That’s right folks…one Halloween themed race is and never will be enough! Besides, after my disappointing experience at the Monster Dash and thinking about my upcoming races, I wanted to try my hardest for a shiny new 5K PR before the end of the year. I have only one or two more timed 5K’s on my race calendar before the end of the year, one being the Hot Chocolate 5K this weekend and possibly a local Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving day. The Hot Chocolate is not a good race for PR’s since it is so crowded (last year I ended up spending the first mile running on a sidewalk to get around the crowds) and the local Turkey Trot I’m planning to do is a little “short”. Since the Halloween Hustle was a CARA circuit race, I knew it wouldn’t turn into a costume parade and would be a good opportunity to push myself for a PR. Plus, a few of my run club friends would be running so I was guaranteed to have a good time no matter what!
After some hemming and hawing, I finally decided to sign up for the race at the eleventh hour, just barely making it before the online registration window closed Friday afternoon. Knowing I wouldn’t have time to buy or make a new costume, I pulled out the pumpkin suit again and headed across the street for my block “book club” meeting. Not wanting to be late for book club, I opted to skip my usual pre-race dinner of Noodles & Company Wisconsin Mac & Cheese, thinking I would find something to munch on there, or worst case, I would find something when I got home. Oops! I got caught up in good conversation with my neighbors and didn’t munch on a single thing! I then lost track of time and before I knew it, it was after 9:30pm. I knew I had to get up early the next morning so I said my goodbyes, went home, ate a Rice Krispie treat and went to bed.
I was surprised when I woke up the next morning at 5:30am and didn’t have my usual pre-race stomach. Maybe this skipping dinner thing was a better idea than I thought? Having laid out my gear the night before, I was ready to go with plenty of time left, so I took my time packing my bag and headed out the door. I met my run club friends at our usual car pool meet-up spot and we began our trek to Palatine, a roughly 45 minute ride from Oak Park. We were able to find the race location easily and I was pleased that we were able to park in the parking garage for free. Packet pick-up was located on the lower level of the parking garage, which was also nice, since it was a bit chilly and the wind seemed to go right though me. They also offered race day registration, which appeared to be super fast and painless. Our goodie bag consisted of a nice long sleeve tech tee (unisex), a reusable shopping bag and a few flyers including one for their upcoming Santa Hustle (so sad I won’t be in town for that one this year).
About 10 minutes before start time, we walked to the start line which was conveniently located only a block away from the garage. The race started on time and before I knew it I was on my way to a potential PR. I planned to keep the pace around 9:15 or 9:30/per mile and was surprised when my Garmin beeped at mile 1 with an 8:48 mile and I still felt good. Somewhere around mile 1.5 I started to get a stitch in my side and could feel my breathing being thrown off as I attempted to struggle through it. That darn stitch stuck with me for the rest of race and I pretty much hated life until I saw the 3 mile marker, but I’m happy to say that I didn’t give up and let Negative Nancy take over. Thank goodness for my run buddies Jessica and Julie…they really helped me keep focused and pushed me to keep going when I really wanted to dial back the effort, or lets be honest, grind to a screeching halt. We turned the corner into the final stretch and I dug deep for any remaining energy to sprint it in.
I crossed the finish line feeling elated that I had set a new PR, but the awful “I just raced a 5K and feel like I’m going to get sick” feeling that arrived shortly thereafter wouldn’t allow me to celebrate for too long. After I finally got myself back together, I looked at my Garmin and realized that not only had a I set a new PR, I had finally blown my old high school cross country time out of the water!!! Here are my stats:
Overall, I thought this race was great and I will definitely be back next year. It was well organized, reasonably priced and fun. Here is a quick review:
- Cost – $33.28 (day before the race) with a $5 CARA discount. – Great value!
- Online, fax, mail or in person day of. – Super convenient!
- Several opportunities for those who are local. Luckily, for those of us who don’t live so close, they also offered race day packet pick-up.
- Race day packet pick-up was fast and well organized by last name.
- Reusable shopping bag doubled as our goodie bag. Participants also received a nice long sleeve tech tee (unisex).
- Free parking. – Always a plus!
- Gear check was scary at first (they used giant boxes), but they found my friends vest very quickly and without issue.
- Flat and fast looped course. Pavement was well maintained. A lot of turns though.
- For a course entirely within residential streets, there was surprisingly VERY little spectator support.
- Not one, but TWO aid stations offering water and Gatorade. – Probably a little overkill for a 5K in the fall, but appreciated nonetheless.
- Start and finish lines conveniently located within a block of the parking garage.
- Finish line had bottled water, Kind Bars, bananas and soft pretzels.
- Definitely a smaller race for a CARA circuit race. According to the official results, there were only 911 finishers.
- Lots of speedy runners and lots of great costumes!
Until next time, happy running and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!! Candy Security is on duty tonight in Oak Park. Zoe says “No costumes, no candy!”