Thursday, October 6, 2011

Race Report: City of Lakes 25K

Last year, Mark (at the time he was future hubs, now he's my hubby... yay!) ran the City of Lakes 25K on a whim.  There was a workplace competition going on, and he wanted to challenge himself, so he ran this race.  I played personal race photographer for him.

Stretching out before the 2010 race

Strong stride


His expression belies the pain he's feeling
While he was running, I mentally kicked myself for not doing the race too.  My goal half (Portland Half-Marathon) was a month away, and I didn't want to risk injury, so I played it safe.  But I vowed that in 2011, I would challenge myself and run the 25K (15.5 miles).

I delayed registering for this year's race because I was worried about injury.  However, my knees had been feeling great all summer, and even with all the wedding prep and work stress and the fact that my long runs the two weekends prior were only 10 miles each, I was determined not to let anything prevent me from running the race.  I signed up for it four days beforehand.  This would be the longest distance I'd ever covered at one time, and I hoped that it would give me much-needed confidence for marathon training next year.

I had a costume planned for months for this race: I dressed as a bride-to-be.  I wore the veil from my bachelorette party, a cheap tiara I picked up at a race expo last year, a bride-to-be sash from Joann Fabrics, a white tank emblazoned with "Running to the Altar" on the front and "6 Days 'Til the Wedding" on the back, and my trusty Saucony Omni 9s (a newer pair) and Mizuno running shorts.  Because the race was held on 9/11, I wrote those numbers on the back of my white tank as a tribute to those who lost their lives 10 years ago.

Being goofy before the race

Tough strength-training workouts earlier in the week made my glutes sore.  Here's hoping a little massage helps! :)
This year, Mark played my personal race photographer.  We arrived to the start area about 7:15-ish and I got in line to wait for the porta-potties.  I didn't see anyone else in costume, so I felt like I was breaking some unspoken rule.  Oh well... if you can't have fun with running, why do it at all?!

While in line for the porta-potties, I chatted with Juli and Lisa from Team Ortho (and the MN Running Wild club) and Bri, a friend of Mark's from high school.  All of them were using this race as a tune-up for the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon on Oct. 2.

Lining up at the start.  Juli is in front of me wearing the white visor, and Lisa is to her left.
At 8:00 a.m. sharp, the race started.  My goal was to finish the race, so an easy pace was in order.  I knew it would also warm up considerably in the morning.  I do not run well in the heat, so a slow pace was necessary.

During the first mile, Chris, a Van 1 member of my Ragnar Relay team passed by me and chatted with me before speeding ahead.  It was so nice to see and talk with him, even though it was for a short period of time.  He had a great race.

Mile 1 - 8:53

Throughout the race, spectators and racers alike noticed my costume and congratulated me.  Some asked if I had just gotten married, others asked if I was a runaway bride.  Hearing their well-wishes and cheers definitely kept a smile on my face that morning.

Mile 2 - 8:54

The course started at one end of Lake Harriet and made 2+ loops of that lake and 2 loops of Lake Calhoun.  These are some of my favorite running grounds, so it was nice to run on a familiar course.

A side stitch developed.  Oh no, not already! I thought.  Fortunately after a short walk, it went away.  Back to running!

Mile 3 - 8:48

These first few miles were just buzzing by.  The pace was easy and I felt like I could keep running for a long time.  I kept my brain occupied by listening to my tunes on my iPod and scoping out spectators.  I liked seeing people's reactions and hearing their comments when they saw my costume.

Mile 4 - 9:01

Mark situated himself between the two lakes so he could see me as I headed out to make my loops around Lake Calhoun and when I returned to make my loops around Lake Harriet.  He enjoyed photographing other race participants and the beautiful early fall day.

There was a beautiful sunrise the morning of the race

Hey, we know these people.  Jilena and Dain also used this race as one of their final long runs before TCM.

This speedster would go on to win the race.

