Race Report: Midnight Sun Midnight Run 5K 2016

Official Results:
Time: 30:02 (-4:19 from last year)
Pace: 9:40
Overall: 226/551
Division (F30-39): 20/69 (I think. There are some people listed without ages as well as some unidentified runners on there, so I could be lower.)

Watch Results:
Time: 30:06
Pace: 9:37
Distance: 3.13 mi
Heart Rate: 183 bpm

A: 29:59
B: 30:30

What I ate the night before for lunch: Thai peanut pasta and tabbouleh
What I ate on race morning for dinner: Small steak (bad idea) and corn
What I carried with me: nothing

What I wore: T-shirt, shorts
Gadgets: GPS watch, fitness tracker

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh. SO CLOSE. Just 3 seconds away from a sub-30 5K. I’m disappointed, but I will survive. I think I ran a good race, and probably wasn’t in a position to run a great race.

We left the house at about 11:20, parked at a ramp on Michigan Ave, and then jogged (well, I jogged, my husband walked) over to the race start. I did about a mile warm-up in all, as we ran a small part of the course to check it out. It was much darker than I recalled. Maybe last year the moon was brighter, I don’t know. But, I warmed up! Hooray! I would have liked to do a slightly longer warm-up but realized it was 11:45 and turned around to get back in time for the start. The start seemed to take forever to come, we stood around for 10 minutes but it felt like 20. We didn’t start exactly at midnight either, and then it took awhile for us to filter through the start area. My heart rate was kind of elevated at the start (still aerobic) due to the warm-up and some slight pre-race anxiety.

Mile 1: 9:54 (180 bpm)
I was in the hole from the beginning, but it was so hard to dodge people. There weren’t pace groups, just a single sign at the front that said 7:00 pace. I think that was just a deterrent for slow people who might want to start at the front. It was very frustrating to try to dodge and weave through people while uncertain what the ground in front of me was like. There were a few small puddles and you’d think they were filled with battery acid from the horror of some participants. They were stopping, panicking, and making sudden lateral movements, just to avoid a puddle that wasn’t more than an inch deep. People were slowing to a walk (and not an intentional run-walk walk) less than half a mile in; just take 10% off your effort and you won’t have to do that, folks! I had a lot of speeding up and slowing down during this time, and it took almost half a mile to get up to goal pace, which was now too slow to make my goal. My mouth was a little dry which bothered me.

Mile 2: 9:45 (184 bpm)
Still above goal pace, argh. I really screwed myself. This did have 2 hills, but I did ok on the hills, even sometimes accelerating on them. I regretted the steak; I didn’t feel actually nauseated in my stomach, but did have kind of a gaggy feeling in my throat. I still had some dodging and weaving around people to do, which was made more difficult by the visibility. There were lighted stretches, and then unlighted stretches with enough ambient light to see, and other stretches in shadow where the ground wasn’t visible. That made it challenging for my eyes to adapt, and I wasn’t sure of my footing at times, so I had to be a bit cautious. So that caution cost me those 3 seconds… but tripping, falling, and twisting an ankle would have cost many more seconds. Right before the turnaround, the woman in front of me slowed suddenly due to an errant glow bracelet on the ground, which she said aloud that she thought was the cone. Um, thanks for stopping short right in front of me. I found anytime I was forced to slow down due to a sudden movement from someone else, it took me a bit to find my groove again, as opposed to a gentler slowdown from approaching a slower runner

Mile 3: 9:22 (186 bpm)
This mile was mostly downhill but did have one significant (for a 5K) uphill. I knew I needed to make up time, as I’d set my watch to show average pace and could see I’d been in a hole the whole race. I did have some slight cramping in my lower GI system but I knew I could power through and it would go away, either when I finished or before. It did, and I was glad I didn’t let it scare me. I was really able to get in a groove and was running much faster, but it clearly wasn’t enough. When my watch flashed for the 3rd mile, I saw I had about 55 seconds to get to the finish, and I turned on the jets, but it wasn’t enough. I didn’t know right away, though I knew it was close. I came through the chute at a sub-8 pace. Some spectator reached across to give me a high five, but they reached out so far I had to dodge around their hand. Look, I don’t mind giving high fives at the finish, but don’t hold your hand out so far it obstructs me. Let me choose if I want to touch you or not. I blew my nose into my hand about 80 times during the race so I saved the guy a snotty high-five.

