race recap: riverbank run 2013.

by Mindy @ Just A One Girl Revolution on May 12, 2013

in River Bank Run 2013

In lieu of a 25k Monday training post, today is all about the 25k race recap!  It was an unbelievably emotional, challenging (mentally and physically) day and I’ve got lots to share, so buckle your seat belts!

After work on Friday, I walked over to the race expo which is pretty stellar in terms of expos.  There are tons of companies and organizations represented, which means lots of free stuff!  I try to stay away from trying too many samples for fear of something new that upsets my system.  But, free stuff to take home?  Absolutely!  I managed to walk away only spending about $25 which is a miracle in and of itself.  I bought some Gu for the race and a container of Nuun because it was on sale (LOVE this stuff for after long runs or hot yoga sessions!).  I got a couple new Bondi Bands, too.  Oh, and my race packet (!!!).  I laid pretty low that night:  ate some dinner, watched a movie, and went to bed at a decent time.  Oh and I almost forgot to set my alarm.  How tragic would that have been?  Six months of training gone to waste because I didn’t set an alarm.


The morning of the race, my goal was to leave the house by 7:20, which would give me an hour on the nose to park, go through gear check, use the bathroom one last time, and line up.  My timing worked out pretty much perfect.

As I was driving downtown, I realized that I left my Garmin sitting at home.  I contemplated going back to grab it, but ultimately decided that I would be cutting it way too close for time if I did.  I wasn’t super thrilled about running “naked”, but such is life.  I’m still not sure if running without it was a help or hindrance to my final time, but in the glass half full optimist outlook of life, let’s go with help.

The weather forecast called for mid-to-high forties during the race and overcast.  In other words, pretty much perfect weather for race day.  It got a bit chilly at some points, but after running throughout the winter, it wasn’t terrible.  I left my Camelbak at home because if there’s one thing the Riverbank Run does well, it’s aid stations.  There was water, Gatorade, and ice every 1.5 miles, and orange slices at a couple points in the second half.  With the cooler temperatures, I knew I would be okay with just that, plus it would help me from over-hydrating.  I ran with Bari for almost the first half of the race; we planned to start out together and part ways once one of us needed to fall back.  Rather than think about the race as a whole 15.5 miles, I broke it up into five 5ks. It seemed a lot easier to think about a 5k at a time.  So, I’m going to break down my recap in the same way.

5k 1 (start – 3.1 miles):  feeling awesome!  The race crowd is still pretty packed together, which is a good and a bad.  Good in that it is so cool to just see a sea of people in front of you, but bad because it’s several miles of weaving in and out of the crowds as the pace groups form a bit more organically.  By the time we hit the second mile marker, my knee was starting to hurt and I knew it would be a long morning ahead of me.  Seriously, six months with next to no pain, and it starts acting up a week and a half before the race?  Not cool.  I didn’t run much in hopes that the rest would help.  Turns out, not so much.  I tried not to think about it and hoped it would pass.  Compared to how it’s bothered me in the past, this pain was quite mild, but still enough to make things tough.

5k 2 (3.1 – 6.2 miles):  A good chunk of this 5k is through a bit more of a wooded area with a cambered road, so the road is highest in the middle and slopes down to the sides, and in the middle of this particular road is a rumble strip.  Not exactly ideal for running, especially on race day, as “the leg that is closer to the center of the road will feel like it is a “longer” leg than the other to your body, so your body will compensate through the way that it bends at the knee, how much your foot flattens on impact, and how much your leg rotates inward as you are running. This can lead to knee or hip soreness” (source).  Because it’s not as publicly accessible, spectators are pretty scarce in this leg, mostly just the volunteers at the aid stations.  It was a good chance to just zone into my run.

5k 3 (6.2 – 9.3 miles):  so, we’ve officially crossed over the Grand River and headed back towards downtown Grand Rapids.  Bari started to pull ahead at this point and I knew that I need to run my own race.  At the halfway point, there are two massive signs proclaiming “you’re halfway there”.  I know it’s meant to be encouraging, but all I could think was “seriously?  Only halfway?!”.  I took a deep breath and started to dig deep.  This is the section of the course where the rolling hills start.  Having run this race twice and done a few training runs on this part of the course, I knew what to expect and in the grand scheme of things, the hills weren’t too terrible.  I still didn’t enjoy them, but they didn’t feel so much like climbing Everest to me this time around.

