Sunday, July 30, 2017

btn big 10k recap

Disclaimer: I received entry for BTN Big 10k to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

The BTN Big 10k was on Sunday, July 23, 2017 with a 7am start for the 10k and an 8am start for the 5k. I registered for the 10k and this was my second year racing this event. You can read my shorter review here.

I was unable to get my packet during the week (it started on Wednesday and went through Saturday at Fleet Feet Old Town), so I was heading into the city on Saturday after my dentist appointment. My friends Angie and Josh were coming into town for the race, so we decided to coordinate a run on the Lakefront Path together with a planned meet up of around noon.

It took me a while to get into the city on Saturday. I left around 10am and got there around 11 or so. Pickup was a breeze – I had my QR codes ready to go and after going into Fleet Feet and going to the back where the pickups are held, I waited maybe a minute or two for a volunteer to be available and it was another minute to get both packets. Turns out, my mom and I had registered early enough we were also getting cookies. I expected it to be one, but it was five or six in a bag held in a plastic RAM Racing cup. Awesome, and as later I found out, delicious. They were from a place called Carol’s I believe.

I had a little time to kill, so I looked around the store and found a Momentum Jewelry wrap I had wanted that said runCHI on it, so I bought that. My friend Mike was working the register, so we chatted a bit about running and shoes while he checked me out. 

It's nice to have someone with you to take a photo.

I headed over to Montrose Harbor to meet Angie and Josh. I had 8 miles scheduled for the day, and so Angie ran with me. Josh ran 11, but we met up with him a time or two on the LFP while he was getting a snack/drink. It was a warm one, and the path was very crowded, but we had a lot of fun. Afterwards, we ate at the Montrose Docks. I got a BLT and fries and it was delicious.

These two are the best.

Anyway - back to the race details :)

My mom and I parked at Millenium Garages (pre-paid for a spot using SpotHero) and arrived at the race site around 6am. I had a planned meeting with the three other BibRave Pros racing at 6:30, so we hit up the porta-potty lines which were starting to get long.

The Start Line.

I ran into my Oiselle teammate Jen while waiting for the other pros and we chatted a bit. She was out there to cheer and we talked about how humid it was – it was going to be a tough race if it was that bad already in the morning and we felt it just standing there. Temps were already at 75 degrees with 86% humidity and 70 dew point.

Eventually, the four BRPs were able to find each other and we high-fived, hugged, took photos, and wished each other luck. It was time to get into the corrals.

The BibRave Pros.

I was in the last one, so didn’t matter so much for me, but the rest had to get up closer to the start. There were about 2 minutes between corrals and the line-ups were along Columbus with the start line (going north) at Monroe. Soon enough, we were off. I was attempting to race on my own, using my own intervals, which for that day I was trying 70/15.

Mascots at the start line.

I was doing ok the first few miles, though the very high humidity had me struggling. By mile 3.5 or so, it hit hard. I couldn’t keep up with my intervals any more, and I had to walk a lot more than I wanted. I tried bringing them down to 60/15, and then 60/30, but I still struggled. I decided that day was just going to be about finishing, and I assumed my mom would catch up to me before the finish. 

Great views of the city. This was right after aid station 1.

The first aid station was pretty packed, so I kept going (I brought my own hydration for situations like these – and I get to drink the electrolytes I prefer), but I stopped at the second and third for some water (to both drink and to dump on my head). 

Shedd Aquarium.

I really like the course (minus the bad cracks and holes in the lower path near the lake, but that can’t be helped. One of these days the city will fix that area, right?). We had some beautiful views of the city, and the lake looked really enticing on such a hot day – I wanted to just jump in.

When you aren't having a good race, might as well stop for some photos.

There were clocks and mile markers for each mile, and three aid stations, and 2 slip and slide blow-up things. I passed on those, assuming I wouldn’t have the energy to slide the whole way haha. I think there was a timing mat around mile 3.1 too, but not completely sure. I get runners brain and forget a lot of things about on course happenings ha.

Around mile 5 mom caught up and so we ran the last mile together, keeping each other going when I know all we both wanted to do was walk. We did 30 secs running and 60 secs walking I think. Eventually we crossed the finish line. Summer running in Chicago isn’t my favorite, and so I know to have lower expectations of my finish times. This one was far from a PR.

At the finish line you got your medal, which was the same for everyone this year (10k finishers only), bottled water, a banana, and Clif Protein Bars. I saw towels laying around, so they must have been giving those out, but I couldn’t find any and assumed they were all gone. I did grab a bag of ice to help cool me down (wrapped it in my BUFF® and then held it to my neck, face, and put it on top of my head).

Trying to cool off using ice in my BUFF®

After leaving the finishers chute, we headed to get our magnetic coins. This is where you would go to your alumni tent for the school you chose when registering. You tore off the claim ticket on your bib and exchanged it for the coin, which then stuck to your medal. Mom got the generic BTN Big 10 Fan shirt at pickup (liked the colors a lot), and so we headed over to that tent first to grab her coin. Then it was to Illinois for mine. Luckily, Iowa Hawkeyes was right next to it, which made it easy to find Angie, Josh, and Kelly. I also met up with another Oiselle teammate from WI, Allison, who was super sweet.

A ton of people hang out for quite some time at this race. There are games, photo opportunities at your alumni tent (if there weren’t trophies or mascots, there was at least the school backdrop). The Illinois tent gave out coupons for Chipotle (free guac and chips). Food was Amylou sausage and pretzels – I didn’t get any, as after being super hot, the thought of eating something hot just wasn’t doing it for me. They also had Revolution beer. I was SO happy to see that the race partnered up with them, a local brewery, instead of one of the big guys. Thank you RAM! I didn’t have any, but I’m always in favor of supporting and promoting local. 

We hung out behind the tents in a tree shaded area for a while, then decided it was less crowded so we could get our photos taken at our tents with props and things. On our way out, we had a small dance party (I believe Angie posted a video on her twitter or instagram) and then some more photos by the blow up football. We went to Buckingham Fountain for some photos, then Dunkin’ Donuts for some drinks (I was very disappointed that they didn’t have the iced teas they had on the menu, but the Strawberry Banana smoothie was good… and the hashbrowns), and then over to The Cloud Gate. Lots of great photos and conversation. Lucky for us, my mom doesn't love to be in photos, so she took all of the group ones for us. She's awesome. Eventually will sat down by the fountains where the wind would bring over some cooling water spurts that felt awesome. Kelly headed out and we talked with Josh and Angie a bit longer. Around 11 I think it was, we all said our final goodbyes until hopefully Marathon weekend. 

I'm a good sport.

Exhausted. Early wake-up. Hot. Humid. Sunny.

Though I’m not a super fan of college sports, I enjoy this race. It is well-managed, packet pickup is easy (and you can have it mailed if you wanted up to 3 weeks before the race for $15 and packet usually arrives about a week before race day), the course is a little different, great scenery, and great vibe from the runners. Though there’s school rivalry, it’s all in good fun. I’d recommend this to anyone that’s looking for a fun race, there is an Elite start so it’s great for the fast runners too. I love that so many people are still there when I finish. A lot of races, most people are gone by the time I finish, so I think it’s cool that there’s enough going on at this post-race tailgate that entices people to hang around.

Closing out a fun weekend with fun friends.

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