Carlyle Sherstad 5K (3.15 miles)
Average Pace 10:45/mile
Question: Why did the black bear cross the road?
Answer: To get to the start of the 5K Natalie is about to run.
Ah, yes! Nothing quite gets the adrenaline pumping on race day like seeing a bear lurking around a cemetery roughly 2 miles away from your race start point, waiting for traffic so it can cross the road. Am I right?
And no, in case you think I'm joking, I'm not. While the above isn't the EXACT bear I saw on the drive into Grantsburg on race day, it's a pretty good representation of what I did truly see. Let's just say that post sighting, I wasn't exactly thrilled at the thought of a run out in the country where that bear was roaming free.
But then again, this is a fairly large race for small town Wisconsin, so strength in numbers ...? Or maybe it is technically survival of the fittest? I mean, I knew I wouldn't be the SLOWEST runner in the pack, so if that bear was hungry ...
I guess my day's selection of InkNBurn Run or Die gear was appropriate. LOL!
Anyway, as you can see in the above photo, on a beautifully clear morning this past weekend I found myself back in Grantsburg, WI to run the Carlyle Sherstad 5K/10K. I've ran this race twice before, prior to starting this blog. But, due to various conflicts in the last couple of years, I had to defer a three-peat. My return in 2015 seemed quite fitting, however, since this year was the 10th anniversary of the race and the 150th anniversary of Grantsburg.
I suppose it's no wonder, then, why the bear wanted to participate. HA!
Also visible in the above photo is the local high school track where packet pickup was located. Since I was a little on the late and panicky side at last week's race, my goal for the day was to arrive at least 15 minute prior to the 7:45am packet pickup closing. While I pretty much met that goal, the down side to being so early was the extended interaction time with the gnats. This was a detail I had somewhat forgotten from previous years. FYI - Apparently early June is prime gnat season in Grantsburg. To help with the inconvenience, the folks at packet pickup did have bug spray available which I declined, opting to just walk down the grassy knoll away from the track, towards the start area. The paved asphalt surface there seemed to help keep the gnat population down some.
As I passed time standing around on the asphalt, my husband and I ended up interacting with a local character - an older gentleman with a white beard who was aimlessly roaming the crowd, waiting for the race to start as well. With a sparkle in his eye, he walked over and told me how much he was looking forward to race day; and despite the fact that he didn't exactly train for the event, he was looking forward to at least walking. After a short conversation with us, he flitted around to others in the crowd, sharing his jubilation.
Eventually, about 5 minutes pre-race, the organizers sounded a horn to call everyone to the start. We all crowded in to listen to announcements like "run on the left side of the road ... that way you can smile and wave at the person who hits you". (Apparently, this was a favorite saying of the person who's namesake is this race - Carlyle. I don't know Carlyle's history myself, aside from the fact that I know he was the race director for Grantsburg's Syttende Mai race back before running was "cool", and that he passed much too young some years ago.)
In between speakers, I snapped a selfie. Because if there's no photos, it didn't happen. Or something.
Finally, well past the race start time of 8:00, the last of the speakers completed their remarks. (Petty, I know, but it is a pet peeve of mine when races don't start on time). We still had to wait, though, while a local singer preformed the national anthem.
Then finally, with an actual track gun ... bang, we were off!
The course began just as I remembered it from 2013: a brief flat stretch followed by a fairly decent downhill that turned right towards a country road. And like I remembered, it was set up as an out and back.
What I forgot, though, was the elevation. On the "out" portion, there are two sizable hills. They aren't super aggressive, but for someone who hasn't been training like me who has a goal to simply "run the whole thing", they are difficult enough.
Luckily, as I hit the base of the first hill, my random shuffled play list queued up "Rebel Yell". And just as I thought I couldn't finish the first incline, Billy Idol yelled at me "More, more, mooooorrreee". Fist pumping, I made it up the first hill. At which point, LMFAO sang "Shots" at me in celebration. (As you can tell, I was appreciating the random shuffle my iPhone was offering for the morning.)
With one hill down, I started eyeing the turn around point, which seemed like it would never come. Each step took me closer, bringing it into my sites.
Eventually I was there, and I was turning around. The volunteers there offered positive words and refreshments to all the 5Kers turning around, and watched as the 10Kers smoked by ... their turn around point was much further down the road.