My husband finished before me by about 45 seconds, and was lying in the grass (because he doesn’t know how to race without practically dying… I could use a bit of that devil-may-care attitude) and called out to me to let me know that he was there. I acknowledged him but he was also coughing and I was like dude if you’re going to be sick get away from me. He was fine, I was just being paranoid. We got some water and cookies and picked up our race shirts, then cooled down walking along the Lakewalk a bit before returning to the car. I felt fine until we got in the car and started driving, and then I started to feel a bit queasy. It passed, but gave me a moment of panic.

I am pleased with how I raced, even if I didn’t get that sub-30 I wanted. This was not a good race to try to push myself to the max, since it was fairly crowded until maybe the last kilometer or so (after passing the last of the runners still heading out), and it was pretty dark in some spots, with some sketchy footing. I probably shouldn’t have eaten steak, but it was what was for dinner. I can analyze every aspect of this race and find a million spots where I could have just changed things a little bit and I’d have made my goal, but it really doesn’t matter. I still ran a very good race, finished strong, improved my time and placing significantly, and now I know without a doubt that a sub-30 race is within my grasp. There’s still a lot of potential left in this body and mind, and I’m not even working on speed or shorter distances right now. We’ll see if I really do try to chase down the sub-30 dream again this summer; so far I haven’t found a 5K I want to run that’s cheap, convenient, and timely.

Snow Falling Sideways

Wednesday I took a rest day, as it was as good a day as any, plus I was tired. I felt a bit like I was coming down with a cold. I felt pretty crummy yesterday morning, too, and was thinking of taking a second rest day. I perked up as the day went on, but I thought I’d play it safe and slog it on the treadmill. It was warmer but it was snowing and windy and I thought I might get too chilled.

I got home, farted around on Facebook for awhile, and a friend of mine posted this article about running outside in winter. It’s nothing ground-breaking, just a woman writing about why she likes it, but it was enough to get me out the door. I’ve been grousing about the cold, complaining about the treadmill, and wishing to get outside, I couldn’t squander the opportunity.

Even when it was snowing sideways on the Lakewalk. The wind was pretty rough at first, and snow had blown over the trail for the first half mile. I wasn’t sure if I had made a very good decision, especially when I was facing the wind head-on in the second mile.

Once I turned around and headed back, I was glad I’d done it. Ice floated on the water, bobbing on the waves as they crashed into the shore. The clouds over the city gave way to black sky over the open water. I had the path mostly to myself, although there were a few other intrepid runners and walkers enjoying the warm-up while it lasts.

My actual running plans are fairly boring. I run 4-6 miles or so most days, at my max heart rate. That’s it. Nothing notable.

The lottery for the Superior 25K ended last night, so fingers crossed I get in! Training plan starts Monday either way.

Running Just To Be On The Run

I really love this song.

This past Saturday, I ran a “practice” 10K. It was both part of my training plan (actually it has a 5K, 10K, and 15K scheduled, but I switched around the order to accommodate a 5K in September) and a Strava challenge I registered for (Run a 10K in August). I also took it as a chance to see how my speed is holding up. The answer was not well.

I used both the app and my watch to record the workout, because I wanted to be able to see my pace at any time and see my splits, like I would do in a real race. I parked at Brighton Beach and warmed up with a short run underneath London Road, starting from the other side of that tunnel.

