You Can’t Spell “Craptastic 12 Miler” Without “Crap”

>> Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Yeah, it sucked.

I headed out to run some of the half marathon course (race in 4 days!!!). (Editors note: this run was along the same road as the race, but this run was on the trail along the road. The race takes place on the street.) It was the same 12 mile training run that I did last year just a few days before the race. It was my final long run to see how I stacked up to last year.

I drove the course the day before, and I noted landmarks every 1/2 mile so I could track my splits. Here are the notes taped to my arm before the run:

Here was the “out and back” route I was going to run:

I got to the designated point, and started running. A few blocks later, I was on Shepard Trail. It was plowed, but not well. My YakTrax were doing their job.

Mile 1: 7:29
Mile 2: 7:34

A little slow, but there was a fair amount of snow to work through on the path. Just after the first mile, the path was no longer plowed. There were a lot of deep footprints, a few deer tracks, but no flat, smooth areas. “This is going to suck,” I thought. That lasted nearly 2 miles, until about the mile 3 marker.

Mile 3: 7:35

Back to plowed paths.

Mile 4: 7:17

Coming up on mile 5, the path became unplowed again. And not just “not recently plowed.” But more like, “not plowed all winter.” SH*T. What’s the deal St. Paul? You plow some parts and just leave others?! WTF?!? This map is the same map as above, but this one shows the areas in red on the elevation chart that were NOT plowed:

Does that make any sense to you?!? I QUICKLY decided that I couldn’t run another mile on this AND THEN turn around only to do another mile more. I turned around at mile 5 instead of mile 6 - I figured I’d make up the extra 2 miles back near where I started.

Mile 5: 7:25

Because of the crappy non-plowed trail, mile 4.5 to mile 5.5 was one of my slowest miles in recent history. Because of that,


Thank you.

Mile 6: 7:50
Mile 7: 7:15
Mile 8: 7:51
Mile 9: 7:32
Mile 10: 7:08

I was able to start picking up the pace, but I should have been able to go faster. All those sinking and uneven foot-strides really beat me up, and my times were really suffering. (My knees were getting sore too.) I got back to my car at mile 10, and then turned around to run out 1 more mile and back 1 more mile. That’s torture (to be “done,” but to have to turn around and do more).

Mile 11: 6:33
Mile 12: 6:28

Total: 1:28:10. Dang. I was REALLY hoping for about 4 to 7 minutes faster. Talk about 1 final letdown before the big race. This was supposed to be the “confidence booster run,” and not the “kick me in the nuts run.”

I got to the car and grabbed my camera.

It wasn’t SUPER cold (around 10 degrees with not much wind chill), but I still got nice and frosty. My eyelashes and facial stubble had ice crystals covering them. I also snapped a photo of the notes taped to my arm, as they (and my hoodie) were soaked through with sweat:

When I looked in the mirror in the car, I saw all the ice crystals on either side of my hat. Apparently, my ears give off enough moisture to save small equatorial countries from major summer droughts:

At home, I got out my “athletic logs” from the last few years and compared my long runs. This first set is training for my first half marathon a year ago, and the next set is times from the past few weeks:

Dec 07 / Jan 08:
7 miler: 51:57
8 miler: 59:39
9 miler: 1:06:31
10 miler: 1:13:45
11 miler: 1:18:28
12 miler: 1:25:43

Dec 08 / Jan 09:
7 miler: 46:29 (5:28 better)
8 miler: 52:57 (6:42 better)
9 miler: 1:02:02 (4:29 better)
10 miler: 1:07:28 (6:17 better)
11 miler: 1:12:41 (5:47 better)
12 miler: 1:28:10 (2:27 worse)

Everything was GREAT until yesterday’s 12 mile run. I hope I can just blame it on poor conditions. I know I need to tread lightly here: if you can’t run this fast, I’m not trying to be insulting. I’m just hoping for the best possible race that I can run!

The good thing about that tough run yesterday is now ANY sort of PR will be considered great! I know I’ll be able to finish the race (my “D Goal”). I hope I can go sub-1:30 (C Goal). I’d LOVE to PR: sub-1:29 (B Goal). And my “A Goal” is to have my finish time start with 1:26 or 1:27! We’ll see what happens.

