On Saturday, October 29th, I ran the Monster Dash 10 Miler inSt. Paul,Minnesota. The event also offers a half marathon, 5k and 5K-9. The event is put on by Team Ortho, which is an organization that puts together the Monster Series, a six event series to raise funds to support their mission:
“To improve and enhance the lives of orthopaedic patients through our commitment to supporting research, education, and advancements in orthopaedic technology; and to promote good muscular, skeletal, and joint health by encouraging an active lifestyle including training for and participating in amateur athletic events.” – www.teamortho.us website.
The reason I caved and decided to enter the Monster Dash was because of the sweet jacket and finisher’s medals.
Aren’t they adorable?
Plus, runners are encouraged to run in costume. Considering I love costumes, it sounded like a good fit. Here’s my Tooth Fairy costume.
Getting back to the race; the longest distance I had previously run was 6.55 miles in June. Needless to say, going from 6.55 to 10 miles is a bit of a jump, but I figured it would be a good benchmark for the half marathon I’m running in May. If I could finish 10 miles, I can finish 13.1, right?
The morning started out a little chilly, but not as bad as I expected. After all, predicting weather in October in the great state ofMinnesotacan be tricky. We’ve had everything from weather in the 70s to blizzards on Halloween weekend inMinnesotain the past 20 years. Crazy, I know!
When I arrived at the St. Paul Cathedral, the locating of the race village, I immediately went to the costume judging area to sign myself up for the costume contest. I figured my costume didn’t have a chance of winning, but I like to be involved completely if I’m doing the event. I’m weird like that. The long line moved pretty quickly, so once I made it through that area, I used the restroom; this line did NOT move quickly and as soon as I was finished, it was time to make my way to the starting area.
There are no race corrals at Monster Dash, but there were pacers, so it was pretty easy to figure out where I should start the race so that I wasn’t holding up faster runners but didn’t have to dodge around slower runners. The local media stations were flying overhead in helicopters at the start and though. It took about eight minutes for me to get to the timing mat once I was in line because of the number of runners.
I started the race pretty fast because it felt really easy and comfortable. I didn’t go too crazy because I knew 10 miles is a LONG way to run, especially not having run the distance before. The first three miles or so were flat or downhill, so it was easy for me to run with little effort. Right around mile 3, I actually ran on the grassy area next to the street to pass people. I still don’t quite understand why everyone slows way down and practically stops and downhills; this is where I open it up and let my body go at it’s comfortable pace.
I was running fast, passing the water stations simply because they were entirely too crowded and backed up for the first 6.5 miles. The first 6.5 clicked by very quickly, most likely because the route is beautiful.Summit Avenueis known for it’s grandiose homes, including the James J. Hill house. There were still colorful leaves on some of the trees, the weather was perfectly cool for running and there were lively spectators cheering the runners on. The whole atmosphere was perfect for running. Plus, watching the other costumes was entertaining.
Right before mile 7, I hit what I’m pretty sure distance runners are referring to when they say, “the wall.” My body didn’t want to work anymore and I felt ready to be done. I slowed to a walk and took my first drink of water since the start of the race. I walked for a little while and picked up a run again right at the 7 mile marker, which started us on the largest uphill portion of the 10 mile course. (Unfortunately, the half marathon had an even worse hill at mile 11).
I ran up the hill and had to slow down again shortly after conquering it. At that point, the 11:04 pacer passed me and I tried to keep up with them. During that time, I passed a family cheering on the side of the road. The little boy in the family, who was probably five years old, was wearing a skeleton costume. He was waving to runners and cheering, so I turned and waved back. Then he yelled, “You can do it! Put the power to it!” He was my favorite cheerleader on the course!
The last three miles were brutal. I spent the entire distance alternating between running and walking. I just couldn’t seem to fully catch my breath, even though the running portions were slooow, and my right hip flexor was a little tight. I tried to ignore both my lungs and hip, but they wouldn’t let me.
At mile 9.5, which was right around where the 10 mile course splits from the half marathon course, there was an inflatable tunnel with music cranked up. Runners around me started saying that was the finish for the 10 mile. Since everyone else around me was picking up their pace, I figured I should to. As we started getting closer to the tunnel, I could tell there was no timing clock, so I slowed back down. Good thing, because it was NOT the finish line. What a terrible thing to do to runners, if you ask me.
Once I could see the actual finish line, recognizable by the clock, medical station and heat blankets, I kicked it up and ran hard into the finish. I honestly didn’t think I had anything left to give to get there, but we often surprise ourselves. I was just glad to be done, but started mentally beating myself up for walking during the race. Thankfully, it only took a few seconds for my reasonable voice to jump in and remind me that I just ran (almost) 10 miles! Something I didn’t think I’ve ever WANT to do, let alone actually do.
I collected my finisher’s medal, a food bag and a cup of water. While waiting in line for the shuttle that took 10 milers to the half marathon finish and after-party, I chowed down the bag of chips and salted nut roll. My thoughts went from “I’m never doing that again!” to “I’m pretty confident I can finish the half marathon” to “I never want to do a full marathon.”
As of right now, I’m still sticking to the “never wanting to do a full marathon” thought. Running 10 miles was hard enough and 13.1 will be even harder. I think running a full marathon would be complete torture.
After a short shuttle ride to the after-party area, I met up with my fan club (Nate and his son) and we walked to where they had parked. Originally, I planned on meeting some friends who ran the half marathon for the free Finigan’s beer, but ended up deciding I just wanted to get home before my body gave out on me. My legs were tired and I was starving.
Overall, I thought it was a good race, but since the event grew more than expected from last year to this year, there were a few items that could have needed additional attention.
- The lines for the porta potties were really slow, which meant they probably needed more porta potties.
- The bands along the course were playing slow tempo music, which doesn’t help most people run better.
- The first few water stations were backed up and hard to get at. For this reason, I didn’t stop until over half way through. Also, there weren’t as many water stations as they said there would be and the first one wasn’t until after the 5k mark.
- Food was limited to bags of chips, bananas and salted nut rolls. I think bagels would have been a smart option.
- The costume judging line went very quickly.
- Packet pick-up the night before was very efficient and quick; though parking was $5 at the pick-up location.
- Gear exchange was efficient and the volunteers friendly.
- There were porta-potties along the course; I did not need to use them, but it was nice that the option was there.
- The swag couldn’t get much better!
- Results were posted online quickly.
- The shuttles from the 10 mile finish to the half marathon finish were fairly quick and efficient.
Even with the things that could have used improvement, I would plan on doing this race again next year. Though, I think I would either plan to run with a friend or bring my iPod. I didn’t run with music this year, thinking the music from the bands along the course would be better.
My official finishing time was 1:48:09 for a 10:49 pace. I’m pretty happy with that, especially considering how slow and hard the last three miles were. Apparently, I made up for it in the first 6.5 miles.
Next race: Gobble Gait 8k on Thanksgiving morning.