Tuesday, October 6, 2015

TC 10 Mile 2015 (Dancing Yetis)

TC (Twin Cities) 10 Mile
2:32:01 PR! *
Average Pace 15:13/mile **

*A distance first is always a PR - LOL!
**This varies quite a bit from my GPS watch, which recorded a 15:02/mile. 
I'm not sure what to think about that, I've never had such a variance before.



Welp!  Despite the fact that this race was a real stinker pace wise, for the first time this year I'm claiming a PR.  Granted, it's not a PR to take huge pride in.  But given I won't see many of those for the near future ... I'll take it!  So, here's to running a distance for the first time.  Hoorah!

Anyway, PR aside, the days leading up to this race were a roller coaster for me.  For those of you who don't know, the TC 10 mile is incredibly popular and entry is awarded via a lotto system.  For three years I have entered said lotto.  FINALLY, in 2015, I got in, and I was thrilled.

Then, despite my best efforts at first, about a month before this race my training went to pot.  And to make matters even worse, the week of the race protesters made statements that they were going to shut down the race

Trying not to worry too much about what was to come, on Friday my friend and I went to packet pickup over our lunch hour, which was pretty fun though somewhat crowded (at least we came away with tons of free snacks). Then, trying to treat everything like business as usual, Saturday evening I worked on my pre race ritual of rounding up all my race gear and hoped for the best.




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Since the 10 mile gun time was scheduled for 7am, and I had carpools to catch that started at 5:15 (with a few pickups along the way), I had set my race morning alarm for 4am.  I figured that would give me enough time to eat a bit of breakfast, let my stomach settle, and get dressed before I had to go.

Of course, the above schedule was all in theory.  Reality was that I jumped awake at 2:30 on race morning thinking I had over slept, and then never managed to get back to sleep afterwards.  So by the time the 4am alarm went off, I was none too happy.

With no other option at that point, I just rolled out of bed and prepared for the day.  I ate a bowl of cereal with almond milk, had a small serving of cottage cheese, and starting drinking water.

After a while of dawdling around the house and letting my breakfast settle, I eventually dressed and headed out to make my first few carpool pickups.  A few ladies in my gym's run club live fairly close to me, so I picked them up and drove them out to my friend's house in Eden Prairie.  Once there, I parked my car, and her husband drove us down town to drop us at the race start.

Due to the lack of traffic on the roads ANYWHERE in Minnesota at 5am on a Sunday, we were surprised to be running a bit ahead of our anticipated arrival to the race start.  The plan was to arrive about 6:30, but actually ended up there just after 6:00, which proved to be quite a nice surprise: when we arrived that meant ... no porta-potty lines!  Taking advantage of the opportunity, a few of our group ran over to the wall (seriously, there were TONS of toilets available) and returned in no time.  After taking care of that business, we wandered around for a bit, and then eventually headed to gear check.

Gear check for this race is quite the well oiled machine, and good thing given the literally tens of thousands of participants.  I wish I had taken a picture, but simply put: they line up UPS trucks literally down an entire block, and you look for the truck that starts with the first two digits of your bib number.  IE - my bib was 30472, so I needed to look for truck number 30 (for bib numbers 30,000-30,999).  When I did find my truck, instead of using my gear bag, I ended up in a huge debate - it was much colder than I had anticipated, and I wasn't sure I really wanted to drop my jacket and gloves.  Finally, making a game time decision, I opted to risk being annoyed by my jacket rather than freeze pre-gun, and I kept all my gear.

With that decision made, it was about time to line up for the race, so we headed to the corrals.  Corrals were laid out fairly uniquely, definitely in a way I had never seen at a race before.  The lay out ended up being kind of cool, as the X shape allowed us to see each wave depart as they were released.




 I was in corral 4 with two of our group, so we anxiously watched each corral depart.  And then ... it was time.  Corral 4 was called forward towards the start line, the announcer counted down and ... we were off!


