City Solve

Last weekend was one of the most anticipated events of the summer….my summer that is.

CitySolve Urban Race – Minneapolis Edition

CitySolve is a scavenger hunt race through the city (it’s offered in cities all across the country), where you and your team (up to four people) solve clues and race around to take pictures at various locations.

Noah and I did CitySolve for the first time last summer in 2012, and we couldn’t wait to do the race again this year! Now that we’re more familiar with Minneapolis, we thought we’d be a lot faster at solving the clues and navigating the city. To prepare, we gathered the essentials:


The check-in for the race was at Cowboy Jack’s downtown near Target Field.


A fearless leader from CitySolve made some announcements before we got started:


The race begins with a first clue that has four multiple choice answers. Each answer is linked to a different location. Once you solve the clue, you race to the matching location to pick up the full clue packet (10 questions and 2 bonus questions).


Our strategy was to solve all of the clues before starting to race around – that way we could plan the most effective route. Locations we needed to visit brought us from the north end of downtown by Target Field all the way to the Hennepin/Lake intersection in Uptown. The only acceptable modes of transportation for CitySolve are your own two feet and the bus. We ended up running the whole way because we thought it would be faster (which it was!), and we calculated the total distance to be about 6 miles.

Here are some sweaty pictures from along the route:

IMG_1907 IMG_1908 IMG_1909 IMG_1910 IMG_1911 IMG_1912 IMG_1917 IMG_1919 IMG_1921 IMG_1922 IMG_1923 IMG_1926

Sometimes it is hard to get two people and a sign in the photo:


We improved so much from last summer to this summer! I don’t even remember how we placed last year, but it wasn’t good enough to remember. This year, we got fifth place out of about 150 teams! We only missed the third place spot by 7 minutes! Next year, we’re taking this thing for sure. 🙂

Race Day!

Today was the big day of the half marathon! If you missed it, check out my earlier post about packet pick-up, and you can learn more about the Get in Gear race there. The race’s start time was 9:00am, so I set my alarm for 7:10, planning to leave the house between 8:00-8:10.

As soon as I woke up, I laid out the essentials:

photo 1(98)

iPod arm band + headphones, garmin GPS watch, face sunscreen, and my beloved body glide. I also got out my ugly Christmas sweater:

photo 4(83) photo 5(73)

My former (and fabulous) roommate actually gave this to me second-hand to wear prior to running my first only marathon last June (I ran Grandma’s in Duluth). I wore it pre-race before checking my bag at Grandma’s, and it took on a sentimental value for me. It only seemed appropriate to wear it again today. 🙂

What to eat for breakfast was a little bit of a dilemma. I wasn’t that hungry when I first woke up, so I didn’t want anything too heavy. I decided to have the fig bars from the March Bestowed package along with some walnut butter and a banana:

photo 1(99) photo 2(96) photo 3(95)

Another tough decision was what to wear for the run. The weather looked promising:

photo 2

So I settled on shorts and a t-shirt. Specifically, my Grandma’s finisher tee:

photo 3(94)

I figured if I did a full, then I could do a half. That’s how it works, right?!

When I got to Minnehaha Park just after 8:30am, it was gorgeous weather and runners were streaming in from all directions:

photo 4(84) photo 5(74) photo 1(100)

The area near the expo tents and bag check was crowded…

photo 2(97)

…but not as crowded as the porta-potties!

photo 4(85)

One thing I thought was pretty neat was a special area where people could lock up their bikes if they rode to the park:

photo 3(96)

The race started promptly at 9am, and the 10k and half-marathon runners started together and ran the first 5 or so miles together. After that, the 10k runners split off to go back to the finish (which was also the start) while the half-marathoners continued. The run was primarily along West River Parkway next to the Mississippi River. One of my favorite parts of the race was when we crossed the river from Minneapolis to St Paul and got to look out on the Mississippi:

photo 5(75)

Pretty much everything about the race went better than I expected. There were three main victories for me:

Victory 1) My goal was to finish within 2 hours. I ended well under!
photo 1(101)
My official race time was 1:52:38! The timer above was about a minute over since I didn’t stop it until I got my medal and walked off the course. My average pace was 8:36, and I placed 14th in my age group (F20-24).

Victory 2) The second victory was a negative split! Negative splits are a hallmark of smart and successful races, but I can never seem to pull them off in anything besides short training runs (maybe I just get overly optimistic and run too hard at the start…). Anyway, this race marked my first significant negative split! I ran the first half of the race in about 57 minutes and the second half in about 55 – woohoo!

Victory 3) I’ve only run two official half-marathons. I’ve run that distance several times more as either just a long run or part of my marathon training plan, but this is only my second half-marathon race. The first time I ran a half-marathon was about 4 years ago, and it was at a time when my eating disorder was at a low point. I weighed about 20 pounds less than I do now, and I was running about 60-90 minutes every day. Since I was over-exercising so much, I didn’t even need to train for the half marathon and actually registered on a complete whim the day before. The memory of that half marathon is extremely tied up with symptomatic memories – binging the night before, not eating anything prior to the race, not fueling properly afterwards, binging the night afterwards, etc.

Despite knowing that I wasn’t fueling or running (or living!) in a healthy way at the time of my first half marathon, part of me was a little terrified that I would run a time a lot slower today. I felt that if I did run slower today than four years ago, then some negative thoughts would creep in, telling me that the slower time was due to weighing more. Lower weight equating faster speed is a common thought pattern in runners, and there’s an interesting Runner’s World article called ‘Running On Empty‘ precisely about how easy/common it is for runners to develop disordered eating habits in an effort to lose weight and run faster.

Which brings me to my third victory; I ran not one, not two, but THREE minutes faster in today’s half marathon than I did 4 years ago. I may have weighed 20 pounds less then, but today I am stronger and happier and healthier than I was, and seeing those facts reflect positively in my time was definitely the day’s greatest victory of all. 🙂

photo 2(98)

City of Lakes Loppet

This past weekend was the City of Lakes Loppet – an annual cross-country ski festival featuring the beautiful Twin Cities! The Loppet is a full weekend affair, with a wide variety of events happening throughout Saturday and Sunday. The race’s finish is in the heart of Uptown at the Hennepin and Lake intersection, so anyone around the area was sure to have seen the effects of the event. My first impression was inconvenience:

(that picture was not at all dangerous to take since my car hadn’t moved for approximately a million hours while I was stuck in traffic due to race-related road closures)

But after ditching the wheels and heading out on foot, the event was great! It’s always fun to see someone finish:

photo(162) photo(161)



Calhoun plaza was also transformed by racers, supporters, and volunteers:


Every great event needs a swag shop:


In addition to the races and spectator excitement, the Loppet also had a snow sculpture contest! Some of the entries were really incredible. Here are two of my favorites:

photo(157) photo(156)

Overall, this was a really fun event and I’d love to be part of it as a skier in the future! I have my eye on the Luminary Loppet – a night-time ski lit by ice ice luminaries – for next year.