Winter Carnival Half Marathon

>> Monday, January 25, 2010

Or, “I Suppose 30 and Drizzle is Better Than Last Year (15 Below but Sunny)”

Or, “Running While Talking Videos”

Saturday was the St. Paul Winter Carnival Half Marathon. Last year, it was way below zero, and it was shortened to a long 10K (click here to see those photos). This year, it was about 50 degrees warmer: it was in the mid-30s and drizzling / sleeting:

Everything was covered in a fresh coat of ice when I got up. As I pulled up in downtown St. Paul, I could see the fresh coat of ice reflecting off the snow in the median:

I got my number, got my chip strapped to my shoe, and headed out to the porta-potties. I was there SOO early, that I was the first one in this potty:

Standard pre-race “on the potty” shot

I ran up and down the road for a block or two, and the ice didn’t seem to be collecting on the road too much! I had brought my YakTrax, but I really didn’t want to have to wear them for a race. I HOPED I’d be OK without them. The one bad thing I noticed out there is that there was some real wind beating me in the face. It seemed like the first 6.55 miles on the way out were going to be into a nasty wind. Great.

I got back inside and started looking for people I knew. Soon I ran into Guy, Jenny, Julie, and Beth. (Guy and Jenny did that trail race with Pharmie back in October, Julie is a new blogger, and I met Beth at the second “GW Splash and Dash” last summer.) We grabbed a quick photo:

Guy, Me, Jenny, Julie, and Beth. And yes, I have a fist coming out of my crotch - no teasing...

Soon after, I bumped into Mark and Kris too! I shared an embarrassing story with them, and I’ll tell you all about it this Friday as my “Friday Funny.” You’ll just have to wait...

I got outside, and Dave Ryan (local morning-show DJ) was working the crowd:

I ran into Kirt and Chad when I jumped into the pack near the start line. I’d never met Chad before, and he was a great guy. I pivoted around and got a shot of everyone getting ready to start:

Soon, we were underway!!!

Note: All the photos from this point on are from the digital camera that I ran with. But I didn’t take PHOTOS - I took a few short VIDEOS throughout the race. The full video will be up shortly, but in the meantime, below are some SCREENSHOTS from a bunch of short videos from the race. So that’s why the quality sucks.

My goal was to go out SLOW and REALLY ease into the race. On a GREAT day, I thought I might be able to break 1:30, but I really just wanted to break 1:32 while running a fun race if possible. We headed down the hill to the river. I was easing up and letting some people pass me without trying to keep up to everyone. I was running in about 30th place.

Rain falling while running by the river

Running up to mile 1, there was a guy announcing times. I heard “...14 ...15 ...16 ...” and thought I was running nice and slow (7:20something). Then he paused and started up again: “SIX 18 ...19 ...20 ...6:21 ...22 ...” Shoot. I was running WAY too hard. I NEEDED to ease up.

Mile 1: 6:22. “Oops. Slow it up Steve!!”
Mile 2: 6:42. “Still... ease up.”
Mile 3: 6:48. “Better...”

I was feeling great, but I hoped that I didn’t go out too hard. At this point, I was 67 seconds ahead of my pace from 2 years ago at the same race (where I broke 1:30:00). OF COURSE that was on my mind, but I’m smart enough to know that “on pace to do [blank]” means nothing at mile 3 of a half marathon.

Here’s a little downhill stretch just after mile 3:

Mile 4: 7:00. “Nice pace. Maybe just a little faster than that, but good.”

Just after the aid station around mile 4, there was a guy in front of me that pull to the center of the road and started puking:

Gross. I hope you got through the rest of the race OK, buddy.

And at that point, we had an extended uphill that was about a half mile long, but not too steep:

Mile 5: 6:45. “Good.”

At mile 5, I was still feeling GREAT, and my total time was 33:39. I did some quick math, and realized that if I ran 7-minute miles from this point, I’d be right around 1:30. I grinned a little to myself. Seven-minute miles from this point on sounded like a cakewalk. But there was a LOT of race left to be run.

Mile 6: 6:46. “I still feel great! Should think about upping the pace shortly!...”

Running up to the turn-around, I heard a PA system and a familiar voice. It was Gary Westlund from Charities Challenge!! He was hosting a party at the turn-around and he got a photo of me:

Turnaround: 44:56. “Nice. Now keep it strong!” (About 50th at this point.)

After the turn-around, I saw Chad pretty quickly. I kept looking for other runners that I knew. I LOVE out-and-back races for that reason! Here’s a boat-load of people running out towards the turn-around:

I saw everyone that I knew on their way out, but I didn’t get a photo of everyone. Here’s the one’s that I got:




Because I was looking so hard for people I knew, I stopped thinking about my pace, and I also missed the mile marker for mile 7. Do’h.

