Monday, November 23, 2015

Hometown Heroes Honor Run Race Recap

This was my third year participating in the Hometown Heroes Honor Run (HHHR) in Riverside, California on October 3rd. And it also happens to be the third year of its existence! :-) So I'm a legacy runner so far...

I actually really enjoy this race and it has quickly become one of my favorites that I look forward to each year. It's the perfect time of year, the venue is fabulous, and it benefits a fantastic cause in the Riverside Police Officers' Association. My previous two race recaps are here and here.

Registration is super easy and I would say the cost is very reasonable for everything you get in this race. I think it was about $40. They also offered same-day registration although you aren't guaranteed your preferred size of or a goody bag; but if they have extras, you get them. My friend Sally signed up day of and was able to get the shirt she wanted and a goody bag so that was awesome.

It was hard to get us all in the picture with my t-rex arms, but we have L-R: Brian, Heather (my sis), Me, Sally.

Expo and Venue
They have quite a few booths set up ranging from local sellers to other races promoting their own events so there's always something to look at while you wait. This year they set up on the concrete instead of out in the grass, so that made for a nicer experience. They also have a few food trucks and the Boy Scouts were back again this year providing a free pancake breakfast post-race. This race takes place at a Sports Park so there's lots of free parking (including a school across the street) and a playground for kids to hang out at with their guardian while they are waiting for Mom & Dad or whoever to finish their race. In the past my nieces and nephew have had a great time hanging out at the park with their Dad while my sister raced. Bored kids are a nightmare, so having the park and plenty of space to run around is a real benefit to the venue. If this event continues to grow it might outgrow this location, but so far it fits perfectly. Oh- and they have at least a few real bathrooms in addition to the port-a-johns! BONUS!!!

This race has some pretty decent swag. You get a goody bag that consists of one of those basic totes with the drawstrings that you can wear as a backpack (I'm sure there's an actual name for those things, but it escapes me), a technical shirt, and lots of little freebies like Biofreeze, Corn Thins, and more. As far as race swag goes, this one is usually pretty decent.

The 5k course (I haven't done the 10k so I can't really speak to it at all, but my friend Jennifer did this year and her main comment was HILLS...hahaha) is mostly flat - now, it isn't ALL flat - there are some hills but they are manageable hills) and is a perfect rectangle. The rectangle shape is awesome because after you've done the first long stretch, you have a short one and then you have a basic idea of what to expect on the final long stretch. And with all left turns it just feels...right. I don't know how else to describe it. Now, I'm going to admit that I have a bad case of Racenesia* and I find myself thinking a course was awesome and flat and then the next year I run it and there's all these hills and I'm like "wait - I thought this course was FLAT - what happened?!?" This is a real thing, people, trust me! 

*Racenesia: noun. The act of forgetting how difficult or challenging a race is after the race is over. May result in telling people that a course is flat or easy when it is, in fact, very far from flat or easy. 

But just to show you that in this case I'm not suffering from Racenesia, here's the course elevation profile from my Garmin Connect activity:

See, that's pretty flat, right??
I don't have any on-course pictures as the only photos were from the finish line and after I already crossed the line. They are straight-up horrible pictures and I would definitely recommend that they find a better location next year a little bit before the finish or at the very least use multiple photographers so they can have one along the course too. But I always hate on-course photos anyways as I am definitely NOT photogenic while running. I have hated almost every single race picture I have ever seen of me. LOL

Okay, guys, this medal is AMAZING!!! They really have improved upon it every single year and this year it was colored pink for Breast Cancer Awareness and was a spinner. And for being a 5k race, the medal is HUGE. Check it out...

I had the silly thing backwards for this post-race selfie...oops. LOL

Seriously, one of the best medals and by far one of the best for a 5k race that is very reasonably priced.

My Race
I went into this race with the plan to run it easy and attempt to run the entire thing from beginning to end without stopping. And I totally met my goal!!! I ran the entire time, even on the last hill that has gotten me every single year so far. I didn't get a PR on this one. My standing 5k PR is actually from this race last year and was an even 32:00. This year I finished in 32:25 so 25 seconds slower than my PR; however, I felt like I ran a much better race this year because I met my goals: find a pace I could maintain the entire time and then hold it for the 3.1 miles. Done and done! I did really feel it at the end and I had nothing left to give as I crossed that finish line. It's funny because last year I walked on the final hill and was able to use a strong finish kick across the line; this year, I ran the little hill but didn't have anything extra in the way of a finish kick. But the main thing for me was sticking to my plan and I did that.

Post-Race Party
I never really stick around a whole lot after the race is over as I'm anxious to get home and start the rest of my day and this time really wasn't any different. I grabbed some water, found Sally who finished a little ahead of me, and then waited for my sister to come in. Once we collected her, we grabbed some pancakes from the boy scouts and scooted on out of there. They do have a post-race awards ceremony and probably some music too, but I couldn't say how it was since I didn't hang around. :-)

Final Thoughts
This is still one of my favorite races and I'll definitely keep coming back for more. It's at the perfect time of year and usually serves as my kick-off to the fall racing season. It's a great race and the organizers work hard to create an excellent event. I highly recommend it if you're in the area!

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