Medtronic Twin Cities 10 Mile {Race Recap}

I was up at 3:30 am Sunday morning, starting my pre-race routine. Ashley was going to be picking me up at 5 to go to our friend Amanda’s house so we could all carpool together. After I ate my toast and foam rolled, I started to get nervous. I don’t know why. I run 10 miles regularly and this was supposed to be fun. I wasn’t sure if I was going to go for a goal time or just run the race as I felt comfortable. I figured I’d see how the first mile went.

By 6 am, we were downtown hoping that the rain wouldn’t start again. We met the rest of our Team OT Efers crew, snapped a few pictures and talked about the brunch that we were headed to after the race, before I went to my corral.

Once in the corral, I saw the 1:15 pacer. I heard him talking to another runner about the pacing strategy. I heard him say he was going to bank some time to make up for the two mile long hill that we’d hit around mile four.

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I knew that I did not want to even attempt to run with that strategy. Banking time never works out well for me. It was then I decided I was just going to do my thing. I’d run as fast or as slow as felt good.

Just as we were sent on our way, it started raining again. Not too hard, but enough to be a little irritating. The first mile I started slightly fast, but not so fast that I was going to regret it. It was really crowded but we were treated to a beautiful sunrise. As we approached mile three the rain really started coming down and a headwind picked up. It made me so happy that I was only running 10 miles and not the full marathon. We had to curve around a tight and narrow turn to cross the bridge over the river. That was my slowest mile at 7:52.

Once we were on the bridge, the congestion started to break up. This was the part of the course I really remembered from running the marathon three years ago and cheering for my friend Kirsten last year as she ran the 10 mile. I grabbed water at the first water stop I saw and unfortunately got more up my nose than in my mouth. The rain was letting up which was exciting, but it left large puddles all over the street. I tried to avoid as many as I could without weaving too much. I was still consistently a tenth of a mile ahead of every mile marker.

By mile four, the rain had stopped and I had run under the blow up wall. The steepest part of the long hill was starting. I began to slow my pace to compensate. When I ran through the five mile clock (38:33), I calculated I was going to have no problem beating my previous 10 mile time from Goldy’s Run two years ago. I distracted myself by gawking at the beautiful houses (mansions?) I was running by.

I continued to run at a steady, but slower pace as I gradually climbed the never ending hill. It’s so deceptive because it doesn’t look like I was going up hill, but my legs could feel it. After getting to the top I got a little downhill segment where I speed up. One more tiny hill and I was on the flat and downhill home stretch to the finish line. I picked it up some more as I started my final mile to the finish line. It was my fastest of the race, the downhill helped of course. I was still about a tenth of a mile ahead but I didn’t care. My watch was showing I had maintained a 7:34 min/mile pace. Woohoo.

I ran through the shoot with a big smile on my face. I had finally gotten a personal record. My first in any distance since Thanksgiving. I’d also negative split the race.

Official time: 1:16:28  Avg. Pace: 7:39 min/mile

My Goldy’s Race 10 mile time was bested by nearly six minutes. I expected to run it faster than two years ago, but that was a surprising chunk after my lackluster races lately.

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I made my way out of the finisher’s area and waited for the rest of the team to come through. Everyone did so well!

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We made our way back to Minneapolis and enjoyed brunch at Ike’s Food and Cocktail.

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It was a fun morning! Now we’re talking about a relay race next year some time. That would be really fun. I’ve been wanting to do a Ragnar or similar event.

 

Feeling Like Home

It’s hard to believe but we have been Minnesotans for over a year and a half. We’re in the middle of our second winter which has been mild save for two weekends in a row in frigid, sub-zero temperatures. It’s not my favorite time of year here, but a small price to pay for the beautiful spring, summer and fall.

When we packed up the last of our belongings, drove away from our house and said our final see you laters to our friends and family, I had a knot in my stomach. I was excited for us to move on and out of Colorado to see what it would be like, but also terrified. Would we find a new house, would our kids adjust well, would I find a job, how were we going to make new friends, am I cut out to possibly be a stay-at-home mom, will we make it through a Midwest winter? To list a few of my many concerns.

