Race Report: Waconia Winterfest 5k (2/5/11)

February 6, 2011 § 1 Comment

This was my first time running the Waconia Winterfest 5k and my first healthy race since September.

This long, snowy winter has been rough on my training paces.  While I ran more miles in January–101.25–than I have in at least 18 months, they were slow miles.   We’ve only had two days of above-freezing temperatures since December 1st so we have not had the normal melt-off of snow that we typically have.

Snow banks are high, side roads are covered, and any time we get an inch or two of snow, we end up with a thin, slippery layer of snow that slows me down by a minute to two per mile.

I’m not in racing condition.

I was not sure if I was going to run this race–It probably was  not the prudent thing to do.  But I checked the forecast at the beginning of the week and the forecast was for a warm day (32°) on Saturday so I figured I would probably race.  Which, to my mind at least, meant that I had act like I was going to race.

One of the reasons I wanted to specifically race this weekend is because of the upcoming Super Bowl.  I’m a Packer fan and I moved into enemy territory, Minnesota, in the last year and I just wanted to do something “bold” to show my loyalty.  Something like run this race in my Packer jersey.  Silly thing for a 40-year-old “man” to do but it was a real motivating factor for me.

The temperature was in the 20s by the time I arrived to register for the race so I was excited to have some decent weather.  While I was standing in the race-day registration line, I notice that the runners ahead of me were getting numbers in the high 250s–my guesstimate told me I had a good chance of getting 262 (the significiance being that those are the same digits as the marathon distance of 26.2 miles).  Again, a silly little thing but I felt like it was a good luck omen.

My warm-up with Packer sweatpants and Packer hat went by rather quietly.  But as soon as I made the switch into my race outfit–running tights and my number 80, Donald Driver, Packer jersey, I started to get comments.  Mostly good-natured.

“Aren’t you suppose to be in Dallas (the site of tomorrow’s Super Bowl)”.

“The Packers winning depends on you winning today”.  (I hope not)

“Good Luck, Donald”

I did my warm-up along the course route which mostly went through residential streets.   The warm temperatures the day before had caused some melting, which, trapped between big snowbanks on both side of the sidewalks, had re-frozen overnight causing significant ice.  So I stuck to running on the residential streets which barely had any traffic.

So I was rather surprised when, in the first quarter-mile, we were all guided onto the sidewalks.  It was rather narrow, icy and crowded.

I had paid close attention to the course map–it was basically a lollipop set-up.  The beginning and end were basically the same stretch with a loop in between.

I had gotten into my head that the loop was going to be run clock-wise.  I probably assumed that since we were starting off due north (we actually started off headed east on a segment not shown on the official map), that we would head due north at the beginning of the loop.

But, as you can probably guess from the fact I brought it up, we ended up running the loop counter-clockwise.  This turned out to be a good thing because while the streets were still icy at the beginning of the loop, the sidewalk was wider and was in better condition which made it easier to run while we were still somewhat packed together.

See the activity on RunSaturday

Type: Run – Race
Duration: 0:21:44
Distance: 3.12 mi

I actually really enjoyed the treacherous beginning–I’ve always considered myself a bit of a mudder, able to pick my way through bad footing relatively well.  So I found this first bit exciting.  Plus, grouped together on a bad surface, I was boxed in and did not go out way too fast.

My last race, a cross-country race in September was a 5.6 miler that I ran at 7:02 pace.  I had run a 5k in August in better conditions in 21:08.  I was hoping to run today in under 22:00 or about 7:05 pace.

So I was pleasantly surprised when I hit the first mile in 6:53.  By then, we had separation so I was cruising.  The second mile I did in 7:14 but that included the only uphill–albeit a mild little climb.  I did pass a few runners on that hill, the last runners I would pass.  I was also passed by one runner in this mile, also the last runner that would pass me.

I enjoyed a bit of downhill in mile 3, which I ran in 6:51.  I felt strong and even though the finishing stretch was in a parking lot with a thin glazing of ice, I ran the final 0.1 at a 6:41 pace for a finishing time of 21:38.

During the run, I did get one Packer-related cheer from a spectator but at the finish, I got a mixture of cheers and heckles from the couple dozen spectators.   As a classic ectomorph, I tend to disappear in social situations–blending into the scenery.  But wearing a Packer jersey in Minnesota could only be a cry for (negative) attention.  Minnesota Nice does not normally apply to Packer fans.

So I knew what I was getting into, even looking forward to it so I played it up with the crowd a bit–asking for more noise.  If I would thought of it, I should have imitated Driver’s “First Down” signal as I crossed the finish line.


Overall, I am pleased with my performance.  Obviously a bit slower than the 5k I ran back in August but considering the footing both today and the last couple months, not too bad.  Once we can re-claim the sidewalks and roads from the snow and get more quality miles in, I can work on getting faster.

I do think there are a couple benefits from the enforced slow runs we’ve had to do lately.  First, the easy miles help prevent over-training.  Second, with the poor footing, there is a certain amount of variability with each stride–working the legs muscles in a slightly different way, therefore providing a more balanced workout instead of the same repetitive foot-strike over and over and over again.

One nice thing about this race, instead of another T-shirt, they gave away nice black & gray winter hats.  So that was a nice bonus.

It will be interesting to see how the legs feel tomorrow morning.


2010 Totals

December 31, 2010 § Leave a comment

I ran 576.25 miles in 2010, my highest mileage since 2007 (845) at an average pace of 8:20.  The second half of the year, I totaled 416.75 miles.  My goal every year is to log at least 1,000 miles–not a huge number but a total I have only accomplished four times in my 27 years of running.

I raced seven times–once in March (6 miles, 46:25, 7:43 pace), once in August (5k, 21:08, 6:47), and five CC races–the Salomon Autumn Trail Series (4 times, 3.6 miles, 25:08 best, 7:02), and one race in the Life Time Fitness Trail Series (4.9 miles, 36:05, 7:21).

Overall, I am basically satisfied with my running–I switched jobs, moved 200 miles–I did the move myself, moving everything first to a storage unit then to our new home–and inherited a 50 minute+ commute so the fact I was able to run semi-consistently the second half of the year.  There is room for improvement but life is a balancing act.


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