Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Midnight Madness 10K race recap

Everybody loves a fun race on a hot summer night, am I right?

Or maybe that's just me. 

The Midnight Madness 10K was the place to be, this past Saturday evening, if you were itching for some summer heat and humidity. The thing is, I've done this rodeo before and knew what I was getting myself into by toeing the start line.

And I did it anyways....

Now in its 51st year, Midnight Madness features two races: a 5K (which started at 6:00 PM) and a 10K (an hour later, at 7:00PM). Both the 5K and 10K utilize the same route, but the 10K runners just run two loops of it. These races take part in the city of Ames, about a 70-minute drive from my hometown of Grinnell.

My experience with the Midnight Madness festivities began in 2016 (recap), and it didn't go well. Let's just say this particular event, in that particular year, holds my one and only DNF to date. I returned in 2018 (recap) and redeemed myself with a third place AG in the 10K. The momentum continued in 2019 (recap), where I set two new course PR's (for the 5K and 10K) and brought home AG hardware for both. Last year (2021), I scored a third place AG in the 5K (recap).

Do you see a pattern here? Lots of bronze, LOL

Last year, due to severe weather, the 10K and 5K were merged together (last-minute) in an effort to let the storms pass...and were further delayed to an 8:30 start time. This year, the two events were bumped up to 6:00 and 7:00 start times (instead of the 7:00 and 8:00 times of previous years). There weren't any storms or even a hint of rain; instead we had full sunshine, muggy temps (81F, with an 84F feels-like) and barely a slight breeze.

Barb and I arrived on the scene around 5:15, with plenty of time to grab our packets and regroup. Originally, we'd both planned on running the 10K, but Barb decided to switch to the 5K (she was also doing a duathlon the next morning and didn't want to burn-out her legs). 

Way to go, Barb! 1st place in her age group!

So, while Barb ran the 5K, I took advantage of some downtime to warm-up and do some dynamic stretching. I drank a little more water and took advantage of the indoor restrooms (you know, "just one more time").

On a whim, I'd brought along one of the water bottles from my hydration vest (because of their ergonomic design, they are easy-peasy to carry). I debated on actually taking it on the race course with me, but was (ultimately) glad I had it with me. The temps were feeling much warmer at 7:00 than they'd felt all day, and having the bottle-in-hand would definitely come in handy.

We lined up, heard the siren, and off we went! The crowd of 10K runners didn't seem very large in comparison to the 5K runners. I suspect a lot of 10K peeps had switched to the 5K due to the heat (or maybe some had simply DNS'd).

Right outta the gate, we had a gentle downhill stretch, on north-bound University Boulevard. This brief segment of the race course was one of only a few that involved actual city streets, and they weren't even "through streets," so there wasn't any traffic to worry about. A short ways beyond the start line, the route turned right, taking us onto a path that wound through what looked like a mini sculpture garden.

While I wouldn't consider this segment of the route to be hilly, it definitely had some interesting curves and nonstop "gentle" inclines/declines. It was quite scenic, though, with a few small ponds, random garden sculptures and a cool walking bridge. 

I passed the mile-1 marker feeling good. I heard my Garmin beep, and noticed it showed 8:13 for the first mile. OOPS, I did it again. The heat didn't feel too oppressive (yet, LOL), and the bothersome hip and hammy were both non-issues. Apparently, subconsciously, that gave my legs free reign to run as they pleased (and not necessarily how they should). 

(pic courtesy of Barb)

Next, the route took us up a somewhat short hill before winding around some buildings, and partially through a parking lot. The stretch, running parallel to Airport Road, was a bit boring but it was flat (though also in full sun). Although I love the heat, and (more often than not) usually curse the wind, a little bit of a breeze would have been much appreciated. I was very grateful to have my water bottle keeping me company.

Right before the 2-mile mark was the one (and only) water stand. I was a bit surprised there hadn't been one earlier. Since I had my own water with me, I just cruised on through.

Shortly after the 2-mile mark, the race course turned south, and all I could see was a very long stretch of straightness, on a very long incline. I had slowed my pace substantially (the second mile showed a 9:00 split), but this hill in the final mile of the 5K was pretty defeating (mentally and physically). I hadn't yet felt like walking, but the temptation was hitting me hard.

It was somewhere near the halfway point of this first 5K loop that I caught up with another gal. We'd been playing a fun game of Leap Frog with each other, so I decided to try to stay with her as we battled our way up that hill en route to the halfway point of the race. We made it to the next turn...only to see the incline was still "inclining."

