2018 Race Round Up

2018 was another big year of races for me! I ran 6 races altogether, including 3 PRs, plus I trained through the winter for my second marathon. Today’s a round up of all my races in 2018!

Valentine’s Day TC 5K Race Recap


Started off the year with a very cold 5K PR! It felt like sub-zero temps but I still managed to knock two minutes off my PR form 2016.

Hot Dash 10 Mile Race Recap

My longest race before the Eau Claire Marathon, which I used as a tune-up race to check on my pacing and fueling in a race.

Eau Claire Marathon Race Recap

After a tough winter training for the Eau Claire Marathon (including a blizzard the weekend of my last 20-mile run which meant I took it to the treadmill), I ended up getting a seven minute PR at my second marathon.

Stillwater Half Marathon Race Recap

My last race of the spring which turned out to much hotter than I excepted. This was my second time running the hills at Stillwater.

Highland Park Turkey Trot 5K Race Recap

My last PR of the year, a 24:32 finish time which meant I took 2 minutes off my PR from the Valentine’s Day TC 5K in February.

Reindeer Run 10K Race Recap

My last race of 2018, I was originally training for a 10K PR but ended up running it for fun!

How did your 2018 race season go? Let me know in the comments!

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Training Tips Tuesday #47: Tune Up Races

Last Thursday, I ran a 5K Turkey Trot not only as a fun Thanksgiving tradition but to use as a tune-up race before my 10K on December 8th. I love running races, even as I’m working towards a bigger goal.

There are two ways I use races to get ready for a bigger goal: to test out race strategy and to see how my speed relates to a shorter distance than my goal. You can read more about how I’ve used races to test out my marathon strategies for both the Twin Cities and Eau Claire Marathons.

The Highland Park Turkey Trot was a great way for me to see how my speed was during a shorter distance and make sure I’m on track for my goal at the Reindeer Run 10K. It gave me a great confidence boost to see that 5K PR (of 90 seconds) on my watch because it made me even more confident in racing a 10K PR based on February 5K time of 26:36.

How do you use races leading up to your big goal race? Let me know in the comments!

Highland Park Turkey Trot Race Recap


I just wanted to write up a quick race recap of the Highland Park Turkey Trot, where I got a 5K PR! This is the third Turkey Trot I’ve done (and it’s been a different one every time) and it’s a great tradition whenever we spent Thanksgiving with Mike’s family!

Originally, I was going to walk the race with Mike, Vinnie and Mike’s parents. But after my last pace run, I knew I could easily take a minute off my 5K PR. Mike was all for me racing the 5K instead of walking so I began to get ready.

Which wasn’t a lot of getting ready since we were so close to the race. I still did my tempo run on Tuesday but moved my second cross training day to Wednesday since I’d be running hard on Thursday. I was feeling good on race morning, not even sore at all from my previous workouts that week.

We had to walk a little bit from where we parked the car to the race start and got there maybe 15 minutes before race start. It was pretty unorganized at the start, no one was really clear on where the “race start” was since apparently, the direction had changed from previous years so people were just milling about. This wasn’t a chip timed race so I knew I wanted to get towards the front of the pack just so I didn’t have to dodge too many people.

And I ended up basically right up front, behind a group of middle school girls that were afraid that they were at the front (but still didn’t move back). And then we were off (with the middle school girls screaming as they tried to run as fast as they could).


There were some fast runners at that race because I started off at a sub-6 minute pace. Which as soon as I saw that, I knew it was way too fast and I was going to crash and burn if I kept it up. Luckily, there weren’t too many people around and I could safely move over a little and slow down without causing anyone to have to swerve around me. The first two miles were pretty great, a slight elevation loss on both of them which made it that much easier to run fast.

I did have a positive split for this race but that’s mainly because I started out too fast and was trying to rein it back in and the last mile turned into the wind and had a pretty decent elevation gain (especially compared to the rest of the course). I did walk a little bit on a hill towards the end (at about five minutes before I would cross the finish line) because my body is not used to running that fast uphill. Even with walking, I still managed a sub-8:30 split for the last mile which felt great.

I ended up crossing the finish line at just under 25 minutes (24:54) which was so amazing to see on my watch. That’s 90 seconds off my TC Valentine's Day 5K race time, which was my previous PR, and I’ve never seen a sub-8 minute average pace at the end of the race. No medal from this race but I’m super excited for the Reindeer Run 10K in two weeks because after this I know I can get a 10K PR easily!

Did you do a Turkey Trot? Let me know how it went in the comments!

