Total distance: 3.22 miles
I was equally nervous and excited for this race for a variety of reasons. It was the first 5K that I'd participated in since the Color Run back in July, and that was definitely a novelty run that was intended to be leisurely walked/hopped/skipped through. This was going to be an "actual" 5K - all running, no gimmicks. Well, unless you count receiving hot chocolate at the end a gimmick, in which case, I shan't argue the case with you. Most of all, this was going to be the first 5K I would be participating in that was officially chip-timed. I've never been officially timed before and, honestly, I thought it was kind of neat to be able to finally do.
This particular 5K, the Hot Chocolate Race, has been around for a few years. I almost, almost got persuaded to sign up for it last year by one of my friends, but I knew I was nowhere near ready to run a 5K. The charity partner for this race was Above + Beyond Cancer - not really here nor there but I'm noting it for my records.
This particular race took place the weekend after Halloween, so I wasn't sure if the expectation was to wear a costume or not. Based on photos from previous events, it looked like there were a smattering of festive participants, but for the most part, it was just straight up simple running gear. Additionally, the temperature was supposed to be a bit cooler, which meant a bit of bundling. The registration fee also included a nifty fleece jacket, which I had full intentions of wearing during the race (if for no other reason than to differentiate this race day photo from other runs) but imagine my surprise when the size I ordered was way too big. You can never be sure what to expect with the sizing of women's fitnesswear; most of the time it runs small and so you have to plan accordingly. Not this time! Unfortunately, they wouldn't let me trade out the jacket for a smaller size until after the race was over, so I kept my trusty old jacket on instead. I'm sure you'll see that jacket pop up on some of my other normal runs in the future.
Pre-race, it was pretty chilly. I was factoring in the fact that I'd probably warm up once I started running, which I'm glad I did, because if I'd added any additional layers I would have been miserable. As it was, I wanted to rip my jacket off after about two miles but then I'd have to carry it somehow so I just left it, quietly cursing at it for the last bit of the run.
The race website advertised it as being a nice, flat, fast course, tempting people to sign up for it with the possibility that they could break their PR for the year. I strongly suspect that at some point near the eleventh hour, they changed that route... because it was not flat at all. I mean, it wasn't monstrously hilly or anything (this is central Iowa we're talking about) but there were a lot of inclines and little hills and, frankly, it was kind of challenging for me. I struggled. Not to the point where I thought maybe I wouldn't finish - no, I was determined to finish - but enough that I had to constantly pep-talk myself. I also had to stop and tie my shoes which was supremely annoying but I was able to start running again without any hesitation or problem.
It was a relief to cross the finish line. In the end, my own finish time wasn't really that far off from the Official finish time. It was not my finest performance, but the important thing is that I was NOT LAST.
In case you can't read the stats in my image below (screencapped from the website), I finished:
Overall place: 415 out of 550
Division place: 41 out of 55 (female 25-29)
Gender place: 295 out of 414
Which means that out of everyone running, I beat 135 of them. Out of the other ladies in my age range, I was ahead of 14 other people, and out of all the ladies of all the ages, I beat 119 people. Which probably means I simply beat the people that walked a lot. I will admit that I was passed at least once by someone with a stroller. It's okay. Some of those stroller people are fit, man.
Overall, I really enjoyed this race, it was pretty well organized and I really liked having the chip timer aspect. I don't generally like to compare myself with other people because I am slow and it will be years before I'm able to be competitive (if ever), but it was still fun to have a benchmark. I will likely do this one again next year so long as the registration fees stay reasonable.
Sadly, out of all the post-race photos they posted, I didn't seem to be in any of them. I'm really curious to see if I still look like I'm barely moving like I did in the photos from the 80s Run 5K. Maybe next year!