About halfway on this second portion of the never-ending incline, I decided to pullover and walk. I mean, a quick reprieve would recharge the mojo and I could sail through the remainder of this first 5K loop. The terrain leveled-off, and all felt much better as I passed by (but not through, LOL) the finish line arch.

As I was enjoying the brief downhill (a repeat of that first mile), I caught up with my Leap Frog Gal again. I don't know if she was holding back, or if my legs were coming back to life, but I passed her. Before long, she passed me (again), I caught up with her (again), and we ran side-by-side (again) for awhile.

No sense sugar-coating it, the second half of the race really got tough for me. I was sucking down more water, and taking more walk breaks. I did notice my Garmin kept showing 9:15-9:20 paces whenever I was running. I thought that was a bit odd because it felt like I was moving much slower and barely shuffling along.

When I approached the water station (now at the 5-mile mark), there were two young girls waiting with water cups, poised and ready. I had to laugh out loud when one of them asked me if I wanted them to splash water on my...I thanked them, but asked if they could refill my water bottle instead (and they graciously complied).

The final mile was every bit as challenging as the third mile had been (remember that hill?). My Leap Frog Gal was inching further and further away from me, and I let her go. There was no point in overdoing anything under these hot conditions. My legs really didn't feel tired, but my energy was zapped (if that makes sense). I kept doing intermittent walk breaks (I couldn't really call them intervals because there wasn't any consistency to them). 

Finally I made it up the second part of that final hill, rounded the final two turns and bolted (somewhat, LOL) to the finish line. The wave of relief that washed over me was euphoric...was that Runners' High? In my weird state of finish line fatigue?

It felt so good to be done, but I was a glistening and glowing mess. I could feel sweat dripping off of my nose and chin, and my clothing was a saturated disaster. My eyes were burning and stinging from all the perspiration running down my face. I found Barb within a minute, grabbed more water (my handheld bottle was empty), and took a seat on the street curb for a few minutes to catch my breath. 

I love how the new tell-all Garmin calls me out on the 7:21 minutes of walking!

My stats showed that I finished 48th (out of 82 overall finishers), I came in 15th (out of 35 females), and barely snagged a 1st place AG (out of the three gals in my age division). BTW, the second place gal finished only five seconds behind me.

My first 1st-place AG from Midnight Madness (to go with all the bronze ones)

My splits: 8:13 / 9:00 / 10:06 / 9:46 / 10:18 / 10:42 / 2:32 (for the last .27). Yeah, those were all over the place!

the post-race food and drink were awesome!
A few random thoughts:
**Although I may appear to be whining about my "tough" evening of running a hilly race in the extreme heat of summer...this is something I do enjoy doing (#TotalTruth #PinkySwear) . I think I am pretty well-acclimated to the heat, but it still catches me off guard on occasion. 
**That l-o-n-g hill, in the final mile of the 5K and 10K was a beast! It wasn't especially steep, but it felt never-ending, especially under such extreme weather conditions. 
**The route really had me confused with all the twists and turns (and inclines/declines). It turns out, this was almost the exact same route as last year, but run in reverse...but I didn't recognize it at all, LOL. I just wish we could have had that big hill at the start of the race (and run it in the opposite direction).
**I was pleasantly surprised my hip/hammy issues were MIA. I'd done some barre/core work in the morning, taken a 2-mile walk and had gone on a 16-mile bike ride (late morning) as well...maybe that was a good strategy?
**I really have a tough time running "slower" than what feels natural (same thing with running "faster," as well, if I'm being completely honest). Instead of slowing my pace, it seems to work better for me to just run based on feel and take intermittent walk breaks. 

How about the swag? The shirts are cotton, but I love the color and the fun graphics. The bonus swag was nice as well: insulated mini-coolers, cooling towels, a frisbee, lip balm, and sunglasses.


Midnight Madness is unique in that it's also part of the Summer Iowa Games (a statewide series of sporting events...comparable to the Olympics, but on a much, much smaller scale). All Iowa residents who place in their events, at Midnight Madness, also get a corresponding Iowa Games medal as well. Hence, I brought home two medals (but both were earned at the same event).


So, there you go! Another fun event in the books, and another finish line to celebrate.

How do you feel about races in the summer heat (and humidity)? Ever done an evening race? Your thoughts on walking breaks... random or specific pre-determined intervals?

