This weekend my wife and I are partaking in the Loony Challenge, during the Twin Cities Marathon weekend. This is one of the many challenge race series that Twin Cities in Motion offers, and is a ton of fun. The goal is to run the 10K and 5K race today that is put on as a part of the family events portion of Marathon weekend, and then tomorrow get up and run the 10 Mile race that accompanies the actual Marathon.
We arrived at the start line this morning with about 30 minutes to spare. We found our friend that was joining us for the 10K portion and then hung out in the heated tent that was made available for all of the families with little kids in the later events. To say that it was hard to leave the comfortable heated tent, to go line up at the start line, would be an understatement.
After the traditional national anthem we launch up John Ireland Boulevard to begin our trek to Summit Ave., with a turnaround point just past Hamline Ave. My goal for this race was not to push hard, because I knew I had two more races to complete this weekend. I started out with a very comfortable pace and simply tried to let my body warm up slowly in the cold-ish temps (mid-40s). The race starts with a climb up a hill from the State Capitol to Saint Paul’s Cathedral, so that climb helped to regulate my energy and not push too hard.
The trek down Summit Ave. was uneventful and as my body warmed up I managed to get into a very comfortable stride that felt great for the entire race. By mile 5 I was in my happy running place and felt like I could run all day long. It helped that the final miles of the race are the descent down from the initial climb at the start. I allowed myself the fly down these hills and just let my body fall forward to let gravity pull me along.
I crossed the finish line in one hour and 3 minutes, which isn’t anything close to a PR for me, but I felt wonderful and ready for the next race that was starting in less than 30 minutes. I needed to take care of some bathroom business before that launch however, as I had felt some urges around mile 4 that didn’t let up. Don’t you love how runners share those types of details?
After my pit stop I moved into the start corral for the 5K race and found my wife again. She had laid down a great time in her 10K and was chomping at the bit to get out there again for another 3 miles. We lined up about halfway towards the front, thinking that this would help us avoid the typical walker crowd at events like this. The race launched and we very quickly realized that we weren’t lined up nearly far enough. The next thing we knew we were dodging and weaving between scores of people who were walking the entire race. I almost ran into multiple people as I tried to get out of the traffic areas and get to the point where I was surrounded by other people who were at least running some.
A gentle request to anyone who likes to walk a 5K… PLEASE line up towards the back and stay to the curb side of the course. It’s safer for you, and it’s safer for the people who are trying to run the race. Withing two tenths of a mile one woman was flat on her face having been run off the side of the course, too close to a barrier.
As traffic cleared I settled back into my comfortable pace and enjoyed one more jaunt up to Summit Ave. This time we only went as far as Dale Street before turning around and heading back down the hill to the finish line. Once again I let myself enjoy the downhill, throwing myself into gravity’s arms. In much longer races I’d be more hesitant to do this, but today I was feeling great, like I could run forever.
Before the race my wife asked me what time I was shooting for, and on the spot I decided I was going to do something around 32 minutes. As I approached the finish line I looked at my watch and saw that it read 31:30. I stepped on the gas and timed it perfectly to stop my watch at 32:01 exactly. It was fun to try and line up my finish time as close as I could to a goal time and actually feel like I had the power to make it happen, unlike in longer races that are decided long before the approach to the finish.
Now it’s time for a wonderful evening of relaxing and resting before the longer race tomorrow.