Monday morning was another near perfect morning for a race. Upper 50’s into the 60’s by race time, overcast, and a slight breeze (a little more than slight at parts!). The sun warmed us up while waiting at the starting line but seemed to disappear as we made the 5k loop around Lake Nokomis.
This event hosted by USATF-MN was pretty well organized and efficient. I arrived early was able to get my bib number and t-shirt within 5 minutes and waited around in my car for awhile. It was cool enough at the time to want to get back “inside” and relax a bit before the warm-up. Sadly, the Nokomis Community Center building was closed for the holiday weekend.
I did a short warm-up, stretched, and waited for the start. The starting line was approximately 1/4 mile away from the check-in/finish area, which we would run by at the start. The event had 506 finishers with times ranging from 14:43 – 51:31. This was gun-time only race. This is a super flat race with the longest “climb” being 17 feet over a 1/4 of a mile, so pretty much negligible!
I finally ran into Nathan the only other MDRA athlete competing at the race so we talked and jogged to the start.
I had trouble figuring out where I wanted to line up, because I didn’t want to be too far forward and get sucked out too fast, but I also didn’t want to get stuck behind a lot of people. I ended up getting a decent spot 5-6 rows deep and had a great start. It took only a second or two to cross the starting line. I took off pretty quickly and a lot of people passed me and it got crowded pretty quickly, but then the road opened up and I was able to settle into a pace that was fast but relaxed. At about the 1/2 mile mark we turned south and picked up some headwind. It didn’t feel super strong, but it was noticeable. Not a lot happened in the first mile, a lot of people were getting settled into their pace. There was some back and forth as we came through the mile in 6:18. I remember thinking that might have been a little fast, but was pretty close to my race plan.
The miles seemed really long. At least compared to other runs around the lakes. Nokomis is shaped in such a way that you can’t really see all the way around the lake, or much of the rest of the lake except at a few spots, which makes it seem like forever around. It may have also been that I’m not used to running at such a fast pace, which tires you out and requires more effort. This second mile was on the West side of the Cedar Ave bridge which seems really far out there and was pretty desolate. There wasn’t a ton of cheering fans anywhere on the course, but especially not on this section. I belive the water stop was here somewhere and I grabbed a quick squirt of water.
The racing was pretty solid through here, not much changes but continuing to go back and forth with a few runners or at least not letting myself fade away from them. I came through mile 2 in 6:27. Oops a little slow!
More of the same continued as we came through the third mile. A couple guys fell off and I started seeing some new people ahead who were fading back a little. They had jerseys that I recognized from the USATF Team Circuit, so even though we didn’t field a team, I thought I should try and get them! I was beginning to get fatigued as well so the increased effort really just kept my pace the same.
We should have had a tailwind, but I’m not really sure if we did or not. As we approached the starting line I remember thinking it was time to start shifting gears a little bit. I started passing several runners and came across the third mile in 6:24.
I was feeling good, maybe a little too good as I crossed the 3 mile mark and made the final kick to the finish. As the finish line came in sight, so did a bunch of runners that looked like they wanted to get passed. I obliged and passed what seemed like quite a few runners. Seeing the clock in the mid-19’s also helped the urge to kick and I came through the last 0.1 miles in 0:30 which is 4:49 pace for the last segment. Yikes. My overall unofficial time was 19:45 and the official time was 19:46.
After regaining my breath and stumbling around a bit I was able to enjoy the post-race bread, bananas, water, and carrot cake! After talking with some of the guys I wandered over to the lake for a nice ice bath. I waded in far enough to cover my knees and enjoyed the cold (but not too bad) water. I felt and feel like I ran a tough race but don’t think I hit 100% effort for the whole 5k. I’m glad to report that my foot and IT band felt fine throughout the race and only a little uncomfortable since finishing.
Overall this is an excellent small race with high quality competition.