Monday, July 7, 2014

Rainbow Run 5K 2014 (FREE BANANAS!!!)


Rainbow Run 5K (3.15 miles)
Average Pace 12:33/mile

Let's just get something out of the way here, shall we?  This is the 4th year that I have run this race.  Yes, I'm officially a rainbow pro. 

Also, this race has been around for 4 years.  Which means I've been in it from the beginning and I'm a true legacy to this race. 

As such, you should now call me...


It's true!  Don't believe me?  Let's do a 4 years running / Rainbow Run costume review.

2011 - rainbow shorts & hair extensions

2012 - rainbow running dress, rainbow veil

2013 - rainbow running skirt
AKA the first year I wrote a recap


2014 - coordinating socks/headbands,
plus a witty tank from Etsy
"Seems like a lot of work for a free (banana)"

After 4 years in a row, can you believe I've been able to keep rainbow costume ideas coming?  I sure can't.

And speaking of 4 years in a row - it's pretty awesome to be able to say I've run this race since the very beginning.  Despite the ups and downs the race has had in the last four years, I'm glad I've hung with it.  Why?  Because this year's location made up for it.  I mean, look at the view from the start line!!

So, you may wonder - what do I mean by "this year's location"? 

Well... unfortunately, every year I've ran this race, we've run a different route (with last year's even straying far, far away to St. Paul!!).  And, each year we've had a different finisher's area.  So I have to admit, the inconsistency of the course is a little frustrating from a runner's perspective.  You never really know how to train or what to expect on race day, and that can be disconcerting.

Not to mention, this race overall has had very little consistency from year to year.  Each year the finisher's shirt varies in quality, the post race party offerings are VERY different, and the method that the race is put on has changed.  I've had performance t's, cotton blend t's, and light weigh t's.  I've seen the organization seem really great one year and willy-nilly the next.  Some years I've had great post race experiences, other years... well...

So, you might be wondering, given the inconsistencies ... why do I keep running this race?

Well, because ... I mean really ... how can you get any more fabulous than Minneapolis Pride?  Who else would start a 5K race by having everyone line up at the start, and then proceed with having the policewoman guarding that street entrance throw out full sized bags of skittles?!

BTW, I am still trying to figure that one out.  Was the cop so happy to see us running that she bought a case of skittles?  Or did the race organizers ask her do it?  Either way, it was fantastic.  And although I didn't take a bag myself, the woman's dog who was starting just in front of me was more than willing to accept any free food donations... (said his eyes, anyway - the owner kept telling him that they weren't treats for dogs - hahahahaha).

Anyway, on to the details of the race.

For 2014, the Rainbow Run started at Boom Island by the pavilions.  Being a Twin Cities native, I was dumbfounded that this park existed, and that it was so beautiful.  To be within walking distance of downtown Minneapolis, but to feel like you are in a river oasis... just fantastic!

To add to the beauty, my sister and I had parked at the ramp near the Basilica and caught the bus down Hennepin, which dropped us off right by the river.  No, I'm not implying the bus ride was beautiful - public transit never is.  (Although we DID have a very friendly and helpful driver.)  What I mean is, the bus dropped us off about 1/2 mile away from the race start.  The rest of the way, we were able to walk along a beautiful wooded path that ended in a tiny rustic bridge that took us into the park.  The entire walk, I just couldn't believe we were within eye shot of the giant sky scrapers and noise of the city.  It was so beautiful.

When we first arrived at Boom Island, though, I was a little confused.  Since there are multiple pavilions, and there were no signs, it wasn't quite clear where we should go.  It also didn't help that we were about an hour early, and appeared to be the first to arrive.  But, no worries.  Eventually we found the check in table and got our numbers.

Me - #22.  My sister - #6....1.

Aw, boo!  We both almost thought it was 69.  I so badly wanted to say my sister 69'd at pride.  HA!

(Hopefully I didn't make you blush with that one.)

After check in, since there was quite a bit of free time, my sister and I simply enjoyed the beauty of the park.  It was a wonderfully cool day and the breeze coming in off the river made up for the fact that we both woke up at 6am on a Sunday. 

Plus, the park had flushing toilets and a sink ... WITH SOAP!  A fantastic pre-race amenity not often found.

Surprisingly, despite Pride being such a draw for downtown Minneapolis, the crowd running this race has remained quite small for the last few years.  As people started checking in, I noticed we'd be a small group again in 2014.  My guess was that there were about 200 runners - all of whom were tremendously fun and friendly.  (Another reason why I keep running this race... the overall love and acceptance of the crowd here just cannot be beat.)  My sister and I enjoyed the crowd by people watching, engaging with folks on occasion, and anxiously awaiting directions in regards to where we would start.

Eventually it was time, and a person with a megaphone directed us to the start.  There we all lined up to get skittles... I mean, to start the race, which mapped out to be something like this:

After one more short megaphone announcement, a gun was fired, and we were off!

To make the race a "full" 5K (yes, one year, it was actually short and turned into a 4K), we started the race by taking a left out of the park and running up a bridge.  Not my favorite part of the course, for two reasons.  First, it meant immediately starting your run with a fairly good uphill incline that was also fairly long.  Second, it meant doing a hairpin turn at the end of the bridge and heading right back up/down that same incline.  Ugh.  But I understand that permits for road closures are tough, especially on Pride weekend, so I'm willing to deal with that.

