Race Report: Jingle Bell Run 5K 2017

Official Results:
Time: 31:41 (2:20 slower than my 2016 race)
Pace: 10:12
Overall: 62/148

Watch Results:
Time: 31:47
Pace: 9:53
Distance: 3.21 mi
Heart Rate: N/A

A: 29:59

What I ate the night before: Qdoba burrito bowl
What I ate on race day: nothing (I had the burrito bowl at like 10 PM so I wasn’t hungry)
What I carried with me: Nothing

What I wore: hoodie, t-shirt, arm warmers, tights, buff (as headband)
Gadgets: GPS watch

Discussion: This race is confirmation that I need a break. It was even slower than last week! I do have some suspicions that the course was a bit long. Well, either the course was long, or the course last year was short. Either way, the turnaround was at the top of the first hill into Leif Erickson park, rather than at the base of the hill as it was last year. I really hope this course was long because otherwise my PR is invalid. Who cares, it’s not a world record. I’ll stick with it.

I didn’t run the day before the race (well, except for like 0.3 mi on a treadmill at my local running store – I bought a new pair of road shoes yesterday and tested them out with a quick run on the treadmill), but I had gone through a streak of running 10 days in a row. It wasn’t hard running, but I normally do not go that long without a rest day. I doubt it made a huge difference, although my hips were a bit sore by Wednesday or Thursday.

This morning I woke up and really didn’t want to get out of bed. I did manage to arrive in Canal Park in time to run just over a mile to warm up. The warm-up felt slow and my stride didn’t feel effortless. So, bad sign.

After I finished my warm-up, I met up with friends inside the Sports Garden. This is one of the nice perks of the event – an indoor place to gather beforehand. It was already like 32 F so I had decided to forgo gloves (last week my hands got really warm about 2 miles in), and I actually felt a little TOO warm even with only lighter layers on, after just a warm-up.

We were busy taking a picture when the race started – we thought we had more time, but as we were trying to move up in the starting line, we realized the race had already begun. I ended up being walkers again for the first 0.08 (by my watch) miles. Oh well.

I thought I was doing a pretty good job of running hard, but not too hard. This was my first time on this section of the Lakewalk since it was heavily damaged during a storm in October. It’s sad to see there’s still so much work to be done to restore parts of it. The path did have some rocks (and broken glass!) on it in spots, although I can’t say it affected my race trying to avoid the detritus. I just sucked.

I really thought I gave a more even, more sustained effort, but I guess I didn’t. I am tired, but last year I set my PR even though I had a cold (a cold that ended up knocking me for a loop the next couple of days, causing me to have to go home sick from an all-week work training in Edina). I’m frustrated that I’ve backslid so much on my speed, but it’s a learning experience. If I want to race middle distance races, I either have to do some occasional speedwork, or adopt a different attitude toward races.

I’m taking 2 weeks off from running now, starting tomorrow. Hooray!


Race Report: Gobble Gallop 2017

Official Results:
Time: 31:29 (1:02 faster than my 2015 race)
Pace: 10:08
Overall: 962/1937
Sex: 509/1214
Age Group (F35-39): 54/146

Watch Results:
Time: 31:33
Pace: 10:04
Distance: 3.13 mi
Heart Rate: N/A

A: 28:59
B: 29:20

What I ate the night before: Qdoba burrito bowl
What I ate on race day: Triscuits (I didn’t plan ahead for food)
What I carried with me: Nothing

What I wore: hoodie, long sleeved tech shirt, tights, buff (as headband), gloves
Gadgets: GPS watch

Discussion: LOLOLOL. I stink at 5Ks.

I arrived early enough to warm up for about a mile. I didn’t get a good sense of how my legs felt because I had to be cautious in my warm-up. It snowed just a little bit overnight and some spots on the sidewalk and roads seemed slippery. When I finished my warm-up (just over a mile, so a real one!), I ran into my friend, her daughter, and her parents, which was the highlight of the race, I have to say.

A lot of what happened in this race can be attributed to where I lined up. It is really a challenge to gauge where I should line up for 5Ks when there aren’t pace groups. It usually involves a lot of sizing people up. I want to stay out of the way of faster runners, but not get into the groups. When I ran the race in 2015, everyone had to go through the blow-up archway in order to go over the timing mat. They did not do that this year, and I have to say, the other way was better. While it took forever to get through the arch, it was significantly less congested once we got through. This year, they moved the arch out of the way and extended the timing mats. This meant that people got through the start faster, but it was so congested.

