Monday, July 15, 2019

Midnight Madness 2019 15K Recap


Here we go again!

I first took part in the Midnight Madness Races in 2016. I was registered for the 15K (which is the combo of the 5K and the 10K, run back-to-back on the same evening). Long story short, it didn't go well; the 5K resulted in a personal worst (thanks to a major struggle bus adventure) and I pulled out of the 10K after the first mile (my one and only DNF to date). I had some wonky hip flexor thing going on and I should not have even started the first race.

I returned in 2018, hungry for redemption. I ran the 5K much better (5th place AG), and also was able to snag a 3rd place AG in the 10K. Redemption was all mine.

This past weekend, I returned to defend my 10K AG honors, here's what happened...

Now in its 48th year, the Midnight Madness Races are affiliated with the Iowa Games (a series of various seasonal athletic competitions that take place throughout the state). This was a commemorative year, since their longtime race director was retiring.

As one can guess, these races all take place in the evening. With a 7:30 p.m. start time (for the 5K), and a 70-minute drive to get there, we pulled out around 5:15. We arrived in Ames around 6:30, which gave us ample time to get our race packets, stretch and use the porta-potties.

When I say "we," I'm referring to the hubby, my running buddy/friend Barb and myself. Barb has run this numerous times (5-6 times). This was my third time, and it was the hubby's first time running it (he was our main cheerleader last year, but was running the 5K this year).

The start line is right by the Ames Police Station, so every year I make it a point to get a pic with Cy. CY is the mascot of the Iowa State Cyclones...the biggest rival of the University of Iowa (my alma mater). No hard feelings.

Let's just say it was a typical warm July evening. Actually, it was quite hot and very humid, and we all knew it would be when we registered. Driving over, though, we had almost complete cloud cover. It still was cloudy when we arrived...but as we were gathering to line up, out came the sun. I'd elected to leave my sunglasses in the car, since there wouldn't be time to drop them off after the 5K (and they were too bulky to put in my fuel belt). Oh well....

There wasn't an official start line (or mat to cross), so we knew to inch towards the front (to avoid as many strollers and parents with kids as possible). The gun fired, and we took off running.

We had a straightaway for the first few blocks, then turned left and headed towards a residential neighborhood. We did a counter-clockwise loop, over the course of several blocks, and returned to the vicinity of where we'd began.

The route continued on, eventually turning right and taking us towards another residential area. By the time I'd reached the second water stand, near the 2-mile mark, I was pretty much saturated. I grabbed a cup of water and walked for a few seconds as I drank about half of it and dumped the remainder on my hands and splashed it over my face and shoulders.

The third mile looped us back towards the finish line (which was just a short ways from where the start line had been). There's a small hill, another right turn, another slight hill over a bridge, and then the finish line is about three blocks ahead. Do you know how long three city blocks seem at the end of a hot 5K route?

I had been careful to run strong, but not too hard. The temps were warm (especially with the sun), and that kind of heat is a recipe for disaster if you do not respect it. That said, I did have a little bit of mojo on reserve (I'd been trying to conserve it so I'd have something left for the next race)...and I made it to the finish line with a decent time showing on my Garmin.
Stats: 3rd AG out of 23; 61st female out of 369; 313rd overall out of 866
Although it was a couple minutes shy of a true PR, it was good enough for a course PR (by 1:26). Given the heat and humidity, I was completely good with that. My official time was 27:00, but my Garmin showed 26:57 (splits were all over the map-8:20/8:46/8:37).
re-hydrating between races
Barb and I finished within seconds of each other. Both of us looked and felt like we'd been submerged in a vat of perspiration. We grabbed some water (and popsicles) and took a seat on the curb and waited for the hubby. He came through a few minutes later.
It was hot when we finished the 5K!
With the 10K starting at 8:30, we didn't have a lot of downtime between races. We grabbed more water and hit the porta potties another time. They'd already posted the race results, and Barb placed 5th in her age division, and I got third. I'm not an especially strong 5K runner, so any time I place, it's usually a surprise.

We made our way back to the start line to get ready for the 10K. The 10K race attracts a pretty competitive field, with hefty payouts to the top male and female finishers ($600/$450/$350/$250/$200/$150/$100). Most of them are there for the 10K only, so their legs aren't fatigued (nor their bodies sweaty) from the first race.

The gun sounded, and we were off...again!

A particularly unique feature of doing the 10K race, is that you run the 5K course twice. So, those of us doing both races, get to run the same 5K route three times all in the same evening. The route does look and feel different each time, though, due to the diminishing daylight.

Anyways, Barb and I ran the first mile or so together and tried to humor each other. She can usually push on, but I prefer to walk briefly through the water stations. With it being so hot, I didn't want to take any chances, so I grabbed water at each opportunity.

