The more Team Ortho races I run, the more I love everything about them. This was my third Team Ortho race and by far my favorite. Perhaps it's because I'm getting to know a few people who work for the non-profit from the training group runs, but I really think it's because Team Ortho is comprised of master marketers who all voluntarily work at least 7 days a week, and they are genuinely huge-hearted people who hold their jobs because helping others means more to them than a fat paycheck.
I wish everyone in their life could and would run a Team Ortho race. From the pre-packet pickup (which I ran to on Wednesday during my 7-mile marathon training run) to the post-race after party (which made me a little tipsy on a Saturday morning), everything about Team Ortho's races is immaculately planned and perfectly executed. And it's all for a good cause: Team Ortho's latest ventures have included doing orthopedic research and assistance directly in Haiti, helping people who've lost limbs in the earthquake get new ones.
This morning ended up being the perfect morning for a race. The snow and rain stayed away, the wind was nowhere to be found, and not even a cloud floated in the sky. Someone turned the sun all the way up, but, unfortunately, also the air conditioning. It was cool this morning -- but nothing none of us weren't expecting or weren't prepared for.
I headed over to my friend Gramps' house this morning because I convinced him to volunteer at the race. He was the bike marshal (suiting, for someone who only bikes), so he rode in the front of the pack and gave the top runners someone to chase. He may or may not have been surprisingly passed by six runners at the very end, too. :)
Talk about one of those little details that makes the race fun... even the chip on our shoes matched the theme of the race!
They gave everyone temporary tattoos. Gramps and I sported them proudly, even though we had to wear gloves this morning. Let our powers combine!
Gramps looking a little not ready to ride a bike this morning.He's all official now.
I don't know my way around downtown very well. I've spent more time biking down there as of late, but I still don't really get it. Gramps lives nearer to downtown and knows it very well, and we parked what seemed like an eternity away from the starting line. I trust he knew where he was going (turns out he parked in a ramp near the post-race after party), and we had to walk approximately 7 blocks to the starting line. On every single street corner in downtown was a volunteer wearing a gooney leprechaun hat, with signs pointing the direction to the start line.
I made it to the start with about 9 minutes to spare and pushed my way into the front of the pack. Gramps made his way up to the start to lead the front runners. I couldn't see anything but tons of people around me. Looks like no less than the 3,000 who signed up actually made it!I did find that I was practically standing on a penny, though -- and it was even face-side up. I pocketed my lucky charm.
The gun went off at 10a.m. on the nose after a few announcements and acknowledgments, and I eased my way into an 8-minute/mile pace. There were no pacers, but I set Mr. Anastos to alert me when I was going faster than 7:45 and slower than 8:15. Normally I'm not that naturally fast, but something about races makes me pick up my pace a lot. I wanted to run hard, but I didn't want to burn out and/or get sick at the finish line. Again.
Mile 1 (7:52): "This isn't so bad!"
The first mile was actually pretty easy. I thought I was going to have a hard time pushing my way through all of the costumed freaks who got there way too early and didn't know how to line up according to paces, but it really wasn't an issue at all. There were a few people I passed and moved around, but most of my time was spent watching for potholes in the road since we were running on a partially closed course instead of the running path.
At the end of the first mile, I liked my pace but wasn't sure if I'd be able to do it for 3.4 more miles. I mentally noted that I wanted to slow down a smidge.
Mile 2 (7:53): "There are kids up here?"
One second slower wasn't the smidge I had in mind. However, I noticed two little boys running the race. Sorry, I know it's weird to take pictures of kids without permission, but at least I didn't get their faces?! I couldn't slow down now. I couldn't let these two little guys stay ahead of me so I had to pass them. (The little guy's little friend is in blue in front of him.)
There were Irish dancers as a portion of the on-course entertainment. More pictures of kids, I know, but these guys were AWESOME and deserved to get their picture taken, no matter how crappy my picture is. They were dancing to what sounded like Riverdance, and they were so good! I wish I could have stopped to watch.Mile 3 (7:58): "Look at all those pennies!"
Too bad I was shooting for a finish time, otherwise I would have made four stops for four pennies I found on the street. I have a weird knack for finding loose change and dollar bills -- one of the perks of always hanging your head, I guess -- and this stretch of the race was a goldmine. I thought, at one point, they did this intentionally to make us feeling like we were getting lucky. I sure felt lucky finding four pennies, but, again, didn't want to trip anyone by stopping to pick them up. There were people pretty close to me the entire time and I had to watch where I blew snot rockets, let alone stop to pick up worthless money.
