Saturday, May 26, 2012

Med City 5k Race Report

We were blessed with the weather today at the Med City 5k run the afternoon before the Med City Marathon. The temperature was in the low 60s and there was a nice breeze blowing through downtown Rochester. Though a large thunderstorm had rolled through Rochester earlier, the rain had cleared out and all that remained were some clouds and a little humidity.

I met up with some friends, Gerad and Nate W., before the race. We did a little warmup and then lined up for the start. The start was a little surreal--Ronald McDonald led some stretching exercises and then sang the national anthem. Then, Jeff Galloway said a few words and started us off.

I stayed right with Gerad the first 3/4 of a mile and then stayed pretty close to him after that. I came through the first mile at around 5:05--a little faster than I was planning, but I was feeling good so I decided to try and keep up with Gerad.
trying to catch Gerad

after the race

 The course wound its way around Silver Lake and finished back where it started in downtown. Coming down the finish I was making my way closer to Gerad. He'd raced a marathon two weeks before, so I thought there might be a chance that I could catch up to him. I went as hard as I could but I couldn't do it--he still got me by two seconds.

Still, I ran a huge PR and I was thrilled. I was glad I tried to stay with Gerad--it was ambitious but it paid off. I haven't seen the official times yet, but at the awards they said I was at 16:18 (EDIT: Official chip time was 16:17 with a gun time of 16:18), tying the course record, and Gerad was at 16:16. Gerad won the overall and I came in second. I also got a medal for winning the 20 - 29 age group.

Laura's parents were kind enough to come out and cheer and Laura was nice enough to act as official Twin Cities Runner blog photographer. Tomorrow she'll be running the 1/2 marathon while I pace the full.

Jeff Galloway and Race Time

It's race day here in Rochester, Minn. Last night Laura and I met Olympian Jeff Galloway. Talk about an affable, engaging man! I've never talked to such a popular, high profile runner who was so passionate about what he does. He talked to us for around twenty minutes and would have talked longer had we not had to meet some friends for dinner. We mentioned that we'd met Frank Shorter, and he asked how Mr. Shorter was doing. He also seemed truly interested in our running and gave Laura training advice.

Today we're headed to the Med City Marathon expo, and then I'm racing a 5k at 3 PM. The cold that knocked me out of work for a day has pretty much subsided. I still have some lingering congestion, but otherwise I feel pretty good. I don't know if I feel good enough to finally break 17:00, but here's hoping.

Tomorrow I'm pacing the 3:25 group for the full marathon. It's looking like it's going to be pretty hot and humid, so it could get interesting. I may have some people with me trying to push through the heat to hit their goal times, or, some people who have dropped back to run a little more conservative. There's also the possibility that the marathon gets cancelled due to the heat. We'll see how it goes.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Steeplechase

While I enjoyed running for my high school back in the day, running in college was a little more of an--adventure. First of all, I was a mediocre runner in a lower division small college. Secondly, I was hurt a lot.

College running did, however, have its moments of entertainment. My freshman season I was trying to run the steeplechase. I wasn't terrible at it, but one rainy meet at this little school called Doane, I had an especially bad race.

After the first 3/4 lap, I was at the back of the pack and we were headed toward the first water jump. I hopped up on top of the hurdle, but when I went to jump off it, my foot slipped. Oops--I tried to make it look good and sort of rolled up back into a run. Not too bad. The next time around I slipped again. This time it was not pretty at all. I slid, face first, out onto the track. All forward momentum was halted.

From then on there was a pretty good crowd at the water jump, cheering on the last place runner (me) and (I'm sure) hoping I would crash again. Somehow I finished the race without falling again, though the next year I fell again, this time during one of my failed attempts at the 400m hurdles.

At least I didn't fall quite as bad as this girl (you really should watch the video).

This weekend I'm racing another 5k and then pacing a marathon. I've had a little bit of a cold, so I'm hoping I'll be feeling well enough to run a good 5k.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Eagan 5k Your Way Race Report

It was the most fun-filled, action-packed Saturday in the twin cities for the Leckbands this Saturday, and that's saying something. After running the TC 1 Mile on Thursday, hanging out with the Minnesota Running Wild crew at Brit's that night, we finally spent a Friday evening at home in Eagan (the first Friday at home in over a month).
Photo op before the race.

We ate some delicious salmon and bow-tie pasta (recipe courtesy of my sister-in-law) and hit the hay early to get some rest for the Eagan 5k Your Way on Saturday morning. Saturday morning I woke up at 5 AM (without an alarm) with a sore throat and a little congested. Things didn't look great for the race, but after I was up for a while the congestion pretty much left and my throat felt better.

After putsin' around for a couple hours, Laura and I rode our bikes over to Central Park for the 5k. It was already over 70 degrees, but the breeze was making the humidity and temperature bearable--especially for a 5k.

We ran into our friends Nate and Juli Johnson. Juli is the Eagan Parks and Rec director and she and Nate had already gotten our race bags out for us. Last year Nate won the 5k, but this year he wasn't running because of his high school track and field. Juli told me she expected me to win the race, so the pressure was really on.