When we arrived to the lush green land of 10,000 lakes (apparently it’s more like 11-12k lakes) a lot of my fears were put at ease. We enjoyed a beautiful summer and found our house. I immediately found an amazing running group and Josh settled into his job. Our friends Peter and Rachel were amazing. We saw them multiple times every week during those first few months. They really helped with the transition for us, even babysitting for me so that I could work when I was still trying to figure out what our new routine would look like.

Instead of going back to work as originally intended, I’ve continued consulting which has allowed me to do all sorts of fun stuff with the kids. Minnesota has an amazing early childhood education program that we’ve taken advantage of and tons of community events and classes for all of us.

I have to say we’ve had a really positive experience with our move. We found a house, our kids have transitioned well and I can’t really lodge any complaints. I love our neighborhood and really Maple Grove in general. There are tons of activities all year round from outdoor music and movies to sledding, tubing and cross-country skiing. It’s no wonder it was the #2 best place to live in 2014.

As for the cons, we absolutely miss our friends and family. We’ve had several visitors to show around our new digs. It’s really nice that we have a finished basement with a guest room and bathroom as well as living space. We don’t all have to be on top of one another now. We are looking forward to more coming…hint hint.

Outside of Peter and Rachel, who are our closest friends here, it has taken a while to make friends. We’ve been working on finding friends for ourselves as well as couple friends with kids our kids’ ages. If you haven’t tried to make friends as an adult, it is totally like dating and we’re on the market. I’ve found that most of the people I meet here are from Minnesota. This means of course that they have family and friends nearby. Breaking into the friend circle can be difficult but not impossible.

Over the past six months, I feel like we’ve made huge strides in the friends department. I have friends I can text or call to go for a run (of course), lament about a frustrating day with the kids or ask to have a movie night, ring in the New Year or chat with during various kids activities. Josh has even gone for drinks and such with some of the husbands.

I never thought I’d say it, but Minnesota is starting to feel like home. There is something to starting over in a new place. It forced me to leave my comfort zone. I’ve been forced to put myself out there to meet people. It has been scary and exciting, nerve-racking and exhilarating. Overall, this has been a good move for us. Do I feel like doing it all over again anytime soon? I think I’ll pass.

 

Birdtown Half Marathon – Race Recap

One of my favorite things about small local races is that we can arrive a half hour before the start and have plenty of time. That’s exactly what Josh and I did yesterday in Robbinsdale. We got to the park where we’d be starting about 7:30.

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We both had time to hit the porta potty and meet up with a couple of the Mother Runners who were also doing the half, 8k or 4k.

MRTT Pre-race

Once we snapped our picture we walked over to the starting line. It was on a bike trail at the park. Just a simple spray painted start line with a timing mat. After the national anthem we were off. I had lined up near the 1:50 pacers just so I didn’t go out too fast and I thought it would be feasible for me to keep an 8:24 pace at least until the hills. I was told the course was hilly which I thought would probably make my legs want to fall off.

We weren’t even to the first mile when we saw a huge group of runners coming back towards us. Turns out they’d missed the turn! I didn’t see Josh in the group so I was worried he’d dropped out due to hip pain. I later found out, he and about 10 other people that were in the lead (he was fourth at the time) never turned around at the missed turn and kept going none the wiser.

We made the turn and kept on chugging. Luckily from then on the course was fairly well marked with volunteers who were paying attention. Just before mile three we turned into another park where we had to run on grass for about a quarter mile. I was not excited about that. Once we were off of it, we were on a beautiful, tree-lined gravel path. It was humid out and I was starting to get hot so the gentle breeze through the trees felt great. My watch was telling me I was about .15-.20 miles off of the mile markers. When we hit the fourth mile, I was showing only 3.88 miles. I figured either I was working my tangents well or the course was going to be short. (First four mile splits: 8:15, 8:19, 8:30, 8:19)