I respect that people have different ideas about the purpose of a Thanksgiving 5K. Some people want to win, some people want to wear crazy costumes (one person ran the entire Tough Turkey mile wearing an Angry Birds head), some people want to run with family and friends, some people are running their first race. However, people need to have some situational awareness regardless of their goals. I lined up too far to the back and ended up behind people who were walking from the start, people who brought their dogs (not allowed), people who started with strollers (there was a designated stroller wave, but I guess this person was too good to follow the rules), people who were walking with young children, people who were in a group and running 5 abreast, people who were texting/otherwise on their phones, people having conversations, etc. And it didn’t let up until I was probably halfway through the race. I wasted a lot of mental energy getting frustrated by that, and decided I’d rather act like a big baby and “quit” (I was still running, but not pushing it hard) than try to make up time in the second half once the congestion let up.

This was one of the most crowded 5Ks I’ve ever run, and I think if I run it in the future, I’m going to have to line up a lot closer to the start than I am comfortable with. Of course, if I’m not going to run hard and put in an effort the whole race, there’s probably no point to lining up closer to the start, but that’s not supposed to happen every race.

I’m doing the Jingle Bell Run next weekend and I’m hoping that will be a better experience. I will certainly try to prepare better for the race. After that, I plan to take a full two weeks off from running before beginning training for a big spring ultra, so it’ll be my last “hurrah” for the season.

‘Twas the Night Before a Thanksgiving 5K

Ugh why do I run these stupid things? I am not good at them. I decided to “sabotage” my race by running almost 7 miles today. I say “sabotage” because for all I know, it’ll help.

I’m not getting any better at 5Ks, which is not surprising because I am putting zero effort into improving at them. It turns out running trail ultramarathons is not great for speed. Who knew? Well, I knew.

Sometimes I think about putting serious effort into my 5K time. It never happens because I always find some shiny new trail race to occupy my training. Also I feel really stupid about putting a lot of effort into 5K training, when the average semi-fit person could amble up to the start wearing basketball shorts and Chuck Taylors and knock out a better time than I can with a full training cycle. I realize that’s kind of pathetic and I should just run my own race and get on with my bad self, but it’s unlikely.

5Ks are really hard for me to do well at. I wonder about this. I am running at a very hard effort for 30 minutes. A faster person is running very hard for like 25 minutes, or 22 minutes, or 18 minutes (we’re talking local 5Ks here, people, not the Olympic trials). That’s way easier! Says me, the person with no experience running anywhere near that pace. Hey, if people can make obnoxious generalizations about how a 10:00 pace is “not really running” or make snide remarks about people who participate in Thanksgiving Day 5Ks like it’s some kind of offense to the sport of running itself, I can say it’s easier to run hard for a shorter period of time.

Why yes, I do feel very defensive. I don’t care.

I’m still going to go into this with hope of a PR (current PR is 29:21 and is now almost a year old) even though I have no reason to believe I have the leg speed to do so. Which, let’s be real, “believing” is the actual problem. My mental game is weak.

A Standard: 28:59
B Standard: 29:20

Okay, gauntlet thrown down. Time for me to also pick it up.

Race Report: Run Like An Animal 5K

No, not a Phish 5K. A zoo 5K!

Official Results:
Time: 31:44
Pace: 10:13
Overall: 44/87
Gender: 19/40

Watch Results:
Time: 31:46
Pace: 10:43
Distance: 2.96
Heart Rate: N/A

A: 29:59

What I ate the night before: Tandoori chicken, saffron rice, roasted cauliflower, and a German chocolate cupcake (fancy dinner for my husband’s birthday)
What I ate on race morning: Clif bar
What I carried with me: nothing

What I wore: t-shirt, shorts, trucker hat
Gadgets: GPS watch, fitness tracker

Discussion: If you would like to PR, this is not the race.



I saw this race pop through my Facebook feed a few days ago. My brother and sister-in-law and my nephew were in town this past weekend, and I figured this would be a fun event. We ran the 5K, my nephew ran the kids’ race, and then we got free admission to the zoo, where there was cake and a bouncy house.

