async="src="/ Taking the Long Way Home: Race Recap: Cocoa Classic 5k

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Race Recap: Cocoa Classic 5k

Disclaimer: As an ambassador for All Community Events, I received a free entry to the Cocoa Classic 5k

What better way to celebrate the holiday season than by running a holiday-themed race? Holiday races are becoming very popular. Here in the Chicago area, we have quite a few options, both in the city and the suburbs. Last year, I ran the Cocoa Classic 5k and I really enjoyed it. So when it came time to sign up for a holiday race, I decided to run it again.

The real Cocoa

The Cocoa Classic 5k is held at the Deer Park Town Center, which is located about 5 miles from my house. I left my house at 7:30 with plenty of time for packet pickup. It was about 30 degrees, which isn't bad for this time of year, but with rain in the forecast, it was raw. I sat in my car to keep warm and finish up my Tailwind, fueling as I had for all my 5ks this year, until about 8:15 and the headed over to the starting line for the 8:30 start.

The Start/Finish line
photo credit
In the corral, I ran into Denise, a fellow ACE ambassador. She was wearing a holiday fleece onesie. It was cold and I was regretting my wardrobe choice--I had on a holiday pullover with tights--but reminded myself that once we started running, I'd warm up quickly. An Instagram friend, Tricia, came over and introduced herself. I love that! While we were waiting to start, I looked around behind me and was stunned to see such a large number of participants. The Star-Spangled Banner was sung--beautiful but oh so slowly--and then we were off.

Fellow ACE ambassador Denise and me
We started off running through the parking lot out to the surrounding road. Everyone around me was running so fast! I looked down at my watch and saw a 7:15 m/m pace. Rookie mistake--getting caught up in the crowd. The first mile was mostly downhill, so even though I slowed down, I ran faster than I should have. Mile 1 8:10.

We turned off the road onto a paved path and immediately ran uphill. It wasn't a big hill but after running too fast, I felt it. I slowed down to a 9:10 mile pace and eventually took a brief walk break to get my heart rate down. Once I started running again, I maintained about a 9 m/m pace. Mile 2 9:14

I got a second wind heading into the final mile. I picked up the pace once again and started passing people, including my fellow ACE ambassador. My legs felt great so I rolled with it. Mile 3 8:38

photo credit
When we turned onto the road back to the finish line, I started to feel really nauseous. I didn't slow down and that sick feeling intensified. As I crossed the finish line, at 27:22, I spotted the photographer, tried to smile, and slowed to a walk. My stomach did a flip flop and I knew what was coming. I did my best to hold back and as I hurried out of the finish area, hand over my mouth, I spotted Teen Miss Lake County, complete in tiara, sash, and high visibility vest, staring at me horrified. I didn't want to vomit on her, so I scurried across the parking lot, my stomach heaving, and ran behind the portapotties.

Free race photos!
Not my best finish line face. Praying that I don't throw up in front of everyone.
Never have I ever vomited after a race before this. I was a little puzzled about why that happened. Did that fast first mile do me in? Was it due to the cold virus I had been struggling with all week? The Tailwind I drank before the race? The lack of sleep the night before? I have no clue.

Anyways, once my stomach settled down, I felt much better and walked over to chat with the owner of ACE, Peter, and our lead ambassador, Mandi. I congratulated them on their races and thanked them for selecting me to be an ambassador again next year.

I checked out my finish time and learned that I came in 5th in my AG. There were 55 women in my AG; overall 850 runners ran the Cocoa Classic; last year there were about 685 runners. While I wasn't disappointed to not have an AG award, I was surprised. Like I always say, it's all about who shows up, right? Overall, I am pleased with my finish time, however, I wish I had done a better job managing my pace out of the start line. There were a lot of fast runners at the race--157 finished ahead of me. Lining up at these races is always a crapshoot--there are kids and slow runners up in the front. I hate weaving around people, but at this race, the faster runners were weaving around me!


I really like this race and apparently, so do a lot of other people. It's grown quickly in the few years it's been around. I think people in the suburbs like the convenience of not having to travel downtown for a 5k. The course is nothing exciting, but when you're running a 5k, does it really matter? It's a fast, mostly flat course made for good finish times. All runners got a half zip this year--it was a nice change from the typical ACE fleece hoodies we usually get. There was hot cocoa at the finish--my stomach was not up for that--and all finishers got a coffee mug filled with goodies.

The Cocoa Classic 5k was a fun race but I had an unpleasant surprise at the finish line! /via @oldrunningmom @allcommunityeve #runchat #running #racerecap #neverhaveiever #5k

Did you run a holiday race this year? If so, which one? Did you wear holiday gear? Have you ever vomited at the end of a race? Favorite holiday race swag? Local peeps, will you join me next year at the Cocoa Classic 5k?


I'm linking up with Kim and Zenaida for Tuesday Topics.




40 comments :

  1. The vomiting means you gave it everything (and more) you had. When you push past lactate threshold bloodflow is sent to your muscles and away from your digestive tract and nausea happens. Congrats on a strong race! Hilarious about Miss Teen. :P

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    1. As I was trying not to throw up on her, I couldn't help but chuckle, lol!

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  2. Cocoa is so photogenic - what a cutie!

    This sounds like a fun themed holiday race. I'm so sorry that you got sick after crossing the finish line. It was probably a combination of everything that you mentioned, especially since you were fighting a cold all week. I am glad that you are feeling better now.

