This past Saturday, Memorial Day weekend, I ran the Soldier Field 10 Mile. It’s one of my favorite races. It’s pretty much the first warm weather race of the season, usually a perfect temperature, on a long weekend and I love the ten mile distance. This year I had trouble with injuries during the end of training and had to take a little over a week off. I told myself I would just take the race easy, have fun and accept that I wouldn’t be getting a personal record on Saturday.
Easier said than done.
I did well with my recovery. My diet was good and felt great physically the day of the race. However, although I was really excited when we got up after a good sleep, I got more and more anxious as we headed to the start. We were later than I wanted to be and since we were in the first corral I was concerned about getting in on time. We did (with only a minute to spare) but Dean and I were separated and didn't start together.
I couldn’t just let myself chill during the run. Every race that I have run in my adult career has been faster than the last. I have enjoyed adding training programs, gradually have been turning my diet healthier and healthier, and when Dean runs with me, I find I have added motivation to push, it’s been no wonder that my times have gotten better. It’s also obvious that it couldn’t continue forever. Eventually I would either peak or there would be some outside condition and my time would stagnate or even drop. Even if just for a race.
Aside from the break in training, conditions for the race were much warmer this year than last with the ‘danger’ code being from yellow to red during the run. I had always thought I was a good runner in the humidity and heat, but it was incredibly enervating on Saturday. It became obvious halfway through the race that there was no chance of me getting my same time, much less beating it. And still I pushed.
Even as I stressed about how I continued to run slower and slower, I tried to tell myself to take it easy and just enjoy the run. It was all ego and competitiveness and I couldn’t let it go. I wish I could say that at some point during the race, I just chilled out and enjoyed the journey, but although I really TRIED, I never quite got there.
I ended up finishing in 1 hour, 21 minutes, much slower than last year's 1 hour and 16. I wondered if perhaps I wasn’t as motivated because Dean and I started in the same corral and he was somewhere behind me this year. The previous year he had been in a corral ahead of me so I spent the first nine miles of the race trying to catch up with him, which I did and we finished together. It could also have been the break in training or the strong headwind or the high, high humidity.
Regardless, in a way, I’m happy to have had the first ‘no PR’ run. Perhaps I can learn to relax and accept that PRs are usually special for the very reason that they don’t happen every time. My competitive spirit is obviously still very much in tact, and maybe I'll start to learn to get a handle on that. I’m still injury free and felt great after the run, all things to be thankful for!
I still love the Soldier Field 10 Mile. I love the military involvement, I love that friends and family can watch you run in from the stands and the post race party is always good. (They have decent beer! Goose Island! And the vendors are always good. This year I got a free skin cancer screening and sunscreen!) I'll definitely do it next year, rain or shine.