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!|
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.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).