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Knowing this was going to be a hard and long race, I tried not to think about too much in the first few miles and just started nice and slow.  I do remember thinking that the course was too much like many of the Minneapolis races I've run in the past, in that we ran down towards the stone arch bridge and around that general area of downtown.  I tried really hard not to be disappointed by this, but it was a little hard not to be, as I had really high hopes that this course was going to be beautiful and new to me.  Oh well, not a big deal.

The typical noob runner behavior of course reared its ugly head during this segment of the race, and I got cut off several times by people zig-zagging in front of me.  I was trying not to be annoyed by it, but it is a bit frustrating when people do this (especially when you end up passing them not even half a mile later when they've burnt out, as they fired out of the gate too fast).  Several times I even took full on elbows, which really annoyed me; I was fairly certain they were intentional.  To that I say: hey runners, here's a tip - if you want to be in a faster corral, get yourself qualified ... or don't self seed at the back of the pack and then be surprised when you have to wade through a heard for the first 2 miles!! 

OK, rant over.

Some time around mile one or two, we passed through a pedestrian tunnel that really proved to be a HUGE funnel for the race.  There was a considerable log jam both on entry and exit of the tunnel, and again much pushing and shoving ensued.  Knowing I was going to eventually need a walk break anyway, I chose to just let the people around me swear and push, while I leisurely strolled along the far edge.  Interestingly, I got out of the tunnel just about as quickly as the pushers, using considerably less energy in the process.  Heh.

After the tunnel, we crossed a bridge over the river and headed towards the University campus.  At this point, the race started to shake out some, perhaps due to the first of several decent hills.  Ready for another walk break, I chose this portion of the race to walk the uphills and run the downhills.  I just love running down hill, by the way.  It makes me feel like my feet are spinning out of control like the road runner or something.  Beep Beep.




Aside from the people pushing each other and hills, now that I look back on it, the first four miles of the course weren't particularly memorable for me.  I do recall catching some odd smelling sniffs here and there ... possibly due to stagnant river or sewer water.  But other than that, it was pretty much your standard downtown running environment.  Oh, with the first water stop at around mile 3ish and then about every mile or so thereafter.

To make matters even less interesting, the first 4ish miles of the 10 mile course are much different from the Marathon course:





As a result, there weren't many (if any) spectators, which was kind of a bummer for me (since I like to people watch).  However on the plus side, the race courses do eventually merge.  So, once we hit the point where we were running the same course as the marathoners, things got much more interesting from a ... things to look at perspective. 

The first thing I recall seeing after the merge was the giant inflatable "wall", which was at mile 20 for the marathoners (just before mile 4 for us).  I know that wasn't really set up for us to enjoy, but I did get a kick out of it none the less, since I pretty much felt like I hit the wall at that point as well.  With my lack of training, running 4 miles right now is a lot, so my body was already starting to really feel fatigued.

The down side to seeing the wall was - I still had 6 miles left to go, which was over half of my distance.  I tried not to think about that too much, and instead focused on the yetis that were dancing just a quarter of a mile down the road.

Yes, I said yetis.  As in plural.  Somewhere around what was mile 4 or 4.25 for us, two grown what I am guessing to be men were dressed in full on, white fur yeti costumes with blue rubber faces.  They had a "chaperone" of sorts with them: a grown woman in regular street clothes wearing a white furry ski cap with ear flaps that had a yeti face on it as well.  The three of them were dancing to non-existent music.  Before 8am.  In the middle of the city.

Makes my unicorn costume and twinkie distribution of previous years seem almost normal.  LOL!

Not long after the yetis, I passed several VERY NICE mansions houses along the river, and was stunned to learn that apparently for these people, marathon spectating is a huge drinking occasion.  Several houses had set up spectator areas in their front lawns to host groups of no smaller than 20-50 people plus. One house in particular had filled their yard with a giant bounce house and one of those huge white, outdoor tents that you typically set up for a wedding.  That in itself is quite remarkable, but it isn't even the most ridiculous thing ... because inside the tent was a 3 table long buffet set up for what I believe was to be a bloody mary bar.  Said table included 5 or 6 giant bottles of Belvedere vodka, a bunch of what I assumed was tomato juice bottles, and the entire rest of the tent was filled with tables and chairs to host a party.

