Team Ortho and the Life Time Fitness running club offered a supported 6.5-mile route, while a Boston Marathon training group had a 20-miler in store. There were a number of people from neighboring running clubs who were along for a run but weren't specifically training for anything.
My pre-run prep: my awesome Minneapolis Marathon skull cap and an apple for afterward, a waiver saying the gym wasn't responsible if I die, a map because I was planning on making up my own route and wasn't sure if I'd find my way back, Sports Beans, lip gloss, Cupcake (my iPod), a headband, Road ID, Mr. Anastos (Garmin), Brooks ID running hat, Cascadia 6s, water-wicking socks, and ample Brooks clothing to keep me dry on this sunny, wonderful day.I am used to my itty-bitty fitness center, which has three treadmills, a stair step machine, a couple elliptical machines, three bikes, weights, resistance bands, and balance balls. I walked into this gym and gasped. Looking at it from the outside, I couldn't even tell it was this huge!
Other than that enormous workout room, I saw a saloon/massage/spa, a snack bar, a golf store, two yoga studios, three kickboxing/other group workout rooms, an Olympic-size pool, a store to buy apparel and supplies, an indoor track, basketball courts, locker rooms, and I KNOW there was more on different levels. Serious madness. I've never seen anything like that in my life. I'm not so sure I'd like it.
The top center lake in the map below is Cedar Lake, the awkard-shaped lake with the finger is Lake of the Isles, and the (mostly covered) round lake is Lake Calhoun. The starting point was Life Time Fitness, and they were going to run between the lakes, make a turn around, and come back for an easy 6.5-miler.
Because I know these lakes really well, I figured out that if I split off and ran two of the lakes clockwise, I would hit 10.3 miles. Because my training plan had me running 11 miles today, I'd need to run a few extra blocks at the gym. Turns out that a few people also had the same idea for extending their route, so I had about 15 people I ran with today.
I didn't bring my camera with me because I was carrying my Amphipod handheld and wanted the free hand in case I slipped on ice. It was really fun and sunny though, so I kind of started regretting leaving it in my drop bag. I stuck toward the back of the group where I was free to stay away from conversation and blow as many snot rockets as I wanted without hitting anyone.
It was really interesting running behind a cluster of people. My job was to yell "runner back left" or "runner back right" when a runner was passing our pace group. Ahead of me they yelled "runner/walker left" or "runner/walker right" or "ICE!". It was pretty military, but kind of cool. It was hard to see the route ahead of me because all I could see where shoes and legs, so those kind of warnings were nice.
All of us who decided to run the 10.3-mile route kept with a 9:15-9:30 pace. I felt like I could have gone a little bit faster during the first 8 miles, but I did my best to slow my pace and stay with them. For the most part, I felt really strong and not tired. For a while I questioned whether I broke a sweat.
At mile 4 I got hungry. Not a gurgly stomach, not water sloshing around, nothing. I felt like I had skipped breakfast and my stomach was letting me know. At mile 5 I decided to eat half of my Sports Beans to shut up my stomach up and start refueling since I must have burned breakfast off. Apparently I ate breakfast too early -- and I also had oatmeal instead of my regular English muffin/peanut butter/banana combo -- so this is something I need to watch for.
At mile 6 we took a water/Powerade stop, and some dude turned to me and said, "Your nose is bleeding." I was like, "Really? Thanks for saying something!" (Really ... no one else said anything, those jerks!) I looked in the Team Ortho truck's side mirror and sure enough, I pulled a Mirai Nagasu. There was blood all over my nose. I had no idea it was even bleeding (though I have a good idea why: my nose piercing + snot rockets don't really get along). Then I really wished I had my camera, but I'm not sure you'd want to see my crusty, bloody nose.
Instead, I'll show you Mirai Nagasu's bloody nose. (If you're unfamiliar, her nose started bleeding during her Olympic short program earlier this week and it basically killed her routine. I made certain my nose bleed was not going to distract me.)
At mile 9 I had a terrible mental block. I kept thinking about how I got too hungry earlier, and how this was going to haunt me for the remainder of my run. I was sure that I was going to pass out. I felt like I was crawling, and I thought I was feeling dizzy. My legs got heavy and I wanted to stop to sit down for just a minute. I ate the rest of my Sports Beans, chugged the last of my water, and tried to tell myself that this was a mental game and I had to power through it. I had to seriously fight my subconscious and convince her that I had enough fuel in me to make it the last mile. If I needed to chop off my final mile I intended to add on my own, I would ... but I just had to make it back before I could decide that.
And then people around me started dropping like flies. Two guys ahead of me decided they were going to stop and walk back. Then I passed two women who were also in my pace group as they slowed to a walk. I jogged by a few people on a pedestrian bridge that also needed to walk.
Part of me felt a lot better that it wasn't just me ... who knows what happened. Maybe we encountered some weird air bubbles that threw off our balance and brains. :P Or maybe it was just from running on ice and hitting some hills we weren't used to. I told myself it would be fine to walk if I had to, but I ended up powering through it. (Later, I learned, this mile was one of my faster splits.)
By the time the gym was in sight, I felt completely fine, and even added on the last .7 miles to round out an 11-mile run.
It's weird to have your mind turn on you. How do you deal with mental blocks?
I made my way to the upstairs indoor track and found my pace group stretching out. Post-run stretching is so foreign to me. Hell, even pre-run stretching is foreign to me! I never do it. I joined in for a few core exercises since we had the equipment at our disposal, otherwise, I sat back and observed.
This crazy grass is also foreign to me.
This crazy grass is also foreign to me.
Also, the mini race expo was nothing. It was two tables selling socks and promoting their shoes. I am not in the market to buy apparel, so I skipped it. And I'm still not sure what the appearance by Team USA was! I couldn't find Shaun anywhere!
Air Temp: 32F and super sunny
**The mile I felt like walking. It's amazing to see that my splits were basically the same although my mind was telling me I was barely moving and should stop.