GLM 10k Winter Running Series

All winter long I have been participating in a 10k running series put on by Great Lakes Multisport. I thought it would be a good way to work on my speed over the winter, whilst forcing me into the great outdoors during the most dreaded time of the year. As an added bonus, if you register for all of the races you get a free hoodie, and I am all about free stuff. There were six races in all, and you’re about to hear about every last one. Warning: this could get a little long, though I have a terrible memory (thanks mom!) and probably cannot recount too many details of each race. So here goes.

Race #1 – Welcome to Winter – 11/11/12

Though this race was called “Welcome to Winter,” there were unseasonable warm temperatures, I believe around 60 degrees. I also believe that was the last time the words “unseasonably warm” have been uttered this side of the equator. Here is the little report I wrote on Daily Mile, which really says all there is to say:

This could have more aptly been titled: “crash and burn – the story of how not to run a 10k.” I thought I could probably run around 7:00 pace today if I started out smart. I did not start out smart. Here’s what happened:
Mile 1 – 6:44 – darn it, way too fast. I was running right behind the woman that won the race, who looked like she was just out for a casual jog. But I felt good. Maybe this won’t be so bad.
Mile 2 – 7:06 – darn it, too slow. That’s ok, I can still average 7’s
Mile 3 – 7:15 – ok seriously? And now I have to do the whole dang thing again?? It is so hot out. I am overheating.
Mile 4 – 7:18 – This sucks. The wind sucks. I hate running.
Mile 5 – 7:27 – I can’t believe I signed up for all 6 races in the series.
Mile 6 – 7:18 – Well, at least it wasn’t last mile slowest.
Last .2 – 6:44 pace – Ok, I finished like I started, only now it feels like a sprint.

So there you have it. Positive splits on a flat (albeit really windy) course. My goal for the next race will be to start out easier so I am not dying by mile 3. I think I was 6th overall female and 1st in my age group, so I am really happy about that. And more importantly, now I have a better idea of where I am at and a starting block to improve upon!

Yup, that was a rough start to the series, but things could only get better from there, right?

Official Result: 44:09, 6th OA female, 1st place AG

Race #2 – Elf Run – 11/25/12

The Elf Run went a lot better for me than W2W. The only bummer was that the course ended up being quite short, my Garmin measured it at right around six miles.

I still started out a little too fast, but overall my splits were much more even and I did not run each mile slower than the last. Improvement.

Official Result: 41:41, 8th OA female, 1st place AG

Race #3 – Run Into the New Year – 12/31/12

RINY is the biggest of all of the winter series races. It is held at noon on NYE, and always draws quite the crowd. My friend Cara was running this race as well, so I knew I was in for a little friendly competition. We ran together for the first 3 miles or so, and I always felt like I was just behind her, trying to keep up.

Then somehow I ended up running a 6:37 forth mile, and I pulled ahead. This is kind of a hard course for a 10k because there are several million turns. It’s hard to get a good fast rhythm because any time you pick up speed, you have to make a turn. Still, this ended up being my best race of the series, with mile splits of 6:51, 6:44, 6:49, 6:37, 6:54, 6:48, and 6:29 pace for the last .35 miles (yes, my Garmin had this course a little long, which isn’t surprising with all of the turns. Apparently I do not run the tangents well). Now THAT is how to correctly pace a 10k. We are making progress.

Official Result: 42:54, 6th OA female, 1st place AG

Race #4 – Expo Run – 1/27/13

The Expo Run seemed to be the smallest out of all of the races. It was an out and back course on a bike path which was nice, as it was the only 10k course that was not simply 2 loops of the 5k course. It was another cold nasty day, and the course had a couple of snow-covered bridges to make things interesting. I ran a pretty smart and even race here, with all of my miles in the 6:50’s.

I knew I was running in 3rd place and thought maybe I could catch the woman in purple at the end. I gave it my all, but just didn’t have it in me. I was still super-proud of my 3rd place overall finish.

