Average Pace 13:59/mile
So. Let's be real before I even get into this recap.
Training for a race is hard. It isn't always fun. And for me, lately, running has been a drag. I'm way slow compared to what I used to be, I get frustrated because of it, and I find I've lost my joy in running a little bit as a result.
I started out training for this race thinking - I got this! I am SO going to be ready to run a 10 miler in 2 months. But somehow, in the last few weeks, training got away from me ... and I showed up on race morning for this 10 mile race with my longest run to date being a 5 miler. Which I completed two weeks ago. DERP!
With a hard reality facing me, and knowing I have to do this again in one week (thanks to winning the TC 10 mile lotto - whoo hoo!), I made a decision that was a bit disappointing to myself. I decided to participate in the race, but to remove the timing chip on the back of my bib, and drop down to the 10K distance.
It was a hard decision to make, and felt a bit defeating to my ego, but ... them's the breaks. You don't train, you can't race.
And so the story begins.
You may recall that I ran Women Run the Cities last year and had a great time. Since the race was so well organized in 2014, I was really looking forward to running it again in 2015.
Before I go too far, I have to say - sometimes, having run a race in the past and repeating it can be a bit of a sand trap. I say this because, if you had a really good time one year, your expectations can be unrealistically high the following year. Lucky for me, Women Run the Cities is not one of these instances. My repeat in 2015 was every bit as fantastic as I could have anticipated, despite my own personal disappointment in my training.
With this being said, at 7 am on race morning, I found myself picking up a friend in Eden Prairie and driving off to the Fort Snelling light rail station. Taking advantage of the park and ride service provided (for a price, of course), we hopped the train to Minnehaha Falls park, happily avoiding the parking log jam that is that area on event day. By 7:45 we had parked at the station, caught the train, walked to the event, and found the third person in our party. Easy-peasy.
Having plenty of time prior to the gun, the three of us spent some time roaming the pre-race party. There were several booths with freebies - everything from protein drinks to drop bags to massages. After looking around for awhile, we decided the freebies weren't really worth dealing with (either carrying on course during the race, or putting into gear check to retrieve later), and decided to flee from the ever growing crowd. This meant heading down into the park, closer to the falls. Which look like this, in case you've never seen them.
Since the park shelter near the falls offers - gasp - flushing toilets, it proved to be a handy last second, pre race stop. And since the third person in our party had done packet pickup for us on race day, prior to me arriving, I decided to utilize gear check. No point in running a race with a brand new shirt. (I also ditched the jacket I wore pre-race, since it seemed warm enough to manage a tank top during the run ... go RaceRaves, and InkNBurn chameleon capris, lol.) Gear check was even more efficient than packet pickup, so I was in and out lickety split.
Ok. Well ... I guess this means time to line up for the race, then?
The race was scheduled to start at 8:30, so at around 8:15 or so the three of us meandered over to the corrals. Lucky for me, we were all doubting our training. So, we decided to self-seed towards the back of the pack. I think, if I recall correctly, the nearest pacer to us had an 11 or 12 minute mile pacing balloon. I saw that and thought ... works for me!
Some time around 8:30, there was lots of hub-bub at the front of the line. It was hard to tell, but perhaps they were singing the national anthem? I dunno. I do know that some time around 8:35 (or maybe a hair earlier), we finally crossed the mat.
And away we go!
Having started in the slower section, the first mile seemed both easy and hard at the same time. Easy, because maintaining a 12 minute mile isn't too hard to do even on lack of training ... but hard because it feels like the next 5 billion miles after that are forever away time wise. You can just about imagine my surprise, then, when we came across the 1 mile marker in about 7 minutes.
What? I couldn't even! My GPS said we had barely cleared 0.5 miles. How could this be?
Some runners behind us started rejoicing and remarking that - wow, that first mile felt really good, and gee they were excited because this run was going to be a great one for them. I hated to burst their bubble, but I informed them that everyone's watches around us were reading at a half mile. As we neared closer to the sign, we realized that ... Hahahahaha! Just kidding. This was the "1 Mile Turnaround" sign. Blerg.
