Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Rainbow Run 5K 2015 (Fifth Anniversary)

Rainbow Run 5K (3.15 miles)
Average Pace 10:48/mile

A few months back, I signed up for this race and started to reminisce.  The Twin Cities Rainbow Run essentially started the year I got serious about running, which brought back a lot of memories (I started running the year before for fun, but began emphasizing performance and speed the following summer when the Rainbow Run was established).

Still feeling nostalgic on the Thursday prior to gun time, I started looking back on previous year's photos.  In them, it was fun to see all the iterations of rainbow "costuming" I had created in honor of this race over the years.  But when I started remembering why I picked what I wore, it was even more interesting to think through the historical connotations behind those costumes.

In reviewing what I wore each year, it feels almost like going through a historical document regarding the gay marriage movement in the US.  Check it out:


2011 - the first year of the race
2012 - race theme "wedding party" ... the conversation for marriage rights begins going mainstream
2013 - wearing my "vote no" shirt, gay marriage not yet legal in MN (legalized August of that year)
2014 - with marriage finally legal, things were more playful on race day, so I chose a "seems like a lot of work for a free banana" tank, though many other states were still battling out marriage rights

Wanting to get ahead of myself and start roughing in info for this blog recap, I again found myself looking through all theses photos Friday AM and thinking about how far we'd come in the marriage equality discussion over the last four years.  

And all the sudden ... boom!  My Facebook feed looked like this:

And I was shocked.  The only reaction I could have was ... it's about freakin' time!!

Seeing such a momentous announcement being made less than 48 hours before race day?!  AMAZING! 

So of course, given the timing, when InkNBurn asked us to post "flat mes" for their weekend check in on Facebook, I couldn't help but participate and toot the Pride horn a little.


On race morning, I awoke feeling very tired and unrefreshed.  For some reason the night before, I had one of those nights were I wanted to sleep, felt tired, but just couldn't power down.  And when I did finally doze off, I woke up no less than three times throughout the night.


So, as I rolled out of bed and looked at myself in the mirror Sunday, I found myself thinking "How am I supposed to feel fabulous when I've got giant bags under my eyes?"

Trying not to be a party pooper, I sucked it up, got dressed, had a double espresso coffee and a banana... and then my sister and I drove off into the sunset sunrise. 

Though, technically, the sun had already been up for an hour or so since it comes up at 5ish these days, and we drove off to downtown Minneapolis around 6:30ish.  Anyway, regardless ... using our ever useful top secret parking method for Pride, we once again pulled into the parking ramp right next to the Basilica (free parking - whoop!) and crossed the street to catch the bus towards Boom Island.  For 2015, we got a second freebie too, thanks to Pride partnering with Metro Transit (free rides - whoop!).

We ended up catching the 6 bus at about 7:25 am, so when all was said and done, we were at Boom Island a wee bit earlier than we really needed to be, since check-in didn't start until 8:30.  Given that bus lines diverted for Pride starting at 8am, and I didn't know where they diverted to, I was OK with the early arrival; better to catch the bus and be a little early than have to walk 2-3 miles backwards on the race course to get to the start line, right?

Since we were some of the only folks in the park so early on a Sunday, my sister and I took advantage of no line at the park's bathrooms (yes - with flush toilets and running water/soap to wash hands), and then wandered the park to snap some photos.

By the way, have I mentioned how much I love starting this race at Boom Island?!  Oh right, I did in last year's recap.  But seriously, though - this view just on the cusp of downtown!??!  Fantastic!

After a few photos, we noticed that unlike years past, it appeared that race volunteers / coordinators were on it for 2015 and were already setting up shop.  Not wanting to bum rush them before the designated 8:30 check in time, my sister and I politely sat to the side and waited for them to ready themselves for the day.

Being so polite promptly bit me in the ass, unfortunately.  I say this because just as I said to my sister that we should wait to check in, a mother and her son showed up and checked in, stealing what I've coveted for 6 years ... a #1 race bib.  DAMMIT!  I could have been #1. 

*Sigh again*

Oh well.  Honestly, it wasn't that big of a deal.  And, I ended up with #3, so ... still not too bad.

