Monday, May 27, 2013

"Local Celebrity:" Soldier Field 10mile recap

I got my first job weeks after turning 16.  LifeTime Fitness in Algonquin had just been built and it only seemed natural for me to work in a fitness setting.  For those unfamiliar with LifeTime, it's basically a health club that has everything: indoor pool, outdoor pool, free weights, cardio equipment, group fitness classes, basketball courts, rock wall climbing, cafe, hair salon, child car...everything.  My job was to work the front desk: greet people, set them up with the Membership Advisors, and make sure they get a nice "have a good day!" on the way out.

One of my favorite Membership Advisors I ever worked with was named Kurt.  He was as sarcastic as me and was just getting into running, so really actually enjoyed hearing about my high school racing (as opposed to others who just chatted to chat).  After a few months of working together, he gave me the nickname of "Local Celebrity" as he had seen my name in the paper in the Prep section a few times.

Being 16/17, I thought this was the coolest thing ever...I mean, who doesn't want to be some sort of celebrity?  (again, I'm 16/17 here)  But that phrase stuck with me even when I'd come home for college breaks.  

And Saturday, May 25th I found out the meaning of "local celebrity."

At 7am on Saturday, May 25, 2013, I took off for the craziest 10miles of running I have ever experienced.  But let's back track just a tiny bit as this race almost didn't happen...

On Monday, May 21st, I decided to ask Coach Bill if running the Soldier Field 10mile would be okay with my BIG 70.3 just weeks away (June 9th).  Given how well I've been able to recover, Bill said, "let's DO this" and I proceeded to sign up.  Long story short, Ryan picked up my bib on Wednesday but it was not an Elite Athlete Start, so I was a little concerned as awards are based off of gun time and not chip time (trust me, this can make a HUGE difference in a tight race as I knew this one would be).  I emailed the race director with help from a few friends and was told to pick up my new Elite bib on Friday.

I went to pick up my bib and was asked in a rude tone, "YOU'RE an elite athlete?"  I do sometimes overreact to things, but this time I promise you the tone was just as I present it.  I was looked at up and down when the lady said this, so I felt really stupid.  I showed the email correspondence to prove that I wasn't just some Joe Schmoe claiming to be an Elite, but really just felt humiliated.

Don't get me wrong.  I know that I do not have the standard running body (I honestly never have)...I enjoy eating way too much...but for whatever reason, that really hurt.  I texted Ryan as soon as I got my packet, telling him, "I'm giving it everything I have to win tomorrow.  I'll show them I'm an elite gosh darn it."  

**The reason I mention this is because I plan on blogging about running misconceptions soon, as SO many close to me have had their running suffer due to stereotypes and trying to fit them.  Stay tuned for that.

Back to Soldier Field.

I stayed at my brother's place on Friday night since his roommate was pacing a friend the next day.  Nic gave me his set of keys so that I could go out and get some food on my own time.  I went to Jak's Tap for a burger and beer (pre-race ritual), watched the Cubs game and headed to bed.  Somewhere throughout the night, Nic and his roommate separated so Nic called me to get into his place.  When I woke up for the actual race, I felt exhausted.  Not good.  Ryan had commented that maybe I should use Saturday as a "sleep in" day since I rarely get those, but being the stubborn person I am, I signed up for SF10 instead.  At 5:30am on Saturday, I was really regretting that decision.

Nic drove me to Soldier Field and I weeded my way through the crowd of runners.  I spotted Mary and Andres while plowing through the bathroom line, said a quick hello and had barely enough time to get a 5min jog in.  I was a little nervous until I spotted Coach Bill, who told me to, "Just use the first few miles to get in your groove, treat it as your warmup."  Probably the best thing he could have told me as I was a little nervous about my legs at this point.

At 6:55, the Elite Corral opened up and we did a few strides before the gun went off.  When the gun went off, a sea of green passed by me (Fleet Feet Women's team) and I latched onto the pack. I settled in and began feeling pretty darn good, just like I had at U of I for the 1/2 marathon a month earlier.  

Mile 1- 5:54.  I felt pretty relaxed, and we had a pretty darn good pack: my Saucony teammate Columba Montes, Fleet Feet runners Pam Staton, Melissa Hardesty, Rachel Velarde and New Balance team runner Kristen Heckert.  All of these girls are phenomenal runners and I had raced each one except for Melissa, so I knew we would have a tight group for quite some time (I predicted at Mile 5 we'd cut our group down a little, and by Mile 7 we'd be looking at the top 3).

