Women Run the Cities 5K (3.15 miles)
Average Pace 12:07/mile
In looking for some new and interesting races to run for 2014, one race kept popping up in discussions with my Minnesota friends as a must do - Women Run the Cities (or as I prefer to call it, Women Run the TWIN Cities, since it's St. Paul and Minneapolis that we're talking about here).
Seeing that this race offered a 10 mile option with a medal, I thought for sure this would be the race to get me back into half shape prior to Mankato in October. But then, plantar's fasciitis struck, and I knew 10 miles was not likely going to happen. Or if it did, it may result in some season ending injuries that I just couldn't afford to have, being an aerobics instructor and what not.
After lots of himming and hawing about how I really still wanted to do this race's 10 mile distance for the medal, I was told by a friend in my run club that even the 10K and 5K finishers got a medal in 2013. Say what?! Well, that sure made my decision easy!
So, with less than 12 hours before registration price breaks kicked in over labor day weekend, I registered for this race. As did two other friends.
Whoop! Away we go!!
To make life easier for everyone, I offered go to packet pickup on the Friday prior to race day and nab our goodies. Not having done any packet pickups for a "chain" type race since the Bacon Chase, I was a little worried about how packet pickup would go. In fact, this is one of the reasons why I'm not a fan of the really big races. The cattle call at packet pickup can be kind of a drag.
Not to be left out (or maybe dying to go, knowing how crazy the Bacon Chase packet pickup was), one of my race buddies tagged along.
Despite my fears, when we got there, packet pickup wasn't too bad. The line was a tad long, but things went pretty smoothly and without event. Plus, the Shops at West End are pretty swanky, so that helped make the experience more enjoyable.
In 15 minutes or so we were in and out, and walked away with this cute shirt.
Full length sleeve, wicking, half zip, embroidered logo AND a zippered pocket in the back? Love!!!
On to the real challenge of this race - wardrobing.
Being that this was a women's themed race, I did some thinking about what I wanted to wear the week or so leading up to the big day, but was coming up short. I didn't want to do just a passé tutu or glitter skirt, but didn't want to go spend money on something new either. That meant time to recycle something in my ever growing workout / costume inventory.
Lacking inspiration, I did some discussing with my partners-in-crime for race day. As soon as I heard one of them was shooting for Super Girl, I knew which way I had to go.
Yep, Wonder Woman.
I was super excited with that concept, because I thought it might also mean I could wear this creation from my sister's Etsy shop:
But then I saw the forecast for race day was sunny and a high of 82. Typical Minnesota fall. One day it's 40 and freezing cold winds, the next day... not.
Knowing that 70-80 degrees would be too hot for a hand crocheted hat, I decided to hold back on the accessory and just keep it simple with my Wonder Woman dress from MicksMakings. I guess there's always next time, Wonder Woman hat. (That being said, my sister's having a Halloween sale, so if you need something for your fall running costume go check out her shop. There is tons of new stuff to peruse... plus get 20% off $20 or more, coupon code: SPOOKY ).
Accessories aside, even without the hat, we looked pretty good ... amIrite?!
Yeah, you may have noticed that I forgot my sunglasses for this race. One of the bummers of fall races - the sun comes up after you're en route to the race, so you don't have a build in reminder to grab them. Dang.
Oh, and if these girls look familiar, this might be why.
Anyhow! Although Super Girl and I were running the 5K, our other race buddy was running the 10K. That meant we had to arrive at the start line with plenty of time to spare for the 10K start - 8:00am. (Despite the 5K scheduled to start at 8:30).
Knowing that parking in the vicinity of Minnehaha can be a total PITA, we opted to drive to a nearby light rail park and ride, and catch the train the rest of the way. That worked out really well, actually! I was quite pleased.
Since the train ride was flawless, we arrived at the race start around 7:30. With lots of time to kill, we decided to putz around and took some selfies.
It was sometime during our putz fest that I heard a laughing yell and a "NATALIE?!?!" Followed by a bear hug. It was my family from the Waconia race recap, who informed me that my outfit definitely made me stand out in the crowd.
Which is saying something, being that we were in quite the sea of people!!
Of course, more photos ensued.
Side note: I may or may not have left a deodorant mark on someone's black V-neck run shirt. Whoops. At least she was cool with it, admitting she'd likely need the extra help on her run anyway. HA!
After a few more photos, it was time. All of the 10K and 10 mile runners went to line up, and Super Girl and I went to the porta-potty lines for one last hurrah. There were plenty of potties, so that didn't take too long... and the timing was about right after we were done, so we went to line up for the 5K start.
