More photos will return tomorrow!
Tonight was the fourth of five races in the ESTR series, the 7 mile race at Hyland park in Bloomington, MN. Unlike the last race, this one was just hot, with the humidity taking a back seat finally. We arrived through rush hour traffic about an hour early, and since I was still in work clothes found a nice vault toilet to change in. I got my bib and wandered around to find people I knew. We sat around and chatted until John Storkamp called us over to give his usual pre-race announcements and start us on our way.
The Hyland 7 mile is somewhat unique in that it is two lollipop circuits with the start/finish/aid station in the middle. When we launched from the start we headed down a path to the south that eventually had a large loop at the end. This section of the course was somewhat rolling, but overall it wasn’t very difficult. My biggest complaint from this section was the woodchip path. I find woodchips to be almost too soft and cushy, and too often I get pieces of wood stuck down the sides of my shoes.
I was running with Adam again and we kept a great pace together as we finished the loop, headed back down the two-way path to the start/finish and hit the aid station for some water. I brought my handheld water bottle with me to the race, but at the last minute decided to leave it with my wife. It was warm out, but not warm enough for me to want to carry a water bottle for 7 miles. I managed a nice glass of water at the aid station and we headed back out onto the northern lollipop section of the course.
The northern section of the course was far hillier, and there were moments that we found ourselves walking up some very steep hills. The “stick” part of this lollipop was much longer than the southern one, and so we had a chance to watch the course leaders pass us on their way back to the finish line. It was fun to shout some encouragement to them as they blasted past us, all young and toned and fast.
When we arrived at the small loop we were greeted with more woodchips, as we descended into a small nature area where we encountered even more steep rolling hills. Perhaps they weren’t as steep as I’m thinking they were, because we were already getting tired, but they seemed pretty steep to us at the time. We finally cleared the loop and walked the final huge hill before the drive to the finish. I felt a bit of energy coming on so I decided to pull us a bit. Adam tucked in behind and later admitted that he would have probably walked more if I hadn’t keep pulling us forward. Last race I got pulled by him, and this time it was my turn to return the favor.
As we hit mile 7 we realized that yet again this was an un-exact course mileage, and that we probably had a bit more to go. However, it wasn’t long before we started to hear the crowds of people cheering us in to the finish chute. Apparently Adam had a lot left in the tank because about 20 yards from the finish he sprinted past me the line. I crossed the finish and looked at my overall pace. A nice solid 10:30ish pace, which I was more than happy with considering the evening run and the rough terrain.
I grabbed some pizza and a beer and found my family waiting for me. I said goodbye to my fellow runner and we started the trek home. I’m going to miss these races when they stop happening in a few weeks. I’ve been enjoying a reason to get our and run on a Tuesday evening with a bunch of crazy people at parks I’ve never been to before. The miles are pretty small and so I’m able to put in a decent showing even after working all day.
One more run left, and quick 5K down at Murphy-Hanrehan park in Savage in a couple weeks. I can’t want to see more of that course, considering it might be my first 50K later this year!