Securian Winter Run Half Marathon 2016 Race Report

>> Monday, February 01, 2016

Or, "Hoping my Busted Calf Holds Up."

Or, "SHORTS? At the Securian Run? SWEET!"

Or, "Making 3 New 'Race Buddies' at This Race."

The morning started around 30 degrees, and it was going to be right at 32 for the race start. I had some scraping to do when I got out to my car, so I was a little concerned the race could be slick:


Yuck.

I was concerned about my left calf which had been giving my some pain since my last long run 6 days before (my third 11-miler leading up to the race). Then 3 days pre-race, I did an easy 5 miler that ended at NEARLY a limp, so the few days leading up to the race involved a lot of rest and a LOT of foam rolling to try to loosen it up. I posted this the night before the race:


Really, I had come to terms with not finishing (vs blowing my legs up for the rest of the spring).

I was SO concerned about this, that I forgot my normal pre-race routine. I had to turn around and go back home after driving a few blocks because I forgot any food (my banana, Powerbar, and GUs). Then nearing the race, I realized I didn't grab any water, so I stopped at a gas station on the edge of downtown. Sheesh. I got parked and ready to race. I Instagrammed this:


Caption: "What's that saying about not wearing new shoes on race day? Oh well."

My wife mentioned maybe I should wear my brand new shoes because they'd have more support in the heel and maybe that'd help my calf. That was a good idea. My old shoes have 270 miles on them, which is nearing the end of their life. (Usually I go just past 300 miles.)

I ran into lots of old race buddies pre-race. I peed in a porta-potty that someone warned me not to go in to. (I only had to stand and pee, otherwise DEAR GOD IT WAS A MESS ON THAT SEAT!) I got outside, lined up, chatted with MDRA folks Nathan, Michael, and Evan (my "Loony Challenge" buddy that beat me at all 3 Loony races last Oct), and soon we heard "ON YOUR MARKS......... GOOO!"


Securian "mascot" always leads out the race in a gold bodysuit.


Close-up of that last photo showing me (bright hat) talking with Evan just before the start.

Another MDRA race buddy was there taking a TON of photos. Those last ones are his, and nearly all the rest of these are his too. THANKS TOM R!


L to R: speedy Eddie from my gym, Evan's buddy Tom, guy I chatted with a lot
at mile 3 whom I passed at the turn-around, guy I chased until mile 5,
and Evan. I'm somewhere between Tom and Evan.

We chatted pace. I said I hoped to go out over 7s, then drop under that to hopefully finish around 1:28. I noted I was around 30th place, and I slowly worked up to around 20th during the long climb up Kellogg to the Central Library. Mile 1 was faster than I thought it would be in 6:40.


Running around Rice Park.


Me behind Eddie, STILL LOOKING AND FEELING GOOD.

This is where I first started to think "Huh, maybe I'll be able to finish this race!" But around mile 1.5, my calf got a little achy. I wasn't ready to call it quits at mile 2, so I turned down onto Shepard Road and told myself to REALLY consider stopping by mile 3 if I needed to. (At that point, based on the funky course, I'd only have about a mile to walk or run to get back to my car.)

Mile 2 was fast because we were now going down that long hill on Kellogg, followed by the STEEP downhill to Shepard Road (I looked at my Garmin at the end of that steep hill and saw I was running 5:1x pace). My half mile splits were 3:19.57 and 2:57.04 for a 6:16 mile. "Whoa. Ease up a little here to make sure you can keep running on this sore leg."


The Mill City team was a thing of beauty. They PACKED the top-10 at this race.


Me way back there working down the long, easy hill.


Close-up of that last photo.


Evan in the red/orange, and me in the pink. He stopped to tie his shoe around mile 1,
so I got ahead of him. Now he had regained the lead, and was pulling away.

Mile 3 STILL felt good (in 3:23.43 and 3:24.65 for 6:48 total), so I kept going. BUT I WAS NERVOUS. I chatted with a fella who said he went out a little fast, but hoped to break 1:30. I told him how the back half of this course is fast. Off he went, and I ran on my own for the next 2 miles. I tried to ease up a bit, because I was WELL a head of my "I-just-want-to-break-1:30" pace of 6:50/mile (3:25 half-mile splits).

