Monday, July 21, 2014

Bacon Chase 5K Minneapolis 2014 (The Bacon Leisure Suit)


Bacon Chase Minneapolis 5K (3.15 miles)
Average Pace 11:23/mile
*course ran long and was not timed, results per my GPS watch

Also known as - the one where I biked 22 miles to get to the start line of a 5K race, and then biked home again.


Well, gee whiz!  Although I said last week that I'd be taking a break from racing, apparently that didn't happen.  With this race, it's official - I'm 4 for 4:

6/29 - Rainbow Run 5K
7/4 - Siren Freedom 5K
7/12 - Chicago Chinatown 5K
7/19 - Bacon Chase 5K

To begin: quite honestly, I was NOT expecting to run this race.  Why?  Well, typically I'm not a big fan of running chain races like this.  I mean, there's nothing wrong with them, but... I prefer those who aspire to offer more than a cookie cutter brand that's pumped out nationally.

Also, themed races like this have a tendency to attract loads of walkers "fun runners" (IE Color Run, Suds Run, Glow Run, etc).  While those kinds of races have their place and are definitely fun for those who participate in them, when I run a 5K, I'm looking to RUN.  Not zig-zag through a sea of walkers going 5 wide down the road.

But, you see, right now I'm in a pickle.  I'm doing the Lazyman Ironman challenge at my gym again (complete the entire Ironman Distance - 2.4 miles swim, 112 miles bike, 26.2 miles run - over the entire month of July).  And of course, I'm in a bind for miles.  Not only has my running fallen off the charts lately, my bike miles are in trouble too.  Seems that the flooding I mentioned a few weeks back permanently took out a portion of the trail I need to access in order to bike commute...


Just kidding.  Not really ruined.  But definitely makes getting my bike miles in a bit more challenging.

Anyhow!  Turns out my husband had scheduled some advanced flying lessons on the day of this race, so I would have nothing going on in the morning.  Prior to registering, I was hoping I could tack on to someone else's workout at the gym and find an instant mileage buddy.  So, I started shopping around.

Here's the problem with that novel concept: on this same day, everyone I knew was either participating in / spectating at the local triathlon - OR - they were training for a REAL Ironman and planned on getting up at 5am to do a 5 hour bike ride.  (Yeah right. Me?  That's not going to happen.)

Feeling like I had the motivation washed right out from underneath me...

I made one last desperate attempt to find a local 5K.  Quite honestly, that didn't take long because this got my attention pretty quick:

I mean, bacon is fine but ... bloody marys?!  Heck yeah!

As if that wasn't enough, I saw this:

Bacon crumble "water" stops...

All you can bacon eat post race...
AND a post race rodeo/party pig?!

Not to mention, the race bib was supposed to be bacon scented.

Weirdest race ever!! 

Sounds like a fit for me, no?

Lucky for me, someone from the gym/run club also agreed it sounded interesting, so it was a done deal.  Just a few hours before the registration cut off time of 11:59pm on 7/17, we were in!

Knowing that my new found partner in crime was also working on Lazyman, I decided to push the envelope to the max...

"So... How much of an adventure are you up for? We can bike to the start line using the greenway... About 18 miles one way..."

Her response? 

"I'll be up for that.  Will you fix my bike if it breaks along the way?  And oh sh*t. We'll have to bike 18 miles there and then 18 miles back AFTER we run. Lets do it.  I'm crazy."

And so the adventure was born.  On to race day.


Although this race was scheduled to start at 10am, with a pre-party start of 9am, I was up at the crack of dawn yet again on race day - 6am.  Why?  Well, because I had 18 miles to bike, of course. 

Which btw... whoops.  We got lost at a fork in one of the bike trails took a small detour.  Better make that 22 miles out, not 18.  Oh well - in for a penny, in for a pound?

Overall, the ride in was really a treat, especially once you get to the paved portions in Hopkins.  Man, your bike flies over that like butter after riding on gravel.  And if you're ever wondering how to bike from Eden Prairie to Lake Nokomis:

Catch the LRT near the Dunn Brothers in Eden Prairie

Follow the LRT straight through to the Hopkins Coffee Depot,
then change to the Cedar Lake Trail

The spot of our wrong turn ... when the Cedar Lake Trail splits left towards North Minneapolis,
stay right and catch the Greenway.  Pay attention to signage!!  We took a left turn due to sign orientation
not being great on our side of the fork  Luckily a man out walking his dog very kindly redirected us... hesitantly.
I say that because he kept emphasizing that Nokomis was quite a ways away. 
I tried to encourage him by saying "Don't worry, we started in Eden Prairie, we'll be ok".
Giving us a sideways glance and a "Really? Well, good for you", he sent us on our way.

At the 18th Street bridge, exit and back track to 17th Street
17th Street is a bike friendly street designated so with paint on the asphalt

Technically, we could have taken this trail, but...
we just cut down cedar on the sidewalks and then walked our bikes across the field

Whoop!  With a minor detour, we still made it to the lake with plenty of time to spare.  Having hit the trail at about 7:45, we arrived at the lake at about 9:30.  (Yes, we biked at a purposefully leisurely pace - we had a 5K to run after all.)  With about 30 minutes to spare before the run, we quick changed out of our bike shorts, checked our gear bags, chugged some water and had some simple fuel - a Gu energy gel for me, and gummy bears for my friend. 

Yes, I was jealous.  Those gummy bears looked way more tasty than a peanut butter Gu.

Eventually we started to wander through the crowd to queue up for our start.  And the crowd, by the way, was really not as exciting as I would have hoped.  My experience at check-in the day prior (which was a total sh!t show) lead me to believe a very distinct group of people would be chasin' bacon.  Instead, on race day, the mix of folks was pretty average.

