Last weekend was Bear Water Run!
I've run this 10- and 20-mile race three times before, once with Molly and always the 20-mile distance. (Here's my 2012 recap.) I always loved to run it as part of my training for a fall marathon because it's so nice to have a 20-mile route planned out for you, in a different place, with most of the participants treating the race like a long run in their own marathon training, too. Because of its mid-September timing, Bear Water Run often coincides with the season's first wave of cool weather, which is another treat after long runs through the summer.
I haven't been logging those long, long runs this summer, though, and I didn't think this race was in the cards for me this year. But then Molly asked if I wanted to run the 10-mile option, and I did, and it turned out that officially registering for the race a few weeks back was a good kickstart toward more consistent running. I moved my long run distance up for a couple of weeks in a row until I got to eight miles the week before the race, which was close enough to 10 miles for me.
On Saturday morning, the temperature was around 40 degrees when we arrived in White Bear Lake, about half an hour outside the Twin Cities. It had clearly been colder overnight: the first frost I've seen this season!
I choose a long-sleeve quarter-zip shirt over a t-shirt with 3/4 running tights, the warmest running outfit I've worn in months. Molly—who was doing the 20-mile option and would be out on the course later into the morning—went for a short-sleeve shirt, vest, 3/4 tights and gloves. For people running a fall marathon, this race is also a really good opportunity to practice what clothes, shoes, and food and drink work best for a long run.
Bear Water Run is low-key in a great way. Here's the finish area:
We got started at 8 a.m., and the first several miles flew by. The course meandered along White Bear Lake, through residential neighborhoods, and over rolling hills. It was wonderful to run in a different-for-us place with my dear running buddy, and we were chatting the whole way. About seven or eight miles in, I started to feel the effort more, and I told Molly that I might want to walk or stretch. She asked which one, and I hemmed and hawed and said, "I don't know. Let's keep going." She suggested that we slow down a little, I agreed, and that seemed to be just the ticket. We ran the rest of the way.
I know the last mile of this course well from previous years' races, and as I got closer to the finish, I felt that little burst of pride that finds me as I'm approaching a finish line. (I think I told Molly how happy I was about six times in the last mile.) After lighter training this summer, I was pleased and grateful to work my way back up to the 10-mile distance and finish it feeling good. Molly headed out for her second loop, and I crossed the finish line and grinned.
I changed into warmer clothes and ate and drank (this is the event with pickles among the post-race refreshments!), and then I just relaxed at the park near the finish line while Molly worked her way through the second loop.
When I turned toward the lake from my spot at a picnic table, this was my view:
A finish line is a great place, and I loved sitting there on a gorgeous morning, watching families cheering for their runners—and then cheering for Molly as she finished 20 miles!
It's no secret: I love Bear Water Run. We had a great time.