Monday, August 22, 2016

humboldt park 5k recap

Disclaimer: I received an entry for RAM Racing Humboldt Park 5k to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

Feel free to read my shorter Pros/Cons list over on BibRave.

I have never ran the Humboldt Park 5k. The only time I had been to Humboldt Park was for Riot Fest back in August or September of 2014, and it looked much different this time around haha. This race was held on Sunday, August 14, 2016 in conjunction with Humboldt Park Community Wellness Fair.

Registration is super easy with RAM Racing, especially if you have an account. You can log in to see all of your upcoming races. One major bonus to having an account is being able to add on packet mailing at any point in time, up until about 2 weeks prior to the race. Turned out my weekend was going to be quite busy, and not knowing what the packet pickup would be, I added it on for $15. 

I received my packet about 5 days prior to the race and it included my bib, awesome water bottle, and some safety pins. It also had a little typed note thanking me for registering, what was inside the package, and where I could get more race day information (web address). Having the packet mailed is super convenient, and worth the cost if it means I don't have to drive into the city and deal with traffic and parking.

If you didn't get it mailed, they did offer pickup on Saturday, August 13 at Fleet Feet Chicago Old Town from 10am – 6pm, and then again at the race site from 6:30 – 8am. (If I had known soon enough, I would have just done pickup on race morning, but no biggie).

The only minor problem I had with this race was that I didn't know the area well, and so didn't know what parking was like. Was it metered? Were there garages? Is it free and plentiful? The only information available on the participant guide was that they highly suggest walking, biking, or taking public transportation to get there. I don't live in the city, so this wasn't an option for me. I found it surprising that they didn't offer any other parking tips, since they were so great at letting us know about parking for North Shore Classic back in June. 

Turns out I didn't have to worry, as there was plenty of free street parking right up against the park near the start/finish. I had asked fellow Pro Kim (who ended not being able to race, but lives nearby) for ideas on where to park, so it was nice having something going into it. When I got there, I saw one car parked with a 13.1 magnet on the back, so turned around and parked in front of him. I saw no signs saying parking wasn't permitted, but still waited for about 4 other cars to park in front of me before feeling confident haha. I'm a worrier!

I got to the race pretty early, as I gave myself ample time to get lost / deal with parking. I ate a snack bar, caught up on social media, and then with about 45 minutes until race time, I got my gear ready to go (aka put on my bib, headphones, visor, etc.) and hopped out of the car. I went to the race area where yoga was taking place, but my main focus was the portapotties. There were about 11 there and no lines.

The kids 1 mile race started at 8, and there was music and an announcer keeping things entertaining until the 8:30 start of the 5k. It was weird being there alone, as I do most races with my mom (who was busy with her sister and couldn't come with me). I enjoyed myself nonetheless.

I was shocked when I got my bib and I was in corral B. I was like whoa - did I put the right estimated finish time in? Then when I got there, I realized why. There were only A and B corrals haha. Now I get it ;)

At the start line.

Corral A was released at 8:30am on the dot. Corral B was around 8:33. It seemed like a smaller race, less than 1,000, which gave it a laid back feeling. Plenty of walkers and runners on the slow side (like me), along with the elites and speedy runners. It was a nice mix. With a smaller field and a wide course (even if half was sectioned off for runners coming back, as it had some out and back portions), there wasn't much congestion or issues with crowding, from where I was at least. When looking at results there were about 700 runners/walkers. I like RAM events because it allows a 15 min/mile pace, so you can get a lot of different speeds of folks out there.

The course was scenic and pretty, and the weather was pretty good for a summer day in August. It was in the 70s/low 80s, mostly sunny, and about 70% humidity. It's sort of hard to explain the course, other than it looked like an 'M' with some out and backs. I'll just post a photo to give a better idea, but it was clearly marked, and plenty of volunteers out there cheering and guiding you the correct way.

There was one aid station around the mid-way mark and it had Nuun at the first few tables (Nuun cups) and then water at the next few. Volunteers shouted out what they had, making it easy. There were a few potholes/uneven parts, so I'd say just be careful of where you're going and take care of your footing, but I didn't notice anyone have any problems, including my clumsy self.

I was doing 45/30 intervals which felt comfortable, and then I pushed a bit the last .25 miles or so. I was at the finish line by myself, which is rare, but quite fun. The announcer mentioned my outfit was on point (I really take that as a huge compliment, because I usually feel like I am just awkward haha). It also meant I got some great FREE photos to download of me at the finish line. Smiling. YAY!

Had to add some calf sleeves due to shin/calf pain the day before the race.

After crossing the finish I got a bottle of water and a bag of goodies that included Clif Trail Mix Bar, mini pretzels, Creme de Pirouline, Nature Valley Chewy bar, and a Rice Krispy Treat. I stuck around a bit longer to cheer on other finishers and grab a cup of Nuun from the tent near gear check, and then headed on home to run a few more miles to get in my scheduled total for the day.

I would recommend this race to anyone in the Chicagoland area. I enjoy unique swag—I love racing shirts if they are the right fit, but I do have so many it was nice to get something different. The course was interesting (good interesting) and it was a well-organized event. Even by myself I still had plenty of fun, and now that I know the parking situation, next year will be a breeze.

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