Tuesday, February 1, 2011

29th Annual Groundhog Run

The morning of 30 JAN 2011 it was 20 degrees with a 5 mph wind and the wind chill was around 13 degrees -- perfect conditions for the 29th Annual Groundhog Run. You might be surprised that conditions were perfect, but honestly no matter what the weather is on the day of the Groundhog Run conditions are always perfect. Why?  Because of this fun fact: the Groundhog Run is the only known run in a cave and the temperature is 65 - 70 degrees year round!

Danica (in purple) waiting for the 5k start
Danica and I were both running...she was tackling the 5k and I was doing my first 10k. We arrived at the Hunt Midwest SubTropolis about an hour before Danica's race which allowed us plenty of time to hit the porta potties and allow Danica to get warmed up. About 15 minutes prior to the 5k starting it started getting crowded as more and more filed in. Danica lined up and awaited the beginning of the race. As the national anthem was sung it was different than any other race that I've been at.  The acoustics of the cave along with everyone singing made for an amazing rendition -- the most beautiful I've experienced at a race so far!

I love watching Danica run the end of the race because she always takes off! The great part is that she has good form...the bad part is that in low light with a point and shot camera it's hard to get a great photo!  :)  Go Danica!!!
Danica (2697) sprints to the finish line!
An hour after the start of the 5k it was time for the 10k to start. I was a little nervous about my pace because prior to the run I didn't know how I could keep track of my pace. I figured I would shoot for a 8 minute mile as I was doing my long runs for my marathon training at about a 9 minute pace. I lined up a little behind the 8 minute mile sign. We were welcomed to the race and the national anthem was sung beautifully again.  Then we were off!!!

I started well. Okay, I thought I started well. What I think was about 3/4 mile in I found my self running next to another guy so I started chatting with him. I learned that his name was Dave and he told me that he was aiming for a 8 minute mile pace so we agreed to run together. At the one mile mark he commented that we hit the first mile at 7:45. A little faster than I was planning on but I was feeling good.  Dave was feeling good. After results were posted I saw that our mile pace was actually at 7:38.  We pushed on.

Dave and I at the 1/2 way point
Running in the caves is a unique experience.  For one, the scenery doesn't change much!!!  Thankfully there were mile markers painted on the ground which helped in knowing how far we had gone (or how much farther we had to go depending on how you look at it).  There were volunteers on the course to make sure things were going smoothly, but the only real place to see spectators was at the point where we started the race since we had to make 2 loop on the 5k course.  It was great to see Danica and her here cheering me on.

It was a little after the halfway point that Dave figured we were on pace to finish at the 48 minute mark. Did I hear Dave right? 48 minutes? That was an average pace of 7:45! I was still feeling okay (but talking less) so I figured I'd keep pushing through with Dave which was exactly what I needed!  We ended up alternating who stopped at water stops after the 1/2 point (not planned, just happened that way) which was really helpful as it allowed one of us to keep pace while the other stopped to drink.

With about a half mile left Dave started picking up the pace -- not considerably, but enough for me to notice. I was able to stick with Dave for about a quarter mile then told him to go on without me and he took off.

I stuck to my guns and then started to pick it up once I rounded the corner and saw the finish line. I looked at the clock and saw it pass the 47 minute mark and knew with the chip time that I may have actually came in at under 47 minutes! Crossing the finish line I saw Dave and thanked him for his help.

Checking my race results later my chip time was 46:57! My goal pace of an 8 minute mile was smashed with an average pace of 7:34! Considering how warm it was in the caves I considered this an excellent pace!  Plus it's a PR (duh...it was my first 10k!)  :)

Was there bling? Nope. But I was cool with that as the race supported the Children's TLC (Therapeutic Learning Center) which offers some great services for kids in the Kansas City area.

My post race photo


  1. Wow, awesome PR!! Love that the whole race is in the caves too. Congrats!

  2. Wow - way to go!! Running in caves actually sounds like an awesome experience.