The first time I ran Winterlaufe, I was nervous. A friend of mine told me not to worry – there were a few hills, but it would be okay. At the end of the race when I saw her, I said to her, “Oh yeah! Just a couple of hills!” – the course is VERY hilly. But I ran the whole thing without stopping, which was a huge accomplishment for me. The second time I ran it, I knew what to expect, and I shaved off 7 minutes from my time.
This year, I wanted to PR – and I wanted to get a sub 1 hour 8k. This year was a completely different experience for me. In the years before, I had known maybe one or two people running the race. Since then, I have joined two running groups and have made many friends. I ended up having a handful of people at my house the night before the race after having dinner together, and we played Cards Against Humanity – we managed to go to bed at a semi-decent hour. It was one of the best nights before a race I’ve ever had. All night long at dinner and at my house we laughed, and laughed, and laughed.
My husband and his friend decided to do the race this year, too. They were walking it, but still – a first for both of them! There were a lot of friends doing their first 8k on this day. For my friend Paula it was a huge comeback, return to running after getting injured at her marathon. It was a big day for all of us!
My friend Christine agreed to run the race with me to help me get my goal. She is also coming back from an injury, and was the one I was pacing myself against at the Freeze Your Fanny 5k where I thought I was going “slow” but really was speedy! I had run almost the entire course a few weeks before with my friends, so my mind was ready for these hills. We started off fast – which usually happens for me because of the adrenaline of the race. Our first mile was 10:53, so we slowed it down a bit for mile 2. Second mile was 11:11, still definitely looking at a PR! The third mile was the worst of the race – the third mile turns down Beyer Rd, which was still snowy and icy. We took it easy as neither of us wanted to get hurt and we knew we had some room to slow down a bit. Mile 3 was 12:01 pace, still on pace to get my PR. I tried to push it hard for the end of the race, but I was losing steam. Mile 4 was 11:23… less than a mile to the finish, still more hills to conquer. Somewhere in that last mile, our friend Ed from the running group found us to run us in. He knew I was looking for a PR that day and together Ed and Christine talked me through the last mile, assuring me I wasn’t going to pass out or puke, and encouraging me to try to beat the next runner in front of me. I pushed it hard that last quarter mile to the finish, and you can tell in the pictures that I was going all out! The last mile was a 10:34 pace… rounding out the race at 55:55 per my Garmin!
My official race time was 55:52 – my previous year’s time was 1:01:06! I improved my time by over 5 minutes, over a minute per mile improvement in my pace! Everyone from our group did very well, and my husband finished under his goal. After the race we enjoyed food and beverages at the Frankenmuth Brewery and a warm coffee at Harvest Coffeehouse. It was an amazing weekend with friends – and we can’t wait to do the rest of the race series this year (Volkslaufe in July and Bruckelaufe in October) so we can get our medals!