Sunday, August 06, 2006

RACE REPORT - 2006 Hennepin-Lake Classic 10k

On August 6th, I entered the Hennepin-Lake Classic 10k in Minneapolis. This race is well attended by a lot of Minnesota’s best runners, and has a history of being a fast course. For the 10k, we would be doing almost two full laps around Lake Calhoun.

As per usual, I arrived pretty early to pick up my packet and get the lay of the land. This was my first time running the Hennepin-Lake Classic, and I was kind of excited. While I have run a number of races, I have done very few 10k’s, and most of those were hilly trail races. Because of that, my previous best 10k time was 52:11. I wanted to break 50 minutes today, and since the course is quite flat, and after doing a little carbo-loading last night with some of Mom’s lasagna, I knew I had a good chance of doing it!

However, it was not the greatest weather in which to shoot for a personal record. Thunderstorms rumbled through the Twin Cities early this morning and left a whole bunch of humidity in their wake. My gosh, it was muggy! The air was thick and stagnant, and the dew points were in the low 70’s. A horrible morning for a race. At least it was hazy, so the sun would not be a factor.

A look at downtown Minneapolis on a hazy Sunday

Milling around before the start of a race is always a lot of fun. There is an energy in the air, you get to see a lot of familiar faces from the Minnesota running scene, and there are usually lots of goodies. Today they were handing out free samples of Glaceau Vitamin Water and Smart Water, as well as packages of Clif Shot “Bloks”, which are little electrolyte supplements kind of like Gatorade in gummi bear form ( cherry!). There is always music playing, too. And then there was the race director on the loudspeaker reminding everyone to hydrate and to be sure and take water on the course. Yikes! This was going to be a tough one.

The horn sounds, and we are off! The race starts on the southwest side of the lake in the exclusive Linden Hills neighborhood, where you can find some of the more posh homes in all of Minneapolis. I am sure all of the residents appreciated the sights, sounds, and smells of a few hundred sweaty runners early on a Sunday morning! :)

I tried to run easy at the start because I was worried about the humidity. I thought I could realistically shoot for a pace of 7:30 miles, so I paid close attention to my watch.

After the first half mile, I was sweating profusely. I couldn’t believe how muggy it was. But I kept plugging away, taking water at the aid stations, and I kept hitting the checkpoints close to the time I was shooting for. I was happy about this and was hoping I could keep it up. I popped a gel pack at the 3 mile mark and downed it with some water. Continuing on my way, I came across the 5k split at 23:41. So far, so good.

You could tell the humidity was starting to take its toll on the runners during the second half of the race. Running was becoming difficult for everyone. People were really slowing down, and some were even starting to walk. I was still feeling OK and just tried to maintain my pace.

There are few feelings sweeter than rounding the corner to see the finish line a mere 100 yards away! As tough as the last couple of miles were, I still had a little bit of kick left, picking up the pace a bit to cross the finish line in 47:17. A new personal record! The pace for that time is 7:37 per mile, so I was pretty close to my original goal. I am thrilled!

Afterwards, my shirt and shorts were absolutely soaked. While it was not hot (mid 70’s, perhaps), it is amazing how humidity can impact you. It becomes so much harder to breathe, and nothing evaporates, so your clothes cling to you and weigh you down. It was hard for everyone out there today. I even saw some EMT’s treating a female runner who was having some issues with the weather. Thank goodness the sun was not out.

Start of the 5k event

Shortly after the 10k, there is also a 5k event. A number of the better runners were actually doing the “Doubleheader,” meaning they were participating in both races! I hung around to watch and marveled at how these guys can do it. To finish a 10k race and then jump right back in for another 5k is one thing, but to do it as quickly as some of them is another thing altogether. Amazing!

So, that was my Hennepin-Lake Classic experience! Tonight I celebrate with Giada’s balsamic roasted chicken and a bottle of something good! :)

Until next time,

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