The title of this blog has two meanings as will become apparent. This morning I ran two 5Ks. I first ran a free 5K sponsored by LifeTime Fitness and the Mayor's Office at Minnehaha Falls (obviously I had to run that, look at the title of my blog!) Then after chatting with some folks at the race, I ran home, jumped in the car and drove up to North Minneapolis for the Victory 5K.
These were two very different races. The first race in South Minneapolis is part of More To Tri, a series of races put on by the mayor to highlight Minneapolis' amenities and fitness. The event is timed to coincide with the Republican Convention, and a push was made to get delegates to attend (it didn't look like there were any there as far as I could tell). About 100 people showed up at the beautiful pre-dawn hour and ran the race. It was a fun, but small event, run entirely on bike trails and sidewalks through Minnehaha Park. And of course Mayor Rybak competed as well.
The Victory Races (10K and 5K) are races sponsored by the Minnesota Distance Running Association (disclaimer: I belong to and coach for this running group) benefiting the Folwell and Webber-Camden neighborhoods. This is a long-standing race (26th year) that draws much of the running community and the neighborhood. The course is flat and fast, and follows Victory Memorial Parkway, which is a gorgeous boulevard lined with tall and historic trees. Each tree along the parkway commemorates a fallen Minnesotan from World War I. It is a gem of a location in North Minneapolis, part of the Grand Rounds bike route, and a living part of Minnesota's history. During and after the race, the neighborhood throws a big block party in Webber Park and serves unlimited hot dogs while the tired racers watch 5-year-olds run around in the toddler race. It is a wonderful party and probably one of the best races I've ever been to.
So 2 races, one in South, one in North. But while these races were separated by only a 10-minute car ride, they felt much further apart. The Folwell and Webber-Camden neighborhoods have been at the center of the foreclosure crisis, and are right at the center of the homicide heat map. This is a neighborhood that is hurting. Yet this is a neighborhood that hasn't lost its fight. While a drive up Lyndale from Broadway revealed easily a dozen boarded up or demolished homes, there were so many bright spots in the neighborhood as well: exquisitely-maintained homes and parks full of children. Clearly this is a neighborhood that is fighting back against crime and the economic crisis that has hit harder in North than anywhere else.
But where does Mayor Rybak choose to showcase Minneapolis to our out-of-town guests? Beautifully manicured South Minneapolis. It's hard to argue that Minnehaha Falls is a bad location for a race. Easily a dozen races a year are held at this location, and, obviously, it's my favorite location in the entire Twin Cities and I feel so blessed to live 2 blocks from it.
But the mayor missed a great chance to showcase a wonderful neighborhood, a place that feels as friendly and welcoming as (and probably more so than) any other part of Minneapolis. The real story today was in North Minneapolis. It's a great story for people of Minneapolis to hear. It's a great story for the RNC delegates to take home to their foreclosed neighborhoods. And it's something inspiring for all of us. In spite of the physical and economic pain that North has endured, people live, have fun and throw a great party. There were two parties in town this Labor Day, and I feel so blessed to have been included in the one in North Minneapolis. Mayor Rybak is an energetic mayor with a passion for Minneapolis. His cheerleading does good for our city, but on this day, his cheerleading would have been better placed in North Minneapolis.
OK, so most of you that read this are probably more concerned about my race report than my non-running ramblings, so here you go!
Race 1: my intention was to run this as a fun run and a warmup for Victory. So I sandbagged the first 2 miles, yet was winning handily. Or so I thought. Some LifeTime Fitness guy caught me with a quarter mile to go. I let him go thinking, "I'm saving myself for Victory 5K". Then I got competitive. I sprinted the last 40 meters or so and almost caught him but he kicked and beat me by half a step. Finishing time: 18:07. I regret not racing this one from the beginning. How many chances will I have again to win a 5K in Minneapolis? Probably not many. I should also be clear that I'm sure the guy that won probably would have beat me on a head-to-head. He really sandbagged the race and only kicked as much as he needed to in order to win. But if I had gone out at a 5:30 pace, I would have won. Oh well.
Race 2: Fun race, fun times with lots and lots of good friends. While the shirt at the first race was better, this race was so much better organized and was just a blast from beginning to end, with great racers in the 10K and 5K (especially the 10K with all those Team USA-MN racers). I placed 6th in the 5K with a 17:43....er...45. They called out 17:43 and my watch said 17:43, but the official time was 17:45. Shouldn't be a big deal but that's the difference between a PR and not. So I'm calling it a PR, but hopefully I'll beat that again and the official time will reflect that. I'm happy with how I raced, but a larger lead pack would have been nice for that extra push.
This was the first time I ran 2 races like this. Obviously not the best way to PR. I would have done better at either one if I hadn't done the other. But I enjoyed both for very different reasons, and it was a good way to spend a Monday morning!
CORRECTION: The Victory Races are co-sponsored by the Folwell and Webber-Camden neighborhoods, and while the race benefits the neighborhood in many ways, there is no direct monetary benefit for the community from this race. They are partners in the race, not recipients of any assistance.