Sunday, March 28, 2010

Records falling at the Human Race

Sunday marked my 6th consecutive St. Patrick's Day Human Race (which, curiously, was held a full week and a half after St. Patrick's Day?!?). It is the first organized race I even ran, so this one is kind of special and will always be on my schedule. And, at least here in MN, it sort of represents winter being behind us and marking the start of the racing season for all of us. I look forward to this event every year.

Still feeling a wee bit Irish, even if it is almost April - the 2010 shirt design

Yours truly on the St. Thomas University Campus

A completely random note about races to those of you who race frequently - is the little change compartment in the console of your car filled with safety pins that were once used to attach your bib numbers to your race clothes? Yeah, mine too.

I arrived early just to mill around and take in the day, which was pretty darn nice. Low 50's and not a cloud in the sky, but a fairly stiff breeze coming out of the north. But really, couldn't ask for much more. Most years I have needed a stocking cap, gloves, and full length running pants.

They have a shoe drive at this event, and runners are encouraged to bring in their used running shoes. They get donated to a local free clothing store. I brought in a sack full of my old sneakers, and they were positively delighted to see me, as I wear size 13's (a.k.a., "water skis"). Apparently, they don't get nearly as many contributions in the larger sizes, so I was happy my big feet allowed me to do my part!

The pre-race crowd

Start of the 5k race

The 8k race is an out and back down Summit Ave, same as always. A lot of the heavy hitters from the local running scene show up for this. It is a well attended race, and it is the start of a season team long points race, so there are many local running teams in the lineup as well. Lots of talented runners here.

The race started, and I settled into my pace. A funny thing happened around mile 1. A runner pulled up to me on the right and said "Jean?" It was Wildknits, a local running blogger. We have been reading each others blogs for quite some time, but had never met until now. How funny that we met in the middle of a race! We chatted briefly and would catch up at the finish.

I was feeling surprisingly good. Admittedly, I wasn't expecting much since I ran 14 miles on Saturday. But at mile 2, I was at a shade over 14 minutes. Not bad.

Between miles 2 and 3 is the turnaround point where we run a loop around the William Mitchell College of Law. Following the race, I got a message from another blogger buddy, Natalie (she was racing too), saying that she saw me and shouted out to me around this area, but I somehow missed that. So sorry, Natalie! I need to pay closer attention out there! :)

I came through mile 3 just past 21 minute, darn near on my 5k PR pace. Where was this coming from? Mile 3 to 4 is the toughest part of the course, if there is such a thing. This section is an ever so slightly uphill grade that, while not difficult, wears on you. And now is as good a time as any to mention that the north wind felt like it was in our faces during the entire race. Weird. Anyhow, I felt like I was slowing down here, but I passed through mile 4 at just over 28 minutes. Looking good.

From mile 4 on home, we are rewarded with a flat to gradually downhill stretch of road. You can see the finish line tents from quite a ways out. I managed to hold my pace and keep it together to cross the finish line in 35:12 (results here). Not only a new personal best for the Human Race course, but a new 8k PR as well!

Depending upon whether or not the now defunct Easy Does It Race in Plymouth was an 8k or a 5 miler (I have 2 shirts from this race - one called 8k, the other 5 miles), I improved my PR by either 1 second or 30 seconds! Any local running historian know the answer? Steve?

I caught up with Wildknits after the race to chat some more, talk running, discuss upcoming races, and whatnot, which was a lot of fun. It was a pleasure to meet you, Wildknits, and I will see you at Trail Mix!

Post-race photo with Wildknits

So, it was quite a day. An unexpected PR, and a nice way to kick of my 2010 race season. The semi-regular post-race tradition of Chinese takeout for dinner (hot & spicy chicken, and beef with Chinese black mushrooms) really hit the spot. And a celebratory glass of Dark Horse "Double Crooked Tree I.P.A." is tasting mighty good as I type this.

Disclaimer: Through the course of editing, I have moved on to a second beverage of my choosing - a celebratory glass of Dark Horse "Plead the 5th" Imperial Stout. I no longer take responsibility for any grammatical errors... ;-)
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