For the past 2 months, I've been training for my first postpartum race: the Hot Dash 10 Mile in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I first did a 10 mile race years ago and fell in love with the distance so I was really happy to see that distance come to a few more races in the Twin Cities.
In this post I'll share with you my entire Hot Dash 10 mile experience - from signing up, to training to race day!
Table of Contents
I got an e-mail in either November or December about signing up for the Hot Dash. Since it was so early, registration was super discounted - I think it was only $55 for the first 100 registrants.
Hot Dash was a race that I always wanted to run, but had been afraid to because of the unpredictability of the weather. However, I knew I needed something to motivate me through the winter and I really wanted something to work towards.
So I decided to not only register for the Hot Dash 10 Mile, but also the Women's Run the Cities 10 Mile later on in May (which was also having a similar sale since registration had just opened).
Now that I was signed up it was time to decide on a training plan.
Before choosing a training plan I decided my goal for the race would be to finish strong. This meant that I'd run a race where I felt good at the finish line - both mentally and physically. I decided that since I was only a few months postpartum I'd hold off on any goal times and just run based on how I felt. Looking back, this was the best decision I could've made.
I will be the first to admit that I get training burnout. In 2017 I ran the TC Marathon and while my training plan was fantastic thanks to the Life Time Fitness Running Club, I just felt exhausted mentally. While training went well, the weather didn't cooperate that day and I ended up nowhere near my goal time. I then went on to train for the 2018 Disney Marathon but found out I was pregnant and ended up not running that race.
Since then I've kind of had training fatigue, which has led me to not really race (well that, and the pandemic and now having 2 little kids).
Related Post: How to Train for a Race with Peloton
However I felt like I was ready to take on a challenge - and, let's be honest, I also wanted to have a goal for my workouts. I love my Peloton treadmill but without a goal, I can get bored fast.
I decided to do a free Hal Higdon beginner 15K plan and started it the first week in January. I didn't enter in any times, but generally, the plan had me running 10:50/miles for my runs. The plan had me running 3 times a week, with 2 shorter runs and then a long run on Fridays (weekends are too hit or miss for me with the kids home so I decided Fridays would be my long run days). There were also 2 days a week where the schedule called for me to cross train.
I ended up really liking the training plan! I found about halfway through that there was actually a free app called Run With Hal that had the workouts all inside an app, which made it even easier for me to follow instead of constantly checking the website.
Hot Dash Training and Peloton
Since it was cold out for most of my training, most of my runs happened on the Peloton Tread. I generally ran:
Endurance Runs - I fell in love with Endurance Runs with Becs and Matt Wilpers during this training session! Endurance runs are "a set it and forget it" run, where you set your speed and leave it. The instructors will call out different inclines (not usually higher than a 4) to mimic hills, which ended up being perfect for my training. On days that my training called for 3 or less miles I'd do a 30 minute class, and for days that were longer, I'd either do a 45 or 60-minute class (and sometimes stack if I needed longer).
Progression Runs - I started mixing these in on my 30 minute run days to change up my routine. They'd usually start at one pace and then slowly increase over the 30 minutes to a faster pace.
I learned over this training session that for my long runs I preferred doing a mini stack. I'd typically set it up like this:
10 minute warm up run
60 minute endurance run
15 minute endurance run
I had tried to do some shorter, 20-minute stacks but found I'd get too distracted when I'd switch to the next class.
Related Post: How to Stack Peloton Classes
Race Day Gear
I had no idea what to expect for race day in terms of weather. March weather can be kind of crazy in Minnesota - the first year I moved here it ended up being 80 degrees on St. Patrick's Day! Lately, we haven't been so lucky, and it's been cooler than normal.
The week of the race I stalked the weather and it looked promising with a high of 60 degrees. However, mornings still have been cooler, in the high 20's to low 30's so I knew I'd more than likely have to dress warm.
Race day ended up being 28 degrees at the start with even a few snow showers. I ended up wearing:
Baleaf Fleece Leggings - these were incredibly warm and super comfortable! I got quite a few pairs for this winter because they're under $30 on Amazon (and there's usually coupons too to make it even cheaper). They've held up incredibly this winter and are by far some of the best leggings I own.