Official Result: 42:43, 3rd OA female

Race #5 – Big Chill Run – 2/17/13

By the time the Big Chill Run came around, I was so sick of 10k’s, and I was so sick of winter. Still am. I went into this one with a crappy attitude and little motivation. It didn’t help that the course was the same one as Welcome to Winter, which as you may recall didn’t pan out too well for me.

I know that picture is all hey, I am so happy to be out here running in the frigid cold and look what a great race I am having!! I was either faking or hallucinating, one of the two. I passed a woman right at the half way point to put myself in 3rd, but she somehow managed to pass me back around mile 4.5. When it happened, I seriously could not have cared less. I don’t know what was wrong with me. Physically I know I could have pushed it and ended back in 3rd, but I just didn’t want to. It was really stupid. Also, another short course of 6 miles instead of 6.2. This time I was happy about it.

After this race I remember having a conversation with my friend Cammie in which we complained about winter (standard) and hoped that the last race would bring with it some nicer weather. After all we deserved it after suffering through all of these freezing cold-ass races. Right? Right??

Official Result – 42:03, 4th OA female, 1st place AG

Race #6 – Luck ‘O the Irish 15k – 3/16/13

So that brings us to St. Patty’s Day weekend. If you are still reading, congratulations for making it this far, we are almost done.

When I saw the forecast for this weekend I was pissed. Like legitimately angry. Cold, wind, and snow. It’s not fair, can’t we just have nice weather for one day? Please?? Wah. I needed to do a long run on the day of this race, so I decided to switch to the 15k distance that was offered and run a 5 mile “warm up” before hand. I knew that no matter what happened in the 10k, I could not change my overall standing in the series, and to be honest I threw up in my mouth a little when I thought about running yet another 10k. So I got there nice and early, switched my registration to the 15k, and headed out for my easy five miles. The roads were covered in a wonderful layer of icy snow, which was awesome. I really loved it.

I had about 20 mins in between my warm up and the race, so I went inside, used the facilities, ate a gel, and hung out with some friends. I did NOT in any way shape or form want to go back outside and run more, but I really had no choice. I look nice and pissed (and cold) at the beginning of the race.

This race had the most ridiculous course. It was 4 “loops” back and forth on the same road. One end of said road had a giant hill. It had an 8% grade on the shorter side and a 7% grade on the looooonnng side. That’s according to the street signs, I did not actually have tools with me to measure the grade. So we went up and over that hill 4 times. If you are keeping up with my math here, that is a total of 8 big hills over the course of 9.3 miles. Also, there was a nasty headwind for half of the course. I loved turning into it every time. At least it was a great workout. I pushed the pace, but was not “racing” at an all out effort.

I’m not sure what I was looking at coming into the finish, probably the warm building that I couldn’t wait to be inside of. I finished the race with an average pace of 7:51, which I was happy with given the course. I did a short cool down jog to round out my day at 15 miles.

Official Result: 1:13:05, 3rd OA female

Closing thoughts on the series

I ended the series with enough points to claim 3rd place female overall. For this honor I won a plate and a beach towel.

I am proud of how I did in the series, and overall I am glad I signed up. It was a way to keep me running fast at least six times this winter. I just wish it could have been nice out for one or two races. But come on, this is Wisconsin. The entry fee was affordable (I think it was $120 for all of the races) and I got a long sleeve shirt for each race, plus a super-cozy hoodie for running them all.

On the negative side, two of the courses were woefully short, though the race management insisted this was not the case and that everyone’s GPS watches must have been wrong. The courses are not certified, so I can’t complain too much. Plus, when you are racing for series standings (rather than a PR), it doesn’t really matter because everyone you are racing against is running the same course. The other negative is that by the end I was so incredibly sick of running 10k’s. As I mentioned, all of the courses (except one) were a double loop of the 5k. Also, it was pretty much always the same people racing, which is cool on one hand because you know who you’re up against, but it was all getting a little bit tired by the end. Obviously that is my own issue and has nothing to do with the races themselves.

So will I do this series again? Probably not. Next year I will likely just run a couple of them for fun instead of being locked into every race. Or who knows, maybe I will try my hand at the 5k series to really test my speed!

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