Slowly after 8:30, my sister and I watched as people started to arrive at the park.  Eventually a line started forming at check in.  Since this race has had a bit of an identity crisis over the years (with literally a different location and routes every year), I began to wonder ... did repeating this race in the same location from 2014 help?  Would the race be bigger?  Would this be the year that we would finally see it grow?

As we watched check in swell, my sister and I hypothesized that the answer to the above question was: yes.  The race finally appeared to be growing over years past.  From what we could tell, there were around 300 people who were officially preregistered (we saw the numbers go from #1 to #2XX at the preregistered booth).  And for day of drop ins, they were starting with the number 400, so since I saw people with numbers in the 430's upwards ... we both hazarded a guess that there were likely around 350-400 runners for the day. 


Some time around 9:15 or 9:20, I started to feel antsy.  I knew gun time wasn't officially until 9:30, but I was starting to feel a bit hot and was regretting not having a couple of big glasses of water prior to arriving at the race, so my anxiety from that poor decision was starting to gnaw at me.  My sister was smart and had drug along a water bottle to drink in the car ride down, so she was fairing better than I.  In addition to the low water level, I also realized that again this year I had forgotten sun screen.  Great.  An urban race with full sun bouncing off pavement.  This seems like a recipe for a great post race sunburn, no?

Knowing that I was already sweating in the sunshine, and that the day wasn't getting any younger, I was chomping at the bit to get this thing done and get to the finish line.  With 10+/- minutes until gun time, and just wanting to go, I asked my sister to head over with me to line up.  May as well get situated, I thought.

Not long after we got into position, the race organizers hopped onto the PA system they brought and asked people to line up. 

Oh, that reminds me.  New for 2015, there was music at the start area.  That was a nice improvement and made for a fun and festive race start.  In addition to the music, someone was also flying a drone, and there were a handful of photographers from Anderson Races and Pride roaming through the crowd.  One of Anderson Races photographers came up in response to our awesome InkNBurn shirts and asked if she could snap a photo of us, which we were pleased to pose for, and she mentioned that the photos would be posted for free on their website the week after the race.  Awesome!

Anyway, after people started lining up, I'm not sure what exactly happened ... but somehow it was 9:29 and then ... everyone started running.  I didn't even hear a gun, and wasn't sure if we were supposed to start.  But, mob mentality won, and my sister and I took off as I struggled to get my GPS watch going.  Whoops, I was a little slow on the uptake for that, and I think I missed the first 0.10 of a mile (more or less).

Straight out of the gate, my sister and I were cursing about the 2014 course, dreading the infamous bridge that we were sure to climb up & down and up & down as soon as we left the park.  Fortunately, we were stunned - instead of turning left towards the bridge, we were directed forward and away from it. 

Hm.  We thought maybe we'd loop through the neighborhood and then come back for it?  Fine with us!  At least we didn't have to start the race climbing and would get a minute to loosen up on a flat course first; since we could see the cones going up the bridge from the park, we were sure the bridge would still be included.   

As we figure-eighted through the neighborhood, we were passed by many jubilant runners, and had a fantastic time people watching.  At one point there was a guy behind us who was asking where the hash browns where, and that he thought this was a brunch run.  I think he started talking about eggs and sausages, too.  He was pretty entertaining to listen to. 

There was also a group of three guys that I found amusing.  They were wearing florescent colored shorty-shorts, and had the most immaculate hair and mustaches that I'd ever seen.  My sister and I just loved watching as they passed, though we were sad when they were gone as the music they blasted via a loud speaker in one of their fanny packs was great motivation, and I was sorry I couldn't hear it anymore once they left our sight.

Somewhere in the first mile, my sister and I kept wondering when we'd eventually wind back towards the bridge/hill and have to climb it.  As you might imagine, we were NOT looking forward to it.  Sure enough, as we looped out of the neighborhood, the bridge was coming into our line of sight again.  Ugh.

But suddenly we turned left and we were scot free.  What?!  We let out a whoop, fist pumped, and kept on going.  I'm sure people were wondering why we were so excited, since there was nothing else remarkable on course for us to be cheering about.  Maybe they just thought we were enjoying the festivities of the day or cheering for a nearby photographer?  LOL!

