Average Pace 13:37/mile
It's no secret that I love Women Run the Cities. In fact, I love it so much that for the last three years now, I have run this race. In 2014 I ran the 5K with a friend, and in 2015 I dropped down from the 10 mile to the 10K to "run" (since I was pregnant I don't know that it was so much "running", but whatever).
Of course, it would have been ultimate justice to have run the 10 mile for the race this year to make up for last year's drop down, but ... being that I hardly have time to eat and sleep these days, training has obviously taken a back seat. Not that I'm upset about that, it's just reality.
On a side note to that, my goal has been to get back into a more regular running routine this fall, which is actually happening. But despite getting back into a somewhat regular running schedule, realistically I don't see myself taking on a longer race (IE 10 miles +) again until 2017.
Anyway - back on point. Women Run the Cities.
For 2016, after much debate, I decided to do the 10K with my sister. Both she and I have lost our running mojo in the last year due to various reasons, and we figured what better than a race on the books to get us up and running - literally. And quite frankly, it worked, as we both obviously made it to race day:
Nothing ruins a race recap like putting the very last photo of the day first, am I right? Oh well. May as well jump right into it I guess!
As you can see in the above photo, Women Run the Cities takes place near Minnehaha Falls in St. Paul. Overall the course is fairly flat, yet is terrifically scenic thanks to being along the river and passing through a fairly wooded neighborhood. (In years past, the trees on course have been a beautiful highlight of fall colors, but this year it's been a bit too warm for the trees and they were mostly green still).
Race day was pretty much show up and go, since I had gone to packet pickup at the Edina Galleria on the Friday prior to the race. It's always nice to not have to worry about packet pickup day of ... but the trade off to that this year was a poorly organized check in process at the Galleria.
Check in at the Galleria is kind of a long story, but basically what ruined it for me was the woman heading check in. She was NOT friendly - like AT ALL. On top of that, there were roughly 15 people working the check in booth, and literally 3-4 of us runners there to check in. And somehow, although there were only 2 people in front of me, I still ended up waiting in line for close to 10 minutes while the majority of the 15 people working the check in booth either chatted with each other or stood around looking confused.
Adding insult to injury, the woman heading check in allowed a runner who JUST WALKED UP to leap frog me and pick up their bib first, even though I had been standing and waiting for quite some time. To be fair - yes, they were checking in for the 10 mile and I was doing the 10K. But, you'd think with only 2 people ahead of me getting 10K bibs and 15 people staffing the check in table, someone else could have gone to the 10K pile and found my bib ... I mean ... how hard would that be?!
Both my friend and I left check-in feeling a little disappointed, since we have always spoken so highly of this race in years past. But we agreed that despite the poorly organized check-in, the rest of the race was excellent and we didn't let it cloud our race day attitude.
Especially when we left the sub-par check-in with the beautiful race day swag in hand.
A hooded, wicking, embroidered jacket? Wowza! :-)
Ok - swag and check-in aside, back to race day.
So my sister, friend and I show up on race day ready to go. Since we did bib pickup in advance, all we needed to do day of is drive to the Fort Snelling light rail station, hop the train, and walk down to Minnehaha Falls.
Easier said than done considering the rain. *sad clown whistle*
Of course, despite most weather forecasters saying the rain was supposed to be done around 7am, it is still pouring buckets during our drive to the light rail station. And once there we discover it's surprisingly cold when the wind starts blowing against our damp skin and clothing.
Needless to say, once we finally arrive to the race start, we discover the atmosphere was a little bit lacking. But, despite the weather downer, the crowd still had a positive feel to it. And, although I had a hard time hearing the announcer due to our position in the pack (we had chosen to line up towards the back 25% or so), the race appeared to have started on time because before we knew it - we were off!
As the crowd started to shift and push through the starting gate, my sister and I said farewell to my friend, who was truly aiming to RUN the 10 mile. Finally, we crossed the starting mat, I punched on my GPS, and we talked strategy ... which was basically, that we had none. LOL!
Agreeing that we'd take a "try it and see" approach, my sister and I ran the first mile at about an 11 min/mile pace and then scattered walk breaks throughout the rest of our run. Basically, we did a run/walk interval that resulted in 1 mile of running, roughly a quarter to half mile of walk break, and repeat.
