Fort Snelling 15K Relay Race Report

>> Monday, October 17, 2016

Yesterday was a day I've been waiting for. It was my first race since O'Gara's 8K back in MARCH. I wanted to (1) see what I could do, (2) remind myself how horrible a 5K feels, and (3) see how my recovering-from-an-injury right leg would hold up.

I drove into Fort Snelling on a cool, calm morning to see a few turkeys hanging out:

Walking from my car to Pike Island.

I considered using the nice indoor visitors center's bathroom, but went with
the nasty porta potty in the parking lot because this selfie is tradition on a race day.

I warmed up with a little jog, and everyone around was chatting about the path around the island where we were about to run. The general consensus was that it was in decent shape all around the island with a few muddy and sandy spots. The only really "hill" was a little up and downhill on a grassy section to turn the 3 mile loop into a true 5K.

I was the first runner in my 3-person team. I asked to go first because if I went 2nd or especially 3rd, I'd try to push TOO hard to the finish and possibly injure myself. (Remember in my "race goals" post on Wednesday, I noted I wanted to run at about 98% effort and not sprint ALL OUT to the finish.) So I handed my camera to another YWCA Endurance Sports teammate so I could go line up. Thanks for these photos, Laurie!

There were 32 teams, so only 32 people lined up for the start.
You can see my calf sleeves and pink plaid shorts near the middle.

I've NEVER seen such a calm start photo of me. And what's happening with the guy next to me?!?!?

I went out at a "normal" pace, and found myself in 8th place. The first 4 guys were pulling away, and I was getting the itch to try to pass the 3 guys running side-by-side-by-side in front of me. But then I realized that doing so would put me JUST BEHIND PATRICK PARISH, and THAT'S NOT A PLACE I BELONG. I belong NOwhere near Parish! So I held my spot and was soon feeling plenty pooped back in 8th.

I was feeling worked by the time my first half-mile split rolled along. It was 2:55.8, and I knew I was going to finish a bit slower than I hoped. I was really working, and based on my effort, I was hoping that would be more like 2:50 or maybe even faster. My next half mile split was 3:01.9, for a FIRST MILE of 5:57.79. I hoped to finish in just over 18 minutes, and 18:00 flat is 5:48 pace. I wasn't bummed, I was just working hard and trying to keep decent form.

There was a little mud in a few spots, but most of it was avoidable. There were lots of little 3' hills just to keep things interesting. Around mile 1, there were a few sandy spots, but nothing horrible. I was passed around the half-mile mark to move back into 9th, and I was passed shortly after the first mile to get pushed back into 10th. I kept RIGHT on the tail of the guy in orange making that weird face in the photo above. I never got to say hi or thank him, but he was my race buddy and rabbit for this race.

Mile 2 had splits of 2:58.7 and 3:01.7 for a SECOND MILE of 6:00.53. Dang. A little slow. But the the surface wasn't perfect, and this was my first race in a long time. I was working and feeling pooped, but again, not "depressed" about these splits (even though I had hoped to be faster [or to feel better at this pace]).

Back at the start/finish/exchange zone, we had our team getting ready for runners to come in:

Teammates not racing: Rose (team founder), Megan, and Laurie's hubby Tom.

Just after "tagging" his teammate after running a 15:34 5K. NBD.

Another tag. Sweet blue shorts.

Mile 3 felt. Horribly. Long. I was toast. After mile 2.0 on my Garmin, I was waiting for mile 2.5. "It has to be coming soon. *GLACE AT WATCH* Nope, just at mile 2.23. OK, NOW it's getting close. *GLACE AT WATCH* Nope, just mile 2.29. OK...... NOW it has to be close. *GLACE AT WATCH* Nope, still mile 2.38." I passed my rabbit in orange with less than a half mile left. Then I passed one of the other guys that passed me at the top of the little grassy hill. I was back in 8th and the finish line was in sight! Just down the hill and onto a straight section of trail.

Both of those guys who I passed each passed me back in the final meters because I didn't want to kick too hard. But really, THAT'S the only "easing up" I did in this race. I still pushed hard, but I didn't go nuts.

Getting close to the line with the 2 guys who I went back-and-forth with.

Teammate Eric waiting to run, and Charlie R waiting for the Run N' Fun team.

Close up of that last photo. Hashed. I've noted recently that I'm carrying
a little extra weight, but that SOME of that is muscle. And you can see that here.

A semi-perfect tag to send Eric off and running.
Oh HI "vein of approval" in my forehead! It's been a while, old friend!

Mile 3 was pretty even, just like mile 2: my half mile splits were 3:01.3 and 2:59.3 for a THIRD MILE of 6:00.66 (just 1/10th of a second slower than mile 2). My final bit to the finish was 0:25.4 seconds for 0.08 miles, or 5:21 pace. (So I sure DID kick, but not 100%.)

