Securian Run Half Marathon

>> Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Or, "First Race With a 'Running Buddy!'"

Or, "Passing My Pregnant Wife"

The Securian Run had a 5K, a 10K, and a Half Marathon (Pharmie signed up for the 10K and I signed up for the Half). Friday night (the night before the race), I worked on making a shirt for Pharmie for the race:

The finished front.

The back.

Pre-race. (Thanks to Nicole for the photo!)

We got to the Securian building in downtown St. Paul, and ran into Nicole right away. If you've been a follower of my blog for a while, you'll remember my 2009 Tesfa 5K race report where I ran in second place for most of the race behind a woman about my same age. Her name was Nicole as I found out once we talked after that race. And recently we found out we'd both be running THIS race with similar goals! So we figured we'd try starting the race together and see what happened.

Soon, we bumped into Katie and Matt. Then we hit the porta-potty line (where we bumped into Haley and Mark):

First porta-john shot of 2011.

800+ people lining up for the half marathon.

Pre-race with Mike.

Race-partner Nicole and I pre-race.

(I didn't tell them to give me a thumbs-up; they both did that on their own...)

I bumped into Willie, Peter, Kirt, and speedy Michelle Frey before the gun went off. (Michelle went on to finish in front of me as the first place woman EIGHTH overall out of over 800!)

Nicole and I were side-by-side as we heard "On your marks, get set, GGOOOO!!!

We chatted off-and-on for the first mile. We talked about training, how marathons are too far, plans for the 2011 racing season, etc. We climbed up to mile 1 in 6:45. We circled around Rice Park, where the St. Paul Winter Carnival was taking place. At one point, I exclaimed "Ooohh! Mini Donuts!!"

They smelled so good!

Nicole waving near the Landmark Center.

Big ice wall in Rice Park for the Winter Carnival.

After looping around the park, we met other runners still heading out. I spotted Matt:

Matt sent me 2 photos he got of me during the race. He said "My aim was a little off, so I had to do a little editing." This was the first image of a stranger, Nicole, and me around mile 1.5:

LOVE it! Thanks Matt! ;)

We made 2 more turns, and we were running along the Mississippi River:

Under 2 bridges and out of downtown

Nicole and I were still chatting now and then. I rarely train with a partner, and I NEVER race with a partner, so I didn't know what to do. Should we be chatting? Silently pushing each other? Sharing dirty jokes? I hoped I wasn't breaking some cardinal "racing partner rule."

Nicole and I were both taking our splits at the mile markers. We ran mile 2 in 6:39, mile 3 in 6:45, and mile 4 in 6:40. Here's a photo of Nicole from some time after mile 4, and we were still side-by-side:

The race was getting hard for me. It's miles 4ish - 9ish where I tend to ease up, and Nicole was REALLY pulling me. We ran mile 5 in 6:05 and both looked at each other and said "really?" We figured that was a slightly short mile. We crossed under the 35E bridge and hit mile 6 in 6:47.

The lead runners were already running past us on their way back towards downtown. There was a small pack near the front, and Michelle Frey was running with those guys. (She was recently featured in a snippet in Runners World.) Here she is running past with the guys:

At the top of the hill in that last photo is where the race got weird. There was no cone, but we were told to turn around. I heard people in front of us saying "Really? Here?" I didn't think much of it - it was a different course this year, so we ran around downtown more before heading out along the river. I figured some people were still just picturing the old turn-around. But just after we turned around, Nicole said, "This is going to be REAL short!" And sure enough, we immediately came across the 8th mile marker. So we went from mile 6 to mile 8 in 2:52. Yep, that's not right.

Nicole seemed pretty annoyed, and rightfully so. It's not that the race was going to be 12.95 miles instead of 13.1. It was going to be more like 11.6 miles. There were guys talking behind us about how this used to be a great race, but this distance issue sucked. I wasn't super annoyed, but had it been an "A" race for me (like the TC 10 Mile), I would have been pissed.

My theory about the shortened race? I think the police officer just after mile 6 THOUGHT he was the turn-around point, when really there was another volunteer farther up the road ready to turn us around. There was no cone to run around like there was for the 5K and 10K turn-arounds (which we had passed earlier). I think it was just some mis-information, and not a super short course. And yesterday Securian posted this on Facebook: "It's pretty obvious that you were turned around at the wrong spot! Why did that happen? Chalk it up to lots of changes and new people. We're very sorry it happened."

Anyway, shortly after turning around, I grabbed another shot of Nicole right in front of me, and more runners heading out on the left:

Pharmie was running the 10K (at an easy pace because of the baby I put in her), and after the shortened turn-around, Nicole told me "Hey, now you might pass your wife and finish your half before she finishes her 10K!" She was right! Now I was hoping to see my Pharmie finish her 10K!

