Race Review: City of Lakes 25K

Yes, that is a 25K or 15.5 miles.  My longest race ever and before this training cylce my longest run ever was a 15 mile hike/run in Yellowstone, when I worked out there one summer.  We could not have asked for a much better day for this race.  The temperature was in the mid-50’s with overcast skies.  It was pretty humid and actually rained while we were eating breakfast shortly after the race. The sun was out during my warm-up but disappeared for pretty much the entire race. The race appropriately loops around 2 of the many lakes in Minneapolis and makes for a great spectator event.  My official time was 1:48:49 while my watch was at 1:48:40 (this was not a chip timed race).  That was good enough for 131st overall and 27th in my age group.

This is the 27th running of City of Lakes and is a pretty fast course.  Four men’s age group records and 2 women’s records were broken today. The race is billed as “a middle distance trial for those running the newly created Twin Cities Marathon and other fall marathons, or for those looking for a fall, middle distance running event.”  It lives up to its name with 984 total finishers.


I received my bib number in the mail a few days before the race.  I was a little surprised, but I didn’t really do a lot of research about the race.  With a mile seperating the start and finish lines and registration at the finish line this was pretty helpful.  I didn’t have to go to the registration table.  We parked on a street about half-way between the start and finish and my wife went towards the finish and I went to the start. I wore gloves for my warm-up but decided not to wear them. I waited in line to use the bathroom for 15 minutes and never got to use it so that I could start the race on time (see below). I wore my singlet with shorts.

Race Time

I thought long and hard about the race plan.  I have been pushing my body pretty hard for the past month or so – taking my “recovery” weekends and racing over them.  So I thought that my body could handle a nice marathon pace effort and it would give me a good chance to see how the pace felt for a longer distance.  That means that I would run at 7:15 pace or 1:52:38 overall.  I thought that if I ran that pace and felt strong in the last 5-10k then I’d pick up the pace and anything under 2:00 would be acceptable for this distance.

The race directors had setup two signs on trees next to the starting area one for 7 and the other 9 for people to self-select a starting place.  I started right behind the 7 marker and went out at what felt like a pretty easy pace. The start has a quick series of 2 hills and then flattens out.   The crowd was pretty thick so I was suprised when I came through the first mile in 7:05. Okay, not too fast “slow it down a little”.  I felt like I had slowed down and was suprised again to see mile 2 come at 6:58. Ok, so still a little too fast – let’s try slowing it down again…  A quick uphill, waterstop and down to Lake Calhoun – still feeling comfortable.  Mile 3 6:53 and through the 5K in 21:32.

Ok so I’m still running faster than planned, but the 2 guys next to me are talking about their pace being dead-on their race plan.  Hmm… I’ll run with them I guess and see what I can do.  I had taken water at the stop and was a little suprised to see another water stop so quickly – so I skipped it.  The 2 guys took water so I waited for them to catch back up and fell back into rhythm with them.  We came through mile 4 in 6:59. Still feeling good, but it felt really cold running in this stretch and I never really warmed back up.  It wasn’t cold enough to worry – just enough to make your hands cold. Mile 5 was in 6:58. At the 5 mile mark 3 runners from some of the “fast teams” were standing around talking – can’t remember if they were wearing numbers or not, but strange.  Back through the waterstop and up and over the hill back on Lake Harriet.  Still Mile 6 was 7:04 and 10k in 43:07 – this 5k was 21:34.

Around and around we go heading past the starting line. I continued to run with these 2 guys and we came through mile 7 in 6:59. Passing the starting area we hit the 2 quick hills and going up them I seperated from the guys I had been running with.  I was planning to catch their race numbers so I could look them up later, but was expecting to drop them here.  I don’t think the pace was comfortable anymore, but it wasn’t strenuous either so I decided to continue with the rhythm.  I came through mile 8 in 6:57.  Overall crowd support was pretty good.  There was a lot of people in the area between the two lakes and a smattering of people around the course.  Passed the finish line again and back into the area between the lakes.  The mile marker was right before the waterstop.  Mile 9 was 7:00 and through the 15k in 1:04:41.  This 5K was 21:33.

