The Hot Cider Hustle 5K was a fun race in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio! Bitter cold temperatures made it a challenge but the race was great.
When I signed up for the Hot Cider Hustle 5K, it was supposed to be a fun birthday run. Typical weather for early November in Cleveland is mid-30s to mid-40s. Sometimes a little snow, but not usually. As I tracked the weather during the week, Friday (my birthday) was supposed to be bitterly cold. Like, mid-February cold. But on Saturday things would warm up a bit, so I wasn’t too worried. A fun birthday race could still happen!
Unfortunately for my cold-hating self, this was not the case. Race morning arrived and the “real feel” was 13˚F. Awesome.
If it weren’t for my friends running the race also, I would have bailed. No doubt about it. I love me some hot cider but 13˚F 5Ks are not my thing…
First let me give you a review of the race, because even though I was a popsicle, it was pretty awesome.
Hot Cider Hustle 5K Review
Parking was a mess. I’m pretty sure the folks over at All Community Events grossly underestimated how many people were going to sign up. I sure did! I was thinking there would be maybe 300 people — tops. Well over 1,000 registered and showed up! Luckily I did manage a parking spot but it was a short walk away from the starting area. Under normal circumstances it wouldn’t have been a big deal, but since it was bitter cold and there was snow on the grass, it froze my big toes. More on that later.
The swag for this race was some of the best! As I sit here typing, I’m wearing the quarter zip fleece shirt. It’s warm and cozy, and I love it! We also received a mug after the race. The mug is also a new favorite.
There was a surprising amount of crowd support for this race. Not exactly on the course, but at the beginning and the end. I have no idea why those crazy people stood outside in the freezing cold when they could have been snug in their warm beds, but kudos to them for coming out.
I personally really liked the course. It meandered through a local school campus and then took us out on a beautiful, tree-lined neighborhood road. The only part I didn’t love was a gravel portion on campus toward the end of the race. But it didn’t make or break the course for me.
If it had been fifteen degrees warmer, the post-race party would have been awesome. After the race we received our mugs and got to fill them with piping hot apple cider, plus we got a caramel apple and bottle of water. There was music, lots of folks mingling and hanging out afterward. It really would have been a lot of fun had the weather cooperated.
The Hot Cider Hustle certainly exceeded my expectations and I’m really glad I went. Hopefully they come back to Cleveland next year, because we had a blast!
Now on to my race recap…
Hot Cider Hustle 5K Race Recap
As I mentioned, it was freezing-a$$ cold. I was dressed appropriately for the conditions, but not exactly for the standing around part. My friend Julie and I drove together. She had to pick up her packet, and as soon as we did that we headed indoors to the ice rink. Thank gawd it was open, otherwise I think I would have died. My toes got wet and frozen during the walk from the parking lot to the track. I truly couldn’t feel my big toes. Once inside the ice rink, I took off my shoes and put my hand warmers in my shoes to warm up my big toes. I’m so glad I had the foresight to bring hand warmers.
After some time passed and we were warmed up, it was time to line up for the race. Brrrr.
I had no plans to race and neither did Julie. We agreed to stick together and have a leisurely fun run. I should mention Julie is significantly faster than me (her marathon PR is 3:45, mine is 4:44) so my plan was to run her easy pace. We lined up pretty close to the start, which worked out well. For once I felt like I seeded myself properly. There was very little dodging or weaving.
We took it easy and chatted through the first mile and enjoyed the scenery. It was so, so cold. I warmed up a little bit during the first mile, but it was brutal. I glanced at my watch and we were holding steady just under 8:30 pace. It felt easy which was definitely a good sign. We passed a fair amount of runners in that first mile.
I was pretty ready to be done when Julie said we were at the halfway point. We picked up the pace just a bit but kept it easy. I warmed up a tad but I was still pretty cold. My quads were numb and my face was frozen. At least I could feel my toes.
The third mile was good. My core was warm and so were my hands. Face was still frozen, but we were on the homestretch. Almost done! My friend from high school, Heather, recognized me on the course and we said a brief “hi” to each other.
With a half mile left, we picked up the pace considerably. At one point I looked at my watch and saw we were significantly sub-8, which is a rarity for me. At this point my goal was to stick with Julie for as long as humanly possible. Her breathing became more labored and I knew she was going to kick it into high gear for the finish. I hung on with her for almost the entire race and could have run faster into the finish chute except for a patch of ice on the track. I didn’t slow much but enough that I could have shaved off a second or two had it not been there.
I came through the finish line and thought maybe, just maybe, I had snagged a 5K PR. I wasn’t sure, but it was definitely possible. Without any 5K training — hardly any training at all over the last few weeks, really — I felt really good about this race.
We saw my friend Heather and caught up with her a bit, then found Candice and congratulated her on her amazing race, too.
When the results were posted, I did indeed snag a nice new 5K PR. So happy!
Official finish time: 24:59
I’m so thankful for Julie. Had she not been there to pull me along, there’s no way I would have even considered running fast. I planned on running a tempo-style run, listening to tunes, and not freezing my ass off. But hanging on to her speed brought me a 21-second PR! It’s amazing having a friend that knows you can do better than you think you can.
I’m really happy with how the Hot Cider Hustle turned out. It was a really fun event made even sweeter with hot cider AND a PR!
Have you run a Hot Cider Hustle in your city?
What’s the coldest temperature you race in?
Linking up with My No-Guilt Life, Marcia’s Healthy Slice, and MCM Mama Runs for Tuesdays on the Run, and HoHo Runs and MissSippi Piddlin’ for the Weekly Wrap. Also linking up with Nicole, Annmarie, Jen, and Michelle for Wild Workout Wednesday, and myself, Debbie, and Lora for the Running Coaches’ Corner linkup.
I received a complimentary entry to this race in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.