Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon Relay (5.6/7.5 miles)
Team Time 2:20:52
Average Pace 10:46/mile
Ah, my nemesis. The Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon. Or as I dubbed it in 2013, the Hilly Hell.
You might be able to derive from that fond nick-name that me and this course ... yeeeaaaah, we're not friends. That's because the first time I ran the course (2013), I covered the entire distance and ended up with and extremely painful knee at mile 9ish. And, the second time I ran the course (2014), I did the relay and had an emotional melt down around mile 2 due to having just had a miscarriage a few days prior.
So, you'd think given my less than fond memories of this course, I'd have thrown in the towel for 2015. But ... nope. Somehow yet again, I was waking up at 5:15am on a race day, preparing to run a 5.6 mile leg. Because this was a two person relay, and it would be super fun, and costumes, and team spirit, and race medals, and ... ?
At least the costume part was fun, although somewhat recycled from the Mankato races in years past ... for both of us, in fact.
Me, Mankato 2013:
Partner, Mankato 2014:
Yep, you got it. We decided to be a relay team of InkNBurn skeletons. Our team name was "The Boney Broads"; not to be mistaken with The Boner Broads, as the staff at packet pickup so realized after a minor slip up at reading our team name and pulling our race t-shirts.
That poor woman. I'm guessing she may have blushed a little with that one.
Oh, as long as we're on the subject of race shirts:
This years shirt was a mixed bag. I really liked the color, printing and fit. But, I'm not so much a fan of V-necks or the meshy looking performance material. Hopefully they switch back to the 2013/14 style next year.
Anyway, back to the race, which I had diligently trained for. Oh, I was SO ready for this race. Here's the training schedule I followed:
- run 2.5 miles on a treadmill at the TriUMah end of February
- run another 3.1 miles outside at the Hot Chocolate in April
Yes, you read that correctly. I ran a total of 5.6 miles, over a window of about 2 months, prior to showing up to this race. That means I had a base of 2.8 miles/month just before gun time. Knowing I was not positioned well for the day, this is pretty much how I woke up on race morning:
Ugh. I was not looking forward to this race. At all. Between my lack of training, and the fact that my feet are still a little injury funky, I knew these 5.6 miles were going to hurt.
Regardless of my mental outlook, once my relay partner and I unloaded at the race start, thanks to my-husband-or-bust taxi service, my mental attitude started to shift - I unexpectedly ran into some family from my husband's side, a handful of runner friends, and even a business partner, so the pre-race socializing ended up being pretty fun. Plus, we Boney Broads were getting plenty of ooohs and aaahs from random strangers, so that helped too. (I haven't ran "in costume" for quite some time, so I forgot how much attention 'dem bones get, and how much that can boost you mentally on race day.) All this bonus good juju meant that despite knowing this was going to hurt, when the announcer said my partner needed to head off to board the relay shuttle bus and the rest of us needed to line up for gun time, I was in a slightly less regretful mood.
And like dozens of race before it, that's where it all began: me, standing in a reasonable pace corral with a few buddies (10:18/mile), listening to the national anthem, and anxiously awaiting the gun.
Bang, time to run.
Since we were starting in the last maybe 1/3 of the corrals, we had to wait a few minutes for the waves ahead of us to roll out. But like every year prior at this race, the process was very efficient, and minutes after the gun we were crossing the timing mat.
At which point, I took a deep breath, waved goodbye to my friends who were pulling ahead of me, and settled in.
I knew this was going to be a long and drawn out run, so I had prepared myself in advance for this race and opted to bring music. For the last year or two, since I had gotten so accustomed to running without, it seemed a bit odd to plug in ... but boy was I grateful to have something else to think about when I looked down at my GPS watch and noted I was only 0.25 miles in.
As I ran, I realized some good news about this course, however - since I've run it a few times now, I was already mentally prepared for the first hill that hits at the 0.75 mile mark (before you have even really warmed up and settled into a pace). That meant I was not demotivated by its appearance, which was right on schedule per my GPS watch. The additional good news about having run this course a few times was that I had WAY blown out of proportion my memory of how hilly this course was, and how big each hill was. In fact, I couldn't believe I had already come up on the 2.5 mile mark when it passed, because I hadn't hit nearly as many hills as I thought I had remembered from 2014. Overall, the only real let down was the fact that the weather was warmer and less rainy or windy than in years past, so the spring gnat clouds were kind of nasty in the first few miles and several of us were wasting precious energy waving them away from our faces as we ran.
Gnats aside, as the miles ticked by, I was pleasantly surprised by how well the run was going. Don't get me wrong, the run wasn't going GREAT. I mean, I was taking my fair share of walk breaks on the hills, and I even decided to partake in the first water stop (which by the way, was not run well - who puts the Gatorade stand in the MIDDLE of the water stations, with the first table telling you there is water further down ... and then the next table further down is in fact not water, nor are they yelling out Gatorade?! I felt a little guilty about throwing a totally unused cup of Gatorade in the trash, but that stuff seriously gives me gut rot if I drink it before I need it on course.) All in all, though, the run was going unexpectedly well.
Somewhere around mile 3 or 4, I realized that despite my slowish pace, running 5+ miles on no base training wasn't so bad. It was at that point that I admitted to myself - I've been so focused on NOT running that I haven't been giving myself enough credit for what I HAVE been doing in the last year. I mean, it's not like I had zero activity base; I'm plenty active doing non-running based training - group fitness classes, biking, swimming, etc. All of that built my cardio and mental capacity up, so even though my legs/hips/knees/feet might not have been 100% in shape for running specifically, my body could definitely handle the load.
Not that I'm recommending you race without a running base - ever - but all that other cross training does matter!!
As I was stewing over these thoughts, I found myself rounding the corner and ... I was there! The exchange! It was terribly crowded with spectators (which I hope they figure out how to corral better in 2016 - my personal recommendation is to require spectators to be AFTER the exchange point only), so I struggled to find my partner for a minute and our exchange was a little less than efficient. But, soon enough she was off and I got my sweaty paws on this:
Ta-da! There's really something fun about getting a medal, no? And this year's square shape was pretty fun. Not to mention the heft and size ... this thing was bigger than my palm. Awesome!
As my relay partner was hitting the road, I wandered into our finishers' area, picking a few snacks (which were way less stocked than the finish line - boo) and boarded the shuttle bus to the finish line. And since I had some time to kill at that point, I decided to review my watch stats.
Immediately, I was pleasantly surprised: I came in well under my 1:20-1:30 estimate (I had guessed I'd end up walking a lot more), with a 1:06 showing on my watch display. To put that in perspective, last year I ran the same distance in 1:07 and had just come off of marathon training. Granted I had other issues brining me down pace wise that day, but still!
So, for that, I gave myself a little pat on the back considering my lack of training ... even if I did walk kind of a lot again this year, as you can see by all the red below:
Since riding the bus and checking my watch had killed some time, by the time I meandered to the finish line there were a handful of people there I knew. Killing time with them made the seconds fly by, and all the sudden we were seeing this:
You can probably tell I'm screaming my eyeballs out in the lower left corner. Heh.
Once everyone in our little impromptu race party had a chance to grab their own post race refreshments, we all met up on the grassy knoll past the finish line and started to mosey on down to the lake. After all, this is called the Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon for a reason, so may as well take a photo by it right?
Oh. I'm choosing to show the "non serious" version of our photo, FYI:
After a few more photos like the above, and a couple of snacks thrown in, we all exchanged our last sweaty victory hugs and split up, heading for home.
And that's the story of how race bib #54 joined my collection. Here's to another race soon ... in just a few days, actually!!