Thursday, July 7, 2011

Race Report: Red, White & Boom! TC Half-Marathon

Bear with me because this is gonna be a long post...

A 6:30 a.m. start time meant a 4:00 a.m. wake-up call for me.  I only got about 3 1/2 hours of sleep because some of my neighbors were setting off fireworks until the wee hours of the morning.  Ugh!

Future hubs and I headed over to northeast Minneapolis around 5:00 a.m. and found on-street parking (meters don't run on holidays, yay!) near the start of the course.  We were happy we didn't have to pay to park at a parking ramp.  I had picked up our race packets on Friday afternoon, so there wasn't much for us to do but wait until the start and chat with anyone we knew.  We were perhaps a tad bit early (sorry, Mark!).

Twin Cities in Motion added a team component to this race through Team Up for the Boom!  Teams of 2, 5 or 10 paid an extra fee ($10/person) to receive the following perks:
  • Separate porta-potties and bag check at the Team Up for the Boom! tent
  • An event-themed messenger bag
  • Special holiday-themed food after finishing the race
  • Team photo
  • A chance to win guaranteed entry into the Medtronic TC 10 Mile (held this fall) and other prizes
Mark and I decided to pair up as Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch.  And, as hinted in previous blog entries, we wore costumes.

The "RWB" on the front of our shirts stands for Red, White and Boom!
Besides the starry red headband, my other favorite part of my costume was my red sparkly skirt from Sparkle Skirts.  I loved wearing it and I had no "wardrobe malfunctions" during the race.  I just may order a blue sparkle skirt so I have one in my favorite color. :)

I was in costume from head to toe (and fingertips!)...

Thanks to Wells L for the nail polish inspiration!

Future hubs and I hung out at the Team Up for the Boom! tent before race start, chatting with some of our Team Ortho friends that were doing the race.  We got our team photo taken, checked our bags, and I hit up the porta-potties.  It was so nice to not have to wait in line (and I saw the lines that the other race participants had to endure... sooooo long!).  I also ran into an old friend of mine from college that I hadn't seen in over five years.  We spent some time catching up.  He just ran his first marathon (Grandma's Marathon in Duluth) a few weeks ago and did well.

Mark and I headed over to the start corral about 6:15.  We kissed, hugged and prayed for each other before going our separate ways.  I found the 2:00 pacer and noticed that three of the Team Ortho friends we chatted with before were nearby, so I made my way through the crowd to get to them.  I asked them what pace they were planning to run (most were gunning for 2:05-2:07), and when Juli mentioned that she was going to try for a sub-2, I stood by her.  I figured we could run together for a while.  We inched forward through the crowd so we were between the 1:50 pacer and the 2:00 pacer.

The horn sounded and we were off!  Juli and I didn't expend a lot of energy weaving around runners during this first mile.  I enjoyed watching the spectators lined along Main Street cheering on the runners.  We kept the pace easy during this first mile.

Here is the course, which winds through several neighborhoods in "Nordeast" (northeast Minneapolis), in case you were interested in checking it out:

Mile 1 - 8:40

The course turned onto Marshall St. and we picked up the pace just a little bit, but it still felt comfortable.  I'm not a very talkative runner, and I mentioned that to Juli.  She was fine with it.  She's a pacer for the Minnesota Pacers Pace Team, and she said she liked the break from the constant gabbing.

I enjoyed running past several old churches, restaurants and bars, and houses.  There was always something to see.  So many runners were wearing red, white and blue, and some were in costume as well, including a guy wearing a Spiderman costume.  He must have been roasting in that getup!

Mile 2 - 8:14

The sun was shining bright and there wasn't a cloud in the sky.  Temps were in the upper 60s/low 70s at the start, but it was beginning to warm up.  Juli and I continued along and the pace still felt comfortable.  We walked through the first water stop at mile 2.5.

Few spectators lined the course, but that was because it was still so early in the morning.  Every once in a while, Juli would go into pacer mode and give me a tip, but we were content to run side by side and not chat.  Good tunes from my iPod filled my ears.

Mile 3 - 8:22

We continued along Marshall St. and then turned onto St. Anthony Parkway.  Trees and houses lined the road, providing some shade.  There was a slight downhill during this portion, so our pace picked up a little bit.

Mile 4 - 8:08

Juli took a gel at this point and I followed suit with a margarita-flavored Clif Shot Blok.  I chewed slowly, keeping my eye out for the next water stop that would come somewhere around mile 5.

Mile 5 - 8:20

We walked through the water stop, drinking as we went along, then started running again.  Next up was a small incline over a bridge, followed by a slight downhill and then another short hill.  We slowed the pace so we'd be able to run up both ascents.  Mission accomplished!  We were rewarded with a nice little downhill and some shade, as a golf course bordered the left side of the street.

More spectators lined the course at this point, particularly at the bridge, and several of them complimented me on my costume...

"Love the skirt!"
"Nice antenna!"
"Cute costume!"

Hearing all those remarks put a smile on my face, as well as Juli's.  I think she liked running next to someone who was popular.

