Preface: this is gonna be long, so I’m breaking it into 2 posts.
Saturday, November 6th I ran the Hot Chocolate 15k race in Chicago. I had been looking forward to this race for quite some time, and was excited to be running the longer distance – the longest since my half marathon back in June. My brother and sister also ran this race, the 5k portion.
This is the third year for the race, which is organized by Running Away Multisport (RAM), a store in Chicago. It was the first year that the race was starting in Grant Park – the last two years it has started farther north at Montrose Harbor. Another new feature for this years race was the large field – 30,000 compared to last years 10,000.
My sister and I headed downtown Friday evening to pick up all three race packets at Union Station. The website promised a the “ best goodie bag around” and a great expo and I have to say I was really disappointed. I was looking forward to lots of free samples (who doesn’t love free stuff?) and many different vendors. The “goodie bag” was our technical jacket – which is actually more like a technical zip-up hoodie. It’s still nice though, if not a little smaller than I’d like (and I got a women’s large, my normal size) and definitely warm. It’s keeping me cozy on the train right now.
Packet pickup was super crowed and very unorganized. We did get there at about 6:00 Friday night so I figured there would be lots of people, but it was ridiculous. The first stop was bib pickup – one long table on the left for 5k, one on the right for 15k. Sister got the 5k bibs and I got my 15k. Then we had to get our chips checked. This race used a new (to me) system where the chips were on the back of the race bibs instead of going on your shoelaces. I like the idea, one less thing to worry about. They had a small table with 4 or 5 computers and a volunteer had to scan your chip and verify your information. It was very crowded as most people didn’t know this needed to be done and were just crowding into the small space. Then you had to go to yet another table and get your jacket, separated by sizes. Again, very crowded but it went pretty fast. I would have liked if they had put everything in one bag and eliminated a step, or had least had more organized lines/more space for the lines to form. The expo itself had only about 3 vendors other than RAM who, in addition to regular apparel had loads of “Will Run for Chocolate” apparel for sale. Yeah, I already spent enough for registration, I’m not buying a shirt for $22.
Me and my sis.
I made sure to lay out all of my clothes and extra layers Friday night before going to sleep. The weather was going to be just above freezing for the race start. I made sure to pick up some hand warmers at Menards to keep us warm. Best $0.79 I spent all day, I think. We left the house not long after 6:00 to make our way to Grant Park.
Brother, sister, me. I’m an awesome photographer, can’t you tell?
Dr. Oz! He had some health expo going on in Grant Park that day and opened the race. I didn’t hear what he was talking about, just wanted to snap a pic.
We got there around 7:25 and the 5k started at 7:40. The twins headed to the start corrals and I made my way to gear check. Word of advice: if you are running a race with someone and they are running a shorter race and/or will finish before you, check the back under their bib number. When you finish you won’t have to fight the lines and can get your stuff from your friends.
Crowds near the gear check tents.
I unfortunately didn’t get to see the 5k start. I was waiting in line to check gear then waited in line for the port-a-potties (surprisingly not for long – they had lots!). I then started making my way through the crowds to the start corral.
Here’s one thing I do not understand about this race – the 5k started 30 minutes before the 15k. Most races I’ve run (and wanted to register for) start the longer race first. It seems like common sense.
And if that doesn’t seem odd enough, the first 5k finishers were coming across the finish line before all the 5k racers had even crossed the start!!! If that doesn’t tell you something is wrong I don’t know what will. The twins later told me that they finished their 5k before all the 15k racers had crossed the start. That means that they were waiting almost 2 hours for me to finish! Totally uncalled for, race organizers!
Heading to start corrals
Pre-race fuel. Chocolate Gu seemed appropriate. I had a Tri-Berry flavored Gu around mile 5 as well.
Waiting to RUN!
Oh look, the sun is coming out.
I don’t know why I’m giving myself the evil eye. But I was warm.
8.3 to go!
Going through the McCormick Center
On the other side of that construction fence? The lakefront.
I think this was around the 5k mark. I was feeling awesome and starting to get sweaty.
Heading back we got these views:
This one is my new desktop background.
Just 5k to go!
Stay tuned for Part II – the last 5k and post-race eats!