My speed was not holding up. It didn’t go well. Once again, the heat got to me. I also planned to run this workout like a race, but didn’t prepare like it was a race. Note to self: a Frappuccino 3 hours beforehand is only going to hinder my running abilities. I also should have soaked myself before running to stay cool. My plan went from trying to average a 12:00 pace (lasted 1 mile) to trying to negative split the run in order to salvage it. I wanted to negative split the run by both Strava’s and my watch’s measurements, since I had to stop for a car a couple times on the way out, which Strava doesn’t count in my splits. Here’s how it all went down:

Mile 1: 12:01 (Strava) 12:06
Mile 2: 13:25 (Strava) 13:31
Mile 3: 14:07 (Strava) 14:35
Mile 4: 13:44 (Strava) 14:00
Mile 5: 13:25 (Strava) 13:30
Mile 6: 12:51 (Strava) 12:59
+0.36: 11:07 pace (Strava) ??? (watch)
Overall: 13:07 (Strava) 13:20 (watch)

Yuck. But this kind of intrigued me and now I really want to improve at the 10K distance. It’s a hard distance, because the pace is still fast, similar to a 5K pace, but it’s twice as long (duh), so it’s more taxing on the body. I kind of like the challenge. Now I need to look at a list of races to see what might be available late late late in the year or in the spring…

Race Report: Midnight Sun Midnight Run 5K

Official Results:
Time: 34:21
Pace: 11:04
Overall: 395/569
(Other results not available)

Watch Results:
Time: 34:24
Pace: 11:04
Distance: 3.10 mi
Heart Rate: N/A

A: 35:00
B: 36:00

What I ate the night before for lunch: Spaghetti and meatballs
What I ate on race morning for dinner: Curried chicken with rice (not the best idea)
What I carried with me: nothing

What I wore: Tech t-shirt, running tights
Gadgets: GPS watch

I guess my goals were a little conservative, no? I crushed both of them, and now I’m chastising myself that I didn’t shave off that extra 15 seconds or so that would have gotten me to a sub-11 pace. That’s silly, though. Perhaps if I had not eaten curried chicken at 8:00 PM, I would have found that extra oomph? I think the course was a little short, since I only measured 3.1 miles on my watch, but I think it’s also having some issues.

I did some yoga after I got home from work, to try to loosen up a bit, but I didn’t do much else and kind of sat around watching TV until it was time to get ready to go.

I didn’t want to park in Canal Park, so my plan was to have my husband drop me off. However, bib pickup ended at 11:30, so I couldn’t just roll up with 15 minutes to go. I really should have picked my bib up yesterday afternoon at Duluth Running Co., but I didn’t think about it. I picked up my bib just after 11, and then I didn’t know what else to do. I wasn’t going to bring my phone or anything else with me, so I wouldn’t have had anything to do for almost an hour. We live 5 minutes away, so we went home. I know that sounds ridiculous, but there wasn’t anything else to do, and I had to pee, so we went home for about 15 minutes.

I got back to Canal Park at about 11:40, and did a short warm-up, just over half a mile. I wanted to do a slightly longer warm-up because there was nothing else to do, but they said there would be a runner’s briefing at 11:50 so I made sure to get back in time. It didn’t matter because I couldn’t hear anything anyway. Everyone lined up at the start behind Endion Station, and I made sure I was pretty far toward the back. They said go, we shuffled forward, and then immediately ended up on rocks/gravel and a bunch of people started walking. So I dodged them, zipping along, passing people left and right. My concerns about the congestion on the course were valid.

Since runners were going both ways on the course, we were told repeatedly to stay to the right of the path. Some people ended up on the boardwalk, but I tried to stay off it. It was hard to get around people as many were walking two or three abreast, which is annoying in a road race, but extremely frustrating on a narrow trail. At one point, a woman made a move at the same time, and we almost bumped into each other. We ended up befriending each other and ran most of the way together, dodging walkers on the hills (THANK YOU, HILL WORKOUTS), sneaking our way around others when we saw a gap in the oncoming runners. The course hit both major hills on the Lakewalk (in Leif Erickson park) both ways, so there was plenty of hill passing going on. The only good thing about getting hung up behind walkers in the narrow parts of the trail was that it forced me to moderate my pace, because my legs wanted to fly.