Each mile that we completed, I ended up being pleasantly surprised that I was holding to about an 11 min/mile and not feeling fatigued or sore. Of course, I was working to keep the pace (not struggling, just working). But given the most I've run in the last 6 months is 1 or 2 miles in one day, non continuous, I was pleased.
To motivate us along on our run intervals, it helped that we received plenty of "nice outfits" and "hey - look at the mermaids!" types of comments on our "costumes".
As we ran, a few of my favorite callouts included:
- A young girl, perhaps 4-6 years old, in an absolute panic trying to show us to her mother before we passed by. "Mom. Mom. Mom! Mom! MOM!!!! MOOOOMMM!!!! LOOOOKKK!!!!! MERMAIDS!!!!" (Mom's response, after being interrupted because she was legitimately trying to cheer for all the runners - "YES, I SEE!!")
- A male volunteer, cheering from the sidelines "Nice outfits! Mermaids! ... um, right?" (To which my sister replied after he was well outside of ear shot "Only a guy would follow up with the um, right! LOL! What does he think we are, walleyes wearing bikinis?!" And I rebutted "No, we're OBVIOUSLY Jonah being eaten by the whale - duh!" Snickers abounded.)
- A male police officer directing race traffic and cheering "I like your shirts!" Which in and of itself isn't really that funny, I mean - yeah, they're more dresses than shirts. But the better part was the response of a lady who was passing us as he cheered. After the police officer was out of hearing range, she said "Well, I don't know if he likes the shirts so much as what is in them." (I mentioned to her that I am breast feeding, and she could obviously see that my sister is ... well endowed herself.) Her follow up response was "Well, whatever the reason, you girls have it. Congratulations." **Foot note: being congratulated on course for having big boobs - not something I expected at a women's only race.
Of course, I expect that wearing funny outfits on race day will garner a wide range of responses. And to be 100% honest, that's part of why I do it. I mean - first of all, the outfit is funny, and I enjoy making people laugh. And second of all, what fun is it to run a race if you're not going to have a good time doing it?!
So may as well enjoy the responses you get to your outfit, even if it's a comment about how big your boobs are, right??!!?!
Between my sister and my conversations, and the constant cheering for our mermaid outfits, I was totally distracted on the run. I suppose then, it goes without saying, I could hardly believe my eyes when it registered where we were on course ... and that an hour had already passed. Even better, my GPS was telling me we were within a mile or so of the finish line. Sweet!
Honestly, I was a little tired at this point, and worried how sore I might be the next day after running so much. Given my concerns, I talked my sister into walking most of the final mile, with the goal of picking up to run once we got closer to entering the park again - which I didn't time quite right, as I had figured we'd run the last quarter to half mile, and in reality it ended up only being a little over 1/10 of a mile. Whoops!
Mileage calculation errors aside, we finished our run strong and were greeted at the finish line with an oversized water bottle (bigger than the standard 12-16oz one, or whatever you usually get - HOORAH!), and the 10 year commemorative finisher's medal:
Ooooh - shinny!
After getting medals, my sister and I made a quick loop over to the snack table and scurried right back to the finish line. We tried to hurry because my 10 miler friend, per my pace estimations, wasn't too far behind our finish. Our haul from the snack table included pretty much one of everything that was offered - a banana, a bag of potato chips, a piece of trail bread, a mini nut goodie and mini Laura Bar, and a chia/quinoa grain free granola bar of some sort that was actually pretty good.
Being that I'm hungry 100% of the time right now with the breast feeding, I proceeded to stuff my face and vacuum up every crumb of food I had on hand before my friend came through the finish. And when she was done, I was incredibly tempted to circle the table a second time with her as she got her goodies. BUT - I restrained myself, since I know how much it pisses me off when I see some greedy jerk at the finish line taking multiples of something before everyone else has had a chance to eat.
I try to be good. I really do. :-)
Once everyone had a chance to get their snacks, the three of us made a quick loop of the vendor booths in the post race party area. They were giving out the usual stuff - reusable totes, various types of bracelets (we ended up taking some slap bracelets for my sister's kids), flyers, etc. Nothing was terribly exciting, so after a few minutes of browsing we decided to call it good and caught the light rail back to the car.
Luckily we had dried off enough at that point that we weren't getting my new car's seats wet ... though my feet were still pruny when I got home and took my socks off!
And that's the story of how race bib #76 joined my collection. Here's to another race soon ... which now that I'm finally caught up on my back log made me realize ... I don't have anything more booked for 2016. This might be the end of my race season this year. I guess we'll see!