A race for women. A race organized by a women’s professional organization (Minnesota Commercial Real Estate Women). A race that raises money for the Ann Bancroft Foundation, which works hard to make bright and thoughtful girls into empowered and influential women. A race that is kicked off by a 1 Mile race for girls in which Ann Bancroft herself said to about 100 girls of all ages, poised at the starting line, “You can do this because you can do everything.” (Also, there were Storm Troopers at the packet pick-up. I mean, they were there for a different event at a movie theater, but still.)
With a race like that, how could you not have a great time?!
I’ll admit, my race day morning was sort of a comedy of errors. I didn’t charge my Garmin or my ipod until the night before. I didn’t lay out my clothes or even choose which shoes I would wear. Instead I went to Autumn Brew Review and enjoyed all-you-can-drink beer samples from some great craft breweries. Carbo-loading, right? Right. But things really took a left turn when I noticed one of the seams of my running knickers had blown out, rendering them nigh unwearable. At first this caused no panic because I was sure my drawer of running clothes included a back up pair. And as I rummaged frantically through that drawer, I slowly remembered that earlier this month I went through a phase of obsessively removing items from the house that I wasn’t using anymore.
Old running knickers were out.
My options were a pair of fleece-lined running pants or $9.99 Target gym shorts, purchased sometime before 2007. Recognizing that the running pants were the superior quality item, I put them on. But when I stepped out on the deck to see what the weather was like, I realized those pants would be a one-way ticket to the medical tent for heat exhaustion. So, gym shorts it was.
The event takes place at Minnehaha Falls, a place where it is notoriously difficult to park. Unless you ride your bike, which I did. And it was awesome. By the time I arrived, the Girls’ 1 Mile race was about to start, so I decided to do some light stretching while watching their kick-off and race. I won’t lie, it was pretty ridiculously cute and I got some last minute advice from a young participant to “Have fun and run fast!”
The weather was delicious for this time of year. We are in that blessed zone where no Minnesotan takes a nice, snow-free day for granted. But to be given sun and high temperatures? Glo. Ri. Ous. Of course, also the reason I had to wear the terrible gym shorts, so kind of a double-edge sword I guess.
The course was a familiar one– it is used by many other events, in whole or in part. Leaving Minnehaha Falls, we ran toward West River Road and went north on West River. We cross the river at the Lake Street Bridge, giving runners the most glorious view of the fall colors along the river. It definitely made me think that this weekend’s marathoners are in for a big ol’ eye candy treat– the trees are gorgeous! We then headed south on East River Road, including the notorious hill between University of Saint Thomas and Summit Avenue. It is a case of what runner goes up does eventually get to come down, but it is a wholly unpleasant journey up. We crossed back into Minneapolis on the Ford Parkway Bridge, except we had to run about 30 yards past the bridge to a turn-around before we could head back and across. It was a teensy bit demoralizing to cross under and past the bridge you knew was the way to the finish. Once we got back on the Ford Bridge it was just a short half mile or so back into the park and across the finish line.
I had no real goals for this race, particularly because I had a really terrible run at the Lululemon Twin K the week before and I am coming back from being sick and (slightly) hurt. I was really just using it to practice running on parts of the TC 10 Mile course and to get an idea of what my pace could be this weekend. But I have only run one 10K before, so I had a very clear idea of what my previous best time was. I started out maintaining a comfortable 10:15 pace for miles 1 and 2, but worried it was too fast. The incline up and over the Lake Street Bridge caused my calves to cramp up and I had to stop in mile 3 to stretch and I didn’t really recover my pace in mile 4 either (see: St. Thomas hill). I told myself to just take it easy in mile 5 as I really didn’t feel like I had any “skin” in this race, but then I looked at my watch and thought, “Well, I think a PR is actually… doable?” I won’t lie, I had to dig deep at the end. Especially when we ran past the bridge I was prepared to cross immediately. On the last bridge, I looked at my watch again and said, “Oh no. I’ve lost it.” Really convinced I had missed my PR, I decided to just run calm and comfortably the last quarter-mile. I gave a final little sprint to the finish line, which may have been futile because there is a bit of an uphill at or just before the finish, and collected my medal. Checking my time on my watch, I realized I had either just gotten under my PR or just missed it, but I couldn’t remember the seconds in my old time. I also failed to hit my watch right away, so I wasn’t sure if my Garmin had my most accurate time.
A few friends and I went to Chatterbox for brunch, where you can get a PINT of mimosa for $3.50. A PINT. I forgot all about my time.
But, in the evening when WRTC posted the times and I was able to reconfirm my exact 10K time from the 2012 Get in Gear, I had bested my PR by 31 seconds!
Which makes up for the terrible chafing I have suffered from those wretched shorts.