In March, when the snow is just starting to think about melting, the road running race season officially kicks off. USA Track and Field (USATF) Minnesota race teams compete in a series of races starting in Spring with O’Gara’s 8k and ending with the Twin Cities Marathon’s shorter option, the Twin Cities 10 Mile.
For me, O’Gara’s is pretty significant because it is the first race I ever ran. In Colorado, I started with a ‘Couch to 5k’ program (Zombies Run, obviously) and had gone as far as 10 kilometers in one outing. When I moved to Minnesota (in December), I really wanted to make running a more prominent hobby. I had just gotten my first pair of real running shoes but otherwise I was completely unprepared for going out in the sub-zero winter temperatures I found myself in upon arriving. I did a little research on run stores and teams before moving and wanted to check out Mill City Running (MCR) because everyone seemed to like it a lot and it was centrally located, accessible from any part of the Metro to which we might move. (We ended up discovering what would become a favorite part of town, Northeast Minneapolis, on this first excursion to the store).
MCR ended up being a great choice for me because they’re very welcoming to both elite runners and people like me who had no idea what I was doing. They set me up with everything I needed to get started running during the winter. I signed up for their race team, which gave me a discount on gear and a way to meet other runners in the area. I’m not a particularly social person but group runs are fun and it’s great to access more experienced runners for their knowledge and to pace yourself against.
A few months later I toed the line at O’Gara’s 2018. The start and end point is O’Gara’s Irish Pub, so there’s shelter from the cold and greasy pub food to warm you up afterwards. Britt and our friends Dan and Ruthann (who have sort of ‘adopted’ us since moving to the Cities) were there to support me. I’m not particularly fast but I had a modest goal that I ended up beating.
This year my goal was a bit faster. The nice thing about an 8k (just a hair under 5 miles at 4.97) is it’s not that much longer than a 5k, but long enough that setting a goal to match my fastest 5k pace from the previous season seemed like a good start to the year. I hit my goal with one second to spare. It was a really nice way to start what I hoped to be a very productive year. While I don’t really plan on having much of a down time between seasons, O’Gara’s will always be a way to get a fresh start and take a baseline of where I’m at for the coming months when I really try to push myself.