Thursday, September 5, 2013

Race Recap: Women Rock MN

Over Labor Day weekend, I packed up the family and headed 7 hours north to Chippewa Falls, WI.  It is truly beautiful country up there. There were so many outdoor fitness activities that I couldn't contain myself... biking and hiking trails everywhere! I crawled out of the camper on the first morning and adventured around the campground, finding some neat trails through the woods. I'm not typically a "trail runner," so the bumpy ground and high-stepping over tree roots gave me a good workout... more than I intended on a rest day.  A few hours later, I left the hubs and kids behind to join up with "the girls" in St. Paul, Minnesota for Women Rock MN.

After picking up the girls at the airport, we headed straight to the expotique (aka packet pickup). There was a good assortment of booths and fun photo opps (with half naked men). Kudos to race organizers for allowing size exchanges on the race goodies. My tank immediately looked small, so I exchanged for the next size up. The jacket was super cool and fit perfectly in my normal size.

Lindsay, me, hot dude, Kim, Patty and Lisa sprawled across the front.
Reuniting with these ladies was - by far - the best part of this trip!!
Five states were represented amongst us... IL, MN, VA, OR and TN.

We met up with another bunch of ladies from my Sole Sisters running group for dinner at Eagle Street Grille - where we had thee most friendly sassy waiter. There is absolutely no proof pictures that we drank multiple beers the night before a race. Opps. I stayed with Patty at the Holiday Inn downtown, which was a great walking location to everything - the expo, dinner, and the race finish line. The finish line was essentially the shuttle pickup for the half-marathon. Our group met in the morning by the buses, which then took us to the starting line, out near the old Ford plant.

A fine bunch of runner girls!

I haven't run a half marathon since May, so this was a nice easy "get back in it" race for me. My intent was to use it as a fun training run. As we lined up just in front of the 10 min/mile mark, several of the ladies discussed their time goals. I looked at my bib #2122 and decided 2:12:2 would be today's goal. Ha! Not very strategic, right?! But I hoped to stay around the 10 min pace, preferably below.

The starting gun was exactly 10 minutes late according to my Garmin. (Not sure why, but late starts are a pet peeve of mine. I tried to remain patient, not one of my finest virtues.)  I had debated on whether to even wear my watch, but eventually did so with a determination not to look at it. I wanted to just run what felt comfortable. Of course at the start, the adrenaline made that faster rather than slower.

Mile 1 - 9:17
Mile 2 - 9:17
Mile 3 - 9:14
Mile 4 - 9:32
Mile 5 - 9:37
Mile 6 - 9:49
The first six miles were a simple out and back. Starting temps were much cooler than expected (low 70's), however the humidity hung in the air. I began a trickling sweat immediately and it only got worse as the temps increased throughout the run.  The first half of the course was mostly under shade, but the rolling hills surprised me. My quad muscles had an odd ache from the time I got out of bed (most likely due to that trail running the day before). As I took each incline, my quads reminded me of why one should rest the day before a half marathon. I know better. Out and backs are not my favorite in a normal training run, but I do enjoy them in a race. I get to see all my compadres, no matter if they are in front of behind me. Each time I pass a friend, it gives me a little boost in my run. And it's rather entertaining to watch others greet their friends as well.

Mile 7 - 10:07
Mile 8 - 10:12
Mile 9 - 10:03
Mile 10 - 10:01
In looking at my splits, it's easy to see my "comfortable pace" slowed as the miles ticked away. By time I reached mile 7, I felt... done. The shade went bye-bye and I quickly got hot and miserable in the bright sun. Some serious head games started battling back and forth. To shut myself up, I flipped on the ipod that I had stuffed down my bra in case of emergency. For once, I was happy to have music pumping in my (one) ear, giving me a second life.

Throughout the race, I stopped to walk thru every single water stop. This is a first for me... I usually run straight through during a half. I was constantly thirsty today and reminding myself to run comfortable. I'm nowhere near PR form or time, so there was no reason in my mind to push it. By the end, I was grabbing three cups through every stop - 1 water to drink, 1 water to dump over my head and 1 of the little blue drink - Gatorade, I believe?

Mile 11 - 10:33
Mile 12 - 11:00
Mile 13 - 9:17
The second half of this half marathon felt flat for the most part. There was one big hill inside mile 11 that I remember having to stop and walk.  I used the excuse "finally a river view" to stop and take a photo... which oddly never took? When I hit that #12 sign, I was suddenly in a big hurry to get this thing done. I grew closer to Lindsay, who had been in sight nearly the whole race. Eventually, I caught up to her and we ran much of that final 1/2 mile together into the finish.

Official Chip Time 2:09:22
average pace 9:53
Overall Rank  #842 out of 2195
Division Rank  #216 out of 494
State #15 - Minnesota in my quest to Race All 50

I was exhausted, hot and sweaty. But even at the finish, I had enough brain power left to comb the line of men and find the best looking guy to collect my finisher's necklace. We snapped some finish line photos and then hunted down the champagne!

