This race holds a special place in my heart as it is my only hometown race. It is put on by the Park Forest Running & Pancake Club, a very friendly, mostly “masters” club that has been around for 35 years. Old school runners = old school race.

The 5K is a double loop on some flaaaat streets, there are no aid stations (given today’s 17-degree temps, the water probably would have froze), the race is “chip” timed, but with no mat at the start, you are going on “gun” time (and by gun, I mean local running legend Frogger yells out “ready? OK, go!”).

But who cares, they serve up all-you-can eat pancakes and sausage post-race, there are fewer than 200 finishers but they still do 5-year age groups, and give out trophies instead of medals (and everyone gets something), and this year’s trophies had sailboats on them. And instead of shirts, they gave out fleece gloves (not fitted, but a good second layer on cold days) with the club logo embroidered on. (The logo is a turtle, by the way.) And they only do race-day bib pick-up.

Sometimes after doing a ton of overhyped, “commercial” feeling races, it’s nice to get back to the basics.

And because this race is local, I was able to bring my own personal photographer. Who complained (repeatedly) that he could be snuggled in a warm bed instead of standing outside in sub-20 temps. BOO HOO, the race time was 10:30am, Lazy Bones.

Midwinter Cruise 5K Midwinter Cruise 5K

Going through the first loop. 

Normally, I run every race by heart rate and secretly hope for a PR. But my heart rate strap has been chafing me (sorry for the TMI), so I’ve been running without it. (I think I loosened it and forgot to re-tighten it, hopefully I’ll be, uh, ready to wear it again this weekend at the F^3 Half.) Plus, I just wasn’t feeling a PR. It was freaking cold this morning (17 degrees, feels like temp was 3 or 6 or something), and my speedwork lately has been long tempo runs (in preparation for the F^3 Half next weekend), not shorter intervals. So I didn’t have my hopes set on a PR. And when I woke up this morning, my calves felt TIGHT. (I assume from yesterday’s ballet class.)

In addition to running without monitoring my heart rate, I also tried to run this race “blind” and not look at my Garmin. However, they have volunteers yelling out the time at every mile (and halfway).

Midwinter Cruise splits

I am happy that my miles got faster, and I’m really happy with mile 3. Fastest mile I’ve ever clocked during a race. The only one that comes close (7:09) was during a 5K last March, when we had a pretty strong tailwind for the first mile or so.

Midwinter Cruise 5K Midwinter Cruise 5K

Luz and me on the left. 

My official time was 22:48. Not a PR, but my second-best 5K time. I’m happy with the sub-23. I feel like once you get down to a certain minute with your 5K time, even if you don’t get a PR, you still want your time to start with that minute. Also this was a course PR for me.

After cooling down and chatting with Amanda, we headed inside for pancakes and sausages! Post-race, I ran into three bloggers (Zach and Luz/JV), a friend of my mom’s (her husband and son ran), and a friend from high school (her husband ran – and came in second overall). And of course my fellow Frankfort-New Lenox Running Club friends. I also got to meet some friendly people from the Channahon-Minooka Running Club.

Midwinter Cruise 5K Midwinter Cruise 5K

I was the second overall female and won the F30-34 age group. The first overall female was also 30, but she didn’t count toward AG awards – I’ll take it!

Next up: F^3 Half on Saturday. I’m not sure about my goal. Given the cold, I’m not running for a PR, but I do want to practice “racing” the half marathon distance, and leaving it all out there, in preparation for my goal spring half marathon (May 5). But I also want to enjoy the post-race party at the Cubby Bear. I can do both right? I guess I’ll find out.