5k 4 (9.3 – 12.4 miles):  this was, hands down, the hardest part of the course for me.  I couldn’t help but think about two years ago, when right around mile 9, I told Kayla and Christopher to go on without me because things were starting to fall apart.  I still struggled a lot mentally and emotionally during this section.  The aches and pains were starting to get to me, and my spirit was lagging.  Despite being surrounded by a lot of people, I felt acutely alone.  My plan at the start was to keep the 11 minute/mile pace group behind me and right around mile 11, I saw the pacers go by.  It was, hands down, the last thing I needed in that moment and I started crying.  Right around this time, I passed medics helping a runner who was on the side of the road.  I wanted nothing more than to sit down and call it a day, too.  Load me up in that ambulance, too, kind sirs.  But, I kept remembering the amazingly encouraging words Heather emailed me earlier in the week, for that exact moment when I wanted to quit.  I thought of those words, of everyone who has been so encouraging throughout my training, and for everyone who donated to my fundraising efforts.  In those moments, I couldn’t help but think that this race was so much bigger than me, which was such an encouragement.

5k 5 (12.4 – 15.5 miles):  finally, flat ground!  It’s such a relief to be out of the rolling hills, but disheartening at the same time to know there’s still a bit to go before the finish.  I had to keep reminding myself there was only a 5k left.  The finish was so close!  This is also the point when the course weaves through a local neighborhood and it feels like such a mean trick to seemingly go back and forth for a couple miles.  All of the people that kept yelling, “you’re almost there” are also not cool because I know where the finish is.  I really wanted to yell back “you sit on a throne of lies”, but bit my tounge.  There were a bunch of cute kids along the way, giving high fives.  They were a huge mood booster!  With about a mile to go, I saw my (amazing, wonderful, awesome) friends Katie and Michaeleen.  They had run the 10k earlier in the morning and stuck around.  I had to fight back more tears when I saw them and they asked if I needed them to run with me (yes!).  After having already run their own race, they started running without hesitation, and talked me through that last mile to the finish line.  Thank you, thank you, thank you friends!  Thanks to them, I ran so much more of that last mile than I would have on my own.  Love you both!  Just after those two joined me, I saw my dad who came into town to cheer me on!  It was such a sigh of relief to round that last corner and see the finish line.  This time, there were tears of happiness.

Right around mile 9, I knew that I wouldn’t reach my A goal for the day, but started shooting for my B goal, a sub-3 hour finish.  I had a general idea of what my time was compared to the clock (there was a clock at every single mile marker, which was awesome!), so I knew it would be close.  When I found out that I missed my goal by 36 seconds, I was initially really disappointed.  I spent quite awhile on Saturday afternoon thinking “what if I had taken one less walk break?” and so many other what ifs.  I forced myself to snap out of it, though, because at the end of the day, it’s not going to change anything.  Even more, missing my goal by ONLY 36 seconds is still really damn good, especially when there’s a bigger thing of the TWENTY MINUTE PR to think about.

25k 2013 results

This course will forever be one I love to hate.  It’s an extremely challenge route for me, both mentally and physically.  Yet, it is those challenges that keep me coming back.  Sure, it’s a challenge, but I know that every single time I face that course head on, it makes me not only a stronger runner, but a stronger person.


My legs are still pretty tired and sore, but I already know that I’ll be back again next year.  I’ve still got that sub-3 hour finish to knock out of the park, after all.  And it will happen.  Just wait and see.  But for now, I sit back, relax, and relish in the achievements of this year.  Oh, and start thinking about that little marathon coming up in October.

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Bari May 13, 2013 at 9:57 pm

I’m so proud of you! I knew you were hurting early on & I didn’t know what to say or do to help you through it. Turns out you didn’t need me to say or do anything because you were able to pull it together and still run a very good race, even though you wanted to stop. That PR is freaking HUGE!!! To run this course over a minute per mile faster than your previous attempt shows how much stronger you are this year. The marathon this fall is going to be awesome!
Bari recently posted..5/3 River Bank Run 25K #53rbr #racereport


mindy @ just a one girl revolution. May 16, 2013 at 10:49 am

Honestly – NOT saying or doing anything was the exact right thing to do…just having someone nearby was so helpful, and even once you started to pull ahead, I used you as my “carrot” to keep going and try to catch back up (even though I knew it wasn’t going to happen). Congrats to you, too, on your PR!!


