Last weekend, Tim and I took to the streets to run through Naperville. Now in its 34th year, the Downers Grove 5 Miler snakes through a residential area described as "scenic" and "rolling."
This is my first five-mile race. One year ago, I couldn't even run around the block. We ran a 5K last fall, but now we're stepping up to longer distances. To make this food related, I started my morning with my favorite breakfast: whole-wheat toast with organic peanut butter, flaxmeal and banana. Also, I only started running so I can eat more, so that's the tie in.
We got to the race around 7 a.m. without any incident. Traffic was nonexistent and parking was plentiful and free. There weren't any lines at the port-a-potties or registration. We picked up our packets the day before, but had to exchange our giant T-shirts for smaller sizes. Even with a size small, I was swimming in these tech shirts. They need smaller sizes because I'm not exactly petite and tech shirts should be fitted.
The race began on-time at 7:30 a.m. and the route was clearly marked. And holy hills, there were quite a few. I hit my version of a good pace pretty quickly and didn't have to fight a ton of people, since it was field of only about 500. The timings at the splits were clearly marked and I hit at 9ish, 18ish, 27ish and then 37ish. There were four water and gatorade stations along the way, which was great, but we had fantastic weather with a nice breeze, so I didn't feel like I needed to suck down water like my life depended on it.
The last mile was rather brutal for me. There was an uphill portion and I was trying to haul ass to maintain a nine-minute pace for my finish. Alas, I had to stop and suck in some air before heading to the finish line. My clock time was 45:55, so I was pretty happy with that.
There were only a few vendors at the post-race party and the standard post-race food: trail mix, oranges, bananas, bagels and gatorade. We didn't stick around long, mostly because they royally screwed up the times. They judged everyone based on the 10-mile course (it was basically just another loop of the same course, but here's a recap), so my ticket said I maintained a 4:29 pace. Unreal. When the official times finally came out on Tuesday, my time was 45:25.
I wish we would have stayed, because it turns out Tim won his age group! My champion finished in 41:24. I'm in the presence of greatness.
Swag: Technical shirt, items available from vendors post-race
Pros: Great volunteer support, easy parking and traffic, no crowds/lines, well-marked course
Cons: Gigantically sized T-shirts, inaccurate timing, "rolling" course with potholes, not a lot going on post race
Would I go again: Yes