Mile 4: 3:27.46 and 3:30.12 for 6:57 total
Mile 5: 3:24.29 and 3:28.02 for 6:52 total

Those splits felt (and looked) good. I was having some shin pain in my left leg (the "bad" leg), but it wasn't horrible, and my calf was feeling pretty good! Steve Q spotted me and grabbed a photo of 2 guys in yellow passing me and me passing the guy in maroon who I was chasing for the last 2 miles:




Here's the un-cropped version. I LOVE this race, but it can get a little lonely.

Mile 6: 3:19.32 and 3:26.10 for 6:45 total
Mile 7: 3:31.61 and 3:22.92 for 6:54 total

We hit the turn around at about mile 7.5 (after coming up a slow, long-ish hill past I-35), and I kicked it into a different gear. I DEFINITELY was keeping it a bit easy on the way out, but now I was ready to up the pace a bit. The light wind was now at our backs, and we really only had 2 climbs in the final 5+ miles. AND MY CALF WAS FEELING OK! It was aching just a bit, but I don't think I would have given it a second thought had it not be so angry earlier in the week.

Faster splits heading back:

Mile 8: 3:16.99 and 3:18.54 for 6:35 total
Mile 9: 3:12.31 and 3:16.10 for 6:28 total

I made another race buddy from around mile 8 through 11.5. His name was Scott, and we chatted a lot. (He's the one in yellow with bare legs in the photos above.) He's training for Boston, and just racing a bit more between now and then. He laughed at me and my shorts saying something like "You're so popular in those and get so many cheers that it's like I'm running along side the lead female or something." If he's about my speed (which he is), he's probably had that experience like I have before: running next to the lead female as she gets ALL the cheers.

Scott and I were slowly passing people. I usually like to keep track of my place and see how many people I can shoot for, but that didn't matter at this race. And my time didn't matter too much to me either; I wasn't checking my pace at each mile marker thinking "OK, if I keep THIS pace up, I'll end in 1:2x:xx." I was just running to SAFELY finish the race. Sure, I wanted to be fast too, but good form and trying to keep my foot strikes pain-free trumped everything here.

We actually got past mile 10 without me knowing... THAT'S how much I wasn't fretting over this race. Mile 10 was 3:18.49 and 3:17.11 for 6:35 total.

The SLIGHTEST issue showed up with about a 5K left: the bottom of my feet were getting REALLY sore (probably from my shoes being new and not broken in). I tried to still have a good foot strike and keep from heel striking (which is NOT good for my beat-up legs).

I pulled away from Scott with about 2.5 miles left, but I heard someone coming up behind me fast. SERIOUSLY fast. He actually slowed up, looked over his shoulder, and waved me to come up with him. "What the hell" I thought, and I tried to keep pace. He asked if I was going to PR on this course, and I said no because my Securian PR was 1:25. "Why can't we do that now?" he asked. Well, because we'd have to run like 5:30s to do that. He asked if I was crashing and offered me a gel. This guy was AWESOME! We kept the pace fast, and he kept urging me on. His name was Steve too. We met up half-mile into mile 11, and you can SEE HIS EFFECT on my splits:

Mile 11: 3:15.16 (pre-Steve) and 3:01.00 (with Steve) for 6:16 total
Mile 12: 3:05.69 and 3:03.51, for 6:09 total!

As we got ready to turn off Shepard to go up the final NASTY hill with about a mile left, I noticed that Evan was just a block in front of me! He's doing the "Grand Prix" series too, so passing him means more points for me! I had a target. Evan really seemed to trudge up that hill. I was only 50 feet behind him at the top. We turned to head down Kellogg and Tom got more photos:


Evan (red/orange) with me (silhouetted) right behind him.
And Speedy Steve floating next to me in white.


Me and Steve PASSING Evan! AND that's Rick L in the neon, and he's doing
the MDRA Grand Prix series too, so I made a LOT of points
in these few seconds by passing these fellas! (Sorry guys.)


Steve and I just ahead of Evan and Rick.


OH MY GOD THE FACES! I look fine, but Evan seems to be hurting.
And Steve looks like a drunk Russian homeless meth addict
getting punched by an invisible man. And not in a good way.

Sidenote: I really liked running with Scott and Steve because they were both "cheerers" to other runners that we passed. I just like that. Sign of a good person.