2 things happened (mentally) when we realized the race was short: FIRST, I felt like I could hold on to the pace knowing I was at mile 8, not just past mile 6. But SECONDLY, I sort of felt "what's the use?" I mean, it wasn't going to be a half marathon. It was going to be a 11.6 mile race. It sounds dumb, but it made me not push QUITE as hard as I would have.

Matt spotted me again, and here's his second "great" photo of me running past. Here's a stranger, Nicole, and "me:"


I saw Guy and Jenny running towards me, and I got a shot of them running away:

I was still running with Nicole, and she had REALLY pulled me through those middle miles. We ran mile 9 in 6:15, mile 10 in 6:26, and mile 11 in 6:11. Now we were heading into a lonely stretch on our way back towards downtown:

Nicole was right behind me, and I was hoping to start upping the pace. I jumped behind her for the final water stop. She was having some hammy issues, and I didn't know what to do. We had said before the race that we were both there to run our own race, so I knew I didn't need to stay with her. But I didn't know what to say if I was going to pull away. I'm socially awkward sometimes. I didn't want to push her too much if it was going to hurt her leg, but I just didn't want to just leave her....

.... so I just started upping the pace and slowly pulled away. Like a jerk. Sorry Nicole!

I finished mile 12 in 6:27 as we were nearing downtown. Here's the view just before that:

I got up the KILLER hill, and made the turn back down a long, gentle hill. I was passing a few people. I was looking for Pharmie's pink shirt ahead. There was no sign of her.

We made a left and headed up past the Farmer's Market. THERE, OFF IN THE DISTANCE, I saw Pharmie rounding the corner a block in front of me! I caught up to her with 2 blocks left in the race. I passed her as she screamed "GO HUNNIE!! WOO-HOO!!"

I rounded the last corner and took a photo of the finish line:

I finished, got my chip removed, and turned around to get a shot of Pharmie heading to the line:

Yay Pharmie!

Official Results:

#1099, Steve Stenzel, 29, St. Paul MN
"Half Marathon" (11.6 miles)
6:30 / mile pace
25th out of 817 overall

Because I HAD to do this, I checked to see what my finishing time would have been if I could hold that pace for a full 13.1 miles. (I know that's a big "if," but I had to check.) It'd be 1:25:06. That's 3 minutes faster than my "winter" half marathon PR, so even if I had to ease up a little, I think I would have had a winter PR. (My actual half PR is 1:22:51.)

I was too focused on watching my wife finish that I missed Nicole finish. (I suppose that's the way it should be - ha!) Nicole finished just 1 place behind me in 1:15:22. (3rd place female to Michelle Frey and Michelle's speedy friend.) Nice work Nicole!! I hope your legs are feeling OK today!! It was great racing with you!! Thanks for the pull!"

To see more photos from the race (and the video from last year's race), CLICK HERE to go to the slideshow on my Examiner page. Back with more baby news and a video from this year's race in the next few days. Thanks everyone!!

UPDATE: Here's a link to my race video I took during the half marathon! Check it out!


Kim 7:58 AM, February 01, 2011  

love pharmies tshirt! what a bummer that the race was short. you thinking of signing up for another half soon to try to get that PR? awesome job out there steve!

SteveQ 10:53 AM, February 01, 2011  

Nicole is fast - I've run with (and against) her; nice job staying with her!

One of the unwritten rules of road racing is to know the course. I would've ignored the guy who thought he was at the turn-around and gone on to the cone that undoubtedly was waiting down the road, making me the first to run the whole course and thus, in my mind, the winner - though the results would make me look like a slowpoke.

Then again, I was once accused (correctly) of running through a lake to cut a course short.

Beth 5:34 PM, February 01, 2011  

I'm glad you both had a fun day despite the course error. Luckily I think that race attracts more experienced runners so maybe they took it better. If that was my first half marathon and I had trained all winter for it, I would be really upset. Thanks for all of the great pictures- especially of you, Steve, but you need to eat a little more! :)

mthead 12:40 AM, February 02, 2011  

Congratulations to you both, Pharmie looks great and I love the shirt you made her. Your kid is gonna get such epic free baby-tri gear, I'm picturing a baby Pearl Izumi onesie(sp?!?) with a diaper where the chamois should go.

mthead 12:40 AM, February 02, 2011  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt 2:57 PM, February 02, 2011  

Aw shoot, my 2 Mile world record lies in shambles. I'll send the Guinness people your way.

Richelle 9:22 PM, February 02, 2011  

Loved the shirt! Congrats on a great race despite the short course.

The Triathlon Rx 9:12 AM, February 03, 2011  

Haha you didn't post the back photo of the shirt on facebook. That's the best part! :D

Awesome job holding that pace, and hey - it's still a new PR! (When else have you raced 11.6?)

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