Today was the Hot Chocolate 5k (also the 15k but I stuck with 5 for now.) I am officially done with my first 5k EVER.
I ended up being totally wired last night which in a way was not a good thing. I ended up getting to Target a bit later than planned in an attempt to beat the crowds. No deal and I got the poor girl at the register who had tons of technical problems with the two groups ahead of me. That pushed me home a bit later than planned which pushed bedtime a bit later. Realistically it didn't matter because I kept waking up rethinking if I needed anything else, which I didn't, and doing the "OMG I'm running tomorrow!!!!"
I got up earlier than planned which resulted in me getting downtown about 30 minutes earlier than I needed. After an extra Orange line trip around the Loop, I was off and meeting up with Stina and Sarah. We got to the park and got everything settled before making out way to the corrals. I had anticipated actual corrals like horse corrals but my bib ended up saying 5k open even though I had registered as a 12 min mile. I had no actual estimate and so this was the best option. We ended up climbing over a railing - yes literally climbing over though I was pulled over a bit -- SCARY!!! -- to get to a large in the crowd in the 11 min mile pace. Three others actually followed us over with people around helping and not complaining. It was actually pretty funny/amusing. Then we realized there was an opening maybe 20 feet ahead of us.
There was a bit of a wait but it worked so that I could finish pinning my bib on. Wait wait. Walk more. Wait. Waaaaaaaaait. The speakers were pumping music. Oh look the START! Black Eyed Peas - Got a Feeling started and we did too!
There were a lot of people running. A LOT. The totals were 30k people, 15k in each race. I saw parents with their kids, adults, young adults, teens, the whole gamut. There were people who looked like they had done this before and there were walkers who kept just below a jog. The wide range made me feel good.
Having Stina and Sarah with me really helped to keep going especially with it being colder than I was used to. I did have to slow down as well as go to a power walk at times but my goal was to keep them where I could see them and catch up to them with a minor amount of effort. That worked, for awhile.
The course wasn't too great from what people were saying. This being my first run made me not have anything to compare it to but at times it was a bit tough. If I was set on running the entire thing at a semi fast pace then I probably be a bit annoyed. About a mile in I was slowing down, even slower than before too because of a bottleneck with the hydration tables and an underpass that forced even the faster runners to slow down. I hit the tables to get a Gatorade which I didn't realize I had needed, downed a shot blok from my hip bag (yes a fanny pack but black and not bright pink and teal like the one back in the day) and felt better. With the slow down of everyone, I had lost Stina and Sarah. I knew I'd find them later though.
The second half of the run snaked around the museum campus at the lakefront. For those at HLS, this was where lots of people ended up for the Sunday run/walks. It wasn't the one right at the waterline but one above. It got narrow at points where people slowed to a fast walk minus those who were running up on the grass - on an angle at times plus jumping down to climb down and then back up across the stairways. I stuck to the right side and tried to keep my elbows in so that faster people could pass me more easily.
The last leg actually seemed the easiest for me. I think it was the realization that I was almost done plus we could see the 15k people who started after us. I ended up running faster and with less slow down points for that. The speakers were close enough to hear the music and I could hear the announcers calling out random people's names as they crossed the finish line.
The mass exit was pretty crazy. I ended up cutting behind the tents and through some trees to avoid the crowds. About 10 mins later, I found Stina and Sarah and we headed to the chocolate tent. The lines were crazy but we found one that was moving along well. The fondue was a scoop of chocolate - YUM! - two marshmallows, a poundcake cube, a rice crispy treat cube, half a banana, two medium sized pretzels and some apple slices. I was hungry and it all tasted really good. I also managed to not get chocolate off my face when a photographer took a pic of us. I am looking forward to seeing that pic because I know I am going to laugh. We made it across Grant Park to the hot chocolate tent. It was good but by then I could only have about half of it. There was live music, misc tents including a Ghirardelli one that was handing out small squares of chocolate, and other fun stuff but we were all ready to head home.
Overall it was mixed for me. I am super proud of myself to completing this. I am a bit mad at myself because I know I could have trained better but overall knowing that the parts that I ran were run was important. Even a year ago, I wouldn't have had the focus and dedication to be up at 5am on a Saturday to get myself downtown to run in cold air. This was a big deal. With there being so many people I was glad I wasn't alone because I would have been confused on where exactly to go for some stuff. True there were signs and whatnot but being all wide eyed and newbie to this could have gotten me a bit mixed up. I really liked running on the lakefront but not in the places where it got so crowded. I think if we ran north rather than south to start it might have saved the crowding. There were people totally supportive of each other - smiling, being polite when people wanted to get around you, cheerleaders from a local high school yelling their support from the sidelines which almost made me teary eyed. There were also people yelling at each other because they weren't at the pace they wanted and complaining that the walkers were in the way. I guess this is just a sampling of people in real life. Some are just happier than others. Some were just frustrated due to the course or from the goose poop. EEWW!
Definites for my next 5k:
- Train better - be it strength training or actual running
- Beat my time from this run
- Bring my ipod - I was much better mentally and physically when there was music
- Bring the small Camelback rather than my bottle - even with the drink stations I brought my bottle since I knew if I needed a drink it was a better option to have a bottle with me
- Wear my compression shorts under my running pants - they have a mesh lining and at times were a bit too swishy and if I hadn't realized it beforehand could have led to some pretty painful chafing
I am looking forward to seeing the race photos. I tried to smile when I saw the cameras on the course but I know one spot I was cheering with others so I bet it will be amusing.
For the rest of the night I have a "date" with the TV, the couch, and a large mug of tea. I already managed to fall asleep - like totally zonked out - twice while watching TV with Hubs earlier. After my adventure today, I think I deserve a nice mellow night.