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

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  1. Congratulations on your age group win, Kim!!
    Looks like we were doing the same thing last Saturday evening, haha!
    I also had to take walking breaks going uphill in my race, it really helped to catch my breath and recover a bit.
    You got a great swag! And I bet your entry fee cost less than mine, too! (Mine was USD 35)

    1. Yes, it's fun that we were virtually doing very similar things ;-) I think the registration was $35 USD for this, but I had a discount code...so yes, I did pay less than you, LOL

  2. What a fun race! i haven't done an evening race in a long time. I know exactly what you mean about the fatigue- it's never my legs that feel it, but just an overall energy-zap. But, you did great! An AG win always feels amazing. All our races will be hot and muggy here until November, and I have one piece of advice- ice in the sports bra. It REALLY cools you down!

    1. I'm just not sure where I could have found any ice for my sports bra on the race site, LOL

  3. Congrats on your AG award.

    I would have run this race too.

    And yes, I have run night races... the fuelig is tricky and of course in the summer, the heat!

    1. The fueling is very tricky, so I brought along a couple of rice cakes with peanut butter to eat while Barb was racing. I'm glad I had my water bottle with me; typically, I'd leave that behind for a 10K.

  4. Those evening races can be tricky. I remember when I did the RnR Vegas 5K I couldn't figure out how to fuel for it since it was an evening race, lol. Congrats on another awesome race and your AG award!

    1. Thanks, #KimTwin! Fueling is a tough call, but hydration was paramount for this one. An extra water stand would have been a good move (for all the peeps who didn't have any hydration with them).

  5. Congrats on a strong race in spite of the heat and double bling! I don't do well with the heat and humidity, but there are just too many fun summer races so of course I'm in. I just try to stick to the shorter distances. I've done a few afternoon 5ks but I think that the only night race was the one miler a few weeks ago.

    1. The shorter races are tough, too! When barb said she was switching tot he 5K, I was tempted to follow suit...but only for a few seconds. I knew I'd want to run that shorter distance much faster and harder (just to get done much quicker), and that would have been yet another challenge to deal with, LOL.

  6. I have not done a night race in years. with our crazy humidity we often get storms at night too so hard to plan for. Way to go on a great effort and your AG win! Congrats

    1. Honestly, it had been a beautiful day up until late afternoon. The humidity had crept up and the wind all but disappeared.I was really surprised how hot it had gotten!

  7. Yes, i've run a few night races -- but not normally in the Summer, although I have run at night in Summer - truth be told, it's just not my thing. Great job, Kim, even with paces all over the place. And nice swag!

    I definitely prefer predetermined walk breaks -- although I've certainly been known to throw in a few extras, too!

    1. Walk breaks aren't not uncommon for me, but there were a lot more than usual during this race. I tried to slow my pace, and I did slow it some, but it just feels so awkward and really seems to take more effort than just running by feel. I blame my long legs...

  8. For a minute I thought the race actually began at midnight! :-) Great job on the AG win in that weather. I'd rather not race in hot and humid weather but will if it is a race a really, really want to do. Evening/night races are confusing when it comes to eating. I've run the RnR Las Vegas and one Ragnar. Too funny about the watch telling you how long you walked. Nothing wrong with it. A lot of my runs are run/walk and I am liking them.

    1. I have no shame in walking, but didn't realize how MUCH I actually had walked. Oh well, that was my reality ;-)

  9. I'm kind of glad this race wasn't actually at midnight! Although maybe it would have been cooler. Congrats on a strong race! It sounds like a tough course with those hills, and racing in the heat is never easy.

    1. The rolling hills weren't a big deal, but that hill in the 3rd and 6th miles was just mean. With cooler weather conditions, it would have been more bearable...but that wasn't what Momma N gave us for the race, LOL

  10. Congrats on the AG win, in spite of your difficulties. 10ks are hard to race--and I'm not ashamed to admit that my summer 10ks are probably done.

    1. I do like the 10K distance, but it is tough to master the pacing. Throw in the crazy heat and humidity and it quickly became a crap shoot.

  11. I love the concept of the Iowa Games and how cool to have gotten an IG medal, too, at your Midnight Madness 10K. Congrats on a job well done!

    I've run one afternoon race and one evening race (outside of Ragnar overnight legs).

    1. Thank you, Deb! This is always a hot and humid event, but that's truly part of its charm ;-) The Iowa Games venue adds a fun level of "instate" competition and recognition to it as well.