She gained about a city block's distance on me as I paused for a few seconds as I drank and walked through the 1-mile water station. I continued on, and gradually caught up with her...just in time to pause (again) at the 2-mile water station. I could have probably sprinted and caught back up with her immediately after my water breaks, but there really was no reason to.

As we made our way over the final bridge and hill, back towards the downtown area, I caught a glimpse of the hubby. He'd been hanging out at the after-party, but came out of the fenced area to give us a cheer of encouragement.

Although it was great to know the 10K was half over at that point, it was a little off-setting remembering I still had to do the route one more time. Barb was still in sight, about a block ahead of me. It was nearing 9:00. We still had daylight, but the street lights were coming on and it was getting darker through some parts of the route.

I remembered this final lap of the race course being the most challenging last year. The route itself wasn't tough; it wasn't flat, but the rolling hills were very gentle. There were just enough hills to make the route interesting without making it difficult. I wasn't feeling fatigued, but I definitely was tired of being so sweaty. The headband felt hot on my head and my earbuds were feeling stuffy. The perspiration was burning my eyes but I had nothing on me dry enough to wipe them.

Thankfully, since most of the race course wound through residential neighborhoods, there was pretty good crowd support. Several people had sprinklers set out, positioned in the street. There were numerous little kids, eagerly attempting to high-5 as many runners as possible. All kinds of good karma to keep the runners motivated and entertained.

I found some remaining mojo in the final mile. Although my pace felt a slight surge, I also relented and took a couple of short (15-second?) walk breaks. Honestly, I had run a decent race, but I was ready to be done and didn't care if I lost a few random seconds on my finish time by walking.

I caught back up with Barb in the final stretch to the finish line, finishing only a few seconds behind her. To my surprise, I had a volunteer grab me, and hand me a coffee hug, and then congratulated me for being in the top 50 (of women). Wow...I had forgotten about that little detail.

I hadn't glanced at my Garmin during the last two miles because it was too dark to read the screen (and I didn't feel like messing with the light-up feature on the screen). I knew I had run the 10K stronger than last year...turns out I'd beaten my 2018 time by over two minutes (2:08, to be exact)! My splits were pretty consistent (8:54/9:03/9:03/9:01/9:15/9:14...and 2.29 for the final stretch). I was totally good with that, too.
Stats : 3rd AG out of 6; 45th female out of 92; 157th overall out of 253
Barb was right there, and we immediately high-5'd. It was a huge victory for her, too. She's been rallying back from knee surgery (since February), and this was her best post-surgery race thus far. We sat down and drank all kinds of water for a few minutes. Both of us were completely dripping wet from the excessive heat, it was almost embarrassing (but so was everyone else).
Image may contain: 1 person, closeup and indoor

We soon learned both of us had placed 3rd in each of our age divisions. In years past, they gave out Iowa Games medals for the AG winners and placers. Since this was a commemorative year, though, they also awarded Midnight Madness medals to the AG winners/placers. Thus, we brought home double medals for each of our victories.
No photo description available.
2 of the 4-medal haul I took  home
I've only done this event three times (and one time served me my first DNF, don't forget), but it's already a favorite. Even though it happens in the heat of summer, and is run in the evening, it's a lot of fun. Then there's the aspect of repeating the same 5K route two additional times (if you elect to do the 15K). Personally, I like the challenge of the heat and evening hours because there's no pressure to PR (self-inflicted or otherwise).

The race shirts are a tech/blend. They're unisex sizing, which I'm not a fan of, but I like the color and the graphics. The coffee mugs, as mentioned, were a bonus item for the first 50 males and first 50 females to finish the 10K. And, of course the medals. I like the commemorative Midnight Madness hardware, but getting two medals for each AG placement was a bit much (says the gal who loves her racing hardware LOL). While I don't expect a finisher medal for a 10K (and I detest them for a 5K), I think they would have been a nice touch since the medals are honoring the retiring race director...that way the AG placing medals wouldn't be so redundant (just my thoughts). None the less, both medals have great designs and are very unique.

Although we didn't stick around for much of it, the post race party is a nice affair as well. They always feature a live band and there's ample food and drinks.

So, that's a wrap on the Midnight Madness Races for 2019. A very hot and oh-so-humid endeavor, but fun. Have you ever done an evening race? How do you feel about finisher medals...yay or nay for "shorter events," like a 5K or 10K? Ever run back-to-back races in the same evening (or morning)?  

I'm linking this with Kim and Zenaida for the Tuesday Topics Link-Up

**I'm also linking this with Debbie and Marc  for the Running Coaches' Corner

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28 comments:

  1. Great job on your races! And in that weather. I think the 5K would have been more than enough for me. I've done 2 evening races - RnR Las Vegas and a GloRun in Chicago. Both fun and different. Now I remember doing a Disco Dash one too.

    I have so many medals that I don't care for another one. Well, maybe my 4th of July race since I don't have one for that distance. Then again maybe not cause they'll probably raise the price. Right now I pay $25 for the race.

