Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Rainbow Run 5K 2013 (Pride & Cereal?)

Rainbow Run 5K (3.15 miles)
Average Pace 9:32/mile

As a happy kick off to Pride Week, the Twin Cities had it's first slew of events this past weekend.  While most of them either didn't interest me, or I didn't have time for them (considering my busy weekend), I did manage to sneak one event in. 

If you read my post last Friday, you know that on Sunday, I ran the Rainbow Run 5K!

So... here goes the race recap / report!

Let's start with the day before, because this will become somewhat relevant to my performance in the race. 

I woke up bright and early Saturday (6am, blech) so that I could eat a light breakfast and have a settled stomach before teaching the 8:30am Instructor's Choice class at the gym.  If you know me at all, you know I am NOT a morning person.  In fact, if I ruled the world, I'd sleep 'till noon every day and all race directors would have gun times after 5pm by law

Obviously, I do not rule the world.  Pout!

Anyhow, I taught class, and participated in it pretty much full tilt.  Which was not really the greatest idea given my race the next day, but I was just having so much dang fun doing it.  Oh well, life goes on.

After class, I headed home to freshen up, pack up, and head to the Mall of America. 

I can hear all my friends screaming... WHY?!?!!??  It's true, most of us local Twin Cities folks avoid MOA like the plague.  But, back in April I had a little overnight birthday celebration there, and due to a less than stellar stay at the new Radisson Blu MOA, I was given a credit for a future one night free stay.  With the hotel being about 20 minutes away from the start line of the Rainbow Run (as opposed to 45-60 minutes from my house), I thought this would be as good a time as any to use up the voucher and save myself some pre-race drive time.

Since this is the third year of the Rainbow Run, and since my sister and I have done it every year, she drove down from "up norf" to meet me at the mall.  We dropped our bags in our room and hoofed the mall for over 5 hours straight (actually closer to 7 hours for me, since I got there early to do a few errands by myself first). 

As Kevin from the Office would say, "Man, my dogs were barking" by about 8pm:

So, we wrapped up a late-late-late dinner at Crave, and around 10pm off to bed we went.

****WARNING: Soap Box - I still don't recommend Raddison Blu.  Although it was an OK stay and the staff did their best, their hotel design is AWFUL!  The doors they put on each room weigh about 10,000 lbs and uncontrollably slam shut LOUDLY.  To make matters worse, the hallways offer very little in the area of sound absorption for even quiet convesation.  So you can just about imagine what it's like when people come "home" from 11PM to 2AM on a Saturday night.  End soap box.****

Sunday morning.  BEEP-DING-BUZZ-MOO (insert your alarm sound of choice here)... time to get up!  With a less than ideal night's rest, and stiff legs from the day before, my sister and I suit up for the race and off we go.

Fun fact - a male gorilla escaped his enclosure at the zoo in the late 80's/early 90's.  I was a kid at the time, and remembered the story being all over the news.  Too bad he didn't do it this year and join us on our 5K... *wink*.

With the race starting at 9am, we aimed to get there around 8:30.  I was a little nervous about finding the actual location of the start line, since there are multiple pavilions at Como Zoo and I didn't know East from West from Butt-crack.  And, nothing was signed accordingly, everything just said "shelter area".  :-(!!

After a few circles around the park, we saw an inflatable rainbow arch and assumed that was the start.  We parked along the side of the road and headed towards the pavilion.

As long as we're talking parking... yikes.  If this event grows at all next year, there are definitely going to be some problems.  Let's hope they thought about that one...

The pavilion area was very nice, with multiple shelter areas and flushing toilets. 

One of the shelters had packet pick up, so we headed that way.  Upon check in we were given the option of taking our shirt now or post race.  Since I've been at enough races where I've seen people with shirts reserved via pre-registration get screwed on size, I opted with "now".  Sis and I shuffled back to the car to drop off the goods, and pinned on our numbers while we waited.

If you're a swag-whore, the shirts themselves are very nice wicking material in a gender neutral cut.  The upside was they didn't do the ... less desirable... poly/cotton blend shirt from 2012.  However, unfortunately, the downside was the 2013 shirts are the exact same cut/color/logo as the 2011.  I suppose that's not a big deal for everyone who didn't run in 2011... but I sure would have liked something a little different (even just a shirt color change would have been fine... like grey or tan instead of white again).

We killed time after check-in by people watching, and I know they were watching us back as I got several complements on my skirt as did my sister for her pants.  Based on the crowd, I began to wonder if people really knew why the "Rainbow Run" was taking place.  I think about 25% of the group would have been surprised to know it was linked to Pride instead of something more cutesy like "rainbows and unicorns".  But, whatever ... I'm ok with that - as long as everyone is happy running, that's good enough for me.

By about 8:45, people were nervously milling around the inflatable rainbow arch start, and seemed unclear what to do.  I noticed this race had a lot of newbies who were deer-in-headlights anxious.  This became a problem since the organizers didn't say anything to the group about lining up according to pace, running single file, etc, etc, etc.  Because of this, I had my sister push up with me closer to the front than I would normally choose. 

Surprisingly, at the start, they didn't even do an introduction or anything... there was just an odd moment where an MC walked towards the start like we were going to get a speech, and before the speech could even start, a gun went off!  People looked at each other a little wide eyed like "really?", and then just shot out the gate.  I pretty much lost my sister immediately due to the confusion.