Since my sister is just getting back to running after a stress fracture (which took her out a few race recaps ago), and this was her first race post-injury, running was tough.  We started out strong, but her leg wasn't quite ready for hill running, and the pounding up and down the hill in mile one started to inflame her shin muscle.  We made it to somewhere around mile 1.5 or 2 and decided to walk a second hill rather than pound out another incline and decline.

Not gonna lie...I was OK with that.  I just came off a week of teaching 5 - yes, FIVE - aerobic classes, so I was feeling it too.  Not to mention, my last of the 5 classes had just taken place the day before and was followed up by my throwing a bridal shower and spending about 5 hours going shopping (IE walking non stop) afterwards.  I was more than happy for a walk break.

Besides, it's a fun run with no chip timing.  So, no harm / no foul.

Post hill walk break, we started up again with a slow jog, with Hennepin Avenue just in the distance.  We almost made it to Hennepin before we decided to take another injury induced walk break. 

A conversation ensued that was laced with frustration (by my sister) and reality (by me).  Overall, my sister's leg was hurting, and I didn't want her to over do it and re-injure it on her first major run post-recovery.  After a lot of talk, which included me mostly encouraging her to walk the last bit we had left, we decided to just enjoy the day and finish out with a walk.

Given the fact that we were well along the course at this point, already going down what was soon to be Pride's parade route, you would never know that we were walking instead of running.  People were cheering, clapping and waving left and right.  For us.  Two dumb girls in rainbow socks and banana tank tops.  There was a lot of "nice socks", "great job" and "whoo" yelled our way.  The positivity was amazing.

I have to say, the encouragement and crowd support at this event is second to none for any Twin Cities 5K.  It really is an amazing experience.  (Another reason why I keep coming back.)

Despite the route being fairly straight forward, things got a little seedy here and there.  The biggest concern I had was that there wasn't much on course race support in terms of people directing runners where to go.  I wasn't always clear where we should go or what was going on.  I didn't even know exactly where the finish line was.  So, each time we passed an archway of balloons, we hoped that wasn't the finish, and just continued on with what was our best guess.

Eventually, I could see in the distance the Lucky Charms rainbow arch from last year, and knew we were almost done.  I searched for a clock and was immediately amazed that we had kept such good time, given all the walking we had done.

Nearing the finish line, we could hear the post-race party music blasting.  (I may or may not have had a one woman pre-finish dance party while my sister rolled her eyes at me.)  And then... it was all over.  We had passed through the arch and were headed to our post-race pot of gold, also known as a finisher's shirt pick up booth.

The shirt was a nice, soft and light weight cotton blend with an updated version of the above rainbow footprint logo printed on it.  Although it's a bit on the thin side, I think I like it... but the jury is still out, since I'm worried it might pill easily.

What I for sure didn't like was the post race party.  Again this year there were no fresh fruits or healty food options.  There were plain potato chips, single serve bowls of Lucky Charms (without milk) and protein bars.  Processed food heaven.  :-(.  The only thing I partook in was the bottled water.  Well, I also accepted a BOGO coupon from Noodles.  Regardless, the food offering was disappointing.  Even more so given our race costumes because... NO BANANAS!!!!! 

Seriously, though, post race food at TC Pride's Rainbow Run needs major improvement for 2015 - please offer some sort of FRESH FRUIT, race planners!  PLEASE!!!!!

After dropping our shirts off at our car, since the garage was just a block away, my sister and I started walking down a side street to get lunch.  We've seen the parade several times now, and were more interested in just getting a fun lunch and heading home rather than watching the spectacle.

We walked down the street on our way to lunch, just chatting and enjoying ourselves, when suddenly I saw something in the distance.

I think my actual quote was: "WTF!  Is that person dressed like a BANANA??!?!!!"

To which my sister said: "OMG!  You have to get a picture taken with them!"

So we approached the banana, who was extremely cordial and enthusiastic about having a photo op - even more so when they saw our shirts.  It wasn't until I walked up to the banana to pose for a photo that I realized the dog they were walking (which enthusiastically greeted me with a lick to the shins) was dressed as a banana, too.  LOVE!!!


After the photo we exchanged information about my blog and THE BIG EPIC SHOW and then we continued on our way. 

Side note - that show is me to a t ... hip hop, fashion, comedy, dance parties, and something fun for kids too...?!  AWESOME!  Anything that includes me doing the "Wobble" while I'm there, I'm down with.

Consider going to a show some time, yo!!

Back on topic.

Just as we thought the craziness was over, we showed up at Brit's Pub to find out they were hosting FIFA viewing parties on the lawn.  Wow.  Just ... wow!  Soccer fans put even Pride revelers to shame.  If you can impress me with an outlandish costume, that's quite a feat.  Enough said.

Unfortunately, the pub was PACKED due to the game(s), so we were unable to get our ideal table upstairs / lawn side, which is what makes Brit's unique.  But, our disappointment was quickly washed away when our lunch arrived... which included the chicken pot pie I've been craving ever since the Minneapolis Du last year, and Scotch Eggs, which I've always wanted to try:

Although they look odd, I have to say, the eggs were delicious.  If you ever have a chance to try these in the future, do it!

Finally, finally, it was time to go.  After a fun run, a "free banana", and some Schwety Balls Scotch Eggs, our adventure came to an end with a quiet walk back to the car and a ride home...

And that's the story of how race bib # 43 joined my collection. The only other thing I have to say is: I hope that this race can finally stabilize next year with more a less a repeat of how it went for 2014 ... but with a few bananas added to the finish line.  :-)

Here's to another race soon!

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