Monday, October 3, 2011

Race Without Trying: Bucktown 5K

After crossing the Bucktown 5K finish line
Bucktown: how I have missed you. Bucktown: you’ve changed…for the better. Bucktown: I think I might have to run you again…next year.

I’m not sure how a less-than-23-minute race could be so memorable, yet it was. Actually all of the short efforts I’ve run since July—thought few and far between—have been. But what made this 5K different:
  • It must have been at least five years ago that I last ran this race. Correction: it was 2005, six years ago, and I was a first timer (but I felt like a course novice today, too).
  • I barely slept the night before and almost didn’t go—my bed was very cozy at 7:30 a.m.
  • I forgot how to dress for cooler weather running. Wake up to air temperatures claiming to be in the high 40s and I freak out, wear gear that’s ideal for standing in the cold but overheats the minute I start moving, and start feeling uncomfortable at the first mile. When you stand around the start corral and look at what others chose to wear for the race, you realize how many better options you left at home. Yes, arm warmers, pocket tank and lightweight Nike pullover, I’m talking to you.
  • I overestimated how long it would take to get to the race (remember that for marathon Sunday) and was thrilled when I could cross the street and be steps from the start with time to spare.
  • The course must have changed in the last six years. I remember a longer walk from Burr Elementary School to the start line, running either south or west to kick off the race, and feeling like I was far removed from home even though I only lived a few blocks south of where I currently live and had an easy time arriving.
  • I got passed—a lot. And yet, I still ran fast, faster than I did when I was in so-called better shape at 2005’s race, and faster than I have all summer. Do all the fast runners come out for this race?
  • The open corral lined up.
  • I didn’t recognize anyone except for a glimpse of second place female winner, Emily Inskeep. Sorry media team, I looked for you but couldn’t spot a recognizable face.
  • The time-based start corrals were a godsend, at least when comparing to my last RAM Racing race, the Hot Chocolate 15K where I pushed, shoved and got nowhere among incorrectly seeded runners. I lucked my way into the B corral instead of the open one, started within 20ish seconds of the gun and rounded one of the race’s final corners when other runners had only covered the first mile.
  • I completely missed the memo about the tickets for the Taste of Bucktown after the run. Too bad too because I finished before any lines had formed and could have reloaded with more than bananas and Gatorade.
  • I was home and back in bed to catch those zzz’s I missed when it was dark less than two hours after I awoke.
  • While this race is marketed as a dress rehearsal for next week's Chicago Marathon--a shorter format to try out shoes, socks, layering, a pre-race meal before the big day--I didn't practice what to do next week. Oh no. It was a don't-you-dare-do-this effort. You can screw up for 3.1 miles, but when you're running 26.2 miles, you want to avoid it at all costs.
  • RIC's booth at the finish line with part of their racing team
  • And the goodie bag item? The track jacket that should have been too large (women's XL and men's small were the only options when I registered) surprisingly fits. Not perfect but I could care less based on how it looks--and it's not another T-shirt to add to the collection.
  • Even if the marathon turns disastrous at least I know that I had one good race for the season, not trying too hard in this effort yet turning in a time that I could only dream about when I hobbled my way through the Les Turner Strike Out ALS in July. Yes!
Did you run yesterday's Bucktown 5K? What did you think of it? Check your results here.


  1. "I’m not sure how a less-than-23-minute race could be so memorable, yet it was." - Fabulous. :)

    I was one of those in the open corral and it was horrible. I spent my first mile speed walking to get around all of the people who were walking at a normal pace only 0.25 in. I should've been somewhere around 27 minutes and I ended up at 30:42. Really? UGH.

    And I ended up with a track jacket that I look like a stuffed sausage in.

  2. Gen--
    So sorry about your race experience, I've definitely been in situations like that. You should have seen me at Elvis in August--running in the grass, nearly tripping, almost crashing into a runner who was at the front but decided to go from run to walk (like the walk pace you described). Sounds like it was as packed as it looked when the course reconnected around mile 2.5 :( As much as it stinks to pay for a track jacket that doesn't fit right, you can always use it as a layer to toss to the side at the marathon--that's what I told myself if mine didn't fit. Those sizes were deceiving per the size chart.
    And thanks for reading my race report!



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