Mile 2- 5:57.  Dave Schaefers, Mick Brown and Joe Vukits (DPFT teammates) were all right by us, pulling us through.  Staying tight.

Mile 3- 5:53.  Rachel and Kristen were leading us with the pack of guys, but it was hard to get around or reposition at this point.

Mile 4-5:57.  I planned on taking my gel at Mile 6...and had to open it now.  I don't know what was going on with my legs, but I just wasn't feeling it.  Mind over matter.  Stop over thinking things.  GET MOVING. Start taking your gel and get over it.

Mile 5-5:49. OOPS.  Well, as predicted, this is where we lost a few of our pack.  Crossing the timing mat at Mile 5, Kristen and Melissa and I were starting to run 3 across with guys behind us and in front of us.  Teammate Rich Siok was a great target and super positive throughout (thanks:)).

Mile 6-5:55.  I sipped more of my gel before throwing it away at this point.  I know it's 100% mental, but MAN did my legs start feeling better after each sip I took.

Mile 7-5:56.  Just before we hit mile 8, I got clipped and thought I was for sure falling.  Luckily, I was on the outside on the right so didn't interfere with Kristen or Melissa, but I was seriously close to falling.  My stride altered a bit, which made me nervous for the remaining few miles.

Mile 8-5:59.  This mile was one of the bigger struggles.  At the beginning of this race, I had planned on staying in a pack and trying to take off after mile 8 if I had felt okay.  I knew at this point that I couldn't take off and that it would probably be a sprint finish, which scared me a bit.  I told myself to not stress, let the other girls dictate the pace, and just BELIEVE.
Our pack just after mile 9.  I'm pretty sure our faces say it all.

Mile 9- 6:05.  Our only mile over 6.  Clearly we were all starting to feel it at this point (combined with the lovely shift in wind that we had been dealing with ever since the turnaround just before mile 5).  I knew that at 9.5, if not sooner, things would be getting ugly.

At 9.3 miles, Melissa took off.  Crap. Do I stay and hope I can out kick at the end or do I just go now? With no time to waste, I went with her.  I knew we were going at a much faster pace--sub 5:50 for sure.  I just wasn't sure if I could maintain this for the last .7miles.  The cheers kept getting louder and louder, which only motivated me to push harder and harder.  Melissa and I kept bumping into each other--THAT'S how hard we were running.  

I could see where we would be turning in to go into the stadium before being dumped onto the 50 yard line and knew what I had to do.  I sprinted just slightly ahead, took off once we got into the tunnel, and just ran like it was the last race of my life until I hit the 50 yard line.

And I did it.  I broke the tape.  Melissa finished 3 seconds behind me (gun time, 1 second, and that's what results/awards are based off of), that's how hard we worked.

Our last mile was a 5:47.  This was the same exact last mile I ran at the CARA Lakefront 10 earlier in April, but boy did it hurt much more this time around!

59:31.  The top three females all broke 60--it was unbelievable.

This race has the best prizes ever (if you're a Bears fan): personalized Bears jersey and a flag that's flown over Soldier Field.
 Top 5 men and women.
 LOVE this picture with Mark!
 High school classmates Megan and Amy ran too--it was so fun to catch up!!!
 Personalized jersey.
 Thanks for a great cool down, ladies:)
 4 of the award winners were Illini alum!!!
 Running buddy Joe:)
Pretty much sums up the race.

To tie in my beginning (Local Celebrity thing)... after the race, I swear I was talking to people until my ride called me to say it was time to go.  I met so many new people and caught up with so many others.  It was incredible and time just flew by.  I felt like a celebrity with everyone wanting to talk to me and hang was such a cool feeling.  

Everyone had such kind words to say and I seriously left in tears of happiness for such an incredible day.  THANK YOU to everyone for all of the sweet messages and for making me feel so great.  I am such a lucky girl:)  Congrats again to everyone who ran this race!  And congrats to my husband who was in Elgin, winning his own 10mile race:)

One of the best parts of this race had to be the medals.  We were given medals from active service men and women.  Seriously gave me chills and made me remember the reason we are celebrating this weekend.

On that note, HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY everyone.  Let's celebrate those who keep our country safe!


Sun said...

Hi Jacqui! I just started reading your blog and love all of your race recaps! Such an inspiration to a mid-pack runner like myself :)

jacqui said...

Hi Sun! So sorry I didn't see this until now.... I usually see comments right away:( Thank you so much for reading my blog and for your comment--I really appreciate it:)