I Instagrammed this post-race with the caption: "First race in 7 injured months.
Some gravel, wet leaves, a little mud, and some sand, but it's a start. ❤️πŸƒπŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ"

A teammate pointed out that I'd picked up a little "nature" on my run. I hadn't noticed.

The most low-key post-race snack table I've ever seen.

Here's a handful of photos from other members of my YWCA Endurance Sports team:

Dina tagging Lara.

Dina looked like she worked hard! Nice running!

Maureen stopping to shake hands with Laurie.

Go Laurie! (She's known as "our favorite trainer at the Y." She has
a Charlie with the same birthday as my Charlie - just 20+ years earlier.)

THEE most epic tag of the day. Oh, and THERE'S ERIC IN THE BACKGROUND!

Eric after tagging Gabriel for our team!

Go Gabriel!

Lara after tagging Sheila.

Favorite trainer Laurie finishing her leg.

Laurie to Andrea. Go Andrea!

Gabriel coming to the line! (With his kids and Eric's kids after him!) Oh, and
that's part of the little hill in the background above the guy standing back there.

Nice run, Gabriel.

Andrea coming to the finish a bit later.

Here are the official results from Josh at Wayzata Timing (the number after the first 2 runner's name is overall team position after that runner):

YMCA Endurance Sports, Open Male
Steve Stenzel, 10, 18:25 (5:56 pace)
Eric Sumner, 12, 18:56 (6:06 pace)
Gabriel Keller, 20:16 (6:32 pace)

57:36 total
12 out of 32 overall
9 out of 12 in the Open Male
12 out of 20 for all male teams

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

YMCA Endurance Sports, Female 40-49
Dina Khaled, 28, 25:11 (8:07 pace)
Lara Roy, 26, 24:11 (7:47 pace)
Sheila Eldred, 21:48 (7:01 pace)

1:11:08 total
26 out of 32 overall
2 out of 4 in the F40-49
7 out of 12 for all female teams

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

YMCA Endurance Sports, Female 40-49
Maureen Peterson, 31, 27:04 (8:43 pace)
Laurie Goudreault, 30, 26:55 (8:40 pace)
Andrea Bidelman, 26:45 (8:37 pace)

1:20:42 total
31 out of 32 overall
3 out of 4 in the F40-49
11 out of 12 for all female teams


• I kept my plan in place and didn't push TOO hard to the finish. Officially, I ran a 18:25 and finished 10th overall at that point. 8th and 9th ran an 18:24 and 18:25, and I'm SUPER proud I didn't try to keep them from passing me in the final 20 seconds of our leg. It would have been pointless. (In the end, the team in front of us was 25 seconds faster, so a few seconds wouldn't have changed our overall place. And the next team behind us was nearly a minute back. Note Gabriel's "quiet" run to the finish in the photos above.) Oh, and I had to look through all the results to figure this out: I had the 21st fastest 5K split out of 96 overall.

• The only place I didn't truly "race all out" was in the finishing kick. I tried to run the rest of it pretty hard. So yes, I'm a little bummed I wasn't able to post a better time. But honestly, I'm just happy to have ran HARD again!

• This is totally unmeasurable, but I'm curious how much the gravel trail (and sand and mud and wet leaves) slowed me down. I did a 3 mile Garmin-measured tempo run in 18:26 nearly 5 weeks ago (which is 6:08 pace). I figured during a race, I could go WELL under 6:00 pace, but my Garmin just had me at 5:58 pace at this race.

• Sure, I wasn't as fast as I had hoped, but I WAS consistent! My mile splits were within 0:03 of each other: 5:57.79, 6:00.53, and 6:00.66. (Normally, those would be splits within a 10 mile race, not a 5K.)

• Poor Eric had a pretty lonely run. (And I didn't talk to Gabriel about his, but his could have been lonely too.) Eric noted starting his leg in a small group, but then staying ahead of the guys who started with him. Only twice during 2 long straightaways could he see anyone in front of him. I was lucky to have trailed that Mill City runner for most of the race, and have 2 other guys pass me to keep me working. So if I team up with these guys again next year, I'll let them have first pick of what position they'd like to run.

My team post-race. And a child. And a bunny.

Our 3 YWCA teams after we all raced! (And 3 children.)

The fall colors on the little bridge over the channel that connects the Mississippi
and Minnesota Rivers (and makes Pike Island an island and not just a peninsula).

Walking back to the car. What a beautiful morning!

OK, now the REAL test: I won't run for a few days, and then I'll be curious how the leg will feel. If things keep feeling good, I may try running again on Wednesday morning. Lots of rest and cross-training instead of brutal running miles for the next week or 10 days.

Thanks for teaming up with me Eric and Gabriel! It was a fun morning!


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