' Race Recap: #Run10FEED10 | Adventures with FitNyx

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Race Recap: #Run10FEED10

While my 5k still needs plenty of work, after running a dozen 5k races this season I'm starting to feel like that distance isn't enough for me anymore!  I'm not quite ready for another half yet either, so I have started to look more at 10k and 15k races for a different kind of challenge.  One of my office mates had signed up for the Women's Health #Run10FEED10 race, and I excitedly jumped on the 10k train with her!

This race has an awesome cause: every runner's entry provides 10 meals that go directly to people suffering from hunger in the immediate local community.  That means I fed 10 hungry Chicago children - and I definitely believe there are plenty of locals who needed a good meal.  Women's Health Magazine hosts #Run10FEED10 events all across the United States, so if you're looking for a good 10k challenge with a worthwhile cause, you've found your race!

I love photo-op backdrops.  They make me feel like a celebrity.

This was my first actual 10k race - though I'd done several as training or virtual runs in the past.  I was excited to add the race day energy to my run, and I set myself a lofty goal: to complete the 10k in under an hour.  My previous PR had come from a virtual race this summer, and I expected the cooler temperature plus the competitive surge of running in a crowd to propel me forward.  Shaving almost five minutes off my time was daunting (that's almost a minute per mile!) but I was fresh off a substantial 5k PR the previous weekend and felt pretty confident.

With morning enthusiasm that has only entered my life since I started running, I headed downtown.  My coworker wasn't feeling well, so I would be on my own once again, but the day was dawning bright (if a little cold) and I was definitely ready for the challenge.  I had a new playlist, constructed delicately to help pace and encourage me throughout the course, and I was ready to meet some new people during the experience.

I arrived on site and was immediately overwhelmed by how much STUFF was happening!  So many races advertise a "post-race festival" but often this means some fruit and an insurance company giving away keychains.  The #Run10FEED10, however, took "festival" in a totally different direction: there was a pre-race warmup being led by several local fitness instructors, raffles for high end prizes (which I did not win), sponsor booths that actually offered some interaction and worthwhile giveaways, even an "inspiration station" for non-runners to make race signs and grab pom-poms to support friends or family.  It felt, well, festive!  Great start!

Unflattering selfie in exchange for some swag?  Check.

After snagging myself a few freebies (like a race survival kit from Panasonic after sharing my first selfie on my cool new phone) and checking my already-stuffed bag, it was time to start the race.  But - oh no!  I had left my music in said checked bag!  So my race warmup consisted of a sprint to gear check to grab my player and a sprint back to my pace group, with seconds to spare before we were running!

I'm thrilled with the performance of my special 10k mix.  When I put it together, I took pains to match my expectations for how I would run the course.  First, an exhilarating upbeat favorite the would help me ease into that starting-gun excitement without getting too caught up in the crowd surge energy.  Then a couple upbeat but slightly slower tempo selections to gradually bring me into a comfortable long-distance pace for the majority of the race.  My last few songs were consistent beats with a lot of energy, to help me bring it home strong!  I am pleased to report that the entire playlist worked perfectly!

My actual race plan, however, didn't go so smoothly.  My goal for this race was to be under the one hour mark, so I created my playlist to be just one song over the hour.  That way, I knew I had to finish before that last song!  I was going strong, hitting the halfway split in 30:38 and feeling good about my return pacing.  Then I hit the stairs.  Whaaaaaaat?  Right after the turnaround mark, there were these big rock-hewn stairs up which we had to run to get back on the return path!  There were only maybe six steps total, but it was very unexpected and with my injured knees, I know I lost some time not only getting up the flight, but recovering from the sudden added stresses on my joints.  I put it out of my mind and focused once again on my race plan and music, though, and quickly settle back into a groove.

That's the face of a struggling stair climbing runner.
Photo courtesy of #Run10FEED10.

The first of two major heartbreaks in this race came just before the five mile marker.  Maybe I should have learned my lesson after the incident on the final hill at last week's 5k back home: try to give yourself some stopping room if you're running behind someone.  Easier said than done on some courses, especially anything on the super-narrow and often over-crowded Lakefront Trail, but still very important!  Otherwise, you end up in a bad situation: the person in front of me stopped suddenly, and actually bent over in place with no warning.  Didn't slow to a walk first, just STOPPED.  I swerved hard but still knocked into her a bit, which she didn't even seem to notice - but my poor hip flexor sure did.  I suffered a pretty severe strain that hobbled me a bit for the rest of the race.

