand capris (they chafed me in a spot I have never chafed before and hope to never chafe again – I will retire these capris from anything longer than 4 miles in the future), and a short sleeved shirt from this year’s F3 Half-Marathon. I had originally thought I might wear a long sleeve because it was a little chilly, but at the last minute I grabbed a short sleeve shirt off the top of the pile and after looking at what most people were wearing I chose the short-sleeve and was happy I did.
I was supposed to be in either the blue or purple corral (so sue me – I don’t remember anymore) but I was enjoying hanging out in the fancy compound so much that I missed the closing time for my corral – oops. So I lined up in the orange corral by the 9:00/mile pacers. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise because I have a horrible tendency to bust out of the gate too fast and then lose steam later in the race. I hung with those two CES pacers like white on rice. Luckily I didn’t need a bathroom break and I was well hydrated enough to not need water during the race. The pacers were spot on for keeping within 5-10 seconds of a 9:00/mile pace and I was listening to my usual iPod mix of EDM, remixed pop hits and crappy techno to keep me going and with about a mile to go I sped up (marginally) and managed to finish about 45 seconds ahead of the pacers.
After the race I got my medal from a cutie army guy and then grabbed my conveniently pre-packaged food sack and headed out to the compound to grab my gear and look for my friend. CES was handing out food vouchers to their members and it bought me a delicious pulled pork sandwich and a salty bag of chips. I wandered around for awhile and bumped into loads of people I know before finding my friend. We hung around to watch Soul Asylum for a bit and left after they played Runaway Train. If I can sound like a crochety old college DJ for a moment, I remember back when Sould Asylum was a pretty decent sorta punky band. Sadly they did not play any of their older stuff despite a request from me on their Facebook page.
Here’s the ‘quicky’ recap:
Cost: I registered on the very first day that this race opened up so I honestly don’t remember. I know even than it wasn’t cheap and it only got more expensive the longer you waited. I know the cost scares off some people and there’s lots of bitching about how much it costs, but the permitting for this race must be a holy nightmare to organize. Between shutting down part of Lake Shore Drive, and negotiating with the Park District to use Soldier Field, and the cost of added security because of what happened in Boston, I think the cost is pretty justified.
Start Line: The corrals were very well policed and not too crowded. There was a wave start with a minute or two between each wave so although the elites started at 7am, my corral didn’t get going until 7:30.
The course: Not much deviation from years past – but because of the wave start it wasn’t too crowded. I don’t usually notice much when I’m racing and this was no exception. I pretty much kept my eyes fixed on the eyeball tattoos on the shoulders of the pacer and didn’t stop.
Post-Race: The party after the race was pretty nice. Good food offerings to buy and the runner refreshment bag had decent refuel food – banana, Clif Bar, etc. It was nice to see Soul Asylum too – they played all their hits and seemed pretty awake for rock stars up at 10am.
Swag: I heard some complaints about the women’s shirts, but I like mine. It’s not as long as some shirts but that means it won’t hug my hips. As I mentioned, the medal was super-nice. There was no picnic blanket as party of the swag this year – I think the blanket money went to Soul Asylum.