As with the previous year, I kicked off my ‘run/race’ season with Goldy’s Run. A magnificent event centered on the University of Minnesota campus. Last year I could only muster the 5K, but with some modest winter training behind me I opted for the 10 mile this year. This would be my first straight up 10 miler (the Urbanathlon is more than 10, but it’s broken up several times with obstacles).
I knew I could go the distance (my Sunday ‘long runs’ generally cap at 10 miles), I just didn’t know how well or poorly it would go down, so it was a great check point for me.
Now in its fourth year, Goldy’s Run is spectacularly organized by Podium Sports Marketing, and because I’ve outlined the event in this space before I won’t spend much time on those details.
Instead, I’ll focus on just a few observations I had along the way. Unlike the brisk 5K and 8K events I’ve largely participated in up to this point, the 10 mile is a bit of a grind, and gives one ample time to think. And because the 10 mile was a brand new experience for me, I feel like I walked away with some key learnings (and a slight limp).
In no particular order:
Being strategic is great in theory. Much of what I read leading up to the race suggested you tackle the 10 miles in 3-4 chunks; miles 1-5, miles 6-8, mile 9, then mile 10 (building steam as you go). Sounds about right. I probably came out a little too quickly (6:40ish MM), but was consistent miles 1-3. The wheels didn’t necessarily come flying off at mile 4, but I hit a wall of sorts (I did actually hit a wall, coincidentally … here is where we turned right over a long, windy bridge [Lake Street bridge for you locals] and I cut it too sharp and was on the walking path and had to vault the high wall to get back on the street …) and knew I’d go the duration in survival mode, not ‘hmmm, when should I hit the nitrous’ mode.
Knowing the course helps. My mile splits evened out (at around 7/MM), but there’s a huge spike in the middle that I can’t bear to look at, and where the wheels started to come off a little. I had no idea there were so many damn hills and I was wildly unprepared for them. Several times during the race I was simply depleted and didn’t think I could finish, only to pull myself together after a minute or two. That I neglected some off-season strength training, well, I can attribute some blame there, but had I know where and just how many hills there were I could have at least been more strategic in my effort.
Leave the ear buds at home. When I train I’d rather be without shoes and shorts than be without ear buds. I’m wired that way. But come race day they stay at home. With ear buds I zone out and am up in my head (I like that), but I really like to feel grounded in the race, hear the cadence of my stride and the pattern of my breathing. With ear buds I just become some dude running down the street. And mostly I like to recognize and not block out the great volunteers and supporters who line the course with cow bells and whistles, as well as other runners who are in the thick of it with you (which brings me to my next point).
Friending. So, maybe this just happens organically and there are no formal Roberts Rules of Order to speak of, but what is considered proper etiquette when you find yourself running stride for stride with someone? At times I would catch up to someone and we’d be in lock step for a while, or I’d get caught and would find myself in tandem until they picked it up. I ask because I feel like a few runners saved me on this 10 mile during stretches where I was especially gassed, and we probably gutted out a half mile or so side by side, with some joking and lamenting the hills, with others just plodding in stony silence. I kind of feel like you just know when someone is now ‘running with you’ but not sure if there is something I should pick up to know ‘yeah, it’s cool’ or ‘lose it, I run alone.’ To my previous point, if you have the ear buds in I just assume you are in the latter and leave you alone.
Focus on your race. It’s not difficult for me to get swept up in everything else happening in the race. Early on I was in the back of the leading pack of 40 or so runners) and I thought how cool that was and that I wanted to stick with them for as long as I could, knowing that they’d take off at some point (bad move because this was much quicker than I was prepared for … I was running their race, not mine). At a few points (okay, more than a few), I’d get caught and then start to doubt myself (bad move because I was running just fine … again, here I was running their race and not mine). Push yourself, but run YOUR race.
Technology sucks. For Christmas I received a Motorola MotoActv GPS watch. Love it, and it’s done a phenomenal job charting all my stats and vitals. I’ve used it on every run since Christmas, and it’s worked without fail. You can guess what’s coming … I made sure all systems were a go, and when the horn sounded I pressed Start and took off. After about 30 strides I looked at my watch and it wasn’t tracking pace or heart rate, just elapsed time (I normally wouldn’t race with a heart rate monitor but I was curious about my HR zones in a race situation). My hands were ice cold, which made fidgeting with the watch a hassle, and now I’m fixated on my wrist and not the road (plus blowing into my hands to get some feeling back). I couldn’t right the ship so I plowed forward, pissed off that when I needed it most my watch totally crapped the bed. It never did that before (or in the few runs since). Whatever (even if it was user error I’m still pissed).
Technology is awesome. As I type there are about 4 inches of snow on the ground and counting. The evening before the race it snowed, too, and it was cold. Very, very cold. That didn’t impact me much (except that I changed from shorts to sweat pants in a port-o-potty just before the race, which is about as hot and awesome as it sounds), but my wife and kids were there to support me and sitting in the biting cold for over an hour is not their idea of a good time. They posted up in the swanky comfort of the M Club inside TCF Stadium. But just prior to the race, via my phone I sent my wife a Glympse (this is a smartphone app), which is essentially a GPS map tracing and sharing my whereabouts, so they could see in real time exactly where I was on the course (and how fast I was going). They could see when I was approaching the stadium finish and on cue jumped outside just in time to give me a high five and a final boost to the finish. Win-win.
Find your fuel. My go-to pre-race meal has generally consisted of oatmeal, a banana, water and coffee (a murderer’s row of GI rabble-rousers). But after a, ummm, semi-traumatic long run recently I just haven’t felt comfortable falling back on that routine (especially in the 10 mile). I ate much earlier before Goldy’s, and ate much lighter, and I don’t think I had the optimal level of fuel (of course I got up in my head about this at various points in the race). I packed two homemade gel packs (blackstrap molasses, brown rice syrup, honey, some sea salt and a shtickle of water) and popped one at mile 4 (I didn’t use the second). Point is, proper fuel is key, and I need to figure this out a little more.
This is just funny (to me) more than anything:
Goldy’s 2012 Gear
Goldy’s 2013 Gear
- Wide receiver gloves
- GPS watch
- Heart rate monitor
- Spi Belt
- Two homemade gel packs
- Smartphone (strapped to arm)
Finish strong and never quit. I’ve always believed in this, and despite what troubles I encounter on the course I have an uncanny ability to haul ass the final quarter mile. I’ll take it. At Goldy’s I was nearly despondent during miles 9 and 10, and despite those heavy feelings once we hit the shadows of the stadium I was able to ratchet it up, plow through the tunnel and hit the field in a full on sprint. This is noteworthy only because by a slim margin I ended up with a podium finish in my division (3rd). Had I stayed down on myself and finished just to finish I probably would have been 4th (I don’t know that this push put me over the top, but the point is I felt like I went after it and earned it). I felt good about placing, but felt great that I know I did my very best.
- Overall 47 out of 1967 (not sure how this number is comprised)
- M40-M44 Division 3 out of 133
What’s next? Not sure, but possibly my first half marathon May 5 at the Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon (would be a stretch for me, but I need to work on my distance).