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    1. It's no secret I like my hardware, but I just thought it odd that some of us went away with double medals, while a lot of others got nothing for their efforts.

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  2. I have done evening races. I like them but they are tricky to fuel for.

    Medals are ok but not necessary. I wish the shirt were only an option not given.

    You did super. You’re back and better than before. Keep it going.

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    1. Agreed, the fueling is tricky. When it's hot, I don't have much of an appetite, so that just throws another kink into the mix.

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  3. You were totally in beastmode this weekend! Great job on both races.

    I've only done one evening race (RnR Las Vegas 5K) and I really hated it. The course was horrible and it wasn't well lit at all.

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    1. I think this race is so fun (despite the heat and the course repetition) is because the crowd support is awesome. It's not non-stop people lining the streets, but there are a lot of residents hanging out watching us crazy runners as we sweat it out.

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  4. Wow, that’s amazing. I can’t imagine doing two races at night in the summer heat! I would definitely have to get my head in the game for three loops of the same course. Sounds like you played that well!! Congrats!!

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    1. The three loops aspect is more mentally challenging than physically, no doubt. When Barb and I were sitting, waiting for my husband to finish the 5K, she says to me..."Do we really have to do this again, two more times?" I laughed, and said, "of course, and we're gonna love (almost) every minute of it!"

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  5. You did awesome! A 1:26 minute course PR -- at night, in heat -- is amazing.

    The only night races I do tend to be when it's cold (which means they're also dark). I prefer it that way. :)

    Not really a fan of medals for shorter distances, but I'm not super bling motivated anyway (not that I don't appreciate a nice medal!).

    Great job, Kim.

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    1. Oh, I like my bling, but I am not a fan of a finisher medal for a 5K. I realize a 5K is a big deal for a new runner. Back when I was a new runner, though, we didn't get finisher medals for a 5K...we had to run much farther LOL

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  6. A very good job, congrats. Podium and beautiful items.
    It's not easy to race in such weather condition and in the evening, but you did it!
    Brava.

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    1. I don't love racing in the extreme heat, but I don't mind it as much as a lot of people do. It is what it is...it's July, and it's hot in the Midwest. That's what we got, so I just deal with it and make the best of it ;-)

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  7. wow way to crush it double time! Those back to back races are tough especially in the heat. Summer running does agree with you!

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    1. Thanks, Deborah ;-) As I said in a previous reply, the mental challenge of running the same route three times is tougher than what the heat dealt me. That said, it feels great to just do it and come out victorious ;-)

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  8. NIce work! I don't know that i could have done 2 night races back to back like that! You do love summer running.

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    1. No doubt, it's a tough challenge, physically and mentally. It's really fun running with (what feels like) five pounds of saturated clothing, too ;-)

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  9. You are rocking your runs!!! Wya to go on the 3rd place AG. and oh wouldn't it have been nice to get one of the big payouts!

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    1. HA ha! Well, I know I'll never be in contention for one of those big payouts LOL Still a fun time running in the heat and whittling away at my course PR ;-)

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  10. And you just continue to rock on! Great job! I've done a couple of night races and admit that I struggle with how to fuel for them and how to manage the day leading up to the start.

    They definitely dished out a lot of hardware for this race, didn't they?! I'm always surprised when there are finisher medals for a 5K.

    Congrats again on your AG!

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    1. You are so right...fueling for an evening race is a very different ball game than a morning race. I had eaten a snack before we left to drive to the race (so, more than two hours prior to the start line). I didn't feel hungry when we started, but I gradually did as the second race wore on.

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  11. Wow! Awesome race! Congrats in placing in the 5K and the 10K. I never did back-to-back races like that. Maybe it's something I should look into, but I can't think of any near me right off the top of my head. I think it would be tough to get started again after you sit and have a popsicle.

    I don't need a medal for shorter races. I would rather the race would use the money they save on medals to upgrade the post race food, but that's just me!

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    1. I appreciate a medal for a short race, but really don't "need" one (unless it's for an AG place LOL). I agree...I'd rather have a better spread of food, too.

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  12. So fun that your hubby came along to run! I'm not crazy about evening races. My body doesn't seem to want to move! Though I love running in the dark when I do a Ragnar so maybe I need to revisit this. :-)

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    1. I have not done much evening running this past year. I used to go for short runs (2-3 miles) just as the sun was setting...but it's been a few years since I've done that routinely. It's a nice change of scenery, and a fun twist to my training ;-)

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  13. Sounds like a fun race but oh, that heat!

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  14. Awesome race! And heck yeah on the double medals. :) My husband went to ISU and he is hardcore alumni fan. Me? I don't get it... lol

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  15. Awesome job! If it's as hot as it is here as it is by you, the time should be thrown out the window. You're fit now and will only keep getting fitter as the summer goes on.

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