Another small pack of uber-fast runners, including Willie (in the pink Run N Fun tank), a local elite we know
Mile 5 - 8:42

I had just finished my first loop of Lake Calhoun and stopped at the water stop between the two lakes.  I was still feeling good.  I took a Gu, reveled in the well-wishes from the water stop volunteers, and continued running.  I also knew I'd be seeing Mark soon. :)

Heading towards Lake Harriet from William Berry Parkway

Still have a smile on my face
Mile 6 - 9:16

Fortunately, I had no costume malfunctions.  The veil stayed put and its blowing in the breeze actually helped me feel a little cooler as the temps warmed up.  I also pinned my sash to my shirt to keep it from moving around too much.

A fellow runner asked me if it was more difficult planning a wedding or running 15+ miles.  Wedding planning, of course! :)

Mile 7 - 9:19

The weather was warming up.  Most of Lake Harriet Parkway was shaded, so that helped me stay cool.  I wondered how much my pace would suffer as the mercury rose.

As I approached the parkway between the two lakes, I saw Mark once again. :)

Still lookin' good!

Mile 8 - 8:55

Just before the water stop between the two lakes, Juli passed me.  She looked strong.  Lisa hadn't passed me yet and I wondered if she would.

I approached the water stop between the two lakes, and a couple volunteers shouted, "Hey, it's the bride again!"  The volunteers at the Lake Calhoun water stop would say the same thing as I made my second trip around the lake.

Mile 9 - 9:16

I was beginning to fatigue, mostly due to the heat.  I had slowly consumed the Gu, but it still wasn't sitting well in my stomach.  I had eaten that same kind of gel (tri-berry flavored) the week before during my long run and I felt fine.  Running 17 miles total at Ragnar provided OK training for this race, but I was hoping to get a 12 or 13-miler in two weeks before the race, not just a 10-miler.  No wonder why I was slowing down by mile 10!

Mile 10 - 9:35

At this point in the race, I was also beginning to walk more, lingering longer at the water stops.  I tried to keep my focus on a consistent pace.

Mile 11 - 9:55

I thought about doing run/walk intervals and decided to try a couple out.  Run for 4 minutes, walk for 1, repeat.  It seemed to work for a little while, but the heat was really getting to me.

Mile 12 - 10:04

I passed the water stop between the two lakes for the last time and saw a Running Room employee from the Burnsville location that has helped me purchase shoes in the past.  He recognized me.

I walked up the small hill on the parkway between the two lakes.  It was right after that water stop.  Once I neared the top, I started running again.

Hunkering down for the final miles

I mustered up a small smile for Mark.  I told him, "I'm so tired!"

Heading for my final loop around Lake Harriet
Lisa passed me right around the mile 13 mark.

Mile 13 - 10:20
Half-Marathon Split - 2:03:50

I tried catching up with Lisa and I succeeded, but then I needed to walk, so then she got ahead of me.  I kept her in my sights, but I never caught up with her again.  I didn't have the willpower left to try to reach her.

Mile 14 - 10:11

I alternated between running and walking.  I was so looking forward to being done running.  Hearing cheers from the few spectators helped, but I really just wanted to be finished.

Just before mile 15, I was walking and a runner that had already finished said "You're almost done.  Start running again."  I told him that I would once I passed the mile 15 marker and I did.  That got a cheer from him!

Mile 15 - 10:26

Just a half-mile left to go, I told myself.  I vowed that I wouldn't walk at all during this final half-mile.  Just keep a steady pace, Richelle!

Soon I was nearing the finish chute, and the enormity of what I was about to accomplish as a runner started sinking in.  I was going to finish my longest race ever.  I smiled, but also started tearing up.  I felt the same way I did after finishing my very first half-marathon back in 2007.

The homestretch

Getting passed in the homestretch
I pulled my sash out of the way so anyone at the finish could read the "Running to the Altar" phrase I wrote on my white tank with fabric markers.  This bride-to-be was running to the finish, and her future husband was waiting for her with a big smile on his face!

The ink from the fabric marker was running onto my bib number.  Oh well.

The determination, fatigue and elation are all there, along with the ink the pink sash left behind on my white tank. ;)
I finally crossed the timing mat.  The announcer said my name and congratulated me, both for finishing and for my upcoming marriage.