Though I did kind of wish I was running the 10K, I gladly turned myself and headed for home.
Maybe 1/2 mile after the turn around, I began passing oncoming walkers. I fondly recalled that in years past, Carlyle's wife and other family members typically bring up the rear of the walking pack. True to form, they were there again for 2015.
But - surprise! Even further behind them, reveling in his boisterous glory, was the older gentleman from the start line. He was having the time of his life giving runners ahead of me high fives as they passed. When he saw me, he said something and pounded his fist into his palm, grinning ear to ear. I don't know what he said, since I had my headphones in, but whatever it was ... he was sure happy saying it.
After that, though, things started to go south for me just a tad.
Unfortunately, when the last of the walkers passed by, the downfall of this out and back course design came into play. I was quite glad that I was past half way ... but also not looking forward to repeating the hills... or the final climb just prior to the finish line.
Fortunately, that thought quickly passed through my brain when I realized there was an ever growing distance between those in front of me and those behind me. The course was shaking out, and the bear from earlier in the morning was now in the forefront of my mind, pushing all other worries out of my head permanently.
Truth: maybe that's why, when I glanced down at my watch for the first time, I noticed I was running a 10:30. And then a 10:15.
"Awesome!", I thought to myself. "Maybe I'll finally achieve that ever elusive negative split."
I've been figuring since my speed these days won't allow me to PR, at least I can shoot for endurance with speed in the second half ... a special mix of pacing and heart that even the more elite runners struggle to attain. Working towards that ultimate goal, I tried to keep my cadence up (though I did discover afterwards that my first mile was apparently so fast that a negative split was again a no-go).
Appropriately, as I was trying to push and finish out my last 1/2 mile, Incubus popped into my headphones singing "Let's Go Crazy". I let the lyrics push me up the steep final climb, never dropping my speed ... although I did feel the need to puke at the crest of the hill and had to pull back just a tad when the road flattened out. That was disappointing, given the volunteers had spray-chalked "kick it NOW!" on the asphalt.
I didn't let up for too long, though, since I could see a 32:XX on the clock as I neared the finish. So, just a few seconds later, I picked back up. Despite the effort, that push was for naught, as the 33 flipped over seconds before I could get to the chute.
Oh well. I easily consoled myself afterwards with the free and very delicious cheese string included in my post race goody bag (which was a polypropylene insulated cooler bag, shown below, and also included a few flyers, a banana, and a Gatorade).
These string cheeses, by the way, are a delicacy produced by the Burnett Dairy food and gift shop, located just up the road from the race start. It's a place I love to frequent for their homemade ice creams and cheeses. If I could, I would eat one of these chesse sticks every day. They really are that good.
Speaking of local businesses, since I knew I wouldn't place at this race, shortly after finishing my husband and I packed out to head to Van Meter's Meats in Luck, WI. I had heard rave reviews regarding their home cut & processed meat, and being it was sort of along our way back to the cabin, we decided to stop in.
(I wasn't disappointed we made that stop, as we cooked their house smoked, fresh sliced bacon for breakfast the next morning and it was fantastic.)
Of course, when I got home post race and meat adventure, I enjoyed a shower and a little post race ritual - the christening of the race t:
And the other ritual, the stats review (per the automated email sent via the race organizers):
Congratulations Natalie on finishing the Carlyle Sherstad 5k!
Your Finish Time of 33:21 with a pace of 5:22 per mile, put you in 78 Overall!
In your Divison of F3039 your Division Place was 13 out of 30 .
Your Gender Place was 33 out of 92 .
Wait ... what? 5:22 pace? LOL! I think you confused your calculations with the 10K distance there, race organizers. Better check that for next year. Heh.
Pace aside, I was pleased with my 33:21 finish. Given the much hillier and warmer course over last week, the fact that I picked up a second faster at the finish was good enough for me!
Oh, and lest you be concerned that I ate more this weekend than I ran off - I did in fact do a little extra to burn off the cheese and bacon post breakfast Sunday morning:
And that's the story of how race bib #57 joined my collection - here's to another race soon! My next few weekends don't include any races, for now, so maybe I'll just focus on my open water swim. Stay tuned!