So this was the big day: my third run of the Park 2 Park 5-miler. This is a FUN race: park your car at the finish line, take a bus (or catch a ride) to the start, warm up running around beautiful Miller Park and listening to the animals at Miller Park Zoo rustling around, calling out to everyone, expressing their curiosity as to why so many visitors are milling about but none have come to visit them, listen to the Star Spangled Banner and run back to your car!
It's a 5-mile route from Miller Park to the "Corncrib" - the ballpark home of our local Frontier League team, the Cornbelters. The route was changed two years ago - they used to run from Miller Park to Fairview Park, one of several locations where the community hosts fireworks in the evening. This was my first run of the new route and I was hoping the changes would take us through some more shady areas! The first time I ran P2P - you'll never believe it but it's true - it was raining and actually quite chilly. It was fantastic! I finished in just over an hour. The following year, I was not so lucky: it was hot and I got dehydrated during the race. I had to stop at the mile-three water-stop for about 5 minutes and take several glasses of water and Gatorade. My time definitely suffered in the heat. I was hoping to beat the "hot" time, even dreaming that with all my recent training I might bust out with a PR...
Jane and her husband and son picked me up a little after 6am, and it was already near 80 degrees. Wow, but it was HOT! (You'll notice this is the theme for the day.) This was her son's first-ever race! I think I was more excited for him than he was. The ride over was fun, he had all sorts of questions about the logistics and I was pleased to have enough experience with racing to be able to help answer some of them. It made me feel like a real pro!
We got there early enough, we had plenty of time to mill around and chat with friends from our running group, stretch and use the facilities, and take a 10-minute warm up walk around the park. With the route change, the starting line had been moved and I got a little confused at first, but we found the crowd before the singing was done and set ourselves up at the back of the pack. Jane took note of the police cruiser that would be following at the end of the line and said something I'd never thought of before: "There's the vehicle we have to beat!" Indeed, as long as we don't get to the finish line in the back of the cruiser or an ambulance, I think we've done as well as need be!
Just before the start of the race, I noticed a soldier in full gear, boots and rucksack and all, prepping directly ahead of us. I was in awe that someone was even considering such a feat in this weather. It is amazing what our soldiers are trained to do. He was ahead of us much of the way, and steadily pulling ahead in fact. I lost track of him somewhere between Mile 3 and Mile 4 but someone posted photos of him online: (link is to the LRC Facebook page, which is an open, public group, but I didn't get a chance to ask if it would be alright to post the actual photo here). https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=363280177070931&set=o.8635502435&type=1&relevant_count=1&ref=nf Pretty inspiring stuff.
Jane and I had decided to start the race together, and I was using my new Garmin to help me maintain my pace and not head out too fast, which has been my habit the past couple of races. The plan was run 6, walk 1 and stick to about 11:30 pace while running. The first mile was great, good pace, feeling loose. We passed right by my friend Tony's house, but I wasn't paying attention and forgot to look for him. We were on a street heading East, with a little breeze at our backs. After about a 1/2 mile we turned North and lost all the shade, and the breeze. I'm guessing by now the temp was somewhere in the mid-80's. We stuck to our intervals and kept right on trucking, going strong.
Mile 2: Got some water at the first stop, still feeling pretty good. I was carrying a water bottle with me, but it was already turning into warm water. Maybe slowing down a little, but the Garmin sort of yells at you when you go outside the pace-range you've defined for your workout, so I was able to dig a little deeper and keep up. Here's a picture one of the volunteers took around this point:[Side note: Notice my shirt: it's a promotional shirt for the We Care Twin Cities half Marathon event. This is the first location 1/2 marathon in our community, being organized by the Lake Run Club for the last weekend of September. I'll be running the 10K event and volunteering for the 5K, hoping to help with the organizing in some way over the next couple of months.]
Mile 3: The half-way point. This is where I started flagging. Seriously, I know I'm harping on this, but it was HOT out there and it was really draining me. I started ignoring the Garmin's prompts to "Speed up!" and taking longer walking breaks. At this point I switched to Gatorade at the water-stops and the main purpose of the water-bottle in my hand became to pour liquid on my head rather than into my mouth.
Mile 4: Still, by the way, searching for the SHADY part of this route!! See that picture up there? See any shade in that picture??? Nope, none. Straight up North, no shade. The breeze was nowhere to be found, blocked by buildings and houses. I could tell I was starting to hold Jane back and told her to please feel free to go ahead without me. I was almost able to keep up with her but just... not... quite.
|Pretending I'm not dying.|
Shortly after that turn into the breeze, the route headed North again. have I mentioned how this whole route is on a slight incline? The elevation increases slowly but steadily pretty much the entire time you're travelling North. And of course, the temperature is rising as well, this year...
Walking as much as running now, I trudged along up this short strip of Constitution Trail and hit the 4-mile marker in the shade. There was someone there with a camera, but I haven't been able to locate any photos of me. Must have dodged the lens! At this point I'm seeing people actually running BACK to the starting line... they've completed the race, recovered a bit, and they're headed home! How do they DO that?? But it was refreshing to know I had less than a mile to go: even if I walk most of the way, I'm done inside of 15 minutes. I still had a slim hope of at least beating my time from 2010, but I no longer really cared. I wanted to know I finished again.
That last mile was, at least, mostly in the shade (a blessing as it was near 90 degrees, maybe more by now. All I know for sure is when I arrived at home and checked, it was 98.) I took one last walking break with about a quarter of a mile to go, just as I crossed the street and entered the Corn Crib parking lot. Lots of folks were out along the route now, seated in lawn chairs even with the sun beating down on them, cheering on all the runners and shouting encouragement. I took a deep breath, said "F**kit" under my breath, and got my legs moving again for the last push. Made it across the finish line and managed not to collapse until I was out of the chute. Jane found me, she was with her husband and son - he had a GREAT first race experience and it was fun to hear him tell how it went (while I attempted to regain consciousness). After a while, I made my way to the snacks and Gatorade, found my husband and cooled off in the ballpark's breezeway.
Ultimately, it was a good race and I'm proud of how well I did under the circumstances.
Official Park 2 Park finishing times:
2009 (cool and rainy): 1:09:3.4
2010 (warm and dehydrated): 1:13:0.2
2012 (freakin' HOT): 1:10:47.7 - 2 minutes shaved off of last time, and less than two minutes behind 2009.
As tough as it was, this race went pretty well and I'm pleased with my time overall. As usual, not as well as I had hoped, but well enough. I beat the cruiser anyway!