Last .5 miles - 9:58 pace

Here are the results:

Official finish time: 2:28:09
Average pace: 9:34/mile
Overall place: 435/623
Gender place: 137/240
Division place: 36/62 (20-29 age group)

I felt so tired and sore after the race.  I also had a hard time eating the post race food, but I forced myself to eat the chocolate chip cookie because it was delicious and it was from Great Harvest Bread Company.  Once I had the chance to "walk it out" and drink water and sit down for a little while, I felt better.

Mark told me often how proud he was of me. :)

In the finish area, I also collect my race swag: a finisher's stein.  Because this year was the 30th running of the City of Lakes 25K, race organizers also gave runners a finisher's medal.  Sweet!  Running 25 kilometers totally deserves a finisher's medal. :)

As Mark and I walked back to the car, we passed several members of MN Running Wild, who were tailgating post-race.  We were each offered a bottle of beer, which we happily downed, and had a great time chatting with the other runners about the race.  I'm technically a member of the group (I joined on Facebook), and should receive my MNRW running singlet in the mail soon.  Can't wait!

Even though the heat got to me the last few miles of the race and I slowed down, I still felt like I ran a smart race.  I kept the pace as consistent as I could and didn't start out too fast.  I completed my longest distance ever, and now I've got my eye on an even longer and tougher distance.  I liked running the City of Lakes 25K, and thought this was the perfect race to do for my last race as a single woman.

My bib number, medal and stein

Question for my readers: What unique distances have you covered in your racing career? (you don't see many 25Ks here in the US)


  1. Cute outfit! I love Great Harvest bread.

  2. LOVE the costume - perfect way to celebrate your last race as a single gal :) Great recap - felt like I was there. That's crazy far and you did it so fast - I'm so impressed!!! Nice race!!!

  3. I love how you did this race! You looked so cute in your veil, too. A big congrats on finishing such a big distance!

    I did a 35k trail race in Australia last year. It was fun but in the mountains and totally out of this road racing girl's league!

  4. You looked amazing! I love that you ran that whole race all decked out. And so close to your wedding day. You are inspiration girly!! And way to rock it on your PDR! :)

  5. Oh --and I did a 5 mile race once. I thought that was kind of an odd distance. But I would loved to find a 15 or 10 mile race during my marathon training. That would have made the training runs a bit more exciting!! :)

  6. Not that my opinion matters, but I REALLY don't think you should change your blog name - it's perfect on soooooo many levels!!!!! Just my opinion!

  7. Congrats on your longest run ever! So what distance are you eyeing now? A marathon, perhaps?

    I was supposed to run a 25K in May, but my achilles had other ideas. However, this year I raced two distances I never had before, 20K and 15K. Actually, I'm doing another 15K in November.

  8. I've never run a unique race distance - but I did want to post and say thank you for all the nice comments on my blog - and say that you looked AMAZING in your costume!!! :P

  9. Great job! I ran the City of Lakes in 2008 as my first long race too! It was the furthest distance I had ever covered at that time as well! I HATED looping the course over and over though. You looked adorable!

  10. You look great with your costume. Hubby must be proud of you for the finishing time and the costume too.
    Here the distances are various between the half and the marathon but now the 30 km are becoming popular because useful to prepare the marathon.

  11. Congratulations! You certainly ran a smart race and finished in a very respectable time. You can start thinking about a 20 mile (32km) race now. Great photos of the bride to be! I've done many unique distances measured in km because here in SA that's what we use. 15km, 16km (10 miles), 20km, 25km, 32km (20miles), 48km, 56km, 60km, and lots of distances higher than 100km in 12hour, 24 hour, 48 hour and 6 day races. I do lots of trail races as well and there the distances are usually unique.

  12. That was such a GREAT report! Congratulations! I had goose bumps on my legs by the time you got to the finish line. So much fun to read!

    My most unique distance was the Quarter Marathon I did earlier this year. They had a half marathon, too - but I didn't feel ready for 2 halfs in 2 weeks, and a quarter was just too unique to pass up!

  13. I love what you were wearing! Congrats on such a great race... you really pushed through when it got tough.

    I ran a 4.3mi race before as well as a 20mi race.