I slept kind of crappy the night before the race, although still way better than I sleep before my longer races. I woke up due to a power outage (something about the absence of sound wakes me up) and it took awhile to fall back asleep, and then my cats bugged me before my alarm went off. Oh well. I was worried about getting to the race too late to get a parking spot, or there being a big line to check in. That was not an issue as there were 87 total runners. I got a spot up close and the only reason I had to wait in line to check in was the people ahead of me were asking a bunch of questions. There is an animal costume contest as well, but since we didn’t sign up til the last minute, we didn’t have costumes. There were some nice flamingos. It wasn’t required, as the race website said “Dress up as your favorite animal and participate in our costume contest or come as your beautiful self.” It’s nice to get an affirmation from a race website.

The race starts in the zoo parking lot, and wraps around the grounds of the zoo. There are actual sections that go through exhibits at the beginning. This is both good and bad. It is good because animals are awesome. It is bad because there are a lot of twists and turns. I’ll take that trade. We ran by the barnyard and had the llamas and goats out cheering for us, and then we ran by the lynx exhibit. The lynx was going nuts and running back and forth, clearly wishing to join in.

There were three big hills, as you can see from the altitude graph above, and I’m not too proud to say I walked 2/3 of them. Good for me. I ran 7.5 miles the day before, my legs were tired. Also I have no grit. We left the zoo and ran through the park where the race ended. My nephew was there with my dad and stepmother, and he was hollering encouragement at all the runners. It was very uplifting! I ran by and complained that the race was hard. We ended up on a dirt trail after than and then a short out and back on the Kingsbury Creek trail, which I’ve run several times, and then the race turned into the home stretch. All the twists and turns messed up my GPS and I actually wasn’t expecting the end so soon. We ran through a short grassy section in the park for the finish. My sister in law finished a bit ahead of me, and my brother a bit behind me, and we headed to the food tent to get some grub. The weather had heated up pretty quickly from when I left the house to when the race began – it was sunny and humid.

The food at the race was fabulous – they had glazed donuts! And goldfish crackers, which I love. My nephew was pretty pumped to get half a donut, a banana, and some of my crackers. He needed to carb up for the kids run. The kids run was fairly long – it started in the parking lot, then went around the perimeter of the park until it reached the finish line flag chute and they got to run through that. The race had various mascots on hand (UMD’s Champ, UWS’s Buzz, the Marcus Theaters popcorn box, and the tiki guy from the Edgewater resort) to lead the way, and our family spread out along the course to cheer our little dude on. He ran the whole way! And still had energy at the finish!

After the race festivities were over, we all went into the zoo. Before we could even get to the exhibits, we had to stop at the bouncy house, strategically placed right at the bottom of the stairs from the main building. Fortunately there was also cake, so we were able to eat cake while my nephew bounced around, and then we finally dragged him away to see the animals. He didn’t seem to see why it wasn’t fun for us to all stand around while he bounced in the bouncy house forever.

This race was really fun! I’ve never done a trail 5K before, and I’m not used to running fast on trails, but I enjoyed it. Obviously if I’d known what the course was going to be like, I wouldn’t have hoped to get under 30 minutes. I look forward to improving on this time next year though!

Beast of Burden

I ran Midnight Sun Midnight Run 5K again this year, my third time running it. (First time here, second time here.) I finished in exactly the same time as I did last year, 30:02. I’m not super thrilled about it. I was hoping to not go back over that 30 minute mark, but my mental game is not strong right now.

I finally had my exam yesterday, and it didn’t go well at all. I mean, there’s still a possibility I passed, but it wasn’t my best day. I guess I’m out of practice with 1. taking test and 2. engineering from an academic perspective. I’m not excited at the prospect of more studying, though I’ve got a solid base so I won’t have to spend hours a night studying. So that’s good.

Before yesterday, I thought that I’d enjoy the race, that it would be a chance for me to run off some of the frustration of the last few weeks, or to triumphantly celebrate if the test went well. Instead, the results of the day weighed me down. 6 hours of stressful testing sapped me of my energy, and I just couldn’t get it back, certainly not for a midnight race.

