Sunday, August 12, 2012

Gopher to Badger: Race Report

The day didn't start off the greatest. There was a detour on the way to the start and after trying to find the way for a while, we stopped and asked for directions. Then, tragedy struck. It struck as in I struck my wife with the car. Don't worry, she's OK. We went to switch drivers and as she was walking around the front of the car I took my foot off the brake and rolled into her. I swear I thought it was in park (in my defense I'm used to driving my car, which is a stick).

Anyhow, Laura was fine and the race had to go on. After a warmup and saying "hi" to some MN Running Wild friends, I lined up at the start. I chatted with one guy who said he wasn't sure what kind of shape he was in, but he was going to try to run between 1:12 and 1:15. I knew I wasn't running a 1:12 and there was a very slim chance of me running a 1:15, but I thought I might still have an outside shot if this guy didn't have a great day.

I hit the jackpot for weather in this one: mid-50s at the start, no breeze, and sunny enough to keep it interesting. It warmed up as the race went on, but I never felt like weather was a factor.


About 1/2 a mile into the race another guy caught up to me. At this point the first guy I talked to was about 20 seconds ahead. This next guy was very chatty and said we'd work together to catch up to this guy. After about a mile I told him the pace was a little fast for me and good luck. He had on a bright green singlet and I watched him from then until the end of the race. After about mile four I never saw the first place guy again.

The miles between 3 and 6 were tough--lots of hills and I was getting a little down on myself for not being able to hold the pace I wanted--the guy in neon green was pulling farther away. Finally, however, I was starting to pick it up after a long, gradual hill. At the 10 mile mark I was feeling pretty good and was hoping to run the last 5k fast.

Around mile 11.5 I could tell I was gaining on the neon green singlet. Right before mile 12 we crossed I-94 into Wisconsin and I was about 20 seconds behind him. I had a good pace going and I was sure I could catch him.

pushing to the finish
 Unfortunately I could not catch him. He picked it up just enough to hold me off, and though I finished well I didn't have enough left in the tank to get him. He finished 12 seconds ahead of me, but I did set a new PR of 1:16:37 (they don't have chip time up yet. I had 1:16:35).

My 3rd place award: a runner frozen in carbonite.
It was a good race and I was happy with my effort. My Garmin measured the course as substantially longer than 13.1 miles, so I'll be interested to see what I can do on a different course next year.

You can't even tell that just hours earlier Laura was struck by a small sedan.
Several friends were out cheering including our good friends Brit and Jared. It was great seeing them and we all enjoyed a delicious brunch at Key's Cafe afterward.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Minnesota 1/2 Marathon: Pace Report

I figured I'd better get a pace report up here because on Saturday I'm racing a 1/2 marathon, and I wouldn't want a race report and a pace report too close together.


Last Saturday I had the privilege of pacing the 1:30 group at the Minnesota 1/2 Marathon. For most of pace groups this year my groups have been small. Also, I've dropped just about all of them before the end of the race. So, at a 6:52 / mile I planned on having a small group. I also figured that most people who could run that pace wouldn't really need a pacer.

I was wrong. I had a pretty decent group at the beginning of the race and most of them stayed with me until the end of the race. A couple of them introduced themselves to me and a few of them even chatted a little bit while we were running. Most of the 1:35 groups I've paced are pretty quiet. Most people who are racing a 1/2 marathon don't have a ton to say, but this group actually talked a little bit.

I paced this course last year so if you're at all interested in the course layout because you're thinking of running the race, you can read last year's report. Suffice to say it's actually a fairly hilly course with a lot of gradual ups and downs and not a lot of flats. This makes keeping an even pace more difficult, though I always tell my group that I pace more by effort--a little faster going downhill and a little slower going up.

The course was marked pretty decently until mile 13--just as I was telling my group we had a little less than a quarter mile left, I looked up and saw the mile 13 marker. "Oh," I said. "I guess quite a bit less than a quarter mile." Unfortunately that last "tenth" was actually 0.23 miles. I noticed it was going to be more than a tenth, but by the time I did I would have had to sprint to break 1:30, so I had to settle for 1:30:12. Not too bad.