The first 5-10 minutes of the race were a little dicey, somewhat as to be expected.  There were people obviously part of running clubs (wearing matching clothing) running 3 wide, walkers starting out up front, and people zigzagging everywhere.  In combination with a narrow asphalt trail and a wet, slippery grass shoulder, it wasn't so great. 

I lost my cool when a pack of 5 people in coordinating team gear were blocking the trail for around a 5-10' section, making it impossible to pass.  Although I feel a little guilty for doing it, I cut across at a hairpin turn to get around these people.  Whatever, with all the swerving I had to do to get around others, I more than made up the distance.

Racer's etiquette:  PLEASE, if you run a 5K that is called a RACE and is chip timed, don't expect to run along side your friends.  By doing so, you screw anyone who is trying to get their personal best.  If you want to be social, go for a group run on your own.  Don't waste someone else's money by cheating them out of a race they paid for.

After I got past the congestion, I started to enjoy the race course.  The trails around Como Park are very nice, although a bit on the hilly side. 

They also have a lot of shady, wooded areas.  I'm sure this would have been great on a sunny day, but with all the rain and storms we've had lately, we were just lucky to even have the race take place.  Unfortunately, the trees became more of a hindrance on this day, as there were several down along the course due to the rough storms the night/nights before.

The humidity from all the storms during the week previous really started to take it's toll on me just before the half way point.  Since I ran a 5K PR in training the week previous (27:02), I was REALLY hoping to get an official time under 28-29 on this course.  But with everything I did Saturday and the heat / hills through out mile 1, I knew I wasn't going to reach my goal.  I had already sweat through my t-shirt, which usually doesn't happen until I start mile 3. 

Learning a trick from TRexRunner, I decided to come up with some goals during mile 2 to motivate myself.  Mentally, I stewed over my top three:

(1) Finish with a 28
(2) Beat my last race PR of 29:15
(3) Finish under 30

It was around this time that I also noticed the course was somewhat of an out and back.  That was a surprise because they didn't post a course that I could find online, and I had figured that with all the trail space in Como, we'd end up running a loop instead.  On the plus side, it wasn't 100% out and back, since we twisted around on some odd side trails along the way.  And that was good, because there was never a point on course where the trail became too congested with runners going both directions.  Kudos to the person who planned the course!

The last mile had a few wicked hills in it, and I had to scream at myself mentally to force myself to keep running up them.  I REALLY wanted a 28 time, although I pretty much knew I wasn't going to get it at that point.  I pushed as hard as I could up the last hill and then flattened out for the home stretch.

As I came around the corner to the start/finish rainbow arch, I literally saw my 28 slip away.  The clock had just hit 29, boo.  But, to lift my spirits, Lucky from Lucky Charms Cereal was giving out high fives just a few yards before the finish mat.  I slapped on my happy face, and truly enjoyed my high five.  The clock read 29 something, but wasn't sure if I hit goal #2 or #3 with my actual chip time.

There was a photographer at the finish, but I'm not sure who it was, so... if I get access to finisher photos later, I'll be sure to post them!

Once I grabbed my water bottle (no post race bananas??!! WTF!!) and had a little time to wind down, I started to slowly walk backwards on the shoulder of the course.  I debated running back to find my sister and then running to the finish with her... but I didn't want to be demotivating to the people who were struggling to finish.  Instead, I clapped for runners as they came, and offered them positive thoughts.

Soon enough, my sister started around the final bend.  I started yelling at her to "not look like she was dying" because there were "photographers at the finish line".  I (think) she appreciated the joke.  I jogged along with her once she reached me, encouraging her to sprint to the finish. 

Afterward, as we roamed the post race festivities, we found this:

Can you imagine eating Lucky Charms covered cupcakes after balls-out running?  I just about puked at the smell.  But I had to take a picture, of course. 

Instead, I grabbed one of these to take home, just for the novelty:

In the same tent as the cereal and cupcakes, they were giving away another t-shirt.  Since I have too many race t's as it is, I didn't want to throw one that I didn't really earn into the mix.  But, my sister grabbed one, so I did get to see it.  It said "Glad to be _______" on the front and "" on the back (with a little rainbow).  There were also markers at the table so you could fill in the blank with your own personal statement.  Kinda cute.

And not to be left out, before we left to head home, we took a group photo:

On the ride back to the hotel, we debated the merits of the new race location.  Did I enjoy this location versus the downtown route from 2011/2012?  I'm not 100% sure.  Como was pretty, but there was something neat about running on the parade route in previous years.  The spectators were excited for the parade to start and transferred that positive energy to the racers for one, and I feel like there was more "stuff" to be had at the finish line when we ran downtown (IE healthy post race snacks, better organization, etc).  I think in the end, Como is more conducive to hosting simply due to the on course shade and potential for better organization in the future.  My sister had a good point, too - if they ran the race course in reverse at Como, it might actually be better, as we would get to run DOWN the big hill at the beginning instead of up it at the end.  I guess we'll see what they do for 2014.

And that's the VERY LONG story (sorry!!) of how race bib # 29 joined my collection. It reads "2013 Rainbow Run, #48".  I'm not entirely pleased with my performance, but considering my level of activity the day before and the conditions at the race, I am OK with it.  On this hilly route I was only about 20 seconds off of my current 5K PR, which was on a flat fast course, so at least I can be proud of that.
 Here's to another race soon!

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