Nike Windbreaker - I found this windbreaker at Clothes Mentor a few weeks before the race (only $8!) and it was the perfect jacket. It became even more perfect because it actually had zippers that took the arms off so it could convert into a vest! This came in handy as the temperatures warmed up during the race.
Under Armour Intelliknit Long Sleeve Shirt - I love this material for colder weather runs. It's light enough but also keeps me super warm. Perfect for layering!
Senita Tank - A lightweight tank underneath the Under Armour layer.
FitSplint - I'm 6 months postpartum and still need a little support in my core, so I wear a FitSplint adjustable wrap (this is the same one I wore when I was running pregnant).
Fleece Headband - I wore this headband to cover my ears and it was perfect! Normally I run with a hat but found the headband kept me warmer, especially when the wind picked up near the river.
I also wore a pair of light gloves at the start, but ended up taking them off around mile 5.
For running gear, I had:
AirPods Pro - I used Airpod Pros during my run to listen to my playlist (you can find my race day playlist on Spotify here). I love Airpod Pros because they're lightweight and really comfortable, plus no cords to deal with!
Garmin Venu - I recently switched from Apple Watch back to Garmin to use their training plan feature and ended up wearing this watch 24/7. It's not only a beautiful watch, but a powerful training tool, and the battery is really impressive.
Ucan Edge Gels - For nutrition this race I used Ucan Edge gels, which were new to me. In my previous marathon training cycles, I had drank Ucan (I think it was known as Generation Ucan back then), but now they have gels.
Normally I do packet pickup a few days before the race, but this year I ended up having to do it the morning of the race. Packet pickup was originally scheduled to be at Surly the Thursday and Friday before the race, but there was a last minute change of plans and the location moved.
Since I had to pickup my packet the morning of the race, I decided to get to the race about an hour and 15 minutes before start time to give myself enough time to park and get my packet. The website did warn there would be quite a walk from the lots and that spots were limited.
The starting line was at Boom Island Park and parking was available in 3 Greco lots nearby. When I arrived it was pretty busy, but I was able to get a spot in one of the parking lots. I decided to walk over to get my packet, head back to my car to warm up, then go to the starting line.
I'm happy I went with this plan because it was a little longer walk than I had planned. Packet pickup was really easy to find, and they had it split into 2 tents (very clearly labeled): one for the 5K and one for the 10 mile. The 5K line was super long but did seem like they moved through at a good pace. The 10 mile line wasn't very long at all and in under a minute I had my bib and race shirt. I didn't get a bag drop bag like they mentioned I would, but this wasn't a big deal to me since I wasn't planning on using it.
I walked back to my car to warm up for a bit. While I was in my car, someone came up and knocked on my window. Turns out the race crew had directed us to the wrong Greco lot and needed all of us to move our cars. This made me panicked a little since by this point there were a ton of cars around and I didn't think I'd get a spot.
Thankfully there was one lot that still had a few spots and I was able to get one. However, it was a little futher away from packet pickup so this meant I had a little bit of a longer walk.
Around 8:30 I decided to leave my car and head to the start to do my warmups. The 5K was starting at 8:45 so the finish line was super busy and crowded! They had a ton of portapotties available but I decided to wait to use them until the 5K crowds cleared out. It definitely seemed like the 5K had more participants than the 10 mile.
One of my favorite things at the starting line was the campfires! They had 3 big campfires that kept us all so warm! At this time I couldn't help but notice just how normal this entire race experience felt. It brought me back to the pre-pandemic days and it felt so refreshing. The race organizers did a great job with precautions and spacing things out, but I can't deny it felt so nice to have some sense of normalcy after these long 2 years.
Before I knew it I heard the 5K start and decided it was time to head to the bathroom before going to the starting line. The 5K starting line was right next to the finish line festival (where I had been warming up), but I had heard the starting line might be a little bit of a walk.