The half marathon is just 4 days away!!! Pharmie, Jeremy, and Jen are running the half with me. And Borsch and Kaeti are thinking about doing the 5K. (Am I missing anyone?) Wish us all luck!!


trigirl82 12:45 AM, January 20, 2009  

That totally sucks! You said that's part of the course for your race... this weekend? Hmm...

Brrr, it's cold there! Shoot, I was just whining about the cold here today... and it was maybe 30 degrees. Haha. That would probably feel downright balmy to you, eh? Haha. :-)

I'd kill for your pace!! But it's all about perspective. You being frustrated is fine, it's not like you're lording your pace over people. It wasn't offensive at all. Now, if you came out and said, "Anyone who runs slower than a sub 8 can suck it", well, maybe that would be a bit on the offensive side. Haha. :-)

Good luck on your race!

Anonymous,  1:28 AM, January 20, 2009  

Nice, but too winterized. Not enough (blistered) skin. Have you gone shy all of a sudden?

Gerry 3:01 AM, January 20, 2009  

This is a completely stupid question, but how on earth do you manage to get your times on each mile? I'm always just able to get the times for the whole run, but it's impossible to actually time each mile (km, in my case) because I either forget to check my watch at every mile or I just plain forget the times for the previous miles I ran. Surely I don't have to run with a pen and notepad in my hand to get my times on each mile? Actually I'm sure my watch has some magic function I haven't figured out yet. Gah, I'm so jealous of people who know how to use their watches!

C 4:33 AM, January 20, 2009  

Sorry about the run. If it makes you feel any better, your crappy run is still my totally out of reach run. :)

Good luck to you and the gang this weekend!

Ordinarylife 5:41 AM, January 20, 2009  

How do you even think of running in weather that cold!!!! Coming from South Africa I am a real chicken when it comes to winter and we don't even get anywhere near freezing. Slow (for you) or not I am super impressed!

Missy 6:05 AM, January 20, 2009  

It's all relative, you can be mad about your slow run and I can just be mad at you for being faster than me;) Don't get down, just taper and kick some ass in a few days.

teacherwoman 6:50 AM, January 20, 2009  

Good luck this weekend! you all!

Carolina John 7:05 AM, January 20, 2009  

That is crazy cold and incredibly sucky conditions. Good luck at the half, i'm sure it will be fine.

Just watch out for your stabilizers. There's nothing worse than getting a wobbly knee or twisting an ankle from pushing yourself a few days before a race. I know, my wife broke a toe 5 days before a half marathon. She still beat me by 7 seconds.

Shannon 7:10 AM, January 20, 2009  

Good Luck to all! I can't believe you run in those conditions, you rock.

Jenny Davidson 7:19 AM, January 20, 2009  

Yes, good luck to you all, have a great run!

Gerry: lap button!

Kim 8:06 AM, January 20, 2009  

sucky conditions for sure - i'm positive you will rock out with your cock out at the race. (p.s. how do you run so fast on snow?)

MissAllycat 8:17 AM, January 20, 2009  

Blame it on the weather. We all know you're going to kick this race's ass.

Marcy 8:23 AM, January 20, 2009  

Dude . .Garmin is all I'm sayin. You and that dayum map HAHAHA

You're going to kick some ass!!

J 8:52 AM, January 20, 2009  

Your little map thingie is hilarious! I think you are looking good for the HM - there prolly wont be any unplowed roads during the race!

Emily 9:51 AM, January 20, 2009  

Whoo hoo! I have a half this coming weekend too and I've been looking back on my training logs trying to figure out if I can really do what I want to do in this race. It can be mind-boggling stuff.

Your run was slower because of the conditions and conditions only. Don't let it get you down.

Danielle in Iowa in Ireland 9:57 AM, January 20, 2009  

Dude, I totally second Marcy. If anyone needs a Garmin, it's you!

And I bet running on roads that are clear will seem like a breeze after that run!

(and if there is anyone in the blogosphere who manages to never be snobby about being fast, it's you! gees, if you weren't fast, how would you get to go back and entertain the slower runners with dancing?)

Marlene 10:06 AM, January 20, 2009  

I would day you can definitely blame it on the terrible footing. It's exhausting!

