Things I Think: Post-Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon

May 3, 2011 § 3 Comments

Well, other than being wiped out later in the day I don’t seem to have done any permanent damage.  I have the normal aches and realized I got dehydrated–didn’t have to make any trips Monday morning after drinking a liter of water on my way into work.  Yikes!  That normally that leads to 3 or 4 trips.

I did take the Monday off from running to give my various body parts–Achilles, quads, and left thumb some time to heal.

To, borrow from CNN-Sports Illustrated Writer, Peter King, here are some things I think I think after running the Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon.

     1) Reading others’ stories about the same race is a lot of fun.  Gives you a different perspective.   So far, I’ve read:

  • Julie’s Race Report–she almost didn’t bring any cold-weather gear.  Yowzer!
  • Chemo-man’s Report–Someone I noticed in the crowd.  I need to read more of his story.
  • Mark also didn’t like the way the starting mats were positioned and ran with the 1:40 pace group and he passed me somewhere between 8.5 and the finish.
  • Alyssa ran a great race in nasty conditions to come within 1 minute of her PR.
  • A Vegan Runner and her fiance both run PRs!
  • Jen and Willa rejoiced in victory.
  • Tenacious (didn’t find her official handle) had a Pyrrhic Victory.
  • The winner, Seth Brickley, and I have something in common–our shoes come untied during races except he takes the time to stop & tie them.
  • minnetonkafelix’s photos–Some great pictures of the race, a talented photographer with some good photos of the Lake Minnetonka area.
  • Official photos of the race.  I didn’t see myself in the 400+ pictures but recognized a lot of other runners.

2)  This winter needs to end.

3)  Whatever fruit punch trauma I suffered in my childhood made a deep and permanent scar on my taste buds & stomach.  Red Gatorade, Yuck!

4)  I am getting older and slower but maybe not as fast I thought I was.

5)  Cross-training and stretching are good ideas.

6)  Despite sometimes recognizing good ideas, I can completely pretend like they don’t exist.

7)  Opposable thumbs are a nice feature–they make things like tying your shoes, pinning a bib, opening a Gu, and grabbing a cup of water a lot easier.  Thanks, Ugg and Eev for evolving them for us.

8)  A cold, blustery wind has a way of  distracting me from hills.

9)  Runners might be crazy.

10)  Our supporters and spectators might be crazier–standing around in that cold for a few hours to get a quick glimpse of their loved ones does not sound like fun.

11)  Happiness is a pair of warm sweatpants.

12)  I probably could use a more closely fitted running jacket.

13)  Sometimes my mp3 player is smarter than I am.

.1)  I wonder if the person who figures out the proper formula for the number of port-a-potties required for a race will earn a Nobel Prize for physics, medicine, economics, peace, or all of the above?

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2011 Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon Race Report

May 1, 2011 § 2 Comments

Uff-da!

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.”

Scary.

Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon Scouting Report

April 27, 2011 § 1 Comment

As I mentioned on Tuesday, I am running the Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon this weekend. During my long run a few days ago, I happened to run with someone else for a few miles.  When I mentioned to him that I was running Minnetonka, he mentioned that while there is some traffic control on the course, traffic is not completely closed.

“Oh, I didn’t know that, maybe I should do some research about the race,” I thought to myself.

Later, I fired up the Google Machine and did some pre-race scouting.

The race starts in Wayzata and loops to Excelsior–we rented an apartment in Excelsior for a year and a half so I have a general idea of the area.

Pulling up some past race reports, there was a general consensus–Julie (who included several photos), Beth, Kaeti,  Jen, Lindsay, SueBob and Todd all agreed that it was a scenic course with rolling hills.  In 2010, the organizers changed the course so that, as Todd wrote, it finished with “several quick turns and 2 short but steep hills in the last 1/4 mile.”

Kaeti wrote that the “finish line was located just past a fairly steep hill, which did not make me happy”.

A couple of posters also mentioned the wind (uncontrollable) and traffic as other hassles but no major complaints.

I thought of the area as basically flat so the rolling hills surprise me a bit but it cannot be as hilly as the Ron Daws 25k was. It is good to know about the hills at the finish.

Training Update

April 26, 2011 § 2 Comments

Just a quick update on my last two weeks of training.

Two weeks ago was supposed to be my last week of “Phase II” training. But because I struggled the week before, I decided to extend Phase II an extra week.

The third week of Phase II and the bonus fourth week of Phase II both went well. The hill workouts went well and I did 3 miles of tempo (the max I’m allowed) in the bonus week.

One thing I did those two weeks is drop my mileage the last couple weeks–I’ve made some of the easy days completing “off” days trying to give my Achilles some extra rest and they are feeling better.

I’ve now shifted to Phase III training, where the primary workout is Interval training, the secondary is Threshold (Tempo) and tertiary is Marathon Pace training.

I completed my first Interval workout on Monday with 5 x 400 in 1:40 (200 recovery in 1:40). I was a bit anxious over this workout because I haven’t hit the track in a couple of years and didn’t know how my old legs would respond. A bit surprisingly, the 400s came kinda easy–I ended averaging 1:33 with a range of 1:29-1:34. That was encouraging.

Tomorrow I’ll do another tempo workout–3 miles at 7:15 pace. And on Sunday, I’m running the Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon . I’m hoping to run about 1:40 but am not overly concerned with my time–I’m using more as an exploratory opportunity than a target race.

That leads me into a topic that’s been rolling around in my mind for a while–the contents of my blog. I consider my blog a pretty boring read, it is mostly training reports. I don’t put a high priority on my blog–my work, family, running, and relaxing all are higher priorities. The blog occasionally gets some attention. When I do give it attention, the easiest and quickest thing to write about is the training.

But it is myopic view of my running and what it means to me. While I know what workout I am running each day and do concentrate on the hard parts, most of my running time is spent taking a mental break. My training schedule provides a structure for my overall runs but I kinda of do them on mental cruise control.

So there is a big disconnect between what I write about on my blog and what I think about while I run. I bring this up for a couple of reasons. First, I have been working on starting a podcast for a couple of months. I think that a podcast, especially one that I record as I run might better reflect my running and be more interesting. However, similar to the blog, I’m struggling to find time to create it (along with numerous technical problems). I’m not sure if I will ever actually get it going.

Secondly, I’ve been listening to some running podcasts and one, The Ruminative Runner, has struck a nerve. Just enjoy Norm’s perspective. We’ve exchanged a few emails and comments. In a recent episode Norm mentioned one of my comments and this blog, he also described my blog as being focused on training (poor paraphrasing) and that’s probably a good summary. But it isn’t really what I want my blog to be. I want it to be more qualitative than quantitative. I want it to be more revealing than rational, to be more right-brain than left.

So right now, I’m debating what to do with this blog. Maybe my limited writing time could be better utilized in some other way because right now, I don’t really like this blog.

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