Well, this was a race to remember! Last year, this race was called the Running Opener, but the organizers tweaked the race to make it more appealing to a larger audience. I don’t remember how many participants there were last year, but the race didn’t sell out. This year, the race sold out well before race day due to promises of chocolate and awesome race swag (including a tech long-sleeved half-zip T as well as a drawstring bag). The race consisted of a 5k or 10k option, which was the same as last year. I really enjoyed last year’s race (it was my first 10k!) and was looking forward to this newer and hopefully better version!
While I had a mostly good experience at the race, there were some items that annoyed me. First up – packet pick-up was from 12-6pm in St. Paul on the Friday before the race as well as 7:45 am before the race at 9:30. Not only were the hours not terribly accommodating for those of us that work business hours, BUT, they sent out an email on Thursday telling us to get there early to ensure we get a shirt that fits correctly. So, even though I selected my size when signing up for the race, and even though the race sold out WELL in advance of the race, they couldn’t guarantee the correct size? Annoying. Since I couldn’t get to packet pick-up on Friday, we got to packet pick-up FIRST thing Saturday morning and they were out of the size of shirt I ordered. So, we got there early thinking we could get the correct sizes; that didn’t happen, and then we had to wait in our car for an hour and a half! Why wait in the car? Because Minnesota is AWESOME and the weather was 35 degrees and rainy!
I was puffy in the morning and complaining that I looked ridiculous when I smiled – Dan said jokingly, “do the duck-face!” – it worked.
Overall, the course was nice – it was two loops for the 10k-ers, which isn’t my favorite, but it was quiet with few pedestrians in the way (it probably didn’t hurt that the weather was crappy). There is one nasty hill, but I like challenges.
Above photo taken from Final Stretch’s Instagram page
I was consciously trying to keep myself from going too hard too fast – I’ve been getting speedier, but I wanted to make sure I didn’t bonk halfway through the race. I ran at a steady 12:30 pace for the first 5 miles or so (with walk breaks here and there to give my legs a break) and then gave myself permission to kick it into gear at mile 5. I ran the sixth mile at a 10:50 pace (what?! I’ve never come CLOSE to that before) and the last .2 miles at a 9:30 pace (which was my best effort at a “sprint” that long into the race). I PR-ed by 30 seconds and am still on a high from how much faster I was able to run the last mile or so. I know now I could have pushed the pace earlier on, but I’m not unhappy with my strategy. I just know better now for upcoming races!
After the race, we went quickly to find our chocolaty snacks! I was EXTREMELY disappointed with what was left over (I wasn’t that slow – there were probably a good 40 people behind me) for us “slow” people. The chocolate dipping sauce was gone, so I got two Oreos and chocolate milk. That’s it. Oh, and a banana. And they ran out of potato chips. I am very hopeful that Final Stretch learned a thing or two about the race this year to fix for next year. Being a slower runner, it gets really annoying when races run out of things prior to us finishing. We paid as much as the faster runners, and I feel that we deserve everything we paid for. Additionally, they started the drawing for prizes (chocolates and such) BEFORE everyone finished. I felt sorry for the last runner – if I felt forgotten, who knows how they were feeling.
We grabbed a quick picture with two of my running buddies, and then left to head home and get out of our cold clothes.
Overall, it was okay – I definitely won’t rave about this, and I’ll think twice before participating again next year unless they assure us they will be better prepared.
What’s your biggest pet-peeve at races?