>> Monday, April 26, 2010
This post will be about our race at the Pine Line Half Marathon in Medford, WI. I’ll be back tomorrow with more fun photos and stories from before and after the race. Pharmie, Simply Stu, Robby B, and I stayed at Rural Girl’s place Friday night, and then we all ran the race on Saturday. Here’s how the race went down:
Saturday morning, we all got up, had our breakfast, and got ready to run. It was a tricky race to plan for because it was under 50 degrees and windy. AND the sky was about to open up at any moment, but we didn’t know for sure if it would rain. Here’s the 5 of us ready to leave Rural Girl’s place:
Me, Pharmie, Stu, Robby, and Rural Girl
This race was an “out-and-back” on the Pine Line Trail. The first part of the trail was crushed limestone. After a few miles, it turned to gravel. Here’s what the trail looked like near the start:
I kissed Pharmie and all 5 of us hopped in line at the start.
“5, 4, 3, 2, 1... GO!!”
I was out in the lead right away. In a race that has a half-marathon, a full marathon, and a full marathon relay which IN TOTAL has 120 runners (that all start at the same time), I knew I could be near the front. I started chatting with a guy next to me right away. His name was Kevin, and he’s a HS cross-country coach. We chatted pretty much the whole time for the first mile. We shared our race goals, and I learned he was hoping for 6:15s. Right then, I decided to try to keep up with him for as long as I could. I figured he’d be a good “rabbit” for me to go after, and I wanted to go out at a solid pace.
Mile 1: 5:44. Kevin and I turned to each other: “Oops... a bit too fast!”
We kept talking over the next mile too. He asked me how old I was. I said 29. He said, “Great! I’m 42!” Different age groups - we could be friends. Ha!
Around mile 1.5, there was the first water stop. I quick grabbed a small cup of water, and when I looked back up, Kevin had slowed up and was looking over his shoulder! He was waiting for me! Class act! Nice guy! We were still running as first and second.
Mile 2: 6:11. “Good. Better!”
I was still feeling pretty good, but we had the wind at our back, and I had gone out pretty hard. So I didn’t know how the end of the race would treat me.
Mile 3: 6:43. “Oooh, a little slow.”
At about mile 3.5, I knew I couldn’t keep up with Kevin anymore. I wasn’t hurting, but I knew if I didn’t slow up soon, I’d be dead before mile 10. Kevin seemed reluctant to take off. “Go get it, Kevin... I’ll keep you in my sights,” I told him. He said something like “Oh, this wind might break me before I finish...” and then he slowly pulled away.
Mile 4: 6:43. “Dang. Two slow miles in a row. Turn this around now.”
The trail got rougher. It went from the packed, crushed limestone in the last photo to loose gravel. I do NOT like running on gravel. I grew up training for cross-country on gravel roads, and I just don’t like it. Do. Not. Care. For. It. And I feel like I “spin-out” on loose gravel, so I feel slower running on it. It’s just not natural. ;)
Mile 5: 6:31. “Not bad.”
Mile 6: 6:27. “Good.”
Coming up to the turn-around, I picked up the pace. Kevin rounded the barrel and came running back toward me. We exchanged well-wishes. The lady at the turn-around asked if I was doing the half or the full. I said “Oh, I’m turning around! I can’t keep this up for 26 miles!” She laughed and wished me luck.
Turn around: 41:44. “IF, if, if, if, if, if I can hold this, I’ll have a major PR!”
I was 1:01 behind Kevin, and really, the big concern wasn’t trying to win the race. It was to try to hold on to this unholy pace and take home a PR. And I didn’t know if the wind had helped “push” me to that 41:44 at the turn-around, and if I’d be really pushing against it on the way back. SO MANY QUESTIONS! But I felt good about how hard I was pushing. I popped a Rocane Gu and had a sip of water at an aid station.
Mile 7: 6:01. “GOOD. I upped the pace, so that HAD to be faster.”
After the turn-around, ALL of the other runners wer saying “good luck” or “nice job!” It was a super friendly race! It wasn’t too long before I saw Stu! He looked good!! Rural Girl wasn’t far behind him, and she was the first woman at that point! (But only by 10 seconds or so.) We tried to exchange a high-5, but we missed. Robby was next, and soon came Pharmie. Everyone looked good!
Mile 8: 6:31. “Nice! Keep holding that!”
Mile 9: 6:22. “Good!”
Mile 10: 6:16. “Better!”
I could still see Kevin in the distance, but he was way up there. He had the biggest lead around mile 9 of probably around 2:00. Now, I was s.l.o.w.l.y gaining on him. There was no one behind me.
Around mile 10 was the most depressing part of the race. I was really hurting, but I was trying to go harder. The trail curved a little, and we were more head-on into the wind. It started raining a little, and that was just a little de-moralizing. I had a 5K left, and I was hashed.
BUT, I was watching my pace, and I knew that I could run a 21:00 5K and still be under my “super ‘A’ goal” of 1:25!! And even if that didn’t happen, I would really have to “hit the wall” hard to not PR. It was going to be a good (albeit painful) day!
Mile 11: 6:54. “NOT a good sign! Mile 11 should NOT be my slowest!”
I had hoped that it was just a “long” mile. (I’m relying on the mile markers; I don’t have a Garmin.) Now I REALLY upped the pace.
Coming through that last aid station, I saw someone with a camera. I smiled and waved. When he dropped the camera from in front of his face, I realized it was Jack, Rural Girl’s hubby! “Second place! Way to go Steve!” he said as I ran by. I said thanks and booked it across the intersection:
I was in a ton of pain, but I was really making my legs go! The last 3/4 of a mile is on some winding city streets, so I REALLY went hard thinking
Mile 13 and last 0.1: 6:22. “5:47 pace? Yeah, that f*cking hurts.”
6:19 / mile pace
2nd out of 78 overall
1st out of 5 in the 20-29 age group
That’s a PR by over 5 minutes!! And after the race, everyone with a Garmin (including Stu, Rural Girl, and Robby) said it was 0.1 - 0.15 long. Sweet! It’s official!! PR!!!!
Kevin was waiting for me at the line. He had finished 1:07 in front of me. We both had a good race! I told him I couldn’t have done it without him. It was great to have him out there!! (I wasn’t being pushed from behind because the next finisher was 4:40 behind me!)
I ran back to Rural Girl’s van to grab my stuff to stay warm. It was drizzling now, and I tend to get chilly pretty quick after racing. I got to the van and grabbed a nasty shot of myself still breathing a little hard:
Bad hair on top, and dried salt (from sweat) to the right
Hitting the end of the trail
I grabbed my AG medal before we hit the road back to MN:
I’ll be back with more of our fun weekend in WI tomorrow! (Including more on that video from yesterday’s post...) Thanks for reading!!