Races

Goldy’s Run 5K/10 Mile
In April I unceremoniously kicked off the 2012 race season by competing in the 2nd Annual Goldy’s Run 5K/10 Mile. Having spent the last several months in a modest rut with the same few trails I was eager for a fresh, magnificent course, to stoke the smoldering competitive fire, and most importantly, gauge if I’ve made any progress as a runner.

Come July I’ll ramp up into the 10-mile range of races (which will better prepare me for the Urbanathlon haul), but because I was more interested in simply taking the car out for a test drive I opted for the 5K.

The Course
The University of Minnesota is a beautiful ‘urban’ campus that sandwiches the banks of the Mississippi. In fact, if you spend any time on campus you have to preface your directions with East Bank or West Bank (which are connected by a mammoth walking bridge). Goldy’s Run was held in and around the East Bank, starting in the crisp shadows of splendid TCF Bank Stadium (and Williams Arena, which is cool in a whole other way).

Famed Willimas Arena, wonderous TCF Bank Stadium, and an abundance of Port-O-John’s.

The Draw
I registered for this race as soon as I finished reading the sentence about finishing on the 50 yard line of TCF Bank stadium, and appearing on the big stadium screen as you cross. Goldy’s Run, you had me at ’50.’ I’m in.

The Mindset
Again, I just wanted to kick the tires, open it up a little bit, and see what, if any, progress I’ve made (keeping the car analogy going, after about mile one of the Urbanathlon a guy started yelling to nobody in particular, ‘uh oh, the Lamborgini is warmed up, it’s warm, time to open it up, the oil is warm.’ He repeated this mantra at the first obstacle, and was off, so I guess the oil was warm.). I kept my focus light and on enjoying the experience. But as soon as the guy with the megaphone started calling for 5K participants to make their way to the starting line I got unexpectedly amped up and intense. When I couldn’t stop bobbing around and legging out 100-yard jogs to stay warm I knew my focus went from ‘I’m just happy to be spending an unseasonably beautiful Saturday morning with all of you fine people’ to ‘game on.’

I was now in it to win it, and as more and more 13 year olds wedged themselves into the front of the start line I officially announced to myself that I’d try to win this thing (loosely translated to, just run as fast as you can).

Keep in mind, I’ve never run a 5K, and this is just my third ‘race’ ever.

The 10-milers started first, and 10 minutes later us 5Kers took the course (you can see the police car at left and white rope keeping us apart).

Looking down the barrel of SE University Ave, Goldy Gopher ignites the runners.

The Race
Hell bent on winning, I started near the front of the pack and hit every conceivable opening until settling along the outside left (which seems to be my MO). The initial cluster of 25-30 runners kind of broke off right from the start and was never really pressed from behind at any time.

From the start I’m not far behind (I’m somewhere right in the middle of this photo, a row or two back by the tall guy… and surging!)

About ¾ of a mile in I looked at my phone, which had the RunKeeper app running as my pace and distance monitor, and noticed I was clipping along at 6:40/mile (I carried my phone the entire race; lame).

My first response was, ‘wow, 6:40’ (my average pace for a 3 to 4-mile jaunt hovers between 7:23 and 7:30), followed immediately by ‘um, I have no plan on how I’ll sustain this pace.’ My way of dealing with these feelings is to just tell my body to keep going, keep going (really, I say this in my head).

This is when we turned off the main drag and curled deeper into campus toward the Mississippi River, and where I started to have the thoughts below …

Unsettled by the fast-by-my-standards pace, after about a mile in I knew three things were working in my favor:

1.) I had just 2 miles to go, and I figured I could fool myself into running my 6:40 pace for 2 miles (even though I’d never done it before). Just keep going. Keep going.

2.) It was weird, but there was a smattering of about 15-20 runners ahead of me, a few quiet stragglers 30 or so yards behind me, and then the rest of the pack starting 60 yards behind them, so unburdened by a tight pack I didn’t get into any head games of trying to run with someone who was too fast for me, or pressing unnecessarily so that I wouldn’t get passed (I’m new to all of this, so these silly things litter my brain). I was solo almost the entire race.

3.) The closest few runners ahead of me were consistently about 50-60 yards away, so well within reach if I tried to catch them near the end (I did pass the guy at the stadium entrance [well, I passed him, then he passed me at the tunnel, and then I passed him again with my final kick], but the woman smoked me). Back to mind games, I told my body to pick it up just a little at a time, and just consistently make up ground (that I didn’t have to do it all at once).

My finishing time was 19:18, give or take (the 5K was not chip timed, but my wife caught a shot of the big screen as I crossed).

I was so dialed in that I have no recall of the last 30 yards, so was glad my wife snapped this photo of the big screen when I crossed (for weeks I had planned to high step through the finish and mug at the screen, and I don’t know what happened).

How this bodes for the Urbanathlon
Because the Urbanathlon is broken up into smallish 1.5-mile runs here, a 2-mile run there, I was really excited to see that I could run at a faster clip (at least over 3 miles) than I did just 6 months ago in Chicago. If you recall from a previous post, the Urbanathlon is a runner’s race, and becoming a faster, stronger runner is key to an improved 2012 race for me (unscientifically, I ran the first 2.5 miles of the Urbanathlon at about 7:30/mile, so if I can do it at 6:40 this year, I’ll be in good shape).

As always, my family is a great source of support and fun (they are just above the “M”).

Overall Goldy’s Run experience: A-
It was a beautiful day, on a fun, gorgeous campus (my alma mater, by the way), the on-course volunteers were jacked up and helpful, my wife and kids were on hand and supportive as always, and winding into the stadium tunnel, hitting the field and sprinting to the 50-yard-line finish was otherworldly. See you in 2013.

This runner was part of the 10-mile race. Hitting the stadium tunnel to the field had all of the game-day energy and good vibes of a Super Bowl entrance.

Lots of on-field mingling with racers as well as sponsors (great swag, by the way). I was surprised at how cozy (small) the field felt (in a cool way).

Team Bunker with a few sponsor goodies.

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