My second race of the year is in the books, and it was definitely an interesting one. Though it was chilly, the wind in Hopkins wasn't a factor as the slight breeze and sunny skies made conditions for the MDRA 7 Mile quite pleasant.
The race started off well, and unlike the Lake Johanna 4 Mile when I went out a little fast, this time I started out a little farther back and let the lead runners go. After about half a mile I was running by myself. I could see the two leaders, both wearing neon running gear, quite a bit ahead of me.
When the course turned toward the first mile, I could no longer see the two neon runners. They popped in and out of view for about half a mile, but by the second mile they were completely out of sight, and I was running alone in third place.
At the third mile marker I was running a little slower than I needed to to break my "A" goal time of 40:08, but a PR was well within reach, and picking up the pace a little to hit the "A" goal was not out of the question, but then things got away from me. And by got away from me, I mean I took a little half mile detour through the streets of Hopkins.
Here's my Garmin-created map of the 7 Mile. Notice the little loop in the upper left:
Here's the loop up close:
At the three mile mark, I was supposed to turn right, but unfortunately I continued going straight. Though the course had nice blue arrows spray painted on the roads and sidewalks, I must have been looking at my watch and failed to notice the little blue arrow that directed me to turn right. I realized I'd probably made a mistake when I went past Birchwood Lane and there were no little blue arrows. Had I turned around at that point, it wouldn't have been so bad, but instead I kept going.
Fortunately the little detour brought me back to the course where I joined a group or runners to go past the 3 mile marker for the second time, this time with an extra half a mile on my watch.
I didn't get too upset--I decided I'd check my split at 7 miles and give myself 75% credit for that 7 mile time, and just try to forget about my official finishing time--the MDRA 7 Mile is just a free fun run anyway, so who really cares about my "official" time?
Anyhow, this race was hilly with a capital "H." Right after mile 4 (4.5 miles for me) there's a hill that's roughly three quarters of mile mile long with a grade of about 2%. Though it took some pop out of my legs, the rest of the race had more downhill then up.
I was passing a lot of runners at this point--they'd had a half mile advantage on me, but I was making up some ground. My unofficial 7 mile split was 40:28 (I took the split at 7.04)--slower than my 40:08 goal but faster than my PR. I eased up a little then, but not much. I still wanted to finish strong.
Even after slowing down a little for the last half mile, I finished the race at 43:34--a 6:13 pace if you discard the extra half mile and a 5:49 pace if you factor in the extra half mile.
As I was walking back from the start, another runner approached me and said, "Hey, are you the guy who got lost?"
"Yes," I said.
"Yeah, I wanted to yell to you, but you were too far ahead of me. I saw you go left and I started to go left, but then saw the blue arrow and made a hard right across someone's lawn." I guess I was glad he didn't get thrown off by me too. "I was doing a tempo run," he continued, "and I didn't know quite how fast you were going. I was going to try and stay with you, but I got stuck there in no man's land."
"Oh well," I said. "I guess I just got a little extra workout."
"Yeah," he said. "Good thing it's just a fun run."
"Yep. No trophies on the line today."
After a short cool down, I enjoyed a nice post-race cookie and chatted with Peter, a friend whom Laura and I are always seeing at the YMCA. He was sympathetic to my poor directional skills, and made me feel better when he said, "There were a couple of places when I thought to myself, 'if I weren't running with other people, I wouldn't know which way to turn.'"
Though things didn't go quite as planned, I'm still pretty happy with the race result. I ran hard and I'm feeling like I'm in pretty good shape. Now I'll just have to wait until my next race to see if I can run a fast time without getting lost.