Saturday, February 1, 2014

Securian 1/2 Marathon

Two words for this race: cold. I'm going to grow my full beard back and coat my face in Vaseline the next time I run 13 miles when the windchill is -16 degrees Fahrenheit.

Although the Securian 1/2 Marathon was frigid, at least Securian opens its building to runners so we can hang around inside to get ready to brave the cold. Laura and I got to the building over an hour before the start, and were able to park in Securian's covered parking ramp.

After looking at the shirts and picking up a free mug, we got our race numbers, said "hi" to some of my pacing buddies, and met our friends Jon and Linda. We sat comfortably on the carpeted floor, waiting to venture out into the slick, windy, downtown streets of St. Paul to run the half marathon.

About 20 minutes before the race began, I went to look for a bathroom inside the building. I ran into Don, the 1:30 pacer, and Dan, the run-everywhere ultra runner. "Do you know where there's a bathroom?" I asked.

"The one that was open last year is locked," Don replied.

"Shoot, I guess I'll have to go outside and use the port-o-potties," I said.

"I'll go with you," said Dan. So, like a couple of female BFFs, Dan and I scampered across the street to use the port-o-potties. The line was only about three deep, but the wind whipping down Jackson Street was ridiculous. When the air temperature is only three degrees, a 16 mph wind channeled between the buildings of downtown St. Paul is not a pleasant feeling.

Once my bladder was cleared, I ran back in the building to stay out of the wind for ten more minutes before the start. Laura, Linda, Jon and I said some pre-race words of commiseration and ran out to the start about a minute before they let us ago. I lined up with the 1:30 pace team lead by Don and Dan. After the irregular starting instructions of, "On your marks... 30 seconds... go!" we ran past the fireworks display (which was announced dozens of times to avoid scaring anyone) and wound our way through downtown St. Paul to Shepard Road for the out-and-back portion of the race.

The wind was blowing and gusting from the northwest, so running west south west for the first portion of the race was not overly comfortable. Dan, Don and I chatted off and on, and Don did a nice job of letting runners know about all the slick spots throughout the race.

A little before the turn around I decided it was time to push the pace. "You taking off?" asked Don. "For now," I said. "See you at the finish."

Running back toward downtown wasn't much more comfortable than running away from it. My hands were freezing, my face was getting numb, and I kept having to move to different portions of the road to find firm footing.

I never knew quite how fast I was running since I forgot my Garmin, but I knew I was running just a little slower than I felt like I could run the last half of the race. I did manage to catch up to to a few people. I passed a few, turned back into downtown, ran up a couple of miserable hills, made several slick turns, all while having the wind blow against me so hard I felt like I was running in place. I got passed by a few more runners and finally finished.

The clock said 1:21:something, which I thought was a little fast. It turned out it was the clock for the 10k race. My actual time was 1:26:21. Running the last 6.5 in slick, cold, windy conditions at a 6:22 pace isn't too bad I guess, but my lower legs were miserable after.

After the race I was a little concerned that I hadn't seen Linda or Laura on either of the sections we went by runners going the other direction. I thought maybe they'd decided to just run the 10k, but when I didn't see them at the finish I had to hope that I'd just missed them.

When Jon finished, he let me know that he had seen them, so I was able to relax a little. My lower legs were killed me, so I went over and got some post-race massage and stretching from a therapist. She let me know what I suspected--I have a lot of knots, and probably have some muscle weakness and imbalance stressing my feet and legs in ways they're not used to.

I was having a hard time not feeling down about all the little nagging pains I've had the last couple months. My mileage is low, and while my knee's been pretty good, I've been having pains in my ankles, feet, calves, and Achilles tendons.

Fortunately our friends Brit and Jared came with their little twin one-year-olds, Laura and Linda finished safely and successfully, and we all went to Dixies on Grand. We had a great time eating and chatting, so I was able to forget about my stupid legs.

Now, I'll be deciding what to do about my lower legs. I've been doing a little yoga, but I may need to go see my physical therapist again and get a little more serious about doing some exercise to correct whatever problems I'm having.

Happy Running!


Kelly said...

You guys are amazing!!! I'm not sure I'd be diligent enough to run 13.1 miles in that windchill. Good for you!!!!! I hope you get your legs back in healthy condition and figure out what's causing your issues.

Anonymous said...

Do you think these nagging injuries are due to running on ice and snow? I wish there were more races up here during the winter.

tchuskernate said...

I think the ice and snow definitely contribute to it. Sorry you don't have quite the racing scene there. Maybe you and Kelly can come to the Twin Cities for the TC Marathon.