Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Siren Freedom Five 5K 2017 (Off the Deep End)

Siren Freedom Five 5K (3.15 miles)
41:04 *PW - woot!
Average Pace 13:13/mile

So, it's official.  I'm off the deep end with my race day costuming ...


Yep, you guessed it.  It's 4th of July season and here I am again - recapping the Siren Freedom Five.  I guess after 5 years of running this race, what's another repeat, right?  I first participated in this race back in 2011, then began recapping it in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 (with a brief hiatus of non-running in 2012 due to basically just being a cheap ass).

For 2017, since I am in no kind of shape, I decided to make the most of my "run" by theming my costume to the max.  As you can see above, the night before I inflated about two dozen Lady Liberty torches (purchased at Oriental Trading Company).  I figured ... WTH.  I'm already dressing up like a doofus, and I know I'll have a stroller on race day to carry the torches ... so why not just toss out crap to spectators - right?!?  Right.

I think my brain is broken.

Anyway!  As per years previous, on the day prior to the race I marched into Siren's school near their downtown area and did packet pickup.  This race is always very well organized, so like every year, pickup was a quick in and out.  And even with two packets, it was still just as quick.


Yep.  TWO packets.  I finally talked my husband into race day shenanigans on 4th of July.  And I even got him to agree to this:

I know, I can't believe it either.  And obviously, you can see my husband was a HUGE fan of this ... can't you just see the joy oozing out of him in the above photo?  Heh.

I suppose posting these photos basically jumped me right into race day recapping, so I'm just going to go with it. 

On race morning, I was pleasantly surprised to see a forecast of mid 60s and slightly cloudy skies.  Since in years past, this race has been a humid cooker of a race that has left me wishing for a second water stop along the course, the cooler weather was a welcome relief. Even more so with my little boy along for the ride.

Since we did packet pickup the night before, our only worry for the morning was to arrive just before the 8am gun time, so we did just that.  With about 10 minutes left before we were to start, my husband and I rolled up to the start line ... and proceeded to twiddle our thumbs.  Apparently, unlike years past where there was a fairly entertaining announcer and music to help pass the time, in 2017 there was either very little announcing being done - OR - the sound system was turned down quite a bit.  And I know I wasn't crazy (at least on this particular point), because even my husband commented that he couldn't hear a thing.

Eh, no big loss.  The only thing that really mattered was when it came time to sing the national anthem, the crowd caught on and quieted quickly, and before you knew it ... it was time to go. 


Since we were running this race with a stroller, my husband and I opted to line up about halfway back in the crowd.  I was a little nervous about this, since Freedom Five participants aren't always very good about self seeding, and often walkers toe the line just behind elite runners.  But somehow, this year we were in luck as not a single walker blocked our way for the first portion of the race.  Hooray!

Like years past, our first half mile or so wound around the downtown neighborhoods of Siren, Wisconsin, with various spectators watching in town as we went.  Armed with my multitude of torches, I tried to spot kiddy spectators as I went, which helped pass the time as I sucked wind.

While I did kid patrol and tossed out torches, my husband passed his time by watching a couple running just ahead of us with a boston terrier on a leash.  I missed it, but apparently the dog (who ran at a fairly good clip for being so small, might I add) would run and run and run ... until he found a spot of shade in the grass, where he would then promptly belly flop down and force his owners to stop their run.

Watching this couple gave my husband a good chuckle.  I was kind of bummed to have missed the dog's antics.

The cool weather and the various things keeping us entertained really helped the course cruise by.  Before I knew it, we were well into mile two, and the halfway water stop was within line of site.  I told my husband the gig about where the water stop was, and we both agreed it might be good timing to just stop, take a walk break, get some water, and check on the kid.
In the map that follows, you can see, we held pretty true to that plan, slowing down just around the halfway point.

You can also see in this map, though, that our speed basically is all down hill after that stop. 

At first, it seemed like our brief water stop walk was going to be our only pause on the entire course.  We picked right back up and took off ... only to have our little boy start whining not even a quarter of a mile down the road.

Thinking he was thirsty, we offered him some water from his sippy cup and picked right back up to running ... only to have him start whining again.  Drat.

Hoping he'd get over it, we tried to keep running.  Then tried to stop and offer more water and keep running again.  No luck.

My little boy wanted out of the stroller. RIGHT NOW.

You can about imagine how much fun that was.  With around 0.6 of a mile left, my husband carried my 14 month old son, who now weighs over 30 pounds and wears 3T clothing btw, by hand. 

This basically explains our last full mile split:

Yeah.  Not exactly a speed optimizer, carrying a 30 pound kid.  No surprise there.