A guy passed us wearing a shirt that said on the back, "If you pass me, then you are a Communist."  Worst shirt ever!

Mile 6 - 8:40

At this point, I was beginning to fatigue.  The temperature felt like it had warmed up 5-10 degrees since the start of the race.  I was looking forward to the next water stop.  The heat and the sunshine were getting to me.

The big hill, Deming Hill, had arrived.  Juli and I slowed our pace down and trucked up the hill, but a couple minutes in, I requested we take a 30-second walk break.  Juli advised to walk fast, not too slowly, so we did.  The walk break helped and we started running again, but I requested another 30-second walk break before the top of the hill.  Juli was beginning to check her Garmin a lot more frequently, and I could tell she was getting antsy to pick up the pace a little more, but fortunately she was patient with me as we made it up the hill.

Once we crested the hill, she said that my strategy for tackling the hill was smart.  The downhill afterward was steep, so it was hard to go really fast, but we did speed up.  I could tell, however, that getting back to the speed we had been at earlier in the race was going to be difficult for me.

Mile 7 - 9:17

Juli was feeling good and said that at mile 8, she wanted to pick up the pace.  I told her I wasn't sure I'd be able to keep up with her anymore.  The heat was wearing me out, and that hill didn't help either.  We walked through the water stop at mile 7.5, taking water.  I took a second cup and doused my arms to try to cool off.

Mile 8 - 9:01

Once we passed the mile marker, I wished Juli good luck and she took off, looking strong.  Just like that, my pacer was gone.  We didn't talk much, but I liked running by her side.  Her presence made the miles go by faster.

I walked for about a minute and took my second Shot Blok, then started running again but at a slower pace.  I walked again before the mile 9 marker.  I just couldn't keep a steady running pace anymore.

Mile 9 - 9:17

I'm so glad I was wearing a costume.  Seeing spectators smile when they saw what I was wearing and hearing their positive comments on my outfit made me smile and kept my spirits high.  I was struggling with the heat.

I tried to walk in areas where there weren't many spectators.  I'm sure that helped me keep my overall pace up.  More people were passing me, however, and that was disheartening to me.  I would run for 4-5 minutes, then walk for 30 seconds to a minute, even though the course now had a net downhill.

I walked through the water stop just before mile 10 and took a cup of Powerade this time.  I had another gel I could have taken, but I wanted some liquid electrolytes instead.  I doubt it helped me much.  I also grabbed a cup of water and got my arms wet again.  That cooled me down for a couple minutes.

Mile 10 - 9:58

Somewhere after the mile 10 marker, a lady was handing out small American flags.  I grabbed one and held onto it.  Eventually, I started looking for a young kid I could give the flag to.  That gave me something to focus on.

A lady passed me dribbling a basketball.  Seriously... who let that woman on the course?!  My gosh, she was so annoying.  I hated hearing the basketball strike the ground... bounce... bounce... bounce.  I turned up the volume on my iPod a little more to try to drown her out.

Mile 11 - 9:11

I want to be done running, I thought  The finish line can't come soon enough.  I kept looking at The Red Dragon, trying to figure out if I'd still be able to finish under two hours.  Math is difficult for me when I'm running, as I've mentioned in previous blog posts.

I grabbed two cups of water at the next water stop, one to drink and one to cool off my arms.  A little relief, but relief nonetheless.

We crossed the Plymouth Avenue bridge, and since a good chunk of that was uphill, I walked a lot.  I started running again once I crested the highest part of the bridge.  Ugh, it's so hot out!  Then, we turned onto West River Parkway.

I saw two kids with their mother along the parkway.  The little boy was holding a flag, but the girl wasn't.  I wanted her to have a flag to wave, too.  I ran up to the girl and held out the flag to her, saying "Here you go."  She looked at me tentatively, but then her mom said "Go on," and the girl took it.  The mom thanked me and then I took off.  I had the biggest smile on my face.

Seriously, I'm so glad I wore a costume.  Several runners even told me that they liked my costume, especially my sparkle skirt.  That really cheered me up.

Mile 12 - 10:22

I couldn't wait to be finished with the race.  I knew the Stone Arch Bridge was coming up soon, and my goal was to run across the entire bridge to the finish line.  I did not want to stop and walk at all.

Lots of spectators lined the bridge, but there was absolutely no shade.  Ugh... so hot!  It seemed like it took me forever to get to the finish line.

Mile 13 - 9:13

Keep going, Richelle!  You're almost there!  Finish strong!

I heard the announcer call my name (butchering my difficult last name like always).  As I crossed the finish line, I put my fist in the air.  Thank God, I'm done!

Final stretch - 8:37 pace (The Red Dragon said I covered a total of 13.21 miles.)

Here are my official stats:

Official finish time: 1:58:35
Average pace: 9:04/mile
Overall place: 658/1804
Gender place: 238/944
Division place: 45/189 (25-29 age group)

I made sure the man dressed in the Uncle Sam costume awarded me my finisher medal. :)  I really like the finisher medals this year... they have a nice design.