During my warmup I could feel that my legs were still sore from the mile on Thursday (and probably the marathon last Saturday), but I thought I might still be able to pull off a respectable 5k. At the start of the race I kissed Laura for good luck and Juli blew the air horn to get us going.

A couple of boys sprinted off into the lead. Before the race, one of them had asked Juli what to do if he passed the lead vehicle. Juli said, "I don't think that will happen." Anyway, I passed the first little guy in about 50m. He yelled to his friend, "look out!" but it was too late, I passed the next little guy too.

Right after the first mile the course turned to the left and I peeked back to see how close the next guy was. He looked like he was about 20-30 seconds behind me. I saw him again at the next turn but after that I was all by my lonesome.

The lead gator did a nice job of moving the runners over to my left when we met back up with the rest of the runners with about a 2/3 of a mile left. I was running against the wind, but I also had a nice downhill grade. The runners on my left gave me some encouraging words and claps and I tried to pick it up as best I could.

I did end up winning so I was glad I didn't disappoint Juli. I got a nice medal, a gift card, a bag, and a water bottle. I also got to get interviewed by Paul, Laura's grade school friend, for the city of Eagan. My final time was 17:30, tying Nate Johnson's previous course record.

Look! I'm a celebrity.

Laura also ran the race and recorded a pretty good time after running a marathon on Saturday. I think she was the fourth or fifth female overall.

pure speed

It was a fun run--the volunteers were friendly and did a great job controlling traffic. The post race food was solid--bagels, apples, and bananas. Plus there was a couple places for a free post-race massage.

The rest of our Saturday was also awesome. A long (for us) bike ride, swimming (brrrr) at Lake Nokomis, dinner at Sea Salt, and watching a movie at home. Good times.

25 mile bike ride

Friday, May 18, 2012

TC 1 Mile Race Report

Yesterday was a hot and windy one. I had signed up for the TC 1 Mile, and was hoping to break 5 minutes after failing to do so last year. I got to the race pretty early, so after picking up my packet, I walked to Brit's, a pub near the 3/4 mile mark where some Minnesota Running Wild friends were hanging out.

The TC 1 Mile consisted of several heats, culminating in the elite men and the elite women running the road mile championships. My heat was the open wave, just before the elite waves, so I spent some time at Brit's, where Laura eventually joined us.

After requesting that Laura order me some food so I could eat it when I got back from my mile, I did a little warmup and headed to the start. It was still windy and unfortunately it was a strong headwind. The heat wasn't too bad, but I decided I'd better prepare for the worst since I heard there would be no water stops during this one mile marathon.

So, I strapped on my fuel belt, loaded with two 16 oz water bottles. I also had a couple of gels in case I hit the wall around the 3/4 mile mark. After chatting with a Matt, a Running Wild member who's had to relocate to Arkansas, and Seth, and friend who I did Ragnar with, I lined up near the front of the pack.

After the gun went off I was passed by a good amount of runners, but I kept my pace and stayed relaxed. I went through the quarter mile mark at 72 seconds--a little bit too fast but not as bad as last year when I was at 70 seconds.

Somewhere after the quarter mile mark I went past the pack I was with and then I could really feel the wind. I could tell my pace had slowed substantially running into the headwind, and the mile mark confirmed it when I came through at 2:34. Yikes. I knew sub-5 was going to be very difficult at this point, so I took a gel and washed it down with one of my bottles.

From then on I would catch a pack, get a break from the wind, and then speed past the pack, only to get blasted by the wind and slow down until I could catch another pack. Fortunately most people had gone out too fast and I had several packs to catch up to.

At the 3/4 mile mark I was at 3:52ish. I thought I just might have enough to hit 68 seconds for the last quarter, so I took my last gel and downed my other bottle of water. I don't really remember much from there other than seeing the clock at 4:50 and realizing there was no way I was going to get to it in less than 10 seconds.

My final time was 5:03. Without the headwind and without having paced Laura in a marathon five days earlier, I think I may have been able to break five minutes. I also probably should have taken one more gel.

Oh well. Laura had ordered me a chicken tandoori wrap because she's the best wife in the world. We then watched the elite runners and enjoyed an evening of good food and beer. Tomorrow I'm going to see if I've got anything left in my legs when Laura and I run in the Eagan 5k Your Way.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Frank Shorter

During my busy week, I neglected to blog about an exciting running-related event: I met Frank Shorter!

Last Wednesday a Running Room opened up in Eagan, and Frank Shorter was on hand to give a few words. During a brief program inside the packed store, Mr. Shorter spoke about The Running Room and its Founder, John Stanton. He then said he would be running the mile "fun run" very slowly, and all he asked was that we say, "looking good Frank," when we passed him. John Stanton also gave a brief address, and then it was off for the 5k "fun run."

The Running Room regional manager emphasized that this was a "fun run" and not a race. Traffic would not be stopped and we needed to wait at the lights.