The race itself was fine. There were fewer people there this year, possibly because it was in the low 60s and windy by race time, but still humid. I wore shorts and a t-shirt anyway and wasn’t cold. My husband was running the race with me, and we ran about a mile warm-up. The wind was pretty strong, and I knew it would be a factor and was planning to avoid going out hard, since I’d hit the wind the hardest in the second half-mile of the course.

I discovered we had started way too far back in the race pack. Last year, there were plenty of people behind us, but this year, we were almost at the back. That was stupid, because right at the start, I hit a wall of walkers. I should have moved closer to the front, but oh well. I passed a bunch of people and had a decent first mile despite the weaving, bobbing, and the wind.

The rest of the race wasn’t great. I didn’t have any giddy-up in me. I had heartburn from dinner (salmon and rice, but I had eaten too much and too recently, so I was too full), and I had no heart to put into my race. No desire to keep pushing. The hills slowed me a bit although I battled through them, but I slowed considerably in the last mile, and couldn’t get going again. I find that once I come down from a harder pace, I can’t easily find it again. But I think I can, and think I’m back to cruising, only to look down and see I haven’t.

I can’t be too mad about this. I haven’t been running much at all, and I have certainly not been working on speed. At this point, I think all the easy gains are gone from the 5K – if I want to get better, it’s going to require a lot of effort. I’m not sure I’m interested in giving up distance for speed, especially since I find there’s a lot more room for improvement and discovery at long distances, but there’s still opportunities to increase my speed overall. I just have to figure out how to want it again.

I’ve got 3 weeks left until Curnow, which isn’t great. I thought I had 4. I’m looking forward to the race, and I’ve got to remain positive about it. So my training isn’t the strongest – that’s fine. I’m not burned out. I’m not injured (knock on wood). I’m ready to give myself a chance to get back on track mentally.

Especially since I signed up to run the Birkie Trail Run 100K at the end of September. Gulp.

Race Report: Jingle Bell 5K

Official Results:
Time: 29:21
Pace: 9:27
Overall: 57/167
Gender: 35/124
Division (F 30-39): 16/46

Watch Results:
Time: 29:25
Pace: 9:31/mi
Distance: 3.09
Heart Rate: N/A

A: 29:29
B: 29:59

What I ate the night before: carne asada skirt steak and instant mashed potatoes
What I ate on race morning: granola bar
What I carried with me: nothing

What I wore: hoodie, tank top, tights, buff as headband, gloves
Gadgets: GPS watch, fitness tracker


Rita and me after the race. Last time we saw each other, we covered 10x this distance. At more than 2x the pace…

Discussion: Well, I did it! Finally under 30 minutes!

It’s fairly amazing that I did, since I have been sick and I have been light on training for November. This confirms my theory that I was held back mentally, rather than physically, from reaching this rather dubious milestone. But hey, I don’t care if it’s dubious, it was a big deal for me! Now I guess my goal is to never go under 30 minutes for a 5K again unless I’m wearing a bizarre costume, running on a technical trail, or running with a friend for fun/to pace them. Which, I can’t keep a consistent pace, so I should not pace other people.

I didn’t sleep that well the night before the race, and I didn’t feel super fantastic when I woke up. I had a bit of a stuffy head and a runny nose. I had planned to get up a bit earlier but hit the snooze so I could rest a little more. I didn’t need much time to get ready so I don’t know why I planned to get up early. I guess because I like to hit snooze. I love running local 5Ks because they’re so easy to get to. I was there in 5 minutes, parked right across from the Sports Garden, where I checked in and then warmed up. Yup, I warmed up! And then had a good race! Hooray! I ran at a very easy pace for about 10 mins and then returned to the Sports Garden (indoor staging area, so nice!) to meet up with my friend Rita, who ran the Wild Duluth 50K with me. We haven’t seen each other since the race, so it was good to meet up. She has done like 5 races since then, because she is a bada$$.