As yet another hot man filled my glass, I said, "Don't be stingy. I like champagne!"

We didn't linger long in the post-party. I was soaking wet and wanted to change clothes. I hurried through a shower and was on the road quickly back to my family. We had plans to go river tubing that afternoon, and I was looking forward to relaxing in the sun with my feet soaking in the cool water.
Post-race bliss!

My final take on Women Rock MN...
Personally, I loved the event. Weather out of anyone's control, it was a decent race. I had zero problems and found everything to be very well organized. Pre-race communication was good. If you read through everything, the answer was there. There were mentions of sponges and water towels being added to the race, but I evidently missed those stops along with the GU. I was actually surprised at the amount of spectators - all the men with kids made me smile. If I had a dollar for every time I heard Go Ladies! or Go Mom!, I'd be rich.  At the finish, we received a grab bag with food and plenty of water... and champagne! I'm not sure what else was at the post-party because I didn't stick around. I had expected more river views based off the course map, but that wasn't the case. While the early hills were challenging, the final mile was pretty sweet to have easy/flat/fast.  I registered early - back in February for the best price. Race entry was $75 + the $15 optional tank top that I selected. There were several price increases along the way, which their website could do a better job of outlining those dates.  All in all, I thought the race was worth it. Good event and great swag!

All the goodies I brought home... running jacket, champagne glass, Sexy Men calendar, racerback tank, and a gorgeous finisher's necklace. The "W" stands for Women, although my mom reminds me it will always stand for WUCKI (my maiden name).


  1. I must have been right pretty close to you...I finished in 2:08:17!! I was disappointed about no sponges or towels...although the heat wasn't too bad most of the time, except during those very hot, sunny stretches! I did not get a hoo:( They must have run out, which I don't understand....we did pre-register and they knew how many people to do you run out of supplies?!?! Overall I enjoyed this race and would do it again next year!

    1. I saw other runners with the towels afterward (and heard there were indeed sponges) but evidently not very noticeable cause no one I knew SAW them during the race. :) Bummer you didn't get a calendar... they were in an odd spot - back of expo along a stretch with no booths...

  2. This race is on my running bucket list. The swag looks awesome! Great recap!

  3. Great recap! I ran also and did not see sponges or towels...I was sad. BUT, I did manage a PR of 1:36:18 and won the 20-29 age division...score! I also love the camaraderie of this race. I love that this race has a lot of running/walking/racing newbies, and reminds why I love this sport!

  4. Congrats on your finish, I did my MN race in August too and wow, so gross and hot and humid. The jacket is cute!

  5. It was a fun race! (I did the 10k.) Loved the shirtless dudes handing out the necklaces at the end. And running that course was good practice for the Monster Dash half in October. (I love/hate the hill at mile 11!)

  6. That's a lot of swag for the money. I love getting something different than the normal t-shirt.

  7. Looks like a really fun race! And Beth is right, lots of swag for the money =)

  8. Thanks for this race recap! I live in MN and have considered this race - perhaps next year!

  9. I'm looking forward to the Chicago race!

    I have the tank too and love it!! Can't wait for my jacket!

  10. Great recap! I had an awesome time and loved seeing you!

  11. Nice recap! I was looking for the sponges - I saw some discarded along the route - wonder if they were at the medical aid stations. I found cold wet towels at the finish in an icewater filled kiddie pool and was able to snag one.

    My first half - 2:22:27 (including pit stop for a portapotty!)

  12. Great job. Thankfully it was as "cool" as it was even though it definitely was still hot! I was looking for the sponges the whole time, but never saw them. I did however get a towel at the finish. I was very impressed with this race and the swag. :)

  13. LOVE your recap. I didn't know you and lindsey finished together, HOW FUN!! The blue was powerade (personally prefer this over gatorade). I completely tried to take a photo of river but failed miserably!

  14. Congrats! Still a steep price IMO but if the swag is that good, then ok. I've yet to race in MN!
    River tubing sounds divine after a hot race!

  15. Glad you enjoyed the race, and had a great time at Eagle Street Grille. :)

    I saw you after you had finished (I was waiting for a coworker to finish her very first half-marathon) and your friend was taking photos of you. I called out to you, but it was noisy at the finish, and my voice got lost in the crowd. I hope to meet you at a future race.

    Surprisingly, I ran a PR race. Still very stoked about it!

  16. That's why I love the Diva Half lots of men out cheering on their wives, including my husband. He probably ran 3 miles getting to different checkpoints to see me. Love him!

  17. Sounds like a fun race! Nice swag too!

  18. I want to run this race just for that awesome jacket!! Congrats on a great run!! Glad you enjoyed it!


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