I was a little disappointed because I had been planning on trying to run a fast 5k. I decided I would use the "fun run" as a workout and go as fast as I could in between the lights. The race started and I made my way around Frank and the mayor, and the president of the Chamber of Commerce, calling, "looking good Frank," as I passed them.

A little past half-a-mile it happened--the first red light. The lead biker stopped and I stopped alongside her. Then, two other runners caught up to me. I decided I would stop my Garmin just to see what my "non-stoplight" time would be.

I ended up hitting three stoplights throughout the race, and came through when the clock read 18:20. I had 16:59 on my Garmin, but I don't know if I would have been slower because I wouldn't have had any breaks, or faster because I didn't have to stop and start, had I been running an actual 5k.

Either way it was fun getting to see Frank Shorter--I even got him to sign my bib number!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Lake Wobegon Trail Marathon Pace Report

My wife is tough. I had the privilege of pacing her for her third marathon, and while she didn't quite reach her ambitious goal, she still managed to set a PR. She was so tough that after the race she barfed a couple of times for good measure. While I was getting her a sweatshirt, I came back to find her sitting on the grass. "I just threw up in front of lots of kids and people," she said. Way to go, hun.

It was an almost perfect day for a marathon. The race started out in the low 40s with a slight breeze and sunny skies. Several friends from Minnesota Running Wild were also running the race. Laura and I spotted Don on the way to the bus that took us to the start line so we chatted with him on the way there.

After a couple of warm up miles with Don (he was doing crazy mileage in preparation for a 24 hour race and I though it'd be fun to do some extra miles with him) I looked for Laura at the start line. I got a little nervous when I couldn't find her right away, but I managed to catch up to her right before we started.

The Lake Wobegon Trail Marathon is exceptionally well-run. The race started out in a high school parking lot and traveled to the Lake Wobegon Trail--a flat, scenic, asphalt trail through central Minnesota. Laura and I set off at her goal pace, and we chatted as the initial crowd thinned out. At mile 1, Laura was able to toss her long sleeve to our buddy, Adam. I played pack mule for Laura, carrying a bottle of water and a bottle of Gatorade so she wouldn't have to slow down at aid stations.

Around mile 17 Laura started getting tired and we slowed up a little bit. She was, however, a trooper and ran all the way to the finish. I had a lot of fun running with her and telling her a different story at every mile marker. We finished in a 3 minute PR for Laura and held hands while we crossed the line. It was so romantical I think I saw a volunteer throw up a little bit.

Running hand-in-hand

The happy finishers
I also had a good time hanging out with Minnesota Running Wild friends after the race. We enjoyed beer and pizza in the grass near the finish. Leah had just run a BQ of 3:27, with Don's pacing help, and Gerad had come in second with a 2:36. I'll get to see some of them again on Thursday night when I race the TC 1 Mile in downtown Minneapolis. Then, I've got a little 5k on Saturday. It should be an exciting week of racing!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Brainerd Jaycees Run for the Lakes Pace Report

This year's Brainerd Jaycees Run for the Lakes looked as if it was going to be similar to last year--rainy. It also looked like it might be colder. The forecast was calling for cool temperatures--perfect, and showers with possible snow--not so perfect.

(check out a comparison to last year's race morning photo)

Laura and I somehow got out of the twin cities--through the rush hour traffic and construction, and made it to the expo with five minutes to spare. All the vendors had torn down and the place was pretty much empty besides packet pickup and the Minnesota Pacers table. We picked up our packet, headed to the cabin (at beautiful Grand View Lodge), chatted with the pace team, and rested up for the next day's running.

I was absolutely elated on Saturday morning when I looked out the window and saw a total lack of rain. It looked much better than last year's view. The report on The Weather Channel was also encouraging, showing temperatures in the low 40s. It was cloudy and I was somewhat worried that it would rain, so I waited to see what the radar would say. Another pacer showed me his smartphone and my joy was complete--the rain would stay to the south of us.

As for the race itself, everything was pretty uneventful. Once again, the timing company did not put a mat on the start line, so the race was gun timed, though we had chips to record our finishing times. This worked fine for me as I was about 5 seconds from the start, but I felt bad for those farther back.

I started out with a small group and it stayed pretty small through mile 10 or so. From that point on I had one guy stay with me for the rest of the race until he pulled away with a mile left. He was very friendly and ran a smart race the whole way. It always feels good as a pacer to actually pace someone to their goal. My splits were very even--all between 7:38 - 7:56 (goal pace of 7:49) so I was pretty happy with my effort.

I missed my goal of 3:24:59 and came in at 3:24:48--I must've got a little antsy that last 0.2 and picked it up too much (Garmin says I was at 7:25 pace for the last .2). I was pretty happy with my splits--nice and even. I was also happy that my legs weren't really very sore the next day. The 7:49 pace was fast enough to keep my stride normal but slow enough that I could recover quickly.

Laura had a good run too. She put in an easy 2, raced a 1/2 marathon, then did another easy 3 in time to see me at the finish. We then celebrated our running with beer and pizza at the "Ye Olde Pickle" bar. If my schedule works next year I'd love to do this race again.