Last week I splurged on a little midweek treat… a 5K at French Regional Park! The race is one of four in Rocksteady Running’s Endless Summer Trail Run Series (ESTRS). What’s more fun than barreling up and down dirt trails with 384 other runners on a hot Wednesday night?
Short recap: The race was a blast! Great course filled with wide dirt and grassy trails, one steep hill, one gradual hill to the finish, nearly all you can eat pizza, and an assortment of beverages.
After a short walk home from work and scurrying around grabbing my racing gear (outfit, shoes, water bottle, contacts), I headed down to Plymouth, MN. I arrived at French Regional Park with plenty of time to use the park restroom (sooo much better than a porta potty, obviously), trek up a hill to the start/finish area (pre-race warm-up!), and grab my race bib.
Although the race doesn’t offer typical swag i.e. a shirt, they do dole out ‘surprise’ items. The bar has been set rather high after they handed each a registered runner a copy of Kate Havelin’s Minnesota Running Trails: Dirt, Gravel, Rocks & Roots.
Around 6:30 p.m. the race director, atop his signature ladder, counted down to the start and yelled “go”! The first 100 meters were jam-packed, but not long thereafter the crowd thinned out. The course was beautiful! I likely say that about every trail race… still somewhat new to trail running, I appreciate every chance to leave the concrete and into the woods, whether for training or a race.
The awesome thing (one of many) about Rocksteady Running races are the well-marked courses and enthusiastic volunteers. I pushed myself to an uncomfortable pace—aka my go-to racing style—and finished with a hard push up the final, long and gradual hill.
After a brief breath-catching walk to cool down, I enjoyed a few cups of lemonade and a seemingly endless supply of Dominos Pizza (gourmet? nope! perfect fast-food style post-race? yep!). Pizza indulgence-aside, this race was a good preview of the work I’ll need to do in anticipation of my high school alumni cross country race in August.
Upcoming races: Another ESTRS race of course! The next one is a 7 mile trail race on Wednesday, July 13 at Lebanon Hills Regional Park in Eagan, MN. A few days after that I’ll be in New Hampshire running in the dark, again, at the Midnight Owl 15K!