Is there a more patriotic way to celebrate July 4th than getting up at ass o’clock (my new favorite way to describe SUPER early morning running, courtesy of The Oatmeal) and paying money to run around the city you live in?
There is not.
There are many things to share about this event– particularly some important lessons learned and the beauty of silver linings. Let’s take this chronologically, starting on Race Day Eve.
July 3, 2014. Approximately 5:20PM.
It was at this time I made one of my first probably-less-than-stellar pre-race decisions.
For the past few weeks, my transit-based commute has sort of been going through a test phase. When the new light rail line (The Green Line) connecting the downtowns of Minneapolis & Saint Paul opened, my bus route connecting the downtowns was discontinued. Generally, I support light rail, but when my connection goes from 20 minutes to 42? Unhappy. This is after a 20 minute ride into downtown Minneapolis. As Aaron likes to point out, I do not like to be inconvenienced. Which is true. So the Green Line and I are off to a sort of shaky start, when I take it from Saint Paul to Minneapolis Thursday evening. By the time I get into downtown Minneapolis, the thought of spending even another minute of my life on public transit makes me want to lay down in traffic. So, I decide to schlep a few blocks to the Nice Ride, the Twin Cities bike share program. Which on a normal day is a perfect option to prevent me from taking my own life via passing Subaru. But, since they have to be durable, these bikes are pretty heavy. And they only have three gears. So, it was sort of like riding a tank 6 miles home. Awesome pre-race strategy.
July 3, 2014. 6:12PM.
I get home and say, “Aaron! Let’s go to Dick’s Sporting Goods! I want a new shirt for tomorrow’s race!”
Why should this raise red flags? Because every runner knows a cardinal rule of running races is NO NEW THINGS ON RACE DAY. No new food, no new shoes, no new clothes.
I did consider this, thought long and hard about it, and decided that a new shirt wasn’t a terrible idea as long as I didn’t try a new sports bra.
July 3, 2014. 6:50PM.
I get a new shirt. It is comfortable and awesome. I use social media to broadcast my outfit so
all my fans my mom can find me on race day.
I also buy a 6 pack of new running socks. And now, 48 hours after the fact, I am asking myself, “Are you effing serious, Kate?!” We will revisit this disastrous decision later.
July 3, 2014. 7:04PM.
In the parking lot of the store, as we are leaving, I turn to Aaron excitedly and say, “Oh my gosh! Do you know what is over here?! Khan’s Mongolian Grill. Let’s go!”
Aaron, though not being a runner, is not an idiot. “You want to go to an all-you-can-eat Mongolian grill less than 12 hours before you run a half marathon?”
“Yeah, yeah. I’ll just get mostly veggies and things.”
Turns out, this was not actually as bad of a decision as I thought it was even as I was making it. I really did stick an almost all-veggies and noodles mix and kept things kind of simple and easy to digest. I thought of it as an all-you-can-eat carbo-load.
July 4, 2014. 5:10AM.
I am scrambling to get organized and remember all the things I need to bring. I get dressed and realize I didn’t lay out socks the night before when I was doing outfit prep, so I grabbed a brand new pair from the Dick’s Sporting Good bag. I eat my toast with peanut butter, but I forget to eat my banana. I am overdramatically distraught about this later. I yell at Aaron, who has graciously offered to drive me to the start, but is not doing so fast enough for my liking.
July 4, 2014. 6AM.
I am at the start and cannot believe what a beautiful autumn day Minnesota is having… seriously, I was even a bit chilled! I do suffer 4 mosquito bites, so I know it is still summer.
July 4, 6:30AM.
It’s go time! (and from here on out I will mark the passage of time by miles because I have no actual concept of time when I run).
Mile 0-not even 1.
I get a little freaked out running on St. Anthony Main because the roads are brick, but maybe 1 in every 20 bricks is totally MIA, which makes it sort of like running through a broken ankle minefield. I survive. Otherwise from here to Mile 4 is pretty uneventful.