I don’t have much to say about the race itself, because I sorta no longer see the point in a mile-by-mile discussion of a 3.1 mile race. I started out kinda quickly, at a pace that felt good, but it was hard to hold it. And there were certainly times when I looked down at my watch and realized I was not holding it, and I thought the race was out of reach. I had planned to try to run a race based on actually completing 3.2 miles in under 30 minutes, because I ran this same course back in October and my watch measured 3.18 miles so I was thinking I was on pace and I was not. I noted, however, that the turnaround was slightly closer this time than it was last time. Not .09 mi closer, no, but it was strange not to have the exact same spot. The finish line might have been slightly farther back, or the course marker could have taken a slightly different route (there are a few spots where the most direct route isn’t exactly clear, as there’s an open space to cut through and then there’s no set spot to jump off the boardwalk portion of the Lakewalk onto the paved portion). Not a big deal. I’m sure GPS error accounts for most of the difference.

Next time I’m really trying to PR in a 5K, I need to get up early enough to eat something that’s going to actually have time to kick in. I ate a granola bar, yes, but while that prevented me from a growling stomach, I don’t think it had time to break down and get converted into energy.

I’m pretty sure I’ve prolonged my illness by running this race, since I’m feeling tired and listless, but we’ll see. Not good if I have, since I have a work trip and long training all week, and there’s nothing worse than sitting in a training listening to some boring lecture with a foggy head.

That’s it for racing for 2016. I’m happy to have ended it on a high note!

Turkey Day 5K Goals

Let’s just get this out of the way:

A Standard: 29:29
B Standard: 29:59

I’ve got to get this stupid benchmark behind me. I sense that I have had the physical capability to break the 30 minute mark for awhile (um, duh, since I ran 30:02 5 months ago), but I’m still lacking the mental capability. So the Turkey Day 5K in Minneapolis is where I prove myself wrong.

I have done some speed work over the last few weeks, including 0.25 mi repeats, tempo runs, and of course another 5K. But then I’ve also neglected my strength training and took 9 days off running in the middle of this short training cycle. But then I also still ran 30:18 a few weeks ago, just a few weeks after my 50K and with NO speed work at all. So, can I find 19 seconds. Yeah. I’ll go with that. I ran a tempo run this evening that wasn’t exactly heartening, but it was sleeting, so maybe that wasn’t so bad. After a warm-up, I did 1 mi @ 11:24 pace, 1.1 mi @ 10:19 pace, and 1.1 mi @ 9:50 pace. The first 2 parts went as planned, but the second part was supposed to be 5K pace. Oh well, I’m not too worried. Unless it’s also sleeting on race day.

I’ll be driving down to the Twin Cities the night before the race, and sleeping on a fold-out mattress, so that’s not the best way to start things off. I also have to be up fairly early in order to get downtown, parked, and checked in. This is why I like doing races where I can get my packet early! It doesn’t work that way when I don’t live in town. I’m also going to be running the race by myself, since my husband is on call and my brother and sister-in-law decided not to run. It’ll be lonely!

The upside to arriving early and alone is that I will have no excuse not to warm up. I don’t even usually have excuses not to warm up properly, I just don’t do it. I will have nothing better to do so I will have to warm up. If I’d warmed up properly for the Superhero 5K, I’d probably have run under 30 minutes. Maybe. But it’s no surprise that the 5Ks where I’ve done the best (like my current PR, at Midnight Sun Midnight Run), I’ve had a decent warm up.

I also need to make sure I eat a decent meal the night before (so that I don’t have an upset stomach) and race day (for energy), and get decently hydrated, but not so much that I have to pee the whole time. I’m not sure what I’m going to wear, probably tights and a long-sleeved shirt. I have to do laundry tomorrow, regardless.

I don’t know the course, but I do know there’s a wave start. Wave 1 is sub 9 minute miles, and wave 2 is sub-11 minute miles. I like this, because I’m just slightly slower than wave 1. I can comfortably line up near the start of wave 2, and then maybe I’ll avoid dodging and weaving. We’ll see. They don’t allow walkers/strollers in the running waves, but I’m sure that won’t stop some of the more aggressive stroller runners from slipping in.

I’m a bit concerned about my GPS since part of the race will be downtown. That might be a blessing in disguise: I’ll just have to run hard. Pretty simple. Run hard. Push harder. No retreat, no surrender. Oh, there we go, got my motto and my pump-up song!

As always, hoping not to barf, become incontinent, injure myself, slip and fall, become hypothermic, or otherwise harm or humiliate myself and ruin Thanksgiving. It should be a great day, and I hope to have a triumphant race report forthcoming.

To the select and marvelous few who read this site, have a wonderful Thanksgiving.