HomeFitnessSuccess Stories › My First 10K Race

I started running about a decade ago, when I was in college. I've been a casual runner ever since, but I have never taken it seriously enough to join an organized race. This past weekend, I finally did. 

I thought I'd share a little about the experience, which proved highly rewarding.

Typically, my running regimen has consisted of getting out and jogging around the lake or on a trail three to four times per week during the summer. I would routinely take on fairly long distances (five to eight miles) but I would never really push myself to trim down my mile time or complete a particular distance in any amount of time.

When we learned that the Salomon CityTrail Loppet 10K was going to be passing right by the new Wellki headquarters, we were intrigued. The event runners were kind enough to grant us free entry, so I signed up along with my colleague, Haig.

Haig is an experienced competitive runner who has completed several marathons, but an organized race was brand new territory for me. I was excited and nervous about the pressure that comes along with being an official participant in a run. The distance (about 6.2 miles) was nothing out of the ordinary, but suddenly, my results mattered. 

Here are some of the key insights I gained from my participation in the run.

The Course

Nick NelsonGiven that I've grown used to running on flat paths and trails, I wasn't exactly prepared for the terrain I'd be taking on in this race. We started out in downtown Robbinsdale, MN, but the scenery quickly transformed as we veered into a wooded trail that would comprise about the first half of the course. 

Suddenly, I was navigating a narrow, weaving dirt path, high-stepping over roots, branches and plants. I appreciated running on soft ground, which is much easier on the knees and joints, but I definitely found some of the turns and inclines challenging to negotiate.

Additionally, because the path was so narrow, it wasn't really possible to pass other runners during this stretch. This bugged me at first, but looking back, it helped keep my pace in check earlier on, and that probably made the tail end of the run easier.

Overall, it was a beautiful course with a lot of variety. We ran through forests, alongside creeks and lakes, over railroad tracks and more. 

The Power of Support

Although it was technically a race, I wouldn't say there was an air of intense competition during this run. Everyone was out there because they are enthusiastic about running and wanted to push themselves. It was easy to feed off this communal energy.

But even more so, it was the supporters along the route that provided an incredible motivation boost.

Sporadically, throughout the course, you'd come across people camped out to show support. They'd clap and yell encouragement, give high fives, ring bells and hand out cups of water. This is one element I've never experienced as a runner, and it's hard to express just how much it helped. The most memorable moment came just after the four-mile mark.

I was wearing down a little bit. I'd been trudging through some rugged terrain and was starting to feel like I might need to slow down and walk to regain some energy.

@GlenwoodBut shortly after the four-mile mark, I reached the point where the course passed the new Wellki HQ. About 10 coworkers had congregated there to grill, drink some beers and cheer runners who passed. They raised their level of fervor as I approached, greeting me with boisterous shouts and hearty high fives. 

Seeing so many of my friends there to show support and send out positive vibes really did give me a renewed burst. I quickened pace and passed a couple other runners, and kept feeding off of it for the next mile or so.

The Thrill of Completion

The best part about the race was the finish line, which was perfectly situated at the beautiful Sculpture Garden in Minneapolis. Here, a huge crowd of people was congregated, some of them runners catching their breath and others simply onlookers cheering people across the finish line.

As I trotted across the finish, a PA announcer called out my name. There were stands with people handing out water and bananas. I stopped by another stand and picked up my complimentary Salomon running shirt, along with a coupon for a free hot dog and a glass for my free Surly beer.

Nick Nelson Haig NewtonThe atmosphere at the finish line area was amazing. I met up with Haig (who had of course finished many minutes earlier) and we drank beer, chatted and basked in the satisfaction of a job well done. I always feel great after finishing a workout -- largely the product of endorphins pumping through the body -- but the great setup here magnified that feeling considerably.

Finally, I walked over to the results board to see how I'd done. My goal was to finish under an hour, which would be a new personal record at this distance. I scanned the list and found my name.

My official time: 59 minutes, 38 seconds. I'd met my goal, just barely. 

Final Thoughts

This was an overwhelmingly positive experience. The folks running the event did a fantastic job of organizing, setting up the course and creating a tremendous environment at the finish line. The race also included a secondary 10-mile route for more serious runners, but to me, the 10K is just about right. It's long enough to be a challenge, but short enough that you won't be totally out of your element if you don't do a ton of training and have occasionally achy knees (both are the case for me).

If you, like me, are a casual runner who was considered entering an official race, I highly recommend it. It really is a whole different ballgame, and a far more fulfilling experience. I can't wait for my next one.

race results

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