I will start my race review by saying in an ideal situation I would have run the half marathon, not the 5k. I become injured in early November and was unable to run the Madison half marathon that month, so I knew a January half wasn’t realistic. My husband signed up for the F^3 Lake Half Marathon and I felt left out, so I signed up for the 5k in the hopes that I would somehow recover and be able to run at least a few weeks before the race. Thankfully, I overcame my injury in a month and half through lots of rest, time in the weight room, yoga, and a little cross training. I started running again a week before Christmas and knew that my goal for this 5k would be to finish and nothing more.
Now I will say that despite my lack of fitness going in, I am so happy I signed up for this race! The weather was unseasonably warm for January (40s) and it was so much fun.
Packet pick up: There were multiple weekends and locations (city and suburbs) to pick up packets and even an option to pick it up race morning for $15.
Parking: Only con about this race. Parking was a slow process and expensive because they made you pay before entering the garage. Most places have you grab a ticket and pay on the way out. I would have preferred that option because my husband and I kept our wallets in the bag in our car truck. So when we got to the front of the parking line I had to jump out of the car and scramble to open the trunk and find one of wallets to pay… I feel like myself (and everyone else) who had to do this held up the parking line significantly.
Waiting for the start: My favorite part of the race (besides running it) was the ability to stay inside the warm United Center until the start of the race and pee in a real toilet instead of a porta potty 😛 I also thought the gear check was easy to find and very well organized. If it had been actually cold on race day, I would have still been comfortable because the start line was right outside the door. I still took advantage of the warmth and since I did not warm up, I reported to the start line 5 min before the race. Had I had lofter goals for this race (i.e. getting a PR rather than just finishing), I would have warmed up, done drills, etc. I also used the wait time to finally meet some of my fellow Bibrave Pros Connie and Ben in real life 😛
Race course: The 5k (and the half) was a flat/fast out and back course. There was one water station on the 5k course than I didn’t use or need, but it was nice that they had one. My husband ran the half and did not take in much water, but was pleased with how many stops were on the course too. There were quite a few people cheering and taking pictures so that was also cool.
I just started running again a month before the race (due to my injury) and recently got a new job as a chemistry teacher, so my training was subpar going in. I only ran twice in the two weeks before the race and decided that with my lack of speed work it would be smartest from a recovery/injury standpoint to treat the race as a tempo run. I ran it in 21:08, which was a tempo effort for me at this point in m training, and unexpectedly 1st place female… Finally, everyone I saw on and off the course was nice, but I feel like this is because only the most dedicated runners are willing to run or volunteer in a Chicago winter race!
Post race/swag: Everyone who ran the 5k or half got a cool medal. The top three overall 5k runners for each gender got a plaque and the top three half marathon runners got prize money, which helped make the half marathon competitive. So, I got a pretty sweet plaque from the 5k! There were also age group prizes for the half marathon, which my husband narrowly missed (4th in his age group with a PR of 1:15). We also all got a cool lightweight hooded top, which is super comfy and soft and I’ve already worn twice since last weekend 😛
I waited around with the other 5k finishers until my husband finished the half marathon. Again, I was grateful that I was able to wait around in the warm United Center instead of outside. We all took some time to stretch and we met up with one more Bibrave Pro Mark! I’m sad I wasn’t able to meet up with/find everyone!
Then, we attended the awards ceremony, so I could collect my first place plaque and cheer on all the finishers.
After party: After the awards, we finally decided to mosey on over to the post-race party and get our free beers from Kroll’s. Our entire table ordered Two Brother’s Pinball pale ales. A few of us got food as well: my husband got a veggie burger, I got sweet potato fries, and Mikey got a Chicken Cesar Salad which he enjoyed. Kroll’s had a fun atmosphere, the food was decent, but I feel like they were a bit understaffed. They could have used a few more severs to handle the high volume of hungry and thirsty runners.
Overall, the F^3 Lake Half Marathon and 5k was well organized, fun, and definitely a race I’d do again. 🙂 Although, next time I’d do the half marathon rather than the 5k. Did any of you run F^3 this year or in the past?