Kelly May 13, 2013 at 10:33 pm

1) you are incredibly amazing for doing FIVE 5k’s in one day. (and I love that you broke the recap down that way!)
2) You are such a running inspiration for me. Your ability to dig deep when you need to is just amazing.
3) Can we PLEASE run a race together sometime? Nothing crazy, a 5k or 10k perhaps? We live kind of close to each other, we should be able to find something, right? Please?


Stina May 14, 2013 at 11:28 am

Hmmm….Chicago could be an excellent meeting spot for a race… 🙂
Stina recently posted..Weekly Plan 5/13 – 5/19


Heather May 16, 2013 at 4:35 pm

can i get in on this???
Heather recently posted..This Week I Will


Kaitlin May 13, 2013 at 11:37 pm

Great job Mindy!!! I feel you on the winding neighborhoods part of the course– that was ALL the 10K was! So boring.


Kim @ Fabulous Fit Foodie May 14, 2013 at 8:46 am

Congrats on a great race! You should be really proud.
Kim @ Fabulous Fit Foodie recently posted..Weekly Chase, Vol. 6


mindy @ just a one girl revolution. May 17, 2013 at 9:14 am

Thanks Kim! Now that my legs are back to normal working order (they were so sore!!), I’m quite pleased with how things went! 🙂


Stina May 14, 2013 at 11:32 am

Congratulations on your mad PR! You totally derserved it for all the hard work you put in to training!

I’m so proud of you. I can tell you really dug deep and pushed yourself through this race. That can be so hard to do, and I’m always impressed by people who keep running through the physical, mental and emotional pain. I have no doubt you’re going to kick serious marathon booty!
Stina recently posted..Weekly Plan 5/13 – 5/19


mindy @ just a one girl revolution. May 17, 2013 at 9:13 am

Thanks for your kind words, Stina! 🙂


Kayla May 14, 2013 at 7:46 pm

It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: I am so, so proud of you and I love you so much! You go girl!
Kayla recently posted..24 weeks


mindy @ just a one girl revolution. May 16, 2013 at 10:47 am

Thanks, friend — I thought a lot about you and Christopher while I ran this one. Can’t wait to run with you again someday! Love you too!! 🙂


Anna May 14, 2013 at 9:08 pm

I’m coming out of lurk-dom to send my well-wishes- especially since I think I saw you during the race! I was running with My Team Triumph (we were in red shirts and pushing strollers) and was probably someone who interrupted to ask you to move over- sorry! Congrats on a great race and good luck with the marathon training!


mindy @ just a one girl revolution. May 15, 2013 at 9:10 am

Hi Anna! I LOVE My Team Triumph – such a great organization! Who was your team captain?


Anna May 15, 2013 at 12:36 pm

I was part of “Team Scott”- it’s a great organization (and a great time), you should do it sometime! They do races of all lengths and speeds (we had people going 7-12 minute miles for Riverbank) and it’s a blast with all of the cheers and getting to run with friends!


mindy @ just a one girl revolution. May 16, 2013 at 10:45 am

Oh, I think I remember seeing your team (although it was all a bit of a blur after awhile)!! I would love to be a part of a team sometime – pretty focused on the marathon for the rest of this year, but maybe in 2014! Glad to know there are slower teams, too!


Bonnie May 15, 2013 at 12:36 am

Great race recap and WELL DONE on your effort and solid run, Mindy! And a 20 min PR?! Outstanding!
Bonnie recently posted..PLAY: a weekend & way of life


mindy @ just a one girl revolution. May 16, 2013 at 10:46 am

Thanks so much, Bonnie!


Heather May 16, 2013 at 4:35 pm

a) i am so frickin’ proud of you.
b) you amaze me
c) im glad my email of encouragement lasted in your mind during the hardest parts!
d) i can’t wait to one day run a race WITH YOU. can we make that a life goal, please?
e) so many major high fives for your PR and running 25K in under 181 minutes. THAT IS AMAZING and I am inspired by you!!
Heather recently posted..This Week I Will


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