I'm so happy I went to the starting line when I did because it was quite the walk. From the staring line for the 10 mile to packet pickup I think it was about .5 mile walk! I ended up making it to the starting line with only a few minutes to spare.
The starting line was one big corral, with the pacers scattered throughout to give you an idea of where to line up. I didn't have a real goal for this race so I tried to start in between the 10:30 and 11 minute mile pacers, but it ended up being so crowded I ended up being a little further back.
Before I knew it the race had started and we were off! The first mile was a little crowded and had lots of turns. Normally this would bug me, but I just felt so happy to be able to be at a normal race. And I wasn't really focused on time so figured the crowd would actually be helping me since it'd force me to slow down (I had a bad habit of starting out too fast).
By mile 2 or 3 the race started to thin out and I got into a good groove. I had created a training plan on my Garmin Venu to break the race into small 1 mile and 1.5 mile segments. I find when I do this it helps me focus on the mile I'm in, instead of getting overwhelmed with the 10 mile distance.
I also like when I have it on this mode my watch shows the distance remaining in that segment, instead of how far I've come. Again - total mental games, but it helps me stay in the mile I'm running and let go of the past mile. This mode also doesn't show my pace on the screen unless I swipe over so in this case where I wanted to just run on feel, this was perfect.
I ended up setting the race to:
And in my head, I treated the first and last mile as warmups and cooldowns - in reality, I was still running a race pace but somehow by considering them warm up and cool down mentally it made it easier.
I then set an official rule for myself. I would commit to running every 1.5 mile segment, and if I needed a break I'd give myself permission to walk the 1 mile segments. However I also kept in my mind how in my training I had run 8 miles no problem (and on the treadmill!) so what's an 8 mile run with some warmups and cooldowns? Again - total mental games, but you gotta do what you gotta do to mentally to get through the miles.
Hills for Days
I believe it was around mile 3 when we got to the first real hill. I had been warned that the course was hilly but man was it HILLY! It felt like the only way we were going was uphill and I finally understood what my grandparents had said when they walked to school uphill both ways.
What really got me through the hills was knowing (or praying) that since this was an out and back, I'd eventually come back and these uphill parts would be downhill. Looking back this was a total lie to myself (ok, maybe there were some downhills - but barely) but hey that hope helped me get through the race.
At mile 5, the turnaround, I was starting to feel a little tired and hungry. One of my biggest mistakes this morning had been my fueling. I had woken up in the morning and ate my normal breakfast (Good Culture Cottage Cheese, Ozery Morning Round and a cup of coffee) - but I hadn't taken into account that this was a late starting race. Looking back I probably should've had a small snack on the ride to the race, but I didn't want to mess with anything day of the race.
Anyway - at mile 5 I took my Ucan Edge gel and within 5 minutes I felt great again. I also felt good mentally because I knew this was the turnaround part and was excited to have some relief on my legs.
There was some relief, but also some more hills that I conveniently didn't remember were downhills on the way out. Whoops. I kept chugging on and around mile 7 I started to notice all the aches and pains creeping in.
This is when I thought back to my training, and specifically the NYC Simulation Run I did with Becs on my Peloton a few weeks prior. During that run she had mentioned how aches and pains started creeping up on her and she would have to mentally block them. This really resignated with me. When my mind starts wandering, that's when I start noticing the little pain in my knee, or notice that my running clothes aren't as comfortable as I first thought they were.
So I tried to think about something else and sure enough, the pain in my knee went away. And was replaced with me noticing my ankle was feeling not so great. Totally mental so I started to look around at other things to distract me.
Thankfully this got me to about mile 8, which brought me back to the Stone Arch Bridge, which signified almost being done with the race to me. I regrouped my thoughts, fixed my running form and continued on.
I started to feel great again and was really excited to see the Skol line at the end of the bridge. This gave me the extra strength and got me excited that the finish line would be there before I knew it.
And then I took a turn into St. Anthony Main and was met with my biggest enemy: cobblestone.
What the Cobblestone?!!
While people talk about this race as being hilly, I think the hills don't even compare to the cobblestone.
It is THE WORST.