As I headed toward the food area, a woman stopped me: "Hi, I'm ______ from Twin Cities in Motion.  On behalf of TCM, we'd like to give you a Middle of the Pack Award."  TCM gives out prize packs to average runners during their biggest running events like Twin Cities Marathon and the TC 10 Mile.  Because I was a "middle of the pack" finisher and also because I was dressed festively for the race, I won a bag full of goodies.  A picture of them is at the end of the blog entry.  What a pleasant surprise!

This race had one of the best post-race food spreads ever!  Not only did they have water, bananas, rolls from Great Harvest Bread Company, and typical Minnesotan fare like Old Dutch potato chips and Pearson's salted nut rolls, but they also had chocolate milk, hot dogs and rocket pops.  The popsicles were my favorite and definitely cooled me off after the race.

Juli also found me in the finish area and congratulated me.  I later found out that if I had been able to keep up with her, I would have had a new half-marathon PR.  That's OK... it wasn't a PR day.

After stopping by the team tent to pick up my camera, I headed back to the finish line to wait for future hubs to finish his race.

I liked the tutus these ladies were wearing

Kim, a Team Ortho friend, finishes the race

Mark heads for the finish line, along with a married couple he ran with for a good portion of the race

Looking strong

Yay... all done!
Mark's official finish time was 2:52:27.

I was let back into the finish area so we could have our photo taken together.

I followed Mark through the food area.  This time, I grabbed a hot dog.

Mark grabbed one, too
At the team tent, several other goodies were waiting for us:

Mmmmm... cupcakes!

Watermelon and Powerade

The team gift: a messenger bag
I met some of the people Mark ran with during the race; they were a lot of fun.  Once we finished our food and picked up our stuff at the tent (the tent volunteers even gave us some extra water and milk), we headed home.  Ice baths awaited us, which helped speed recovery.

The swag

Close-up of the finisher medal and pint glass

Temporary tattoos!

Middle of the Pack Award: TCM cinch bag, RWB water bottle, beach towel and ball, socks, sunblock, cooling neck wrap, and a magnet

Love the magnet's quote!  The prize pack also included a $15 iTunes giftcard.
My goal to have fun at "the Boom" was achieved.  I LOVED wearing my costume and am glad it brought joy into other people's lives, even if it was for a split-second.  I'm pleased that even with the heat, I finished the race in under two hours.  I spent time with several Team Ortho peeps and got to experience the race with future hubs.  The swag was awesome and the Middle of the Pack Award was an unexpected blessing after a tough race.  I don't know if Mark and I will do this race next year because of the weather, but I'm glad we decided to do it this year.

Do you ever run a race with a pacer?
What has been your favorite post-race food?


  1. Great time! That is a really cool medal.

    I ran with a pacer all 3 marathons (sticking with them the whole wait is another story entirely...). I paced a friend to a sub 2 half marathon back in April. Actually, we got a 1:51 so we rocked that race.

  2. Wow what a great time!! Congrats! And you look so adorable(I hope that doesn't sound like I'm talking to a 2 yr old LOL)! I love your outfit!!!

  3. Sub 2 - wow!!!!!! That's awesome. I LOVE the nails - GREAT job!!! Totally a great touch to your super cute his/her outfits (didn't know your costume would be a pair - super cool)! Thanks for the shout out and tip of the hat!!!
    I love all the swag - you kids do it up amazingly over the top there in MN . . . jealous!!! I love reading your mile by mile thoughts- I so totally have the exact same ones (I want to stop running, I want this to be over, I want the finish line to get here already ). HA!!! GREAT JOB!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wow!!! So impressive - you're so fast!

  4. AGHHHH congratulations! Way to hang in there for the sub-2!

    Congrats to Mark as well. You both looked great in your costumes! Fun idea. :)

    Look at all that loot!

  5. YAY!!! I have to say I absolutely LOVE the outfits! You both did not dissapoint at all! And You kept running strong to get in under 2 hours. I am so proud of you and future hubs!! What a fun race. And holy swag! Looks like you came home with A LOT of fun goodies. Congrats!! :)

  6. Great Post babe.. I should really get my race report up, but I think it will have to wait because I want to go run a few errands before going to yoga.

  7. Wow. That looks like a really fun race, made even moreso by your outfits! I've never heard of a middle of the pack goodie bag--what a great idea!

    Congrats to both of you!

  8. So much to comment on! Love the costumes. Weren't you both just in the spirit? Good race getting under two hours. I love that your costume helped you so much. And I really love that the snacks were red, white and blue. And the cupcakes! Yum! Looks like a lot of fun.

  9. what a fun race, richelle!! so proud of you for pushing through to the end to pull off that sub-2!! Congrats.

  10. Congrats to both of you! You looked so cute and festive.
    I ran my first two marathons with a pace group. Best post race food was probably chicago style pizza at last years RNR half but my tummy is always dicey post race so I never eat anything.

  11. A half marathon under the 2 hours, congrats!!!
    And congrats to Mark too.
    Beautiful pics.
    I have never run with a pacer, I like to be free!!!!!