Anoka Gray Ghost

Halloween is a time to bring out our inner child, have fun, and… RUN!! As a kid, I hated dressing up, I really have no idea why, it just wasn’t fun for me. Now, I plan my costume a year in advance and countdown to the next costumed event! Isn’t it funny how much we can change from childhood to adult, or in my case, adulthood to child!? Things we once found repulsive and cliché are now…well..still cliché BUT also very memorable!

This past Saturday, my fiancé Jason and I raced the Anoka Gray Ghost 5k. This race is so unique! For those of you not in the know, Anoka is the Halloween Capitol of the world! This means HUGE FUN!!  Lots of tricks and treats! The Gray Ghost event begins at 12:50 in the afternoon, followed by a parade.  We competed in this event last year and were both so impressed by the professionalism, tasteful costumes, and great volunteers that…like a campy horror flick…  we returned with a vengeance. I personally love how involved entire families are with this race. It really is like nothing I have ever seen before. The race is always the last Saturday of October, just one week before Jason’s Marathon and my 5K in New York City.

Jason ran the race alongside me, it’s always great to have him by my side. The whole race, and I mean the ENTIRE race, is lined with spectators cheering you on and giving high 5ks! (no cowbells though, which made me super happy)!!

Race morning went a little differently, as our start time was a late one. Since we are leaving for NY Wednesday morning at 5 am, we spent the morning getting things prepared, up to 10:00 – that is about the time I desperately searched for my lucky Nike pro shorts, but to no avail…  Spooky! Remember – get your race gear ready the night before, even if you have an afternoon start time!  Haha… Tricks on me! 

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10:30 – I give up trying to find my lucky shorts, go with another pair, and spend the next 20 minutes quickly curling my hair, putting on makeup, and becoming wonder woman!

10:50 – Jason and I have a little photo-op before beginning a 60 minute venture to the race.

11:00 – We begin our drive to Anoka. You know the race is amazing when you dedicate a whole hour to get there!

12:10 – After much time searching for parking, through closed-off roads and neighborhoods, we finally find a space! Then, it was off to the Elementary school for packet pick-up!

12:30 – We arrive just in time to get our packets and drop off our bags at bag check.

12:35 – Waiting in line for the bathroom, we were saved by a kind soul who told us where another one was! Yay!  Always be on the prowl for undiscovered bathrooms.

12:42 – We head out for a quick warm up – Definitely needed this as it was 25 degrees with the wind chill. I think I was the only one with no sleeves and no pants! I LOVE cold weather racing! So many people asked me if I was cold – I mean yes, but not so much that I want to wear pants and feel restricted during the race – so I answer with “kinda” and a smile.  

12:50 – The race begins with little audible proclamation, Jason is still sitting on the ground stretching (no race start announcement). We take off, zigzagging through runners to find an open space.

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Mile 1 (8:10)We run through goblins, speed by Batman, get chase by pint-size police officers, in an attempt to flee the crowd! I was wearing headphones, but could vaguely hear people yelling “there’s Wonder Woman,”  “Go Wonder Woman!!” (I was one of 2 that I saw) so that was engaging!

Mile 2 (8:36)Still zigzagging a bit, this mile is a HUGE straightaway that looks never-ending.  I keep my focus and unknowingly slow my pace.  I must be Wonder Woman because I feel like I’m flying! This mile, Jason gives me the sweetest smile and I just die! We were on a slight uphill when my watch buzzed for half way, woohoo!!

Mile 3 (8:39)We are still on the straightaway, but a turnaround is in sight!! Jason said just one more mile. Heck Yes!!! By this mile we are out of the big crowd, so my hands are getting nipped by the wind (I forgot my gloves) so I’m ready to find that finish line!

Final .18 (long race, oh well!)  7:30 pace I’m not wearing my glasses and ask Jason “are we there yet?” he points ahead and exclaims “yup, let’s go!” The finish was at the bottom of a steep-ish hill so I can’t do my normal sprint-in, but I’m so happy to cross the finish line!

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Upon crossing the line, I’m a bit upset at the clock, reading 27 something. I’m like, really? 27 minutes, again!  With that performance, with how I felt, seriously, 27!!!! I was going for a sub-26. My official time was 26:47 – Had it been just .08 less, I probably would have been around 26:20. Guess what, who cares!? You can NEVER predict what race day is going to be like. I was thankful that it was cold, as I do better in cold weather. Another thing I was super proud of was finishing and having Jason run next to me the whole time while hitting an almost 3 min course PR from last year!!! WHAT?! ALSO, this was the first 5k since May that I haven’t had to walk for about 20-30 seconds. I am impressed with this performance, even though I didn’t reach sub 26. I attribute my performance today to two main things: Less mileage, and more plyometrics. HONESTLY! Those 2 factors alone have helped me so much in my training. This shows amazing improvement for me and I know that in a few months I WILL be at a sub 26!

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Overall, my best advice is to never take a race too seriously. It is great to have goals and to go out and give it your all. If you do not hit your goal, don’t be discouraged there will always be another race, another chance! Also, NEVER give up on yourself. You will achieve anything you put your mind to, and are patient enough to see through!  Remember, the more dead-i-cation you have, the faster zombie you will become!

Enjoy the fall season, as it is quickly coming to an end, and if you have never dressed-up for a Halloween race, I HIGHLY recommend it. I swear, dressing up as an adult is way more fun 😉

 

Editor: Jason Quarford

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