Mile 7 and 8: 14:15. “Shoot. Time to pick up the pace. Go harder NOW.”
Mile 9: 6:56. “Thought I was working harder than that. Dang.”

I chit-chatted with a LOT of people on the way back into downtown St. Paul. One guy said “I’ve NEVER seen someone taking pictures during a race.” I laughed and said “Well, you STILL haven’t - technically, I’m taking video!” I was talking to more people in the second half of the run because I was passing a lot of people. But the bottom of my feet were getting SORE. I was hoping that I still had 4 miles left in them!...

Leading up to mile 10 was a little bastard of a hill. It’s only about 2-3 blocks long, but it was making my hammies burn. Here’s the base of the hill:

Just after that hill, someone standing by the road was cheering for me BY NAME. I didn’t know who it was at the moment, but a few seconds later, I figured it might be Steve Q. If so, thanks for cheering Steve!

Mile 10: 6:44. “Good! GO. NOW. HARD. GO.”

It was hard running out there because I had passed a group of people in front of me, and now the road ahead was pretty lonely:

But I was heading toward a small group of people making a lot of noise. Just out of the frame to the right was a guy with a loud horn:

At that point, I saw a bald eagle above me. I was HASHED, but I still had the energy to turn on my camera:

No, that’s not a speck on your screen. It’s an eagle. Trust me.

Mile 11: 5:53. (short)
Mile 12: 7:27. (long)

They need to move that mile 11 mile marker - it was placed too early 2 years ago too. So I was knew that a long mile 12 was coming after seeing a sub-6 mile 11.

I was giving it my all. I KNEW I had sub-1:30 at this point, but could I PR?!? My PR was 1:28:05, and I’d have a LOT of work to break that, but by-golly, I was going to give it a shot!

The last few blocks along the river was where the wind was the worst - other than that, the wind wasn’t a big deal out there. I passed Kirt and said hi. I turned on my camera and started filming just before I rounded the final corner. We ran under a bridge and up the final SOB of a hill. Here’s that final 1-1.5 block hill as I was still under the bridge:

The finish is still 3-4 blocks beyond the top of that hill, which SUCKS!! I was pumping my arms so hard, that most of the video I was taking is of the ground. I held the camera up just as I was about to cross the finish line:

Mile 13 and last 0.1: 7:11.

Official Results: 1:28:55
34 out of 786 overall
8 out of 53 in the 25-29 age group
1 out of ?? in the “carry your camera and take videos throughout the race” category

Ummmm..... that last category might not officially exist. ;) As I was still recording, I swung the camera back and got a shot of me breathing hard and HAPPY to be done:

In every race, there’s at least ONE THING that anyone can feel good about. It’s usually something very random that makes you happy - you’re happy how you were able to push those middle miles, you’re happy that you were able to hold off that last person as you were headed to the finish line, etc, etc. I really believe that each person in every race has that one little “thing” that they feel good about. For this race, I gave myself a little smile and felt good that there were so few timing chips in the pail as the volunteer was talking off mine with a nippers:

After finishing, I ran through to get my “Winter Carnival Mug,” some snacks, some water, and headed to the car right away. I had to get home, get showered, and then get to my nephew’s 2nd birthday party! I would have loved to have stuck around to see everyone finish, but I had to get going.

I hope to put together my first ever “video race report” in the next day or 2, so stop back to see that shortly! Thanks everyone! (Oh, and thanks to everyone who left me such nice comments on my Twitter feed just after the race! Thanks guys!)


The Boring Runner 6:44 AM, January 25, 2010  

Nice work!! Way to finish- I can't wait to see the vids. I can't believe that you vot ninth. Those mn runners are lights out.

Sooooo, I don't remember the weather girls being thAt cute when I lived in the Midwest... Must be all the clean livin?

Julie 6:48 AM, January 25, 2010  

Hi Steve,
I absolutely loved your race recap! You do think of everything don't you! I really enjoyed meeting you and hopefully there will be a few more races that we can run together:) You did so great! Your time was awesome! You did it:)

I love all of your pictures...porta potty picture included:)

Oh, and thanks for all of the info on the race...the mile to mile stuff was perfect. I had an idea of what was to expect! Thanks! Have a great day Steve!!

Unknown 7:08 AM, January 25, 2010  

Great job on the race!