I've never really run on cobblestone, except during the start of the Red, White and Boom Half Marathon for a few minutes. There's such a big difference, though, between running on cobblestone with fresh legs and tired and achy legs.
This part was one of the most brutal parts of the race for me. With every step, I felt achy all over from the uneven surface underneath me. Thankfully the cobblestone was in good shape and there weren't really any missing pieces, but the unevenness of the surface was still so brutal on my legs.
I kept thinking to myself - just push through. There will be a turn soon and it'll be all over.
After what felt like a million miles, there finally was a turn and that brought me past the 9 mile marker and into the home stretch!
I'll be the first to admit I don't really pay attention to race maps before a race so I had no idea what to expect in the last mile. Usually about this time you'll find a lot of turns as the race tries to get mileage to hit 10 miles so mentally I had prepped for lots of twists and turns until the finish line.
I was pleasantly surprised and found there weren't too many turns. There was a slight turn as we went uphill and did the final turn on the straightway, but it wasn't too bad.
Once I turned onto the straightway and saw the finish line I couldn't help but pick up. I was already so proud of the race I had run - I did exactly what I came out to accomplish! I was feeling good, trusted my training and thanks to that I was able to run the entire race.
I crossed the finish line at 1:37, which was a 9:45 pace. I was so proud of myself! I also looked at my watch and found that I ran consistent splits the entire race - something I had never done before.
My training session worked perfectly and I was so proud! I ended up looking up the 2 other 10 mile races I had done in the past - both TC 10 Miles - and found I actually wasn't too far off from the last time I had run a 10 mile. My last 10-mile time was 1:35, and that was years ago before kids. My PR was 1:24:55 from 2014 and after this race, that time doesn't seem so far off.
Finish Line and Festival
After I collected my thoughts - and medal, water, and some snacks, I started to head back to the festival. The festival was at the same place as the start so I knew it'd be a bit of a walk.
The festival area was so well organized! The race advertised there being a Hot Dish Sampler (or casserole for you non-Minnesota readers), S'mores Area, Meat Raffle (both regular meat and vegan options) and a beer garden.
Hot Dish Sampler
My family had met up with me at this point so we decided to do the Hot Dish sampler first. The lines weren't long at all for this and we were able to get samples of a few different hot dishes.
Traditional Tater Tot
Vegan (this was more of a pasta looking casserole)
They were all very unique and very flavorful. Our favorite one was the Tater Tot! While the Mexican and Curry ones were delicious, they were just a little too heavy and flavorful for my stomach after the race so I didn't really eat too much.
More S'mores Please
Next up my daughter and I went to look for the s'mores section. I saw volunteers beginning to set this up when the 5K began and was hoping it would still be going for the 10-mile participants. Unfortunately, they had packed up all the s'mores making supplies so we weren't able to do this. This was really disappointing because it was one of the things my daughter was looking forward to most. Hopefully next year they keep it open a little longer so 10 mile runners can enjoy this.
After her mini-meltdown I was ready for a beer, so headed to claim my free beer and enter in the meat raffle.
For those non-Minnesotans, a meat raffle is exactly how it sounds - you enter your number and they raffle off meat like steaks, brats, etc. They also did have a vegan version available too.
Every 20 minutes they'd stop the music to draw a number for the meat raffle. I really liked how they did this because it gave everyone a chance to enter and participate. I didn't end up winning anything but it was still something fun to do!
There also were spots for photo opps and a PR bell!
Now that the Hot Dash is over, I'm moving on to training for the Women Run 10 Mile in May. This is another Twin Cities in Motion race and it will be the first time I'll be participating.
My goal for the race is to run it in 1:30, with my ultimate goal to hit 1:25 again in the TC 10 Mile this fall (fingers crossed I get in race lottery!).
This time around I'm working with a running coach to help me build a plan with more speed work as well as helping me add in more of my Tempo strength workouts to it.
Twin Cities in Motion puts on amazing races and Hot Dash 10 Mile was no exception. The course is challenging with all the hills and cobblestone, but it's a really fun race and the perfect event to kick off race season. I can't wait to do it again next year!