Bootchez 10:23 AM, January 20, 2009  

From someone who runs in very similar conditions (albeit at a tremendously slower pace), really, do NOT underestimate how that layer of snow can slow you down, Yak Traks or not . . . it has a huge impact. Try not to let this run suck your confidence down too much, and good luck on your race!

Borsch 10:35 AM, January 20, 2009  

Good luck this weekend! I'll see you out there! PR TIME!

My Life 11:09 AM, January 20, 2009  

Erm.... it's supposed to be 81* here today. I'd trade that for some icicles hanging off my hat.

triguyjt 11:26 AM, January 20, 2009  

what mile????
don't know what your talking about....

jen 11:27 AM, January 20, 2009  

It was totally the conditions that slowed you down Steve. You are clearly faster than ever! Shake it off.

Great pics. I'm freezing just looking at those. Brrr!

Erin Leigh 12:13 PM, January 20, 2009  

What do you expect after being in Cozumel?? I would have been crying just seening the snow ;)

You will do great!!

Chic Runner 1:22 PM, January 20, 2009  

All I can say is Brrr Brrr Brrr, but you will do GREAT and dominate! :) I know you steve and you always kick serious butt! :) Too bad your last run was crappy, but nooooooow you'll have a super good one to top off the crappy one, and

ps you are like a snowman. seriously.

Mel-2nd Chances 1:23 PM, January 20, 2009  

good luck this weekend... you'll do awesome now that the crappy run is out of the way :)

Anonymous,  1:32 PM, January 20, 2009  

You are amazing!!! Honestly running in those conditions and running that pace. SWEET!!! I cannot wait to read your race report, you are going to rock it!!!

Charlotte 1:57 PM, January 20, 2009  

What a bummer! But I want to thank you for reaching out through your pain to take pictures of BOTH of your sweaty ears so we would not be left wondering if they were a matched set;)
PS> You will race great - it was totally the conditions.

Jess 2:12 PM, January 20, 2009  

2 and 1/2 minutes off is not that much, especially for a training run in such conditions. Try not to allow it to affect your enthusiasm for the race; I'm sure you'll do great!

X-Country2 2:56 PM, January 20, 2009  

Get it together St. Paul! Who knew your ears did that. Odd.

Good luck this weekend!

Unknown 4:10 PM, January 20, 2009  

Good luck to you all running the half. I think you had some fast miles considering the snow.

CoachLiz 5:09 PM, January 20, 2009  

Don't worry, it was the conditions. The snow and non plowed conditions make you work harder and make you slower. You will be on clean streets and it will make a huge difference.

Good Luck this weekend!

Remember, your craptastic run is my dream PR. LOL!

Michelle 6:25 PM, January 20, 2009  

Good luck dude!!!


Charisa 6:51 PM, January 20, 2009  

Good luck and I think it was just the bad conditions.

Sonia 7:05 PM, January 20, 2009  

Ah no worries Steve! You're going to kick ass on a plowed street! That close to 8 min mile is not that bad considering where you were running... oops we were not suppose to talk about it again! My bad ;-)

Nicole 7:28 PM, January 20, 2009  

Good luck this weekend to you and your gang!

Trishie 8:19 PM, January 20, 2009  

I would take your splits any day ;)

have a great time this weekend!

Kevin 8:44 PM, January 20, 2009  

I could only wish for your crappy run on my best day

Aron 9:19 PM, January 20, 2009  

its good to get the crappy run out of the way so race day is awesome!! good luck!!! you will do amazing!

Marathon Maritza 10:48 PM, January 20, 2009  

I agree with Aron...better to do the crap one now and not on race day!

Good luck, you are gonna be Speedy MacSpeedyPants!!!

P.S. This California girl loves seeing your ice crystal's beyond ridiculous to me. I'd be fat and indoors if I lived there! You rock!

ShirleyPerly 7:00 AM, January 21, 2009  

I'll bet race day conditions will not be so bad, at least with respect to the surface not being plowed. Good luck this weekend!

John 8:16 AM, January 21, 2009  

Nothing to worry about... you will have a great race.
Where I live they plow the streets onto the sidewalks so you're forced to run in the street! Cars love it!

sRod 12:03 PM, January 26, 2009  

I think there is no shame in blaming the elements for your performance. I know I do it all the time.

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