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Valentine's Day TC 5K Race Recap

Yesterday, I ran the Valentine’s Day TC 5K at Lake Nokomis. And if you follow me on social media (@JenniferLThiel on Twitter or @Jennifer.L.Thiel on Instagram), you already know I had a pretty awesome race! But let’s start at the beginning.

I slept pretty good the night before (which doesn’t always happen before a race) and woke up just before 6 a.m. Of course, because of the way Vinnie decided to sleep my arms had fallen asleep and I was a little bit stiff. That’s what happens when you let a bed hog dog in bed.

Nothing out of the ordinary happened in the morning, just had my usual coffee and oatmeal breakfast (with a diced apple in my oatmeal because we are out of both frozen berries and jam). Vinnie was super sleepy all morning and just laid on the couch until I started pouring my coffee because he knows that's when he gets his morning Kong. Such a spoiled dog.

Mike got up at 8 a.m. (we planned on leaving at 9 a.m.) and I was already dressed and ready to go. So while Mike got ready, I took Vinnie out on a walk and also foam rolled just to get some of my soreness out. Then, we got our bibs on, kenneled up Vinnie (so that he could nap some more) and headed on out!


The one downside to this race was there isn’t a ton of parking close by and the roads were pretty busy. We were about 20 minutes away from race start when Mike decided to drop me off and go find street parking. So I had a short, two minute walk to the starting area and I got in the corral by the 9 minute pace sign. Meanwhile, Mike found a parking spot about ¼ of a mile away and walked to the start, lining up towards the back of the pack. I love that Mike will come and do a 5K in single digit temperatures “with” me even though I’m way ahead of him.

It wasn’t too crowded when I first got there so I got in my dynamic warm-up moves. However, it ot crowded pretty quickly and by the time it was race start we were packed in. Which wasn’t bad since it was chilly out there. The temperature was single digits and it was probably about -5 to -8 with the windchill. So, a regular run temperature for me!

When the start gun went off, I felt like I was going slow and was anxious if I was going to PR on this race. My 5K PR was 28:35 (a 9:12 average pace) and it didn’t feel like i was going that fast. I was hoping that the crowds would thin out soon and I’d get going faster. That’s the downside of self-corralling races, you end up weaving around people who line up in a spot way too fast.

However, I shouldn’t have been worried about not going fast enough. Looking back at my data, I was going at a sub-9 minute pace after the first minute. But it seriously didn’t feel like that. I finally looked at my watch around the ¾ mile mark and almost swore when I saw my pace was around 8:35 min/mile. I don’t think I’ve ever run a sub-9 minute mile. So I was both happy and scared. Was I going to be able to keep it up?

I passed the first mile marker and kept on passing people. There’s something that makes me feel good when I pass people on a race course. Of course, I don’t pay attention to the people passing me.

I kept on feeling great during mile two and I was thinking that I was going to get a better PR than I originally thought. I was going to be super happy about PR-ing by five seconds with how long it’s been since I raced a 5K. By the time I passed mile two, I realized even if I somehow slowed to a 10 minute mile, I’d still PR by almost 90 seconds.

I slowed down just a bit in the final mile. I wasn’t hurting or feeling like I was losing steam but I didn’t want to crash and burn at the last moment. And I think doing this was the right choice since I had enough left in me to give a good kick across the finish line.


And boy was I happy when I saw the time on my watch! I finished in 26:36, a 2 minute PR, and I felt awesome at the end. I got my medal (a gorgeous pink heart-shaped one) and wandered my way to the food area. Of course, I had to grab a heart-shaped sugar cookie post-race and it was the best cookie ever. Probably because it was a post-PR cookie.


I was able to get pretty close to the finish line and waited for Mike to finish. He was about 20 or so minutes behind me but even though I was right at the finish line I missed seeing him cross! I blame it on the fact that I decided to do a finish line selfie as long as I was waiting. We walked back to the car and I finally started to feel the cold on the walk back.

Luckily, I had some Nuun waiting for me in the car because I was thirsty. Pro-tip: if it’s super cold outside, make your Nuun with hot water and it will take it much longer to freeze. I did it for my 14 mile long run last week too and it lasted over two hours in 15° (without the windchill).

So now it’s back to marathon training but I still have one more race coming up before the Eau Claire Marathon. I’ll be running the Hot Dash 10 mile on March 24, with Mike being my official race photographer. We’ve run the 5K course before but this will be my first time running the 10 mile (and my third 10 mile race). We’ll see if I can pull out another PR