I started to fade in the last 0.75 miles because I felt a little nauseated. Well, not really, but I just had kind of an icky feeling in my esophagus, and that made me worry I was going to hurl yellow curry all over the pavement. I lost the woman I was running with, cheering her on to go ahead of me, but I hung on and I had one hell of a kick at the end. The last 0.2 mi I turned on the jets and ended up flying through the chute feeling strong. I passed a couple people at the end, pleased that I had finished strong, which is always one of my non-time goals.

I felt pretty great afterward too, grinning like crazy after that great finish and the time on my watch. (There wasn’t a time clock at the start or finish, so I couldn’t tell when I crossed the start or the finish.) I got my shirt and didn’t feel like waiting in line for food or drinks, so I just went to find my husband. Once I sat down in the car and we started driving, I started to feel a little bit icky, and my face was a cherry red tomato, but I just stuck my head out the window like a golden retriever and bore it for the short drive.

I am really, really excited with these results. This is a huge confidence builder for me going into the 5 miler next month, and it’s also a sign that my training is effective. If I can have a strong 5 mile race and avoid too great of a drop-off in pace, I will feel a lot better about whatever fall race I decide to do. As long as I can increase my mileage safely and without getting too worn down, I should be in a good spot to run a nice long race in the fall.

To bring myself back to earth a bit, I’m just going to remember that the Western States runners are going to run 33 times the distance I just ran, and a large portion of them will do it at a faster overall pace than I just ran. I’ll be following along!

Midnight Sun Midnight Run 5K Goals

Today’s the day! I’ve got the Midnight Sun Midnight Run 5K coming up at 11:59 PM! I am excited, I feel ready for this race, physically. I took yesterday off from running after a nice speedwork session on Wednesday (9×400: 10:49, 10:39, 10:50, 10:46, 10:46, 10:42, 11:47 due to an intersection I think, 10:54, 10:58), and ate a bunch of food.

This isn’t my goal race, of course, but I’d like to build some confidence going into the PP5M, to really feel like my training has paid off and to feel I’ve improved. The main thing I’m worried about is the time of day. Will I feel sluggish? Or will I be able to shake off any tiredness? I’m probably going to grab a latte in the late afternoon/early evening, just to give myself an extra little perk up.

I’m a little worried about pacing, because my heart rate monitor isn’t working and it will be harder to see my watch. I did re-set it so that the “light” button is in toggle mode. I’ll probably just leave it on the whole race so I can glance at it as needed. I hope I don’t end up eating pavement as a result; tripping and falling is a little bit of a concern, too, but I do know the Lakewalk is well-illuminated at night.

I don’t want to go out too fast, but I do also want to challenge myself and push myself harder this race. There’s no sun to heat me up like last time, and I was just over 36 minutes that time. The evening caffeine boost plus a longer warm up plus a cool lake breeze might be a chance for a big PR for me. I know I’m supposed to downplay my hopes for the race and just smile humbly after the fact if I do well, but I don’t think that will work when I post my goals.

A Standard: 35:00
B Standard: 36:00

Yep. Both are below my current PR. Both are achievable for me, if I can dig deep and I don’t run into any abnormal issues (falling, coming down with a cold somehow between now and the race, getting lost on a completely well-marked trail). I do wonder if this race is going to be a little more crowded than I’d like, but I think I can fight off the crowds if I need to, and blame them for my abject failure if I can’t.

Lessons from the Long Run

14 miles in the books today. Well, 13.8. Ugh. It wasn’t good. Although I plugged in my watch and looked at my overall time and splits and apparently it didn’t suck as much as I thought.

