Monday, November 03, 2008

Rocky's Run

The maroon and gold flying high at Rocky's Run

On Sunday, I had the pleasure of partaking in the Rocky's Run 5k with a number of other local cross country enthusiasts.

Long time readers of my blog will remember that I ran this one last year. In fact, this is my third time. It is a great way to wind down the racing season.

The finish line banner at Rocky's Run

Rocky Racette was a beloved University of Minnesota cross country runner who died tragically in a car accident back in 1981. This race has been run every year since in her honor, and it benefits a scholarship foundation in her name. It is a celebration of cross country, fall running, and the life of Rocky.

The event brings out the local cross country hotshots. Many members of the University of Minnesota women's cross country team (the "A" squad was off running at the Big 10 championship...more on that later), a number of kids who were in town for Saturday's State High School League championships, as well as a lot of past cross country runners were on hand as well.

Clumsy self portrait of yours truly, ready to run at Rocky's Run!

Of course, there were also mere mortals such as myself running in the race. Basically I am doing a little foreshadowing here to set you up for the inevitable result of me finishing deep in the field! :)

The race is run on the University of Minnesota Les Bolstad Golf Course, and it was a gorgeous fall day. Sort of hazy sunshine with temperatures near 60. Spectacular for the first week of November, no doubt.

Some signs of fall still present on the U of M Golf Course

The 5k runners all lined up at 10 AM. After some quick instructions, we were given the start command. The field quickly dispersed, and the U of M women who had been lined up near me were off like a shot. With the faster runners out of here, the pack thinned out rapidly.

Runners milling around at the start of the 5k

It is quite amazing because the course has very little flat ground. There are no huge elevation changes, but you are constantly going uphill, downhill, or (to use some golfing parlance) running on a "side hill lie."

Same as in years past, I made it through the first mile in the low 7 minute territory, but this is the flattest part of the course (if there is such a thing). From there on out, it is a rolling, twisting, up and down battle that slowed my pace quite a bit.

I ended up crossing the line in 24:10 (results here). Believe it or not, in the three times I have run this race, I have done in in 24:10, 24:14, and 24:15. How's that for consistency? This is a challenging little 5k, and a fun one at that.

Following the race, I enjoyed a homemade cranberry-orange muffin. Rocky's family members famously bring baked goods such as muffins and cookies for post race snacks. It was oh, so yummy!

Suddenly a cheer erupted from the tent where the U of M cross country girls were hanging out. They had just received word that the U of M women successfully defended the Big 10 championship title at the race in Ann Arbor, MI, on Sunday morning morning! There was much rejoicing from the team and the U of M faithful. Even more cheers went up as the announced it over the loudspeaker. A cool moment for Minnesota sports!

I stuck around for awhile to watch some of the 8k run which followed my race.

Rocky's Run 8k start line

It is fun to watch the "good" runners run, be it the people shown here leading the 8k race, or the U of M women's cross country team that I quickly lost sight of in my race. They make it look so easy. Some people are just born to run, I guess. Truly an impressive sight.

The lead pack of the 8k runners

Following the race, I got home, watched some football and NASCAR (Carl Edwards is the MAN!), and cooked up a chicken ragu for dinner. What a fantastic way to spend a fall day in Minnesota.

Until next time,

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