Yes, I'm talking bottles like this:




I couldn't help it.  As I ran past, my jaw dropped and I shook my head in disbelief.  What a sight!

Eventually, the course fed from the road along the river onto Summit.  It was here that I saw my favorite sign of the race: a young boy, who was small enough I doubt he could even read his sign, stood holding a giant piece of tag board and cheering with his mother.  The sign simply said: GO WEIRDO.

Seemed appropriate enough for me.  Ha!

Not long after that sign, around the six mile mark, I pretty much hit my limit.  Though I had been trying to maintain run/walk intervals up to that point, I had hit one hill to many, and I threw in the towel.  Rather than try to keep pushing to run, since my knees were starting to talk to me, I decided to just walk at as fast a clip as I could maintain.

Somewhere during that time, I would guess between miles six and eight, I began to discover that there are a couple flaws in running a major race near to the old neighborhood where you grew up.  First of all, you will run past the junior high you attended so long ago, you hardly remember what it looks like inside (Ramsey Jr.).  Second of all, you will likely pass spectators on course who are wearing lettermen jackets from the high school you attended ... with graduation years on the arm that are 20 years your junior.

I couldn't help but laugh when I actually saw a young girl with a 2019 graduation year on her arm.  Since I graduated from the same high school in 1999, I blurted out "I graduated 20 years ahead of you from the same school - go Highland!!" and then snickered.  I'm sure she thought I was just some weirdo old lady, but whatever.  It gave me something else to think about for at least half a mile.

By mile eight I was trying to think positive, being that I knew some of my gym friends would be there to cheer, but too late - I had already began the death march.  Everything on me was hurting.  Everything.  My knees, my back, my hips ...




I also had some fears about needing to pee and not knowing if I could wait until the finish line.  And I really, really knew that though I wanted to - I simply could not trust that fart.

My friends at mile eight did their best to pep me up, but I was hurting so bad I just waved them off and kept going.  Now my goal was clear - only two miles left.  Just focus and do this thing.

Between mile eight and nine, things were pretty much a blur.  Finally when I hit nine, I could tell myself - just one more mile.

I was so miserable at that point that I just wanted to be done.  So despite the feeling that I had nothing left in me, I started picking up run intervals again.  They were slow.  They were short.  But they got me here:




At which point I knew, I had less than half a mile left.  And it was mostly downhill.  So I picked up and ran as best I could, the rest of the way to the finish.  Where, I might add, I was beat by the first marathon wheeler.  Who had 16 miles on me, and I started close to an hour ahead of him.  Check out the video evidence.

After clearing the finish line, I hobbled down a bit to a group of folks awarding finishers medals, and one of these hefty bad boys was slung around my neck:




After that, I continued down the chute to find myself being offered bottles of water, chocolate milk and an assortment of fruit and other snacks.  Once I filled my hands with all that I could carry (and cared to eat), I followed the signs to the next stop - finisher's shirt pickup.  There I turned in the coupon on my bib for this:




By this time, I was kind of in a post race haze.  Though I met my friends, I totally spaced out and missed the fact that there was a post race beer garden and a coupon on my bib for one free beer.  Truth be told, I think the real reason I missed that was that I was mostly concerned about getting more food ... as our post race party plan included a short, free trip on the light rail to the Victoria stop (racers rode free on race day by showing their bib), and then a short walk to Caf√© Latte for the likes of this:





Once we ingested all the calories we burned on course via cake, my husband picked the four of us up and we headed home.  During the ride, of course, we hashed out performance specs ... all of my friends were much better than mine, of course.  But regardless, here are mine, just because.






And of course, before we could call it a day, one last group photo to mark the occasion.




TC 10 mile, official finishers!!

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And that's the story of how race bib #66 joined my collection.  Here's to another race soon... which despite my misery this week, is already scheduled for this coming Saturday.  Thankfully it's just a 5K this time!

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