Virtual Chicago Hot Chocolate 5k Review and Race Recap
Disclaimer: I received an entry to Hot Chocolate Virtual Race Series 2020 to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro ambassador, and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!
Virtual racing isn't everyone's cup of tea (or should I say cup of hot chocolate!) but there are some benefits of virtual racing - flexible start time, course selection and clean/no line bathrooms are a few. I was expecting to race a virtual 5k on a cold November morning, maybe 30 degrees or so, light wind, and then curl up for the rest of the afternoon with a cup of hot chocolate but 2020 in Wisconsin had some other plans. We've been hit with some unseasonable warm weather here which made for a stunning fall morning. I was excited to put on my BibRave Orange (which very nicely doubled as high visibility for hunting season) and get going.
I'll start my review with my personal virtual race experience. If you've read any of my previous blogs you'll know I am firm on going out relaxed in any race. The only race you rarely negative split (from beginners up to the pro's is the 800 meter) everything else is better off run a negative split. If you've read any of my other blogs you'll also know I am terrible with this. I tell myself, "relax" but I just go out like a bat out of hell at the beginning. I'm really trying to work on this and guess what...I finally did it!!!
I can't take full credit telling myself to relax, I also have my rusty race experience to credit. Racing in general is a whole different feeling - you really have to learn that feeling. Once you realize you aren't going to die then it opens up new doors. I haven't been able to practice that, so I was fully holding back from feeling any more pain then necessary. But I was able to push a bit and pull off (barely) negative splits. I imagine if I would have had someone there to push me I would have been able to dig a little more and not back off as easily.
I ended up running a 21:03 but it was probably closer to 21:20 or 21:30. I ran on the Wiowash Trail on a segment that mapped out a 5k out and back. A very nice Eagle Scout took the time in 2010 to create this course for their Eagle Project and mapped out each half mile. Unfortunately I ended up a little short which probably means I was about 20-30 sec slower. I am content with where I'm at right now, not thrilled, but not disappointed either. A year ago I was so darn close to breaking 20 and 3-4 months ago I ran a 10k close to this pace. I've even had some recent tempo runs around this pace so maybe that's an indicator I need to adjust my tempo paces a little slower. I know that I cannot use 1 data point as an indicator of my fitness and that a lot of positives came out of this time trial.
Let's switch gears to specific details about the Hot Chocolate Virtual Race Series. They did NOT disappoint nor did they miss any little detail. The race communication through social media accounts - Facebook, Twitter and Instagram was spot on. I always was kept updated and always knew what was going on. I knew when my race gear was on the way AND it was delivered a week before the race date. Other virtual races I have done didn't really have a specific timeline for sending out gear, so it was nice to get things before the race.
In the swag bag there was a zip up hoodie, medal, bib, hot chocolate, chocolate pieces and some samples from sponsors (Nuun, Honestinger and a CBD oil). The medal opens up to a little piece of chocolate inside and the hoodie was offered in men's and women's sizes. You can read my full review up on BibRave.com (it's linked right to the Hot Chocolate reviews).
Virtual racing isn't ideal but don't get too comfortable, get out and get those rusty gears turning! Make the best of what you can - it sucks but complaining isn't going to change anything. Running is NOT cancelled!