Funny enough, as we were about 1/3 of a mile away from the finish line, our favorite little dog and his running crew came up from behind us.  Apparently, we had passed them at some point in the race and had gotten a sizeable lead.  But as we slowed to walk with our son, we failed to keep the lead and they advanced ahead of us.

However, they failed to keep their lead ... because yet again, a shady and grassy area caught the dog's attention.  And this time, I guess doggy found the best shady spot on course because he had absolutely NO desire to get back up again. 


Well, well, well.  A doggy temper tantrum put my kid's whining fit in perspective.  Who'da thunk it?!

Not long after passing our doggy friend once again, the finisher's chute came into view.  At this point, for whatever reason, my husband took off ... still hand carrying our son.  I didn't quite realize what he had decided to do until I heard my son squealing with glee. 

Refusing to be left behind, I picked up the pace too, pushing the stroller as I went.  With the clock just flicking over to 41:00, we pulled up to the mat and I official tromped out my own personal worst on this course.  Huzzah!  I guess if you're going to make some sort of record at the course, may as well make it a memorably bad one, right?!

In the finisher's chute, we were handed a bottle of water while volunteers clipped our timing chips off our shoe.  Upon exiting the chute, the three of us wandered over to the snack table to have a look at the goods.  There, my husband and I had our second bottle of water, and I snagged a mini blueberry muffin and a banana to share with my son.  Though my husband chose not to eat, when realized there was orange juice, he went over for that instead.

With some basic refreshments down the gullet, my final mission post race was to hand out what was left of my torches.  Taking a meandering exit from the park, I was mostly successful in doing so, as I only had 4 left in the stroller once we got back to the car. 

Dang ... had I only found 4 more kids, I wouldn't be stuck storing these dumb things until next year.  Oh well.

After a brief ride home, and a quick shower, I proudly donned this year's shirt and called it a day.

A pretty sweet design this year, don't you think?!


And that's the story of how race bib #80 joined my collection - and even though I have no idea when the next one will be ... here's to another race soon!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Rainbow Run 5K 2017 (7 Year Itch)

Rainbow Run 5K (3.15 miles) *short course, time below per chip
Average Pace 10:32/mile

Every year at the beginning of the Rainbow Run race recap I say this, so might as well repeat it again and officially make it a tradition: you may recall that I'm a founding racer for the Minneapolis Rainbow Run 5K.  Since the very first year it existed, I have run this race.


After participating in the Rainbow Run from 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and up through 2016 ... my sister and I are finally on lucky #7, AKA the 7 year itch.  Maybe that's why I thought this year's race was so uneventful?

Yeah, sorry to break it to you, but this is going to be a pretty lame race recap.  To make things better, at least I got a cool pre-race shot:

If you didn't know, the above photo is actually in downtown Minneapolis.  There is a super cool trail and bridge that leads into Boom Island Park.  I know I sing the praises of this trail every year but ... seriously, if you haven't been to this park, go check it out some time.

Anyway, on to race day.

For 2017, my sister and I broke tradition for this race and decided to park at the ABC ramps in downtown Minneapolis.  Typically, in year's past, we would park in a ramp at the end of the race course and then try to drive away from the parade route after the race.  But also typically, in years past, metro transit didn't close down Hennepin bus service pre-parade until closer to 9am. 

For some reason in 2017, Metro Transit decided to close Hennepin bus service at 8am.  Boo.  That meant for 2017, instead getting downtown butt early, or instead of walking almost 2 miles from our preferred parking ramp to the race start, my sister and I decided to split the difference by parking mid course at the ABC ramps.  This change required about 1 mile of walking to the race start, and then about 1 mile of walking post race back to the car.  The extra walking was no big deal either way, but we figured having 1 mile beats having 2 miles to travel pre-race when you're on a tight schedule and don't want to miss gun time.

The nice thing about this change is that we could delay our arrival time to downtown Minneapolis by about 30-45 minutes.  So we "slept in" (BAH!  6:30 on a Sunday morning -we are lush!), got dressed for the race, and arrived at check in with about 15 minutes to spare pre-gun.

Perfect timing.  We had just enough time to utilize the on site, flushing facilities ... grab our bibs ... and do a wee bit of people watching prior to the gun.

By the way, it seems like each year this check in process gets worse rather than better.  They never hang a sign at check in tables indicating which line is pre-registered and which is day of registration, and runners end up milling around in confusion debating which line to queue up in for check-in.  It kind of annoys me, since Pride uses Anderson Races to organize this event, and you'd think Anderson Races would have a little more sense on how to do these kinds of things.  (I do have to say, generally speaking, I'm not really impressed with Anderson Races.  Not that they're bad, but ... they aren't exactly top quality when it comes to race hosting.  In particular, I get a general feeling at the Rainbow Run that it's somewhat of a low priority, slightly unorganized mess each year.  And there is very little promotion from one year to the next that this race even exists, which is Anderson Races' job to do ... so ... I just dunno what to say.  Obviously it's not bad enough to make me stop coming to the event.  But I do think it's bad enough that the event won't ever grow beyond what it is now, which is a field of maybe 150 or so runners).

