2011 Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon Race Report
May 1, 2011 § 2 Comments
Today was not a pleasant day to run. Temps in low 30s and more annoying, we had consistent, considerable winds. We’ve had temps in the 60s at times this spring so dropping back down to the 30s was difficult.
The first word that came to mind at the end of the race today was “fatigue” but that’s mostly because the end of the race is the easiest to remember because of its proximity. Yes, the winds and hills took their toll today but overall, I, as Norm encouraged me, “crushed it” today.
My official time was 1:39.56.6, a good 3+ seconds faster than my “A” goal. And it was no gimme.
I got to the race an hour before the chilly 8:00 start time–early enough that I was able to walk right up and get my race bib. Not a lot to note during my warm-up, I did an easy mile to get the blood pumping, hit the port-a-potties, my mp3 quit in the cold, and I debated what to wear.
One nice thing about the start was they had the Minnesota Pacers there with their signs which made it easier to know where in the pack to line up–find a pacer running about your expected time and jump in near them.
There were some announcements at the beginning and I can not say I actually paid attention so I may have missed something that caused me some confusion but about a minute after we started–about a tenth of a mile–we crossed the timing mats. I figured they were just there to figure out what wave someone had run in and that the actual starting line had been where we lined up. This race was small enough that even those at the back of the pack would have only taken a few seconds to get to the initial starting line.
The first mile went by in a near perfect 7:34 (7:38 was my “A” pace) and then, even though I felt like I was dogging a little, the second mile went flying by in 7:11. When I saw that, I instantly backed off.
The next several miles were all between 7:30 and 7:41, so I was cruising. I was ducking behind others when I had a chance and it was busy enough that there almost always seemed to be someone to run with. There were hills, water stops, and views of the lake.
The one thing that I noticed early on–and this contributed to my confusion on where the official start had been–but early on, definitely by the third mile, my Garmin would signal the end of a mile and then a little later I would see the mile marker. I noticed others’ watches were flagging the miles at about the same point as mine. The race directors had planned to certify the course the week before the race after the finish had been finalized so I wondered if the mile markers had been planned before the official course had been determined–I was hoping that the mile markers were off a bit but that the overall course would be spot on.
Really, the first nine miles went by great–I hit 9 at 1:08:04 (7:34 pace). Mentally, I had calculated that I had a 50 second cushion and I could slack off to a 7:50 pace and still make my goal. I thought at that point that I had it easy.
But that would have been too boring.
During the tenth mile I hit a rough patch. My legs lost all their spunk and a spot on my right quad started to complain. There wasn’t pain but it just didn’t feel like it wanted to work any more. I knocked off the next three miles in 7:44, 7:46, and 7:53, knocking my cushion down to about 20 seconds with at least 1.1 to go. I also didn’t know how my confusion about the starting line factored in.
During the eleventh mile, I had heard some cheer, “Way to go 1:40” and figured that that pace group was behind me. My high school cross-country coach had taught us to never look to see who was behind you–just run as hard as you can. I was running with a sense that I was losing my goal as it was creeping up from behind to pass me.
The 1:40 pacer did pass me during the twelfth mile and I recognized several of the runners near him as ones that had lined up near him at the start so it seems like they really did let him pace them.
But watching the pacer pull away from me was dis-heartening. As was getting slowly but steadily passed from others (the results show I was in 183rd place at 8.5 miles but finished 228th so 45 people passed me in that 4.5ish miles). I clung onto the fact that I had a cushion and that I could push the final mile. When the final mile came, I decided I could push the final 0.1. I tried and did sneak out a 7:23 pace over the final 0.21 miles for a watch time of 1:40:51.
So I had gone from a high of thinking I was going to meet my goal easily, to feeling like I was letting it get away, to being disappointed-if unsure-that I had missed it by almost a minute. And now, I feel a bit revenged in that apparently the race didn’t start until the mats and that I did actually meet my goal.
But regardless, even if 1:40:51 was my real time, it was an amazing run. The thing is, I really don’t have any runs in my recent training to say I was ready to run this fast for this long. I have had 7 runs this year that I have run faster than 8:00/mile–only one was longer than 3 miles and it was only 5 miles. I have to go back to October of 2010 when I ran a 10 miler at 7:56 to really get close to this run. So other than Race-day Magic, I really had no business running like that.
Overall, the race itself was pretty good. The starting line confusion is troubling–especially for a race that is 31 years old and had professional timers. The finish, while not hilly was on a wet, grassy area that was getting chewed up and pretty slick by the time I finished. Not good at the end of a 13-mile race. They had the goodies area roped off and right pass the finish so it was a bit congested. They had the red Gatorade which I cannot drink but water was available too. I didn’t have a problem with the buses but others reportedly did–standing around in the cold would not have been fun. So definitely some things they could improve upon.
The weather is out of their control, as are the deer, which may have run into a runner but I’m not sure about that. The hills are there.
The swag was decent–a decent looking technical shirt and a medal. I don’t really NEED a medal from every race I do but at least it is a bit different. Since I make maps for a living, I do appreciate the fact that both the shirt and medal are maps of the course.
Overall, a good race, I ran pretty well–definitely gives me some confidence heading into Bjorklund in about 6 weeks that I might challenge my PR of 93:39.
UPDATE: Adam Kocinski (one of the race directors) confirmed on facebook that a runner did encounter a deer, writing “He was taken by ambulance to the hospital and suffered a concussion and torn ligaments in his ankle. In lots of pain still…a journey to recovery.”