To illustrate what I mean, last year we started where the green dot is on the below map, and turned left to climb up and down the bridge circled in purple.  The course was set up so that you actually crested the hill on the bridge twice via an out and back ... all within the first half mile of the course:

As you can see in that snap shot, we never even touched the bridge, and instead looped through the nearby neighborhood and then took a straight shot to the parade route, which started somewhere around mile 2 on the map below.

Omitting the bridge - what a fantastic course amendment!!  Thank you race organizers!!

Now, before you think that since the bridge was cut from the beginning of the course, this is now a fast and flat course ... I got news for you: this race is not totally without inclines.  There were still a few lumps along the way that we had to crest, which is obviously unavoidable given that the course crosses the river.  But, honestly, none of the inclines were too terrible.

Despite the omission of the bridge climb, and the fact that this race was cooler than it has been in years past, somewhere just before mile 2 I found myself really starting to struggle with this run.  I was hot, thirsty, and lets face it ... right now, I'm just plain out of shape.  Running a 5K two or three times per month does not a runner make.

I started to feel a bit frustrated with myself, and also mad that I was actually slowing my sister down.  She was totally trained up for this race and about to PR, and I was holding her back.  ARG!

Several times I debated telling her to go on ahead and get the PR of her life, and just take a walk break myself.  But I knew my sister wouldn't want to go ahead without me, and I refused to slow her down to a walk on a day where she was sure to PR.  So, I sucked it up, pushed the puke factor down into the pit of my stomach, and focused on the crowds. 

Oh right, the crowds.  I should clarify here.  Since the last mile of this race course takes place on the actual parade route of Pride, the streets are lined with the early arrivals who are staking out their seats for the parade.  That means automatic built in course support!  Hooray!  And as I've said in years past, this race has some of the best crowd support a runner could ask for.  Everyone there is happy to cheer for everyone on the course, no matter how fast you are going.

So instead of focusing on the fact that I was hot, I had stopped sweating (a bad sign), and I wanted to just stop and walk ... I focused on the crowd.  And my sister's pending PR.  And I said to myself ... it's less than a mile, suck it up buttercup.

And sure enough, the time passed by, and we made it.  With a 33:XX in the distance, I knew we were home free with a PR for my sister ... and a bottle of water for me.  Hooray!

As soon as I crossed the mat, I rushed to the water table and gulped down half a bottle, then took a few walking loops through the adjoining courtyard to let my heart rate settle.  Although I wasn't feeling absolutely terrible, I was hot and dehydrated, and just need to give my heart a few seconds to slow down.  Sure enough, after a minute or two of pacing around, I started to feel better, so I rounded up my sister (who was waiting nearby in the shade), and we got in line for our post race treats.

Lining up, we passed the water table again, so I shamelessly took another bottle.  Usually I'm very conscious of taking only my fair share at a race to ensure those behind me get something too ... but, given the choice between snagging an extra bottle of water or risking having me passed out on the sidewalks and needing a medic, I figured the second water was the lesser of the two evils.

As I sipped my second water, and we crept up to the treats, I was immediately enthused.  Not only were the food choices healthier this year (read: no sugary cereals, instead add a gluten free energy bar option), there was ... *queue singing angels* ... FRESH FRUIT!  YES!  There were BANANAS!!!

After four years of running this race, finally ... what I've asked for all along ... post race bananas. 

Thank you Pride!

After we grabbed our snacks, we tore off the bottom coupon of our bibs to redeem them for our shirts (which we were also thrilled about, since they much more attractive than year's past):

And after grabbing our snacks and our shirt, we found ourselves with our hands full.  So, we crossed the street to the parking garage (see ... that super secret parking works out well, since we end right at the garage) and dropped our goodies.

After all, we had one last tradition to complete before coming home ... Scotch Eggs and a hard cider at Brit's.


And that's the story of how race bib #58 joined my collection - here's to another race soon.  With the holiday coming up next weekend, you know that's none too far away!! 

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