Mile 4 (7:47): "Ahhhh, downhills are nice."
By mile 4 I could get an idea of the finish line since I've run this part of the course with my marathon training group, and I knew that we were in for some fun, somewhat steep downhills. Downhills aren't easy to run effectively, but I'm pretty decent at it. I picked up my knees, leaned forward, and let gravity pull me down the hill. The near 10-second shave-off from my previous miles shows me that I did this part of the course alright.
Mile .37 (2:52) "Don't puke, don't puke, don't puke."
Some runners have a mantra or a phrase they repeat in their heads during hard runs. Josh Cox repeats "Power" in his head, while Kara Goucher repeats "Dig deep" to herself. I've heard of other runners repeating positive and re-affirming thoughts to themselves, but my motto at this point of a race is "Don't puke." After running out of my pace for so long, my mind starts to play games with me. Granted, I have puked after races and hard runs, but it's never a goal of mine and I think most of that pukage is mental.
Crossing over the Stone Arch Bridge, seeing the 4 mile sign, and knowing the finish line was straight ahead, I instinctively wanted to start sprinting. However, we still had almost a half a mile ahead of us, and that's a long way to sprint. I did my best to not look up at the finish line, I zoned into my music, and I repeated my mantra: "Don't puke, don't puke, don't puke" to keep myself at a decent pace.
I was rewarded for not sprinting too hard and for not puking. I found a penny at the finish line!
After replenishing with a banana and some PowerAde, I found Gramps, congratulated him on finishing his first 7k even though he didn't have to work very hard, and headed over to the brand new Kieran's Irish Pub in Block E for the race's after-party. On our bibs were free drink tickets, and, again, I have a hard time passing up free stuff. :) Kieran's moved from Uptown to Downtown, re-opened on St. Patrick's Day, and has been celebrating a very successful first week back in business.
Temporary tattoos, a commemorative timing chip, a medal, free beer tickets, and an awesome sweatshirt, all for a $35 tax-deductible registration fee?! You can't beat that. They even gave Gramps a sweatshirt after all the runners got one in their size.Good thing we finished "early": the line for Kieran's ended up stretching across two city blocks. I don't think they were expecting everyone from the race to actually show up. Gramps and I got a table, and we were being stalked whenever we made any movement. People apparently really want to sit after running 4.4 miles. :P
The entire inside of the bar was hopping with stinky runners. They had a fun bagpipe band playing on a small stage, and the decor inside was very pleasant. I haven't been to their previous location, but this pub was upscale and spacious. Amazing that they were able to fit so many of us inside.Sticking with the theme of the day ... I found another penny while walking to the parking ramp. This one was face-side down, but I still grabbed it.
And for the nitty gritty deets...
The overall group's stats.
My stats. If only I could average a 5:33 mile! I can't even imagine. I think the fastest I ever ran a mile was 6:21 back in grade school, and that wasn't even fun. My average for today was actually 7:51, or 7.6mph. I was the 305th finisher out of 2,591, was the 25th person in my age group to complete the race, and the 75th woman finisher overall.
Ah, two pieces of the pie now! See how this is working...?
Overall, the Get Lucky 7k was a perfectly executed race, and I have absolutely no complaints or suggestions to make this race better. Team Ortho keeps setting the bar for themselves higher and higher with each race, and I know the Minneapolis Marathon is going to blow everyone out of the water.
7k chip time: 34:24 (an automatic PR, and I made my goal of 35 minutes)
Mr. Anastos' 4.37mi splits: 7:52, 7:53,7:58, 7:47, 2:52
Air Temp: 33F
A post-race run
Earlier this week I talked with Mr. Kona Ironman Finisher about how I could do a 14-mile run integrating the 7k with a significant pause between the two. (Hello! Post-race party was more important than heading back on the course!) He told me that running a hard 4.5 miles is about equivalent to running an easy 7, and he advised I head out for an easy 7 after downing that free beer and a banana to equal 14 and keep my base strong.
This afternoon seriously could not have been any nicer. It was still chilly, but was perfect for running. It was another busy day out on the Chain of Lakes; I saw lots of bikers, walkers, people playing fetch with their dogs, kiteboarders (though it seems way dangerous to be on the ice at this time -- the water is already taking over the shore), and even a bald eagle circling overhead.
7.15mi splits (1h 3m 31s): 8:43, 8:42, 8:40, 8:55, 8:49, 9:05, 9:10, 1:23
Air Temp: 37F