Let’s look at the splits:
Park Point out and back
16:02 – warmup/I got bridged right at the beginning and had to wait around a bit.
14:18 – I wanted to finish the first four miles in under an hour and came close, but this is faster than it should have been, if I was running smartly. It felt fine though.
15:16 – I walked a little bit here and had a Starburst.
14:43 – Another Starburst here I think.
16:17 – Walked a bit and had another Starburst, felt nauseated.
22:06 – Stopped at my car right at the beginning of this mile
14:48 pace for the last 0.8 miles
Overall pace: 15:49

I kind of thought the overall pace would be slower but it wasn’t. It’s not great and I was clearly fading at the end. I was fading mentally more than anything else, because if I pulled myself together, I could get my pace back up. So I have to figure that out.

A couple of other things I need to correct before next weekend’s 16 mile run:

1. I need a hand-held water bottle. I was never in danger of getting dehydrated or anything, but a few sips of water would have made a huge difference mentally.

2. Starbursts are tasty but are not a good candy for eating on the run. It might have been better if I had been able to take a few sips of water after eating pieces of candy but probably not. They’re too sticky and the wrappers are annoying to deal with, and they triggered my gag reflex a little as their taste was too intense. I probably need some mints or something instead.

3. I need to try out a different strategy. Maybe a Galloway-style run-walk? I don’t know. I also need to not stop for 6 minutes.

Next weekend is make-or-break time. If I have another crappy and disappointing long run, I’m not ready for a marathon, and I’ll focus on speed for the 5-Miler and then work on training for Mankato. I wish I could trust that I will run faster in the marathon than I am now in training, but I don’t.

Week Seven Update

Let me pat myself on the back for yet another awesome training week. And by awesome I mean I didn’t wimp out on any workouts.

A quick recap:
Monday: off
Tuesday: 5.3 miles, road, 6 hill repeats
Wednesday: 5.2 miles, road
Thursday: 4 miles, treadmill
Friday: 4.1 miles, Lakewalk, speed work
Saturday: 12 miles, road
Sunday: 2.9 miles, road/trail (Chester Bowl)
Total: 33.5 miles

Friday’s speedwork went well. I hit an overall pace of 12:35/mile, with about 3 miles of “medium paced” running. I feel like I’m in a good spot for my 5k this weekend. I doubt I can hold the speedwork pace for 3 miles (around 11 min/mile) but I think I’ll be able to be somewhere between my A and B goals.

Saturday was my first double-digit long run. It was not the best idea to plan it the day after my speedy day, but Saturday’s forecast was better than Sunday’s, and Sunday is my “desperately catching up on homework” day. So the first couple miles felt slow as molasses. My 2nd mile was the slowest pace (17:11) of the whole run, except for the one where I took a break. I planned an 8-mile loop, back to my house, followed by a 4 mile loop. My hips and my back were pretty sore the whole time, but as I turned off Rice Lake Road onto Central Entrance to head down the hill right before my break, I couldn’t stop grinning. It was a gorgeous day, the lake looked beautiful, and I was high on endorphins.

I planned a break at 8 miles just in case I had to pee or was dying of thirst. I had felt pretty thirsty toward the end of my 9 mile run last weekend, and I didn’t want to carry a hand-held water bottle, so I stopped at home for about 5 minutes. Somehow I still ended up with a “pace” for that mile of 19:23, which is faster than some of my trail running paces.

The last 4 miles felt pretty terrible. I made a kind of stupid route choice, with too much uphill. Maybe I am doing too many hills. That sounds lazy, but I also think it’s a valid question. I finished the run with an overall pace of 16:30 and an average heart rate of 151 bpm, so I didn’t push too hard and only lost about half a minute off my 9-mile pace, even with the break.

Sunday I ran as slowly as I could stand, and took it easy on my body by running down the Chester Creek path from Skyline to 9th. I stopped and took a picture of ducks.

View this post on Instagram

#chesterbowl #conservationofmomentum #trailrunning #ducks

A post shared by RWD (@runninwiththedogs) on

5K on Saturday. At 9 am. And it’s not going to be warm. Blahhhh.