I decided to pick up the pace to put some distance between myself and a few women I just passed! I also thought, I feel good let’s see what I can do.  It felt like I picked it up a lot so I was a little disappointed(?) to come through mile 10 in 6:53, but I knew that the clock was still under 1:10 – so I was sub-7.  That small pick-up hurt more than I expected it to and I soon realized that 10K is a long way to pickup the pace! Examining my pace chart, I did it the hard way – hitting 6:28 for a few seconds and then slowing down and yo-yoing a little bit around 6:45 pace.  The next mile I continued to speed up and slow down – hitting 6:36 but never slowing below 7:15.  Another water-stop, around the top of Lake Calhoun and through mile 11 in 6:57. I don’t remember much from the next mile except thinking that I still had a long way to go! Mile 12 in 7:01 and through 20k in 1:26:19 and this 5k in 21:38.  Interesting that the 5K I tried to pick-up the pace in was actually my slowest 5k up to this point.

The last time through the waterstop and over the hill and less than 5K to go.  Just hold it together Cross and you’ll do great.  I saw a clock somewhere in here (may have been the 20k sign) and realized that a half-marathon PR was in reach.  Mile 13 was 7:04. I got a half-marathon PR!!!!! in 1:31:something. They had an official clock there and I don’t remember the exact time.  I can’t get my Garmin to given me the time either – but it was faster than my 1:33:22 from 2 weeks ago.  Credit to Chris Taylor for saying I’d hit the PR! Excited about the accomplishment I knew that I just needed to hang in here and not blow up.  Up to this point I had been taking a Clif Shot Blok after each 5k, however I decided not to after the 20k (rookie mistake!) and Mile 14 was 7:13. Stay calm, you are doing great. Relax and stay focused.  At this point one of the guys I had run with earlier caught back up to me and encouraged me to stay strong.  We came through mile 15 in 7:06. Ok, that’s good pick-up the pace and give it everything.  I don’t know, something magic happened – I guess knowing the finish was so close it was like a jolt and I picked up the pace – hitting 6:22 pace according to the Garmin.  That hurt – backed off a little and got passed by a guy wearing headphones.  Can’t let that happen surge to catch him and try to pass – hitting a 5:28 and he switched gears and took off.  Crap I can’t keep this pace to the finish anyway so I eased off and finished in 1:48:40 for a last half-mile in 3:25 (6:25) pace.  I was a little tired, excited about my time and overall performance, and disappointed for a second about getting out-kicked at the finish.  The last 5k was in 21:49.


I stumbled through the chute letting them take my number, getting a few dixie cups of water.  The big prize at the finish was a “beer stein” or a glass mug with the race logo and sponsors on it.  And picked up my cookie from Great Harvest Bread Co. of Linden Hills and it was delicious.  Other post race food included banannas and apples. Booths from Saturn Cars (got a cow bell) and Sister Kenny Sports & Physical Therapy Center (got a little band aid holder) rounded out the party! I picked up my bag and got some dry clothes on.  We waited around for the rest of our team to finish and went out for breakfast.

A Few Criticisms

This was a great race pretty much all around.  I was very surprised that a race of this size and caliber didn’t utilize timing chips.  I know it saves a few bucks and I only lost 9 seconds from my official time and watch time, but I’m sure the people at the back of the pack would appreciate knowing their actual time.  If you want to be a tune-up for the marathon, people should get to know their official time for 25k.  The other minor criticism is the amount of porta-potties.  There was still a line at the start of the race (another good reason to use chips).  I was waiting in line, but decided to skip the bathroom to make the start (I was in line for 15 minutes).  Ok, so another little nit-picky detail but the plastic cups weren’t the easiest to drink from while running (not easy to squeeze the top) and they were pretty small to be drinking fromat the finish.

[tags] City of Lakes, 25K, Race Review [/tags]

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8 thoughts on “Race Review: City of Lakes 25K

  1. Mike

    Wow! Nice race! And what a great race report! Your splits were terrific all the way through. That is a rockin' Half Marathon time… you did an awesome job!

  2. Blaine Moore

    Nice work, Nick!

    Try downloading Sport Tracks and putting your run into there from the Garmin. It will create a map and you can actually click along the route at any point to find the distance/time at that spot.

  3. crossn81 Post author

    Thanks Blaine. I actually use Sport Tracks for my Garmin data, the problem is that the Garmin and the mile markers were off a little bit – ended up being about 1/10th long over the entire race. So I could pull the data out of the Garmin, but it wouldn't be the same. Does that make sense?

  4. Pingback: September Highlights | Team Cross Runs

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