My Minnesota Morning Micro-Marathon

Posted on June 17, 2011


This morning, I decided to wake up and go for a morning run.  I’ve been averaging anywhere between 3 – 4 miles on my runs, and so I was looking for something that would be about that, but with some nice scenery.

Since, I’m not familiar with the area, I asked Kokkiree’s sister if there was somewhere I could go to take a jog and she told me that a lot of people go run Lake Harriet.  I looked it up on the map and figured that I could probably make that run if I wanted a bit of a morning challenge.

Challenge accepted.

My last run was June 9th for a 4.25 miler with the dog.  That run started at 9:09 pace and came down to 7:20 mile pace at the 4 mile mark.

The day before that run, I ran 3.98 miles at about the same starting and finishing pace.

But, considering it had been a week since that last run, I wasn’t sure at what pace I should start.

I decided that the first mile should be slow.

I follow the “Kenyan shuffle” morning routine, where the elite runners start off their runs at a painfully slow pace.  My painfully slow pace is generally about 10:00 min/mile.  When I am on the track, I can maintain that pace for almost 2 laps before I have to pick up the pace for fear of dying from slowness.

However, when I’m running through neighborhoods and trails, I “feel the run” by listening to my internal clock and body signals.  This allows you to monitor your feeling rather than monitoring your watch.

Certainly I use the Garmin GPS for feedback after the run, but I don’t check it during the run because that violates the above stated principle.

So, this morning began slow.  Or so I thought.

Look left.  Look right.

Check the clouds in the sky.

No smell of rain in the future.

Note complete greening of trees and grass.

Note falling white dandruff of the cottonwood tree.

Set watch.  Run.

Footbridge over the rushing creek.

Cemetery on left.  Houses on right.

Oh.  Hello, uphill section.

I clocked through the first mile at 8:48 despite having three uphill sections, and one vertical section of steps that registers a 50 foot elevation change, but only 30 feet of horiztonal change that I semi-jogged.

I very much dislike hills.  They make you lean in and push hard.  If you merely shuffle your feet, you’re liable to scuff your feet against the ground.

Most of the first two miles were through neighborhood streets with beautiful homes and lush green gardens and lawns.

I passed a few people walking dogs and children.  I passed a few people gardening.  I passed a guy riding a bike.

Not what you think.  He was riding in the opposite direction.

Then, I came to the steep downhill section that lead straight to the lake.

(Remember, if you’re running a circle route, you’re going to have to go back up that hill.)

As you go down the hill to the lake, you can see glimpses of downtown Minneapolis over the treeline.

Once I made it to the pedestrian path (the lake has two paths: one for pedestrians/runners and one for bikers), I must have picked up speed because the 2nd mile beeped and I was at 8:01 pace.  I stopped to admire the view and stretch the legs.

After a quick stretching break, I began the long way around the lake.  Without any markers to go by, and only with the pace of people to chase down, the feet picked up just a bit quicker.

In the middle of the third mile I was surrounded by a group of young runners.  Some of the boys were wearing a school shirt, and so I figured they were a cross country team from that school.  I decided to push it a little bit and trail them.  The group of about a dozen boys kept pace at about 6:30 for the middle of my 3rd mile which brought me through at 7:40.

It turns out, the boys were from a local school that claims the record for most state championships of any school in the state, and also a training philosophy of logging up to 1000 summer miles.

I quickly fell off their pace (that would be my best 5K race pace), and returned to a fairly routine 7:48 through the 4th mile.

At this point, I was passing the famous Lake Harriet Bandshell.

There were so many people on the path that I had to continually weave around people with jogging strollers and people with dogs.  Dodging obstacles actually makes you a bit slower, and significantly more tired because you’re losing focus on the run.

I began to feel my legs getting heavy and I could tell my pace was slowing.  As I finished the full lake loop and came back to the street, I remembered that the steep downhill section had now become a steep uphill section.

My pace dropped from 7:43 to 10:15 in the space of one stride.

Yet, I ran to the top of the hill, turned right, and kept running until I passed through the 5th mile at 8:02 pace.

With only one mile left, I began my “warm down” phase and started deliberately moving slower.

My body thanked me.

I began a real earnest slow down and began to suddenly feel my legs and lungs burn.  I came up the hill to where I started and heard the mile marker beep on my Garmin.

There it was.  Six miles.  48:57.  8:12 average pace.  801 calories burned.

Challenge met.

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Posted in: Running