When Pete and I first started talking about going to Chicago, I knew that I wanted to run a race with my sister. I have a thing for running races around the places that we visit. When we finally decided on the second weekend in August, my sister let me know that the Chicago 10k (a race that boasts about having the largest medal in all of Chicago) was going on that weekend. I couldn’t resist signing up.
On Saturday morning after breakfast, we headed over to the Fleet Feet store in the Old Town neighborhood of Chicago to pick up our race packets. As far as race packets go, there were fairly simple with just our bibs, pins, and tech shirts. We paid an extra $5 to get gender-specific tech shirts. I really liked that they weren’t loaded with flyers for a million upcoming races.
Sunday morning, the hotel room’s alarm clock started going off at 6 am. It was the most annoying sound ever and I literally jumped out of bed to shut it off. I changed into my running outfit and spent some quality time in the bathroom in an effort to avoid the port-a-potties at the race. I also spent some time stretching. My legs were worn out from all the walking we had done around the city. A little after 7 am, I left Pete in our hotel room and walked over to the race location. I met my sister around 7:30 and we waited in the starting corrals for the start of the race.
Mile 1 – 12:04 min/mile pace
About 10 minutes after 8 am, I crossed the starting line and started running north along the sidewalk next to Lake Shore Drive. The race began with a 1 mile loop around the southern end of Grant Park. I actually was a little familiar with this part of the course because of my easy 2 mile run on Friday morning. We turned right at Balbo Drive and took a left at Columbus Drive. Before I knew it, I was back to the starting line and heading under the Lake Shore Drive overpass. During the first mile of race, I didn’t see my sister at all. She started off a little bit ahead of me and I wasn’t going to spend any extra energy trying to catch up with her. My plan for the race was to stick to my intervals (2:1) and have fun. On the other side of the overpass, I spotted the Field Museum followed by the Shedd Aquarium.
Mile 2 – 12:45 min/mile pace
Once we were under the overpass, the race course joined with the Lakefront Trail. The views of Lake Michigan were breathtaking! Just as I turned the corner past the Shedd Aquarium, I spotted the Mile 1 Marker. So far my run/walk intervals were working for me and I felt awesome! When I saw what time the race started, I was a little worried that it would really warm. Races in Florida usually start well before 8 am in an attempt to avoid the heat. I guess Chicago weather isn’t as much of a concern. The course continued along the Lakefront Trail passing by Solider Field. As I reached the Mile 2 Marker, I spotted my sister ahead of me. She was looking pretty good but I worried that she may have started out too fast.
Mile 3 – 12:35 min/mile pace
About halfway through Mile 2 as I was running past the McCormick Place Bird Sanctuary, I caught up to my sister. I smiled, waved, and continued to focus on running my intervals. I figured that if I was meant to stay ahead of her than I would eventually pass her but I wasn’t going to push myself more than my body was capable of. After all, I had done some extreme walking around Chicago for the 3 days leading up to the race (not exactly my normal race preparation). I was still feeling pretty good at this point and I wanted to ride that feeling for as long as possible. When I spotted the Mile 3 Marker, I started looking out for the turnaround location. I had seen plenty of runners heading in the opposite direction so I knew that it was coming up.
Mile 4 – 12:31 min/mile pace
Just before we reached Burnham Park (right around Mile 3.5), I hit the turnaround point of the course and started heading back towards the finish line. As I was approaching the turnaround, I passed my sister and didn’t see her again until after the race. Since I was going back the way I came, I really wanted to pay attention to my surroundings. The views of the lake had stolen my attention and I wanted to know what else there was to see along the Lakefront Trail. Before I knew it, I was passing the Mile 4 Marker.
Mile 5 – 12:22 min/mile pace
When I passed the Mile 4 Marker, I started getting a little bit nervous that my body would start to fight the pace I was keeping. I hadn’t run anything longer than 4 miles since the beginning of March when I ran my last half marathon. I focused on my breathing and just kept running my intervals. As I running along the Lakefront Trail, I noticed several trees that were craved instead of being planted. Somewhere along the way, I received a text message from Pete letting me know that he was waiting for me at the finish line. I let him know how I was doing and he sent some encouraging words. I am so lucky to be marrying that man! Shortly after I passed by the McCormick Place Bird Sanctuary, I passed the Mile 5 Marker and realized that I had just over a mile to go!
Mile 6 – 12:52 min/mile pace
As I continued running along the Lakefront Trail, I ran past Soldier Field and the Shedd Aquarium on my way back to the finish line. When I made the turn at the aquarium to head back by the Field Museum, the view of the city skyline was amazing. Living in a big city would definitely have the advantage of breathtaking views of the city skyline. As I got closer to the finish line, Pete sent me another text message warning me about a uphill grade right at the finish line. I decided to keep a little more than usual in my tank so that I could push it across the line. I spotted the Mile 6 Marker near the Field Museum. I crossed back under the Lake Shore Drive overpass and could see the finish line up ahead. I powered up that uphill grade and crossed the finish line.
When I checked my watch, I was thrilled with my finishing time! I made my way through the finisher’s area where I received the ridiculously large medal that was promised, a water bottle, some snacks. Shortly after I crossed the finish line, my sister crossed and set a new PR for the 10k distance.
2014 Chicago 10k by the numbers
- Official Finish Time – 1:18:43
- Average Pace – 12:40 min/mile pace
- Overall Place – 1763 out of 2124
- Gender Place – 1025 out of 1321
- Division Place – 254 out of 307