My mom and mother-in-law are cheering! They drove up from Lakeville, and then had to navigate the closed roads and complicated traffic of a race in Northeast Minneapolis, so this is no small feat. The happen to catch a picture as I run next to a man in a very patriotic Speedo.
At this point, I realize I am going way too fast. My goal pace was 10:40 and Miles 1-4 were: 10:03, 10:02, 10:20, and 10:23. I have a sinking feeling this isn’t sustainable, but I am also feeling REALLY good. So I press on, but try to slow. Miles 5 and 6 end up right on pace around 10:40 and I feel comfortable.
I knew what was coming here, but I didn’t really know what was coming. On Thursday, my friend Jackie (who also came out to see the race– yay!) said, “Did you know the hill in the middle is the highest point in Minneapolis?” No. I did not. Neat!
I run pretty strictly only in the Midwest. I generally don’t run when I travel, except the one time I ran around a golf course in a retirement community in Florida. So, maybe if I lived somewhere with some more serious elevation changes, I would not be a sissy when it comes to running hills. But I am a sissy. And this hill? Not for sissies. Apparently, the view of Minneapolis from the top of the hill is fantastic, but I wouldn’t know because we were running the other direction and I was too busy hating myself to turn around and look.
Surprisingly, this does not end up being my slowest mile. Which sort of foreshadows how the wheels kinda came of the train in the second half of this race…
Mile 8 & 9.
I regain my composure and get back closer to my goal pace. I was feeling really behind because the 10:40 pace group passed me, but looking back at my Garmin results I wasn’t actually too far behind pace at all. Which kinda made me wonder what was going on in that pace group, but at Mile 8/9, it’s really not worth it or interesting to sit and ponder how anyone else is running. You just gotta do you, so I did.
Remember that part about how I bought a new shirt and new socks? Well, even at Mile 10 the shirt is working out marvelously.
The socks. Oh god, the socks.
If you run or walk a considerable distance or time, your feet will swell. You have to account for that when choosing running footwear. And I did– when I choose the shoes. I sort of let that slip when I chose the socks. I start to try to run/walk to relieve the pain in my toes. To no success. I can feel my pinky toes blistering. Closing in on Mile 11, I know there are 2 choices: walk (painfully) the rest of race or lose the socks. So I lost the socks, put my shoes back on, was pleasantly surprised at the relief that afforded me, and continued toward the finish.
Unfortunately, I think the damage to my feet had been done. While my legs were getting fatigued, they still had some go in them. But the pain in my feet never really subsided and I tried hard to find a comfortable strike position or gate, but I was mostly unsuccessful. I cried when I saw my mom and mother-in-law right before closing it up on the Stone Arch Bridge– partly because I always cry and partly because I was a bit disappointed. I had not made a mistake because I knew (I knew) new socks was treacherous. I had essentially been a bit lazy and I think that played a part in my discomfort at the end.
Still, good race or bad, finishing a run on the Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis is a treat. I finished with a smile, I was given my medal by Uncle Sam himself, and Twin Cities in Motion rewarded my effort with a bomb pop popsicle. Then I rewarded my efforts with 2 sprinkle donuts.
Coming in at the back of the pack in 2:28, I did not meet my A Goal of a 2:20 half. But! I did meet both my B & C Goals! I crushed my half PR by 11 minutes and I do feel like a ran confidently. I look happy and strong in most of the photos and the reasons for a slower time than I hoped for are things I can change. And that’s empowering. Often times, when I run slower than I wanted, I tell myself, “You are a bad runner. You can’t actually do this. You are just faking it.” This time was different. I told myself, “You did fine. You made 2 boneheaded choices that may or may not have cost you the second half of the race. But that gives you something to work on.” I can’t fix “sucking at running” if I tell myself that’s the problem. But I can fix wearing new socks on race day and I can practice not going out so fast as I train for the TC 10 Mile this fall.
It was a great race– great course and TCM is easily becoming my favorite race organization. They just keep things simple, straightforward, professional, and still fun. Plus, bomb pops. I can’t imagine doing it in the heat that we usually have on July 4th, but now that I have regained some half-marathon confidence, I might have to try it out again!