I was hurting, I could feel blisters forming on the bottom of my feet, but my calves were feeling OK. They were far from 100%, but SO MUCH BETTER than I thought they would feel. We rounded a corner and I got a high-five from Sean, and then he instagrammed a blurry, pixellated photo of my bum as we were running up the hill by the Farmer's Market:



The Mill City team was still piled up at the finish. Usually, the first few finishers are spread out. At this race, the winner was 2 minutes faster than anyone else, but then 2nd through 7th were ALL Mill City runners, and they were all within 4 seconds! Here they are about 2 blocks from the finish:




Me and Steve with Rick still on our tail! Two blocks left. In pain.


Close-up. My face says it all. Ouch.

Steve KEPT turning around to pull me. What a guy. Mile 13 (which included the nasty climb into downtown) was 3:02.47 and 3:08.39 for 6:10 total. We hit the line and high-fived. And I waited another minute to high-five mid-race buddy Scott too!

OFFICIAL RESULTS:

Steve Stenzel, #2065, 34, M

1:26:51
6:37.50 / mile pace

23 out of 557 overall
23 out of 342 men
10 out of 81 in the 30-39 age group

Garmin: 13.24 miles at 6:33.58 / mile pace

Steve finished 2 spots in front of me because he must have started the race much farther back in the pack. Rick finished right behind me - just 9 seconds back. Evan ended up a few spots behind me, and had lost 0:44 over that last 1/2 a mile. He was spent. (As he was getting over being sick.) Oh, and the guy who hoped for sub-1:30 who I chatted with at mile 3 came in at 1:29:52! I bumped into him after the finish and he shared his good news! :)


6 FINAL RACE THOUGHTS:

• I could have raced a LOT harder in the middle, but I'm still quite happy with how this race turned out. I needed to stay easier to ensure my calf would hold out, and I wouldn't change anything about this race if I had to do it over again. I took it easier near the beginning, had more fun, and then kicked in to high gear with a few miles left.

• Being I started so easy, the final few miles were FAST. My three miles nearing the turn-around were ran in 20:34 (6:51 pace), and my final 3 miles (including the final nasty climb) were 2 minutes faster: 18:35 (6:11 pace). Based on my Garmin, I negative split the race by 2:31 (44:41 first half, 42:10 second half).

• My "mostly easy longer training runs" turned out pretty well. Sure, I was 90 seconds slower than my best Securian Run in 2012, but I wasn't racing this with the same intensity throughout. I think I'll be scaling back the interval workouts for more longer / easier runs in 2016.

• Later in the day post-race, my calf felt about the same (if not BETTER) than it did the day before the race. WTF? I ran 11 miles on Sunday 6 days pre-race, then 5 EASY miles Wednesday 3 days pre-race, and my calf was HURT since then. Then after an all-out 13.1 miles, it feels OK. I can't explain my body.

• It seems like I was DOOMED at this race from the start: I woke up with a bad bloody nose an hour before I was supposed to get up. Then, much later in the day, I realized I'd set my alarm for "p.m." and not "a.m." (I NEVER make that mistake.) I initially forgot all my race nutrition, and even after coming back home, I still forgot water. This seems to be God's way of saying "you're f*cked at this race," but I did OK! Whew!

• If you raced, check out some of Tom R's photos. Here's 1 album of photos from near the finish - he has TWO more albums, and an album from around mile 1.5 too. Over 700 photos, and they're all public. Check them out to find yourself. Thanks Tom!


I got home, relieved the babysitter (Mama was gone all day helping her youngest sister pick out a wedding dress), stretched and foam rolled at nap time, and then hung out with the boys after their naps as they watched some cartoons and ate Goldfish crackers:


With our cat Ella begging for some crackers.

Now, no running for a few more days, then just an easy few miles to see how my calf feels. Hopefully I'll be ready for another half marathon in just under 3 weeks. The "Half Fast" Half Marathon is on the 20th. SPEAKING OF WHICH, DO YOU WANT TO RACE IT WITH ME FOR FREE? THERE'S STILL TIME TO GO TO THIS POST AND LEAVE A COMMENT TO BE ENTERED FOR A FREE RACE ENTRY! Hope to be up and running strong again by then!

2 comments:

Shinianen 1:05 PM, February 01, 2016  

"And Steve looks like a drunk Russian homeless meth addict
getting punched by an invisible man." HAHAHAHAHAHA!

Doron Clark 6:19 PM, February 04, 2016  

That Mill City group is a thing of beauty- especially that old guy with a beard...

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