Monday, July 9, 2012

Volksläufe 5K Race Report

On July 4th, I ran the Volksläufe 5K in Frankenmuth, MI.  Frankenmuth is called "Michigan's Little Bavaria".  It's a "fake" German Town in the Thumb area of Michigan.  I put "fake" in quotes, because although the buildings are a bit hokey, the area was settled by people of Germanic descent.  Most of the local residents are named Beirlien or Zehnder or Rummel.  We end up visiting Frankenmuth regularly because my husband's mother lives a few towns over.  My husband's mother lives near here:

Race Strategy Part 1:  Fast people stay home.
There are three races at the Volksläufe: a 5K, 10K, and a 20K.  While initially, I thought I would probably run the 20K, a quick perusal of past results and the finishers prizes prompted me to enter the 5K.  Apparently, the fast runners entered the longer races, leaving a relatively weak field in the 5K.  I'm a "medium" paced runner, but that  just might be fast enough to get on the podium.  The prize was a sweet beer stein! 

Race Strategy Part 2:  Complete a few track workouts.
I'd have to run fast, which I hate, and I almost never do.  In fact, until a few weeks before the Volksläufe, I'd DNF'ed all of my track workouts.  Mind you, I hit my times with no problem.  Mentally, I couldn't handle it.  I managed to complete 2 track workouts leading up to the race:  an 8X200 and a 6X400.  Believe me, this was a major accomplishment, and I wanted a medal.

Race Strategy Part 3: Tell everyone I know about the Beer Stein.
I told everyone, everyone, that I wanted that stein.  This was to make sure that on race day, I remembered that I needed to run fast,  or I would have to admit defeat.

Race Strategy Part 4:  Keeping Cool.
It was going to be 90 degrees during the race.  So I dressed like this:

I never run in a jog bra with no shirt, but what the heck!  I was out of town, why NOT make a fool of myself?  The, um, soft focus is doing me some favors here.  I looked at the professional race photos from the event, and ugh!  I didn't even know I had stretch marks till I saw the photos.  Yikes.  So not buying those.  I blame the cute one in the orange shirt.

I also made a bunch of ice, and while lining up for the race, I stuffed the back of my skirt, my bra, and my hat with ice cubes.

Race Strategy Part 5:  RUN!
There were about a thousand people in the race, including my husband and my daughter.  After loading myself up with ice and depositing the wee one near the 10 minute milers, my husband and I moved to the front of the pack.  I was wearing my Invisible Shoes because I thought they would protect me from the hot pavement, and perhaps I would run faster in them.  Here's a pic of my feet from a couple of years ago in my huaraches:

I started off at a 7:40 pace, and my husband rocketed in front of me during the first 100 yards.  The first mile wound through the parking areas and fields behind the Frankenmuth Bavarian Inn, and then over the covered bridge.  At the one mile mark, there was a volunteer squirting people with a fire hose, and the course was wet.  My feet slipped, slipped, slipped, and then slid right out of the huaraches, which, admittedly, I probably hadn't spent enough effort on tying.  I threw the huaraches onto the side of the road, and continued on barefoot.  I was not too thrilled about this decision, since it was 90 and the last 300 yards of the race were on a rocky, gravel path.

The second mile wound through a residential neighborhood, where many kind Frankenmuthians had their garden hoses out and were spraying runners.  Thanks, folks!

At just before the 2 mile mark, I passed my daughter, who had run only just over a mile.  I cheered her on, but the poor thing was beet red, sweaty, and struggling.  I managed to keep below an 8 minute mile, but barely.

Mile 3 was hard.  Hard.   It was hot.  My legs wouldn't turn over.  Oh, ugh.  I couldn't get my pace below an 8 minute mile anymore, but I just kept reminding myself that a few seconds could make the difference between a beer stein, and not-a-beer-stein.  The gravel road wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, and I heard a few cheers of "Yay, BAREFOOT!"

I crossed the finish line at 25:20, and ran into my husband in the finisher's chute.  We then started backtracking to look for our daughter.  She didn't come through until nearly 1 hour, and she was healthy but moving slowly.  The heat had gotten to her.  Way to tough it out, Audrey!  She perked back up after we got her a popsicle and a cold towel, and fortunately, still wants to run another race. Alas, she was not DFL.

Then we headed to the pavilion to check the results.  My husband took fifth in his age group, and as for me....  Third!  I was getting the stein!  Yay!  Fourth place was only three seconds behind me.  It's a good thing I didn't give up.

The stein also came with a free beer.  My stein was a mini stein, and it only holds six ounces.  So, they gave me my free beer (which was awesome) in a plastic cup.  But I filled my stein with it a couple of times and drank the whole thing out of it.  I had the IPA from the Frankenmuth Brewery.  Bottoms up!  Delicious!

It turns out a half-sized stein is useful when it's in the upper 90s in Michigan.  You know, nobody has air conditioning there.  For the rest of the weekend, I poured half my beer in the stein and kept the other half in the fridge.
Mmmm......  Bell's Two Hearted Ale.  Best beer on the planet.
Before finishing up, I'd like to give some props to the race director.  The Volksläufe is an incredibly well run race, among the best organized I've ever participated in.  If you find yourself near Frankenmuth on the fourth of July, don't miss it!  (Unless, you are female, in your late 30s, and fast - then stay home!)