Laura came along and was watching two kids whose parents were both running the race. The night before she was packing up some things for them to do--markers and poster board (to make signs), books, cowbells, chalk, snacks and all sorts of stuff. I told her, "man, if I was watching someone's kids, I'd just show up. I might have some rusty nails for them to play with and tell them, 'now kids, don't cut each other.'"

So of course she did a nice job and got to cheer on the race. She even waited for me to run five miles afterwards to finish my workout.

It was a fun race with nice weather and a perfect way to cap off a 100 mile week. This week I'm cutting back the mileage a little and racing the Gopher to Badger 1/2 Marathon--the same race I set my PR at last year.

Friday, August 3, 2012

100 Miles: Day 6

I made it 7 this morning and then 6 more this afternoon to finish just in time to watch the women's 10,000m Olympic final. This afternoon was hot--90 degrees and sunny. There was a little bit of a breeze and even though my legs were a little tired, I was able to get a little bit of pacing practice (6:52/mile) squeezed into the middle of the recovery run. The quicker pace didn't feel too bad--I'm a little nervous to be pacing the 1:30 group for the first time, but I know I've run farther and faster by myself, so I know I should be fine.

After this afternoon's run I'm just a little under 87 miles for the week. That means I should be at 100 miles right as I finish pacing the Minnesota 1/2 Marathon tomorrow. My training plan calls for 18 miles with the last 5 at marathon goal pace, so after I finish pacing I get to run 5 more miles. Hurray!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

100 miles: Day 5

This morning I went on a little jaunt down to Lebanon Hills to get in another longish run. It started out as a pretty nice morning--not too warm and a little cloudy--and though it warmed up, running five miles through the shaded trails of the park kept it comfortable.
The one downside was the large amount of horse manure on the Voyageur Southern Trek. Every time I run through Lebanon Hills I think back to the lady on horseback who gave me a tongue lashing for accidentally ending up on a horse trail. She ranted on about how I could've spooked her horse, or she couldn't been running the horse and trampled me, or how people on horseback shouldn't have to be exposed to sweaty, common trail runners. Her husband and daughter sat there on their horses, both looking a little uncomfortable. No matter how many times I said sorry she couldn't let it go and lectured me for almost 5 minutes.

Of course all I did was say, "I'm sorry, I'm trying to get back to a hiking trail right now," and stuff like that. There's several places where the hiking trail shares the horse trail before splitting, and I obviously got off track. Now, over two years later, I should let it go, but I can't help thinking of all the clever things I could've said instead of apologizing. "I'm so sorry, there was a horse underneath me just a second ago." Or, "I'm so envious of people who can afford horses, horse trailers, and a place to keep a horse (in the city) that I just like to run on the horse trails, pretending I'm riding a horse." Or, "The jerk store called and they're out of you."

But no, I didn't say any of those things. And this morning, to add insult to injury, there was horse poop on the hiking trails. Horses are not allowed on the hiking trails.

Maybe getting this out there on the blog will help purge this anger I've been holding onto too long. I feel like I've written about this before, but since I can't find it in the archives it doesn't count. It's time to get past this so I can forgive, forget, and run in Lebanon Hills in peace.

Anyway, I made it 15.5 miles this morning--most of them at easy pace than the last 30 minutes at 6:50ish pace to practice for the Minnesota Half Marathon on Saturday. Tonight it's off to the Running Room for my marathon clinic and a few more miles!


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

100 miles: Day 4

My plan called for 12 miles this morning, but I only managed 10.5. I was running a little late for class this morning--I work after class (which just ended), so I had to pack lunch and dinner and by the time I got running I was a little bit behind.

I had a nice run though. I practiced my pace for the Minnesota 1/2 Marathon where I'll be leading the 1:30 group on Saturday morning. Then I picked it up and ran the last few miles at a moderate pace. The soreness from the hills yesterday hadn't kicked in yet, so I suppose I have that to look forward to tomorrow.

Tomorrow calls for a run in the morning and then another in the evening. Runs like this morning--where everything feels smooth, the weather is nice, and I hit all the lights green--make this running thing a lot of fun.