Greenking17 "TRI-harder" 8:05 AM, January 25, 2010  

Nice job Steve! I ws so looking forward to this race re-cap! Great story and really looking forward to the video. Hope to see you sooner than later.


jen 8:08 AM, January 25, 2010  

Congrats Steve!! What a great race- way to push through those hills in the final miles. Congrats on the sub 1:30- amazing!

Carolina John 8:40 AM, January 25, 2010  

Well done steve! that's so close to a PR, you're going to shatter that puppy by the time it warms up.

michwea 9:36 AM, January 25, 2010  

W00T! Excellent result and a great race report. Thanks for sharing.

Linda 9:58 AM, January 25, 2010  


We were wondering what the crazy guy with the camera was up to--now it all makes sense. Sort of. :)

Congrats on a swell race and thoroughly entertaining recap!

-Linda, on behalf of the "small group of people making a lot of noise" and "the guy with the loud horn" (I'm the one in the middle!)

SteveQ 10:14 AM, January 25, 2010  

Yeah, that was me at 10 - letting my pet eagle fly off-leash.

How anyone can think about a PR and take photos at the same time is beyond me! Nice race.

Regina 10:36 AM, January 25, 2010  

Nice! Can't wait for the video, but not even a trailer????

That day looked dismal, but as you say, it beats below freezing temps.


Julia 10:55 AM, January 25, 2010  

You were taking videos and you were a minute away from a PR! Wowza!
I am still laughing at the photo of you in the porta pottie :)

Velma 11:01 AM, January 25, 2010  

Nice work! I don't know how you run fast and take pictures. I would fall on my face!

Charisa 11:32 AM, January 25, 2010  

Awesome - congrats on your race. Nice mile-by-mile shots :)

Jessica 1:43 PM, January 25, 2010  

Hey Steve - any luck figuring out what the ache in the soleus/inner, lower calf is? I've got the same issue right now - in both feet - and it sucks. Yours might not be quite as obnoxious as mine given your great race, but I'm fishing for solutions.

I love your winter running stories. The rough conditions in Minnesota make Illinois seems a little less terrible....maybe.

Anonymous,  3:04 PM, January 25, 2010  

So what about the CLOT??? No emoblism? No melodramatic dead-faint at the finish?


Looks like this was just another of your lousy publicity stunts. We know, we know. You'd do anything to improve your ratings....

A Media Construct, that's you!

Aimee 3:34 PM, January 25, 2010  

Love the pics...I felt sorry for the guy that was throwing up...yuck!

Great job on breaking 1:30! You are so fast! AND, you did it all while video taping too...amazing! :)

Matt Ellenberger 3:48 PM, January 25, 2010  

I'll agree with you, after mile 10 it was a battle, it seemed like every mile was two. I loved those guys with the horns, they were awesome that late in the race. Congrats!

Jill 3:53 PM, January 25, 2010  

Congrats on an awesome race and PR'ing in the camera category!!!

Chad 6:26 PM, January 25, 2010  

Steve, nice to finally meet you at a race. Great job out there and nice job being the first to use a porta potty. Hope to see you around more this year.

Beth 6:59 PM, January 25, 2010  

Great race report, Steve! I think the whole blogger community was out there including Mr. Quick spectating. I'm sure I'll see you some more this season. Congrats on a great race!

CoachLiz 7:12 PM, January 25, 2010  

Congratulations again! i look forward to this Friday's "Friday Funny". Very cool that you got to see a bald eagle.

Tawnee Prazak, M.S., CSCS 8:00 PM, January 25, 2010  

Way to kick off the year strong! Love the mile-by-mile breakdown.

Steel Springs 8:51 PM, January 25, 2010  

Congratulations on the half. Thanks for the enjoyable race report!

Badgergirl 9:34 PM, January 25, 2010  

Nice job on the race! Can't wait to see the video!

Chic Runner 1:06 PM, January 26, 2010  

Ahhh NEVER seeing anyone take pictures during a race? ha ha he hasn't seen my blog yet that's all I do. Now you must tweet during a race. that's taking it to the next step. :) Nice race per usual. we could def. run a race together and see who got the best pics! I can't wait to see the video.

Anonymous,  3:58 PM, January 27, 2010  

Thank you ;-) check out that emo boy hair over this blog:

Ryan 1:54 PM, January 29, 2010  

Nice commentary! I ran across your blog from the review you left. Just wanted to let you know that as far as I know you were 1 out of 2 people taking video. I was streaming live from my android phone using an app called Qik. Very cool as my wife and parents were able to watch the first half of the race live! Although I finished 45 min after you did ;) this was my first half - definitely a fun one!!

Anonymous,  12:00 AM, February 01, 2010  

Genial post and this post helped me alot in my college assignement. Say thank you you on your information.

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