The Groundhog Run 10k was this past weekend, and now I’m here to tell you all about my experience!
Saturday night, I set out all my clothes, and it was really nice to not have to plan for the weather. Since the race is 100% underground in a climate controlled subtropolis warehouse, and the temperature is always 65-68 degrees, I knew I would not have to bundle up or worry about wind, rain, or snow. The 10k was at 10:00, and the 5k was at 8:00 in the morning. Since the course was all indoors, and the course was a 5k loop, the 5k and 10k could not take place at the same time.
I secretly wished that the 10k was first, because running a 10:00 was just kind of weird for a race. Knowing we had to drive about 40 minutes and take a shuttle to the subtropolis, I realized I was actually glad it was later, as we would have had to leave our house at 5:30 or 6:00 to get there in plenty of time. The entire morning was timed great, no rushes, no stress.
I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect of the venue, since I had never run in a subtropolis warehouse before. James and I got to the Ameristar Casino around 8:45 to park and take the shuttle to the entrance of the subtropolis. After a gorgeous day Saturday, Sunday was cold and dreary and rainy and COLD! I am thankful the race was indoors. As the shuttle arrived at the entrance, I noticed there are several entrances, and even train tracks going into the subtropolis, kind of just disappearing into the side of this huge hill.
As soon as we walked inside 10-20 yards, my phone showed “no service.” I was expecting this, after talking to people who have run the race in the past. I also remembered to slap my food pod on my shoe, but was worried the calibration was off, since I hadn’t used it in 9-10 months.
Along the walls on the way in, there were signs and banners, there were DJ’s playing music, and tons and tons of runners! As we continued further into the “cave,” there were tables of bananas and apples and oranges, chocolate milk, protein bites, a tent of massage tables and people getting rubbed down. Further in, there were lines of porta-potties, the gear check table, and the results table. The VIP room was also right inside, but I didn’t get a chance to duck in there.
On the other main “road,” was the finish line, course maps, and finish line festivities. The course map is below, check out in the bottom right hand corner, there is a scale model of Arrowhead Stadium, so you can get an idea of just how big this place is. I had NO idea it was this big. I bet 30 Arrowhead Stadiums could fit inside. Insane.
We had about an hour before the race started, so we watched a few final people finish the 5k, I ate a banana, used the porta-potty, drank some water, warmed up my legs a bit, and made my way over to the starting area. Side note, James tried to eat my hat, like a bear, and then said it tasted like salt. Well duh, I wear my visors on most runs, and they do get a bit sweaty… silly James.
Right before the race, I synced my watch to my food pod, and stretched my calves one final time and was ready to go. My wave started 5 minutes after the first wave, so the official race clock said 5:08 when I crossed the mat. We were chip timed, so I wasn’t worried about starting 5 minutes after the official start. I started my watch as I crossed the start mat, knowing the calibration would likely be off. After 2-3 minutes, I looked at my watch to see where the pace was, and it was WAY off. I KNEW I wasn’t going as slow as my watch said, but I really didn’t know my pace until the first mile marker.
The first couple miles went pretty good, I was moving along at a pretty good clip, for me, and I was feeling good. I knew I was 2/3 of the way through the fist lap, then I just had to do it once more and I would be finished.
Couple things though, without my watch giving me an accurate pace, I felt lost. I try very hard to pace myself evenly, or even with a negative split, for races, so I won’t get burnt out toward the end. Also, the course itself was very disorienting, because with the indoor road we were following, everything looked the same. Same lighting, same pillars every few yards, same smells (it didn’t actually smell as bad as I thought it would, I was worried it would smell damp and musty and stale, but there was fresh air moving through in several areas). The lack of watch information paired with the monotonous surrounds made my sense of time and distance very disoriented.
The super speedy men who started the 10k 5 minutes before me came through and passed me (about the first 3-4 race leaders) at about 2.5 miles in. That gave me something to think about as I finished the first lap, as again, there wasn’t much to look at scenery wise. I saw James as I finished my first lap and was then off to run my final lap. He snapped the picture on the right, below, as I was starting my second lap.
The second lap was a bit tougher. I had been running about 25 seconds faster, per mile, than I was planning and hoping to run, and though the first couple miles were good, I was starting to feel it by the last few miles. I typically don’t like going out too fast, because then I feel defeated at the end when I slow down, but since my watch was not giving me the information I needed, I was just calculating my pace at each mile marker. With about 1 to 1.5 miles remaining, I started feeling dizzy and shaky. I really wanted to keep going and get a PR that I had calculated out, but decided I’d better listen to my body and slow down. I walked for about 90 seconds, and then started running again. During the last mile, I walked a few times, but only for 20-30 seconds each time.
By that time, I was still calculating as I was going, and thought I could still hang on for a PR, and I pushed the final quarter of a mile to finish with a 1 minute and 9 second PR. I was handed my finisher medal and my timing chip was clipped off my shoe.
I found some water, grabbed a chocolate milk and a banana, and headed off to find James. With no breeze and no fresh air right by the start/finish line, it took forever to cool down. I stretched a little, got my photo taken, and found the table printing off finish times. I can’t say enough about the volunteers and race staff; the race was extremely well run. KC Running Company. puts on a great race.
I was feeling upset with myself, right after I finished. I have run 6 miles several times in the last few weeks, all without stopping. So why did I have to stop and walk during this race? Why couldn’t I have just pushed myself a bit more, and finished with a bigger PR, without walking!? The more I think about it, I know that I did my best, and because of the GPS situation and the monotony of the course, it got to me mentally, and I wasn’t able to push the last mile and a half. However, I know I am capable of maintaining that pace, 20-25 seconds faster than my normal pace, and I am proud of myself for pushing the first 4.5 miles. I am also very proud of my PR, and I know I am improving.
The last 2 10k’s I have done, the Plaza 10k and now the Groundhog 10k, I have PR’d each one. I know my times are getting faster, and my lungs, heart, and mind have been getting stronger. I know I am capable of running 10k without stopping, and I know I will continue to improve, and I will have my chance at another PR at another 10k in the future.
We headed out of the cave, and into the cold, dreary weather. We had planned to take the shuttles back over to the casino where we had parked, but the line for the shuttle meant we would be standing there in the wet and cold for probably 20 minutes. Several other runners and spectators were walking back over to the casino parking lot, so we decided to walk over. Brr! We saw this sign, and also saw a group of geese later. I just love the geese crossing signs, there are a couple near where we live. It just makes me laugh.
We got back to the car, and headed back home. It took me a long hot shower to finally warm up, and I put my bib in my bib book and hung up my medal. Thanks so much to James for coming with me, cheering me on, and supporting me through all my runs and races!
I kind of doubt I will run this race again, just because of the nature of the indoor course. I am very glad I did it, it was definitely a unique experience, and it was pretty cool to see everyone running in the empty, huge, subtropolis. I also read that Children’s TLC raised over $230,000, which is just fantastic.
Did you run over the weekend? How did you do? Have you ever run an indoor race or experienced anything like this race?