Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Running the Mint City

After effectively taking a summer off of serious running, last weekend I decided it was a good idea to jump into a 10 mile race without training.  On Saturday I ran the Mint City 10-Miler in St. John's, Michigan, a small town about a half an hour north of Lansing.  St. John's is known for its Mint Festival, held each summer in its city park and adjacent county fair grounds.  Like any small town festival, it hosts a variety of events from a petting zoo to hot air balloon rides.

The race started early, at 7:30 a.m., and I was grateful due to this summer's heat and humidity. Unfortunately even at the race start it was already steamy. The race had a bit of an unceremonious beginning, but it was a small race and it's what you expect for a race that size. The Mint City race was my 5th race of the Playmakers Race Series.

This is me telling my husband there was someone we knew at the start.
We began by running down a country road, through a few subdivisions, and by mile 3 we were running on a dirt trail surrounded by a corn field on one side and a field of mint on the other.  The scenery wasn't so bad, but there was zero shade. By mile four I was wondering if I would have my first ever DNF - did not finish - in a race.  My face was pounding, and there had only been one water station. I was struggling.

Fortunately the race took a turn for the better onto tree-lined neighborhood streets. St. John's has some gorgeous Victorian homes in its downtown. Some of them are honestly breathtaking. I was enjoying the trees, the beautiful houses and the many cheerful volunteers stationed all over the course.  

This is a house in downtown St. John's. INSANE.
Just before mile 6 we headed through St. John's' lovely downtown. It is a traditional downtown with patriotic flags lining light poles and lots of local shops and eateries. There were a surprising number of retail shops in the downtown - even more than we have in Lansing.  There was a water stop just past downtown, and thankfully they had cloths soaked in ice water. They felt fantastic in the heat. In the neighborhood just past downtown residents had bottles of water and hoses. I gratefully dumped near two bottles of water over my head and took a blast from a water hose. I was soaking wet, but I felt ready to get through the final three miles.

Downtown St. John's looking toward the Clinton County Courthouse
The last few miles were uneventful, running through more neighborhoods and through the city park and fair grounds (where the Mint Festival is held). I finished strong, carving about five minutes off the ten-miler I ran last summer, The Crim in Flint.  

Being insanely goofy

The race was a great mixture of showing off downtown St. John's, the lovely neighborhoods and the more rural aspect of the community. I got to see what I suspect is the bulk of the city, and once I was hydrated and a little cooler, I actually enjoyed it. The race was very well organized, and I really enjoyed doing a smaller race. I placed 4th in my age group, and I realized that if I had run the same pace I ran in this year's Lansing Half Marathon, I would've won my age group. That reminded me of the need to train and step it up.

Important things in life - hardware and chocolate milk
I really, really enjoyed the Mint City Race. It was low key, but the organization and changing scenery kept me engaged throughout the entire race. St. John's is a quaint, lovely community, and I am happy to have gotten the full tour.

How would I rate the Mint City 10-Miler? A (I liked it so much I might even do it again.)  

How would I rate St. John's? A (A great small community) 

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