The second heartbreak piggy-backed on the first: with a strained muscle, I was forced to slow down for the last mile or so, and I was still about 0.3 miles from the finish when my playlist's final song started.  I actually had though there was one more before the last, and was crushed to realize I had been wrong, and that I was already over my one hour goal time.  I'll be honest, I almost cried.  My penultimate song had really gotten me moving through the last half-mile, and I truly believed I was going to make my goal.  After breaking stride for a few steps in disappointment, I did my best to put those feelings aside and finish strong.  I gutted out that final stretch and crossed with as close to a smile as I could manage.  Seeing the finish line clock, surprisingly, helped a little: though I didn't make my goal, I DID cut over two minutes off my previous PR!

May not have met my goal, but a PR is still a sweet victory!
Photo courtesy of #Run10FEED10.

Following my finish, I headed straight for the Nesquik tent to grab some of my beloved chocolate milk.  I'd eaten a light breakfast on the way to the race, but I was still VERY hungry afterwards!  The Nesquik definitely helped me get some much needed calories into my belly, and the bagels and fruit in the food tent didn't hurt either!  I spent another half hour or so wandering around the festival, grabbing more freebies (including a yoga mat, score) before heading towards my car.  On the way back, I made another new running friend!  Hopefully Nancy and I will get to run again soon - though she'll definitely be ahead of me on the course, we can share the pre- and post-race fun!

Race Details:

Organization: I've never seen a better race "festival" than at the #Run10FEED10.  Not only was race-day packet pickup (woot!) a total breeze, but so was gear check and finding the right pace group and even getting into a port-a-potty!  I was also impressed with the customer service from the Fleet Feet store where pre-race packet pickup was held: something came up and I couldn't get downtown on Saturday, but no race-day pickup was advertised as far as I could see (my only organization complaint), so I called in a panic to see what options I had.  The young woman on the phone was extremely pleasant and clearly wanted to make sure I was treated well, and of course hearing her say "yes" to race day pickup put a big smile on my face!  Dear every other race: why is race day pickup not a no-brainer yet?!

The course: Most of this run was out-and-back on the Lakefront Trail.  As anyone who has ever run a major event in Chicago can tell you, this is not the ideal course.  The trail is a winding, narrow, two-lane track all along Lake Michigan - and it never closes to public traffic.  While that is one of the best things about Chicago in general, it's also one of the worst things about racing in Chicago.  That said, this race didn't seem so bad.  Perhaps the colder weather kept people indoors, or perhaps the much smaller race numbers (only about 800 people versus the thousands I've seen at other races).  I didn't have to weave too much on the LFT, and there weren't too many bikes speeding through the runners.  The worst parts of the course this time ended up being the lap around Diversey Harbor, which smelled cloyingly fishy, and the random set of stairs at the turn-around point!  I've never had to do stairs in a road race; even though it was only half a flight, it hurt my knees and threw me off a bit!  Overall though, beautiful scenery for a morning run, despite the course's limitations.

Holy ton of awesome stuff, Batman!

The swag: Here's where this race takes the cake.  And the salad bar.  And probably the entree too.  I have never seen so many freebies in my life!  Not only does the very reasonable race registration ($45, but discount codes abound) snag you an awesome tote bag full of sample products and coupons, but the post-race "festival" takes every possible opportunity to load you up with major goodies.  Take a selfie at the Panasonic booth?  Get a drawstring backpack with a water bottle and hat, or snag a pair of awesome earbuds.  Punch in some survey answers for two minutes at the Lincoln Motors booth?  Walk away with a yoga mat and bag.  Stop by the Women's Health Magazine host booth?  Stuff your sweet bag full of hair ties, magazine issues, and still more samples!  Eat up at the food tent with bagels and fruit, refuel after a hard run with Nesquik chocolate milk, get your cheer on with Geico's Inspiration Station (pom poms and poster board for making race signs)...  I could barely walk under the weight of all my free stuff!  And then, as if we needed more reason to love this race, I found free race photos online!  WELL worth the cost of entry just for the swag, even if you didn't run the race!

The bottom line: I'd do this race every year just for the swag.  Add to it the high level of organization, the ideal choice of distance, and the incredibly worthy cause, and #Run10FEED10 makes my top five list for now, with confidence that it will stay in the top ten as I add to my race history.


  1. Awesome recap. Sounds like a great race and congrats on the huge pr!

    Running ettiquette isn't universal...stopping short like that drives me crazy too. I used to run/walk at races - have the decency to pull aside. I always used to! It's dangerous not to. Sorry you got hurt but hope you're feeling better.

    1. I'm sure we're all guilty of *some*thing but I feel like -sudden stopping- is so dangerous! And the walkers - oh man, I love the idea of theme races like the color runs, but when twenty people walk in a giant blog, it's way too hard to tolerate as a racer. That's a big part of why I'm going to move on to longer races for a while, doesn't seem like as many people do a 10k as a social event...