I believe I signed up for the F^3 Burgers & Beer some time back in early spring – a friend noticed that there was a Groupon that made the race super-cheap so even though I am generally 5K adverse I agreed – after all, the promised food and beverage sounded pretty good.
Here’s the breakdown:
Packet pick-up: I picked up in advance at the downtown location of Universal Sole. I think they had pick-up only at this store location – probably trying to drive traffic to this location as it’s in a sort of secluded spot that wouldn’t normally get any foot traffic. I took the L down and cut it pretty close – really, too close – to the end of Packet pick-up last Friday. It ended at 7pm and I squeezed in at 7:05 much to the annoyance of the employee vacuuming the floor – sorry! The person running packet pick-up was able to get the two bibs/t-shirts that I needed with no trouble.
The Shirt: Ok, I get it – a recycled t-shirt to go with the green theme of the race. But, this t-shirt is likely to get recycled without my even wearing it. I usually take a women’s medium top. This medium *might* fit Barbie. It is very, very small. My friend got a large and I’m not even sure I’d be comfortable wearing that shirt. I’m pretty bummed that the shirt is tiny because it’s a nice shirt – soft cotton, cute design, OK color – and if it weren’t for the size issue I’d totally wear it. My friend works downtown near the U-Sole store so she’s going to try to see if we can exchange the shirts – I’d even take a men’s shirt just so long as it fits.
Travel to the race: U-Sole arranged for discounted parking in a nearby garage but I took the L. There is a nice pocket park across from the store and that’s where they set up the vendor village, race day pick-up, gear check & porta-potties – it takes about 10 minutes to walk from the closest L station. Again, I cut it pretty close (I work in the suburbs so to get to a downtown weekday race I usually have to change at work, leave 30 minutes early, drive like an asshole, sprint from home to the L and hope the L doesn’t have any delays) but I made it in time to use the porta-potty and heave my bag to the gear check people before walking the 5 minutes to the lakefront path.
The Course: It was a looped course – out on the part of the Lakefront Path close to the lake (not in the greatest shape – lots of uneven patches and missing chunks - it would have been a good idea for the race crew to use some bright spray paint on the worst areas to alert runners) and then back on the part of the path that’s close to Lakeshore Drive. This is a similar course to the Elvis is Alive 5K, but I actually like this course a little better because the Elvis course does that thing where you pass the finish line and then have to double back to cross it - psyche! The B&B course had a little hill to run down to get to the finish which was nice because it gave me a little extra oomph. The aid station was accessible from both sides of the course which is always wise – especially since it was hotter than balls last night and I’m sure that people appreciated being able to have water twice. The race started a couple of minutes late and the start area was a little bit of a cluster-f – there wasn’t enough room for everyone to line up on the path and so there were people milling around in the grassy area near the path waiting to filter into the start area. I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t be able to get up to a decent speed ever but surprisingly the course spread out pretty quickly and I did OK considering the heat – 25:55 (my PR is a little over 24 minutes) which was good enough for 15th out of 79 in my age group. Eh, not my best effort, but I’ll take it.
Post-Race: Again, I was sure that getting the beer & burger would be a shit-show (oh, RAM Racing how you have lowered my expectations for all races……) but there was an orderly line that moved quickly. The beer was a can of Goose Issland 312 (they didn’t take my beer tag so I was able to go back when the line was finished and get another….very sneaky) and there was a choice of beef, turkey or veggie burgers with slices of cheese to add (I had beef & cheese) and the buns were really good – not quite pretzel rolls, but way better than the nasty Wonder-bread kind. The biggest line was for the condiment table – maybe have two next year? I hung around for awhile because there was a raffle but the dude reading the names for the age group winners needed to cut the commentary and just speed things up. Eventually it go to be close to 9pm and faced with a 10 minute walk to the L, a 30 minute train ride, another 10 minute walk and very necessary shower I had to get home or I’d never make it to my 6am class at the gym. So, if I won a lifetime supply of running shoes I guess I was out of luck.
What I wore: As little as possible. Ha! Just kidding, but I did try to wear my most comfortable and light running apparel. Big surprise - I wore a Oiselle Bum Wrap skort (black), a Oiselle Mio Mesh Tank (very lightweight) with a Reebok compression bra (I can only wear these on short runs because they chafe a little), Balega socks and Saucony Kinvara 3’s.
Overall impression: I’d do this again if the price was right. Downtown races are a pain in the ass for me to get to but at least this one had a well layed out course and great food after the race.