Somewhere around our grassy area, I had lost the pacers. I was feeling good at the pace I was holding and decided to just go with it. If I had to slow down at the end so be it. We hit a big hill about mile five. It just kept going. My head was telling me to walk but I ignored it and powered up the hills. Because it was rather humid, I was taking water at every water stop. I was carrying a gel with me, but decided that I better wait as long as possible to take it, not wanting to risk stomach issues. The nice things about big hills is you get to go down them. Unfortunately at the bottom of this hill was another hill. I was happy when the big hills were over. (Miles 5-7 splits: 8:27, 8:23, 8:18)

Around mile eight I calculated that I should get a new PR even if I slowed down to a 10 min/mile pace. I tried not to look at my watch at all until I passed mile markers. Apparently around this mile, Josh and another group of runners missed another turn. Again cutting the course short. I’ll get back to that in a minute. I had been chasing a woman for a few miles and finally caught up to her around mile nine. We chatted briefly until the next water stop where I lost her. When I got to mile 10 I thought about taking my gel. My energy was starting to lag but there was a serious lack of porta potties. I put the gel in my sports bra and decided I’d have to go without it. (Miles 8-10 splits: 8:22, 8:13, 8:19)

At mile 11 I caught up with another woman I’d been behind most of the race. It was just the two of us on the street for a few minutes. Again we chatted and lost each other at the next water stop. I will say this race did well having water stops every few miles. I never did see the stop where they were supposed to have gels, but that’s why I always bring my own. The mile 12 marker was just behind me and my watch was still telling me about .20 miles behind that. Now I knew I was going to PR. We had one more little hill before heading down to the finish line. I was able to pick up the pace in the last few miles, especially the last mile and cruise across the finish line. (Miles 11-13 splits: 8:20, 8:15, 7:48)

Jess and Josh post race

Garmin Stats:

Distance: 12.90 miles      Time: 1:47:04       Pace: 8:17 min/mile

So if I add the rest of the distance at my 8:17 pace, my finishing time would actually have been 1:48:35. Still a PR by a couple minutes.

Official Stats:

Distance: 13.1 miles        Time: 1:47:05       Pace: 8:12 min/mile

I was satisfied with my race and was thinking, I might even have a chance to place in my age group. Of course it wasn’t until I found Josh that I learned what a huge disaster the race was for the first 10-15 runners. Thanks to missing the first turn, Josh and at least 10 other runners skipped about half a mile. The second missed turn added another half mile or so of missed distance. Josh was running down the finish line, heard them say, here comes the 4th half marathon finisher, but he turned around because his watch only said 11.XX miles. He ran the extra distance and then finished, which put him in 10th place overall.

What this is all means is that the winners and some of the top age group finishers only ran 11+ miles, not even close to the 13.1 they were supposed to. Josh was pretty pissed. I can’t say I blame him. As we looked at the results when we got home, it’s pretty obvious that the winners missed an entire mile. I guess that’s a possibility in these small races.

My official finishing information put my as the 33 of 230 finisher. I was 5th in my age group of 54 and 7th out of 109 women. Still very good, especially since I just ran a marathon, but I’m irritated with the skewed results thanks to missed turns.

This race has the potential to be great. The course offered a lot of variety and was pretty. They need to measure it longer than 13.1 rather than right at it to prevent it from being so short. They also need to have more volunteers and mark the course better. A leader on a bike directing the front of the pack is a huge necessity. The race director could also use a public relations person or at least a lesson in appropriate tone and content of communication. It was awful.

Anyway, that’s the last of my races for a while. I think that I’ll find a half marathon to do some time late summer to gauge where my speed is at during the Chicago training cycle. Josh was encouraging me to do a 10k next weekend, then a 5k the next just as a step down every week in the month of May. It’s not going to happen though as he and I will be out of town the last weekend of May (first trip alone!) and next weekend there are a bunch of 5ks but not 10ks.