Prior to the 10K and 10 mile race, at 8am they hosted a 1 mile run for young girls. Apparently that was their turn around point. Good for them. Boo for us. Man, that felt like false advertising.
Despite the let down, the three of us continued on at a conservative pace, chatting along. Finally, when we cleared the first mile ... for real this time ... I told my friends I was going to take a walk break and waved them on. From there on out, I was on my own.
Not having any real plan, after a brief walk break, I picked back up an ran with the goal of getting to mile 2 before taking another break. Unfortunately, I was a little disappointed not much further down the road, since the first water stop was around 1.5 (very odd, and in my opinion, much too early). Not knowing when my next chance for water would be, I decided to take the stop, slowing to walk so I could drink.
After that, I pulled on my headphones, and started "the game". You know the one. Run to a set point, take a walk break, repeat. Choosing random intervals based on feel, I bumbled through the rest of the race using this method.
Somewhere around what I would guess was 2.5 miles, there was another water stop (why?! why were they so close together at the beginning and so far apart at the end?!) Again not knowing when I'd have another opportunity, I took a drink. It was also at this point that the 10K and 10 mile split. Hanging a left, I went up and over the bridge and continued on.
Ironically, after crossing the bridge, I found myself running in a crowd of women and listening to a song about how there were "too many dicks on the dance floor". I couldn't help but snicker the whole song as I ran, knowing that there was hardly a dick to be found in the crowd.
Not long after that, everything started to turn into a blur. Rather than think about how much further I had left to go, I tried to focus on my run/walk intervals (which became more and more walk, less and less run). By the final mile, I was pretty much just walk, and was dawdling at that. If I recall correctly, as I cleared mile 6, my watch beeped out the current mile interval was 17:XX.
Eeesssshhh. That's no good.
On the plus side, I had rounded the final corner of the course and was on the home stretch back into the park. Though I didn't have the finish gate in my sites, I knew I didn't have much left to go, and decided to put my best effort into running to finish.
And with much spectator cheering all around me, I made it all the way to the mat. Huzzah!
As I cleared through the finisher's chute, I was given a BOTTLE of water (yes, a bottle - thank god!), and awarded a finishers medal. Not to be outdone by previous years, this year's medal was equally as cute and featured both a small sun catcher portion and a little dangle at the bottom.
Upon clearing the chute, I was dumped out to a food tent, where I was disgusted by the lack of sportsmanship. Just in front of me, a more elite runner who had gone back to gear check and retrieved her duffle bag, was pumping the bag full of Lara bars off of the post-race buffet. She literally took multiple fistfuls. How rude. Thankfully, the volunteers were on it and scolded her immediately. I was so glad to see that. There is nothing worse than coming in as a late finisher to find out a bunch of jerks ahead of you were greedy pigs, taking three of each item and leaving none for you.
Upon taking my FAIR SHARE of snacks, I headed back to gear check and retrieved my things. Then, since I had time to kill while my 10 miler friends finished the course, I wandered the vendor booths from the beginning of the day. And, after some inner debate and realizing the shirt tent still had plenty of leftovers, I went and exchanged my shirt for one size up (I figured since it was a long sleeve, having a slightly larger size might be nice for layering). The staff there was exceedingly friendly, and happily helped me with the exchange.
The shirt: essentially a maroon version of last year,
with the half zip moved to the side of the neck instead.
Not long after, the rest of my party made it through the finish. With a fist pump and a few cheers, we celebrated that they managed to run the entire distance. Then, after they had a chance to enjoy their FAIR SHARE of snacks, we said our goodbyes and headed for home.
And that's the story of how race bib #65 joined my collection. All in all, Women Run the Cities proved to again be a well run race with volunteers who are not only enthusiastic but also well equipped to do whatever job they are staffed to do. In fact, I don't doubt that I'll end up running this race again next year. Though ... the distance may be debatable. LOL!
Here's to another race soon!