While we waited in the corral, it became even more apparent how popular our super-duo was; we were getting a lot of complements for our costumes, and smiles. And of course, I loved it. That is why I dress up after all - to make things more fun for everyone else too!!
Eventually there were the standard pre-race announcements, with a few minor errors that were immediately corrected, and then the air horn. We were off!!
Super Girl and I were glad even from the beginning that we decided to line up at a pretty aggressive start point for this race. Even though we planned to run at a slower pace (Super Girl is just getting back into running post having a baby, and I decided to run easy with her on account of my foot issues), we were hardly being pushed from behind or being passed by anyone. And the added bonus to that was that there was never really any congestion for us to push around. That was certainly a first for me in a race of this size, and I loved it!
About a quarter of a mile out of the gate, we were impressed - the course was proving to be a beautiful out and back. It started out with a slight downhill, and then was a slightly winding but mostly flat run along the river. With it being early fall, and having a great canopy around us, we really enjoyed the fall colors on course.
I did notice within the first mile that things weren't going so great for me personally. Unfortunately, due to arriving at the race so early and having no place to sit, standing around stagnant on my feet really irritated my bad left foot/heel/plantar's issue. In fact, it had become apparent that I was already having issues pre-race when my 10K friend asked if I was limping - which at the time, I didn't think I was ... but apparently I was. Fortunately, though, running at the slow pace allowed me to relax into the run, and somewhere around 0.75 to 1 mile my foot muscle felt like it had stretched out and was starting to feel better.
Aside from that and the fact that my Nike+ sensor almost fell off my shoe (which forced me to stop mid run to fix, and then sprint up to Super Girl in order to keep up with her), the race itself flowed uneventfully from mile 1 until about 2.75 or so. Which says a lot at a race like this given the mix of runners and walkers, children through elderly, and beginners to experienced runners. I was really impressed with how well things were organized and how smoothly things were going. Plus, the out and back made it especially fun for Super Girl and I as runners started to double back on us. We got lots of cheers and smiles for our outfits as people passed us, or as we passed them.
Eventually, the course started to wind down and we approached the final stretch. That's when things got really fun. At around the 2.75 mile mark or so, we happened upon a young girl who was running the 5K by herself. She couldn't have been much more than 5-6 years old, and she was doing a fantastic job, but had petered out. Super Girl and I cheered her on with a "Come on, you can do it!" and a "We can see the finish line already, you're almost there!", and that was it - she took off like a flash and thundered to the finish.
Which meant that duh, we had better do the same. So with less than a quarter mile to go, despite a slight uphill battle, we opened up our gait and sprinted in.
And that was it! Super Girl at 38:10 and Wonder Woman at 38:11. We had finished! Oh, and we each got one of these, of course:
Even more super was our 10K friend - who was already in the finisher's area when we rolled in. Apparently, she had placed 15th out of 89 in her age group, and received a Master's title. WHOOP! We were so thrilled for her!
Since we had finished with plenty of free time before we had to get back to the train station, the three of us roamed the post race party and enjoyed all sorts of freebies - even more than the standard post race water/banana/energy bar snacks. I really liked the mini parfaits they were handing out at the granola booth, and Super Girl snagged a bunch of hot pink terry wristbands to take home to her two young daughters. It was a fun time, and the scenery was beautiful:
Eventually we hit our limit and headed back to the car. At which point, my imaginary limp pre-race had turned into a fairly noticeable, yet slight, limp. I told my friends not to worry about it, and that I'd be fine after a few stretches. It honestly wasn't that bad.
But apparently it was bad enough, because on Monday morning when I went to kiss my husband goodbye for work, he even said "Maybe you should take a break from running for awhile?"
Ugh. I know what that means. Time to get serious with treating this plantar's thing and buy the sexy sock. I know someone in my Facebook feed that will be thrilled to hear that. (Yes Patty - I'm looking at you). But, God honest, my foot's really not that bad. It just gets a little tight in the early AM when I first get out of bed, or sometimes after I've sat for a long time and get back up. Please don't get nervous for me!!
Going back to the race - this is a well run event that features a beautiful course to enjoy the fall colors. And, it has a reasonable registration fee and decent swag to boot. Although I'm not a huge fan of exclusive (meaning women oriented) races, I would highly recommend this race to anyone who was considering it.
And don't buy into the scuttle-butt that's been surfacing in the last few days. Apparently several runners complained that the course measured long/short. A tip to inexperienced runners: your GPS will never exactly register the advertised mileage when you cross a finish line. Unless there's a discrepancy of a half mile or greater, just chalk it up to human error and move on. Especially when a race is on a certified course. Besides, who cares once you get that medal in hand?! :-)
And that's the story of how race bib # 50 joined my collection. Here's to another race soon!