Taking the Plunge

Last summer we were all about jumping in the many lakes around us. When I told Josh that I was going to jumping in a lake in February, he questioned my sanity. Honestly I was questioning it myself. I’ve heard about Polar Plunges for years. They hold them all over the country but I’ve never been brave enough to partake. Well, this year was different. Maybe it was the running group encouragement or me just deciding to make the most of my first Minnesota winter. Which side note, has been extremely mild. I’m actually jealous of all the snow that other places are getting. If it’s going to be cold it needs to snow.

Anyway, back to the Plunge. The Polar Plunge events benefit The Special Olympics both locally and nationally. Each participant is asked to raise a minimum of $75. Thinking about race fees, that’s nothing. I posted a couple status updates on Facebook and thanks to my awesome friends and family raised $125 in no time. With my funds raised, I was ready for the big jump.

Thanks to the advice of seasoned plungers, I knew to wear old running shoes and clothes I could get off quickly. I also was told not to wear anything that might weigh my down because I’d want to get out of the water quickly. I brought my favorite sweatpants, warmest boots and a coat for my post jump warm up clothes. Come Saturday morning I was really excited that we were going to see temperatures in the 30s.

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The event was really well organized. I meet my teammates, went into the warm-up/changing tent and within a few minutes we were getting our picture taken as we prepared to jump.

Pre-Plunge

When we entered the final little tunnel before our jump, I said to my teammates that I wasn’t sure I really wanted to do it. Of course there was no turning back. I was about to jump in water they had to cut through ice to get to.

As we were announced, we lined up and waited for the countdown.

Polar Plunge 1

Here we go!

Polar Plunge 2

Live action :

It was cold and took my breath away.

Polar Plunge 3

Polar Plunge 5

I was slightly worried I wasn’t going to be able to move my legs to get up the steps to get out. I felt like I was moving in slow motion, but I made it out and ran into the tunnels that lead to the changing tent. For once I was thankful for the few extra winter pounds I’m carrying around to keep some more warmth in my body.

Post Plunge

By the time I got into the tent to change I was warmed up. I was actually sweating by the time I was dressed and went to me Josh and the kids.

It was fun and for a good cause. Maybe I’ll do it again next year. If you’re slightly crazy, there are tons of events happening the rest of the winter all over the country. You can find one here.

Winter Happenings

When we told people about our plans to move to Minnesota, we were met with all sorts of grunts and goans immediately followed by ‘just wait until winter.’ Well winter is here and it hasn’t been so bad yet. Yes, it gets damn cold. Even this week when the thermometer tells me it’s 30-40 degrees outside, thanks to humidity and wind, it feels 10-15 degrees cooler.

Regardless of the chill in the air we’re making the most of our winter. There isn’t too much you can’t do if you’re bundled up. Last week we did just that.

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Friday night Josh fired up the chiminea and we roasted some marshmallows for some winter s’mores under a clear, star-filled sky.

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Sure there were some sticky gloves and frosty noses, but we had a great time.

We heard about the Winter Festival in Saint Paul which featured an event called Crashed Ice. We strolled through some ice sculptures which we unfortunately melting due to the unseasonably warm (for Minnesota) temperatures. It was a muddy mess.

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We ate some dinner and then made our way through the crowds to see the Crashed Ice event. It looked terrifying, but then again I’m not such a great ice skater.

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It was hard to see and there were so many people that we stayed for a couple races then went back down the the ice skating rink. Ella was really excited to ice skate for the first time. She waited so patiently for our turn.

They handed me the tiniest skates I’d ever seen. She could hardly contain her excitement as she waited for me to put on my skates. She practiced walking around on her skates until I was ready to head to the ice.

The minute we got onto the ice she wanted to skate on one foot. She must have seen it in a movie or something. We very very slowly made our way over the the side of the rink where Josh and Anderson were waiting.

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The pictures aren’t the best, but that’s ok. It took us probably 20 minutes to get all the way around. We didn’t even fall down! Once was enough and Ella said she was done until we could go again at the rink in the park by our house. We may have ice skating lessons in our future.

Once we actually have snow I think we’ll head out to snowshoe and cross-country ski. We still have more winter ahead so there will be time I’m sure.