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    1. I was feeling ok after the race, but I'll tell you, this took a lot out of me! I skipped my run on Sunday because I was just so exhausted. Sheesh!

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  3. A half zip for a 5k? Unheard of around these parts! When I first read about you doing this I didin't think about the real Cocoa, LOL!

    You had a great race, although so sorry about the nausea. Probably just one of those things, I guess, but never pleasant (and no, I've never done it at a race -- not yet, anyway).

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    1. I guess there's a first time for everything! I hope that never happens again.

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  4. Imagine you would have been sick all over Teen Miss Lake County! Haha, that would have been spectacular!
    You did an excellent job with your 5k. It's comforting to know that even experienced runners like you do Rookie mistakes. But you managed it very professionally, even overtaking your fellow ACE ambassador.
    Enjoy the cocoa with Cocoa!

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  5. Thankfully, I have never (knocking loudly on my wooden desk) gotten sick during or after a race. I don't think I have it in me to push to that extreme. That 5K distance still humbles me, though....even with a good finish time, I'm always second guessing how fast/slow that first mile should have been.

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    1. It's funny because I didn't really feel like I was pushing that hard except at the end of mile 1. My legs felt good.

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  6. I'm sorry you got sick, but your description of Miss Teen was hilarious!

    I have gotten nauseated during a race, but it was in Hawaii with very warm conditions so it was probably heat exhaustion. Fortunately, I've never vomited post race.

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    1. I've gotten nauseous in warm weather too. This came completely by surprise!

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  7. Oh sorry to hear about this, but your description of the horrified Miss Teen was hilarious. My bet's on residuals from your cold nauseating you. The only times I've been really gulpy during a race or run have been from that post-nasal drip thing. Anyway, moving swiftly on, love your outfit and well done, still!

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    1. Yeah, I'm thinking the cold too. You can never say never, that's for sure!

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  8. omg Wendy!! there's a first for everything!! goodness!

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  9. I never have - thankfully! I hope to keep up my streak. At least you didn't barf on someone - that would have been way worse! I hope you're feeling better!

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    1. I was feeling better about 5 minutes after it happened. I was hoping to keep up my streak too. Pressure's off now!

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  10. I immediately thought you had a race with your sweet puppy, LOL. What a nice bit of swag for a 5K; glad you didn't get your barf included in the official race photos although that would have been memorable, for sure. And I'm betting that you've deterred Miss Teen from ever wanting to become a runner, hahah.

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    1. Can you even imagine the race photos if that happened? I'd probably be a meme...

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  11. I have made the mistake of starting too fast on a 5K so many times and it never goes well! I have not ever gotten sick after a race but I have seen other runners do many times. At least they did not capture it on a photo :)

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    1. I've always prided myself on my strong stomach, so what the heck?

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  12. Congrats on a great race! A post race puke just means that you gave it all you had, it's a badge of honor.

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    1. Well, who knew? And all this time I've been trying to avoid that! LOL

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  13. 5th in your AG with that many runners is still awesome! So sorry your stomach did not cooperate after the race. That is no fun at all! Love the swag from the race!

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    1. This is really a fun race and I'll look forward to running it again next year!

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  14. No holiday races for me, unfortunately, but they can be so much fun and there are so many great options around me.

    I love that you got a coffee mug of goodies. Such a cute finisher prize.

    I have vomited after a race. It was actually at my first 5K. I got really emotional at the end, hyperventilated, and tossed my cookies right under the photographer's ladder. Banner moment, I will tell you.

    I love that you have Cocoa posing with your swag!

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  15. Congrats on a great race! Isn't it amazing how fast some of the "older ladies" can be, but as you say, "it's all about who shows up." As I say every year, I love your shirt that you wear for your holiday races!

    Oh my goodness, I can only imagine the horrified look on Teen Miss Lake County's face as you came toward her with your hand over your mouth! Good for you for making it to behind the porta potties. That in itself is a feat! Glad you felt a little better afterward.

    This is the first year in many that I didn't run a holiday themed race. I don't know why, but I just did't "feel" it.

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    1. It helps that I am an ambassador for this race promoter! Plus the race is close to my home. It's kind of fun and it helps me to get into the holiday spirit.

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  16. I'm surprised that you placed 5th with that finishing time. Obviously some fast competition.
    I never go out too fast. My body always thinks that first mile is a warm up mile, no matter what the distance.

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    1. Lucky you! The adrenaline kicks in for me and it's like I've already warmed up. I'm usually good about holding back. I didn't expect everyone to go out so fast!

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  17. Great job Wendy! Boy that was a fast crowd if you placed 5th?! Sorry about the stomach issues at the end - I have to say I did chuckle at your description of Miss Teen Lake watching this unfold. And a half-zip is nice swag - especially for a 5K!

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    1. I'll tell you--never take this running thing for granted! LOL!

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  18. Glad your stomach felt better once it was out. Something to that better out than in cliche.
    Congrats on a solid finish. I Need to up my holiday outfits if I do another one next year

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    1. I was trying to remember that line for my Runfessions post that I'm working on! LOL!

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    2. I had food poisoning last month. I think one of my colleagues said it, or maybe mom. It's oh so true. Thanks for Runfession reminder

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  19. No holiday races for me but the one you did looks fun! Bummer you were feeling that way after your race. I love your hat!

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  20. I've felt nauseous at the end of many a race. So far have acted on it.

    I had to DNS our holiday race...I'll do it next. They are so run.

    My favorite swag was a hoodie from the Hot Chocolate 15k.

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