However, about two days before the race, and two and a half weeks before my first half marathon in Des Moines, disaster struck: injury. A bout of popliteus tendinitis, which I have never before faced, cropped up and made it very difficult to move. Thankfully, I am a CARA Member and have access to the free NovaCare Injury Hotline, which I called on Friday before the race. The physical therapist on the phone said that I should be OK to run provided I was not in debilitating pain, and obviously to take it slow and stop immediately if I was feeling that something was very wrong.
Packet pick-up was smooth: with the small entry, I didn't have to wait at all, and I got my bib and full packet in a matter of seconds. The shirt admittedly is quite cute. It's not a tech shirt, but I still very much like it.
The gear check was the equivalent of a mom-and-pop operation, which I loved, as my bag was one of about ten checked. We headed to the start line about 10 minutes before official start, and the gun went off.
I set about jogging slowly. By the end of mile 1, I needed a bit of a walk break since my calf was burning, so I took one. It was sort of liberating racing without the pressure of feeling the need to PR. I knew I wasn't going to, so I actually (despite my pain) enjoyed the race. At my slow pace, I was able to enjoy the course, which featured some lovely homes along the way. The roads of the course were entirely closed off, so the course was quite wide open and I never felt like I was going to be bumping into people. Volunteer direction was great, so there was no chance of getting off-course.
After the race, free brats, hot dogs and bagels were available (including some lighter turkey brats). Racers over 21 enjoyed basically unlimited beer courtesy of Samuel Adams (Oktoberfest was being poured from a mobile truck draft).
Overall, I really enjoyed this race. The small entry was fantastic (sometimes you really just need a small entry race for some room), the unlimited beer and brats made it seem not only like Oktoberfest but also like true Illinois. The age group/team awards looked pretty sweet too -- beer steins, medals, trophies, etc. I actually would have gotten 5th in my age group under normal circumstances, but as it was, I ran a 35:55 while suffering with popliteus tendinitis, which is pretty good considering. But that's the benefit of these smaller races is that you actually have a chance to place in your age group, particularly if you're in a popular age group like me, 25-29 female, which seems to always be the largest age group.
I'd absolutely do this race next year. It was nice and low-key, small entry, nice course, and the swag bag and post-race amenities were very nice. Thank you to the Itasca Runners Club for this great race!
Itasca Oktoberfast 5K
October 5, 2013