Well, average except for the fact that many people were wearing pig ears, pig tails, and bacon themed gear.  More on this in a bit.

Overall, the start line was managed pretty well for a busy race with a free for all start.  There wasn't really much pushing, I didn't hear any complaining, and about 500 people were released every 3-5 minutes at the call of "Suuu-eeee!" and "5-4-3-2-1 ... BACON!!"

But, it was still about 10:20 buy the time we got out the gate.  Pretty late in the day for a run no matter how you look at it.  Especially after a 22 mile bike ride.  Being as such, it was pretty warm out... maybe 80 some degrees.  

Knowing going into this race that this was a fun run with no official clock or chip timing, and given that we had an 18 mile bike ride to look forward to post race, my friend and I had already agreed to just run easy, walk the water stops, and enjoy the people watching.  The added heat factor simply re-enforced that decision, and ensured that we took advantage of every mile marker's "Bacon Stop".  Not so much for the bacon, mind you, since neither of us wanted to risk eating bacon mid run.  But we did enjoy plenty of water.

At mile one, our plan seemed to pay us back in dividends. 

Example one:

     Girl bending over with head between her knees.
     Friend 1 & 2 are looking at girl.
     Friend 1 "Are you ok?"
     Friend 2 "I think she's choking on her bacon."
     Friend 2 "Oh yeah, she is.  Hold on, I think she's going to throw up."

Example two:

     We slowly run past a group of walkers who were released in a group prior to us.
     Walker 1: "Man, it's hot out."
     Walker 2: "Yeah, I could totally run this whole thing if it wasn't so hot."

Despite the bike ride and the heat, mile one and two seemed to breeze past pretty easily.  The crowd shook out more quickly than we both expected, so the first mile in particular went much smoother than anticipated. 

Unfortunately, mile 3 was a bugger.

I couldn't resist using this photo to show my disgust - how cute is that sour face?!

I don't know why, but the race director designed the course so that you had to run approximately your last 1/4 mile through a soccer field.  That was extremely ruddy.  And squishy in spots due to the recent flooding.

Not wanting to injure myself prior to biking home, I asked my friend if she'd be OK with walking the field.  She didn't mind, so we did walk most of it.  As you can see by my GPS report:

As we walked through the grassy knoll, we both commented that it would have made more sense to start the race in this area, and finish the race further back on the course - while still on asphalt.  When the crowd is so dense at the start, you don't really end up doing more than a slow jog anyway, and on the soft grass, it wouldn't have been such a big deal.  Oh well.  Maybe they'll figure that out for next year.  Or not.

Either way, soon enough, we were done - 5K complete! 

But - arg!  My ultimate pet peeve.  When we started through the finisher's chute, water was offered... poured into dixy cups.  On a hot day.  Ugghhhh!!!  I grab two cups, and then a third, and head towards the bacon.

And I'm not going to lie.  I took two trays worth of bacon.  And enjoyed.  Every.  Single.  Piece. 

Hey, the course sold itself on being an "all you can eat" bacon party at the end.  I didn't feel bad taking two.  Even less so when the guy ahead of me proceeded to take 10 - YES!! 10!! - trays, and was on his second trip.

I also have to say: I haven't eaten that much bacon in one sitting, ever!  I think it was like 10-12 pieces.  (Later, I burped, and it tasted like 100% bacon.  Another first.)

As my friend and I enjoyed our bacon, we ran into this guy.  And I almost died:

We complemented his sexy leisure suit.  He informed us that the suit was very hot.  Given my costumed running experiences, I could empathize.

Shortly after, we see these girls, who have given me inspiration for (hopefully) a future costume application.  What, I have yet to determine.

Finally, as we wound through the crowd, we found what I figured would be the best part - the bloody mary station:

Unfortunately, the bloody wasn't the greatest.  Perhaps it was the 22 mile bike ride... or the 5K of running... or the warm temperatures... or the bacon.  Either way, neither of us could stomach the acidic and peppery combo.  After a few sips, we tossed them into the trash and headed to gear check to pick up our bags.

On our walk to gear check, we passed the rodeo pig.  I have to admit, I was EXTREMELY disappointed to see that the line was to Timbuktu and back.  There was no way I was going to wait around for 45 minutes to ride that thing.  But given the reality that I may have fallen off and hurt myself ... well ... let's just say, with a long bike ride waiting in the wings, I wasn't that crushed.

After leaving gear check, we heard someone say they were out of bacon.  WHAT?!  I hope that wasn't true, because we were only about 1/2 of the way back in the starting chute, and we actually ran the race (when maybe half did not, so there were still plenty of folks en route).  If it was true, they were going to have a lot of angry participants at the finish line...

Regardless of the bacon status, we proceeded with a little more healthy snacking after exiting the post race party... (Yeah!  My friend brought trail mix!  Which, btw, if she looks familiar, this might be why.) ... and also enjoyed some people watching.  Eventually, we decided it was time to pack up.

On the way home, we had the major plus of knowing the trail well enough that we only put in the required 18 miles.  So with the detour on the way out, and the proper distance on the way back, we ended up with a grand total of:

Feeling accomplished, I decided to celebrate:

My friend, on the other hand...

We'll just say she made it.  Sort of. ;-)

Overall, the bike ride and race was a fun adventure.  The race itself was definitely not as exciting or special as I would have hoped, and I won't likely do it again.  But the added challenge of biking to and from the event is what really made the day.  Plus I had great company to boot!

And that's the story of how (the sort of bacon / bubble gum scented) race bib # 46 joined my collection.  Here's to another race soon... and this time, it definitely won't be next weekend!

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