Well guys. I survived my 14th and final race of 2013. I ran the Perfect 10 Saturday- I survived, and PR’d again. wooop wooop.
I signed up for this race for several reasons 1) I ran a 5 k last weekend 2) The Hot Chocolate that I normally run was also last weekend 3) I wanted to do a smaller race rather than the over-populated blown up affair that is now the Hot Chocolate. I like big races, but sometimes I like smaller races too, and last year the Hot Chocolate was just a little too much for me (it was way too crowded, and I really didn’t feel like I got my money’s worth). When this option (a smaller race of basically equal distance) came my way combined with not wanting to do a 15k the day after a 5k I chose this race.
This is the third year this race has been put on, and overall I enjoyed my experience. They offered multiple options for packet pickup as well as race day pick up. The race started and ended at Navy Pier, and they had an exceptionally nice expo at Navy Pier, and it was really nice that it was at Navy Pier because gear check, and the expo were all inside- considering it is November – in Chicago – having that option to stretch indoors, use an actual toilet, and check my gear indoors those were all welcome options to me.
I will say that this venue is really only accommodating to a smaller race. If this race is going to be allowed to grow- I don’t think the Navy Pier venue will really work. Even for this race- it was smaller but it was EXTREMELY congested at the start.
For those of you not familiar with Chicago, Navy Pier is a very popular tourist
trap attraction. It is a pier it has a theater, ballrooms, expo halls, museums, restaurants etc. It also juts out into Lake Michigan so it can be pretty chilly (hence my pleasure regarding the indoor accommodations), but it is a pier- so to some degree it is narrow.
When the race started at 7:45 it was congested with other runners- but at least there was a one direction flow. However, upon returning to Navy Pier and working towards the finish line tourists had started to flow in, and seemed completely unaware there was an event happening. Maneuvering around people in mile 1 – that’s do-able. Maneuvering around tourists when I’m a half mile away from the finish- no bueno. It would have been nice if there would have been an area cordoned off specifically for runners to finish, and for tourists to walk- and there was construction (which was brought to the attention to the runners upon signing up) on the pier was well.
Additionally compared to the course map the course itself had some minor differences. I know it’s kind of a small thing, but one of the advantages of running in this area, is that it is really easy for me to visualize the course, and and where I’m going next. So when I course is changed, or different than the map provided I personally was a little thrown.
They did give us the option to “personalize” our bibs which was cool, but I would have personally sacrificed that for a little more organized packet pick up. I did have to wait – but not for long, that really didn’t phase me. What did kind of bug me, was people who already had their bib numbers (meaning they were provided in the email), could skip the line. The line was due to the fact that the volunteers needed your name, they looked up the name, then you had to get in another line to get your packet. Again not a big deal but some people had the numbers and some people didn’t- which seemed silly.
All in all I enjoyed my experience. I always love races that utilize Chicago’s Lakefront trail, additionally to that my Bestie/roommate Casey and her dog Audi were able to wave me by around mile 7, and Pat was able to wait for me at the finish line. That was actually really nice because when races get really big spectators usually do not have the best access (if any) to the finish line. So it was nice that he could wait right there and see me finish. Additionally as I said before I sometimes go out of my way to opt for smaller races- and I was happy with how this turned out, I would have loved to stay longer after I finished to enjoy more of the expo- but I had to go to work (yeah I am a crazy person).
I personally performed well, and was happy because I have been having some issues with not just my right knee now but my left knee as well. So my main goal was just finishing the race, and a PR would be ideal- that was the mindset I had going into it, but if my knees acted up I had no qualms about dropping out mid-race (ok I had a lot of qualms- but I would have dropped out if need be). I did end up finishing with a five minute PR – so I was really happy about that. All in all I would do this race again, I know I had some small – ish gripes I discussed above, however I have both: a) paid more for races and b) had much worse experiences in terms of how the races were managed