Regardless of the event organizer's quality of work ...

Thanks to the general confusion at check in, many runners were still milling around bib-less near to gun time.  That means come and go 9:30, we are still not even being directed to line up at the start. 

Slowly, just after 9:30, people begin to creep over to the start line.  Maybe an announcement was made to line up, but if it was, I couldn't hear the announcer from where I stood.

9:35 ... social media people are filming us with iPads to put up on Anderson Race's Facebook page.  Well, they are organized to promote POST event ... smh.

Waiting ...

Waiting ...

Per my watch, it looks like they finally staged us to get ready to start at 9:38.  Ok, only 8-10 minutes late ... I guess.  But considering the small field of runners and the literally 20' feet from check in to race start, there is really no reason for that.  Good thing my sister and I weren't worried about clearing the course within the time limit.

Bang - we run.

For 2017, we followed the same route as 2016, which has been generally the same route for the last three years (2014-2016):


Overall, the course is fairly flat and fast.  And typically, it's also ungodly hot.  Thankfully in 2017, the weather gods smiled on us and it was slightly overcast and cool.  (You'll notice, btw, that I finally got to wear my capris of choice for this race ... I ordered those rainbow lizard printed capris with this race in mind, not thinking about how smoking hot this course always is, and I never got to use them until this year!)
Though we ran the majority of the course, my sister's stress fracture ghost pains were rising from the dead just around the 1.75-2 mile mark, so we did take a brief walk break - as you can see in our splits:

What you may also notice, aside from our splits, is that my watch measured this course short once again this year.  While in years past this hasn't really bugged me, since this has always been billed as a "fun run", this year I did take some issue in the shortage.  That's because Anderson Races offered chip timing, which obviously leads to false time results since this is not a true 5K route (my previous GPS watch measured 2.9 in 2016 and my iWatch measured 2.8 in 2017).

I mean, compare my watch stats above (average 11:32 per mile) to the official chip results per Anderson Races (10:32 per mile).  While yes, it makes me feel good to "feel" faster ... it's not reality unfortunately:


Oh well.  Not that I'm exactly in tip-top shape this year anyway.  Imagine that, one year post childbirth and trying to take care of a soon to be toddler.  I'm not in shape.  How could that be?  (*sarcasm*)

In a tangent to that comment, I would like to say that overall I am pleased with my result on this year's course because, regardless of Anderson Races' chip time or my watch time, I was significantly faster than last year's pace.  Which yeah ... that isn't saying much being that I was barely 6-8 weeks post partum last race, but then again I haven't followed a running training plan in over a year either, so ... hey, I'm faster, I'll take it!

Of course, my sister is likely much less thrilled with our finish time, being that I drill sergeant-ed the hell out of her the last quarter of a mile.  But I mean ... when your original goal was to finish sub 35, and you can see the race clock is just barely 31 ... might as well get a 32 and change on your results, right?!



As per the last few years, once at the finish line we were greeted with water, assorted snacks and finisher's Ts.  The last two years I have passed on everything food wise, aside from water, knowing that we were headed to Brit's.  But this year I saw bacon chips and said ... wth?  Why not?

The finisher's T this year was a nice fabric, though I wasn't really a fan of the overall design ... I guess it's a little too retro for my taste maybe?  That and, I just keep secretly wishing they'd do more with the name of this race and hand out some sort of super sweet rainbow design.

Actual shirt (ignore my 5- head ... sheesh it looks huge in that photo for some reason):

My dream shirt (AKA super rainbow fun time happy spectacular, which I'd gladly pay a higher registration fee for if it meant I would get it):

Oh - not shown in the above, we also got a free pair of socks again this year.  They were a less than attractive grey and blaze orange color combo.  Good thing no one can see the socks inside your shoes, eh?

After chowing (the less than delicious) bacon chips and slamming two bottles of water, my sister and I continued on to another race day tradition:

And after a few scotch eggs and some chicken pot pie, we happily headed back to the ABC ramps and took off for home.


That's the story of how race bib #79 joined my collection - wow, I'm getting mighty close to 100 races!  (Though I doubt I'll hit 100 this year given my reduced training capacity after spending my days chasing a 1 year old around the house).  Regardless, here's to another race soon ... which will be reported on shortly, as I've already completed it, lol!