The Pine Line Half Marathon, Part 1

>> 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

Stu’s just like a little boy - we got to the race site, and he was running in front of us:

I went to warm-up with Rural Girl and Robby:

On the warm-up, I told Rural Girl “You know, if I do REALLY well at this race, Jen’s going to give me all kinds of hell and tell me it’s because I warmed up.” (Jen is Rural Girl’s coach, and she gives me crap all the time because I don’t warm-up or cool-down properly.)

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:

My plan was to go out around 6:30 pace, hold that pace for a few miles, and then go from there - I knew I might have to slow up a little for the middle few miles. 1:28:05 was my PR, and I really thought I could beat that (being all 3 of my other half marathons have been in the dead of a MN winter). I was pretty sure I could end around 1:26. I REALLY wanted to break 1:25, but that’d be on a PERFECT day.

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 were 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:

Mile 12: 6:00. “SWEET!! Screw sub-1:25! Go for sub-1:24!!”

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 that the next leap might be the leap home that the next curve would be the one just before the finish line. I saw Kevin a few blocks in front of me. I had picked up some ground, but there was NO CHANCE of beating him. He was a total friend on that course: if I hadn’t gone with him over those opening miles, I wouldn’t have turned in that fast of a time.

Mile 13 and last 0.1: 6:22. “5:47 pace? Yeah, that f*cking hurts.”

Official stats:
1:22:51.9 overall
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

Stu came running in a few minutes later! He was 8th overall and had a GREAT run!

Rural Girl wasn’t far behind him. Here she comes as the second overall female (by less than 20 seconds!):

Here she is headed to the line. She’s running to her hubby in front of her in all black:

She had a great PR of sub-1:39!! I grabbed my stuff and started working backward down the course. I wanted to see if I could get to the start of the trail before I spotted Pharmie. On the way, I found Robby FLYING over the last 0.5 mile to the finish:

I got to the trail. Here’s what the start of the trail looked like:

After just a minute, I spotted Pharmie coming in! Even though it was raining, she had stripped most of her clothes. She’s a “hot” runner. Her long sleeve top was tied around her waist, and her short sleeve top was tucked under her bra strap:

Hitting the end of the trail

She threw the long sleeve top to me, and she put the other shirt on while running. Here she is with about a half mile left:

And here’s Pharmie running to the rainy finish, with Stu (and his outstretched arms) there to greet her as she crossed the line:

Pharmie finished strong with no PR but no PW either. And she was pretty happy to find out that she finished 6th out of 15 in her AG! It was a solid race for everyone!

I grabbed my AG medal before we hit the road back to MN:

I got the best compliment from Pharmie later that day. She said something like “You know, when I hear of people finishing in 1:18 or 1:19, I think ‘holy crap.’ But now my Hunnie is practically one of THOSE people!” Ha! Thanks Pharmie!

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!!


Jumper 2.0 6:27 AM, April 26, 2010  

I love small races like that. I'll have to consider it for next year! Of course, I won't get the luxury of rural girl's house as she doesn't know my like the rest of you. But still, it would be fun and it's only 3 hours away.

Joe 6:44 AM, April 26, 2010  

Duuuuude, that's awesome!

Jennifer Harrison 8:02 AM, April 26, 2010  

HA!! LOVE IT - you guys all did so great...and like I said on FB, YOU DID PR and YOU DID WARM UP...hmmm. You owe me. LOL What a concept!!!!

AND I see Michelle had tights on though....hmmm, will have to talk to her about that...hahaha! :)) (kidding michelle!).

:)) Congrats to all !

Christi 8:29 AM, April 26, 2010  

Great job to everyone! You are a speedster Steve!

Coach Liz 8:30 AM, April 26, 2010  

Wow, a trail run half marathon sounds interesting. Great job with your pacing. Yep, you are one of THOSE people. Now to up the ante, you need to start working on tacking a super run like that on the end of a half IM race. I know you could totally do it because you are one of THOSE people.

Congratulations Steve!!!

Allie 8:40 AM, April 26, 2010  

Congrats but I gotta say, I'm missing a port a potty picture. :)

Steve Stenzel 9:07 AM, April 26, 2010  

Allie, it's coming tomorrow! I swear! ;)

Unknown 9:35 AM, April 26, 2010  

Steve - Excellent race. That is an amazing time and even more impressive that it was on a more technical trail surface. Congrats!

Kitzzy 9:37 AM, April 26, 2010  

Congrats Steve! You and Pharmie are an inspiration. After reading her ultra race report, I am seriously considering one this year!

Nelson 9:40 AM, April 26, 2010  

I bet that was your "C" race, jerk! I kid, great job on the PR!!

Tri-James 10:05 AM, April 26, 2010  

5 minute PR - awesome!

Amy,  11:30 AM, April 26, 2010  

Awesome! Be glad you didn't run the Get in Gear Saturday, LOTS of rain :( it was chilly!

Anonymous,  11:57 AM, April 26, 2010  

huge pr, great job!

RFalkenrath 12:02 PM, April 26, 2010  

1:22... color me green with envy.

B. Kramer 12:33 PM, April 26, 2010  

Spectacular race! Congrats on the PR, AG win, 2nd overall. And nice Quantum Leap reference. Cheers!

Aimee 5:31 PM, April 26, 2010  

Congrats on your race! And, that must have been so fun for all of you to run together! :)

Amytrigirl (aka Amybee) 9:42 PM, April 26, 2010  

CONGRATS on a well deserved PR Steve! Sounds like you and the crew ran an awesome event.

HURRAH for you!

Got your email re: duathlon workout. I can't do it this week....but will try to join you soon. Will also let you and your team know what Nat and I are up to. Maybe we can join forces.

E-Speed 10:41 AM, April 27, 2010  

Nice! You have inspired me, I need to get in a fast half before the fall now!

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