>> Monday, January 30, 2012
Saturday was the Securian Run Half Marathon (the 2nd race in the MDRA Grand Prix series that I signed up to race this year). Pharmie signed up to do the 10K, and Henry was going to go hang out with Auntie Steph and Uncle Jon.
I got our bottles ready early in the morning:
Yes, mine's the pink stuff. Shut it.
Anyway, Pharmie and I got to the race and started taking off our winter jackets to leave in the car. Two nice folks (named Amanda and Jeremy) popped out of the car next to us in the ramp and said "Hey, we didn't know we be parking next to YOU! We follow your blog!" We chatted for a moment, and Amanda took a pre-race photo for us:
Yep! Rockin' the "Tutti Frutti" shorts for the race!
I bumped into LOTS of people I knew at the starting line, but I chatted with JMatt and Tom the most. If you're a local, you may have seen JMatt before. He races in a FULL SUIT sometimes. Here he is a few years ago finishing the TC Marathon in his suit:
Tom with the shaved head, JMatt to the right, and... is that...
2x IM World Champ Macca in the middle?!? Why yes. Yes it is.
"On your marks..... GO!!"
Off we went. We headed up the long, gentle hill along the river. JMatt looked at his Garmin near the end of the first mile and said to Tom, "Ok... NOW we're down to 6:45 pace..." We started a little strong and hit mile 1 in 6:38. We turned to head around Rice Park where the Winter Carnival takes place. We immediately saw fireworks and heard big booms! Everyone cheered! Unfortunately, they fired the fireworks again when we were less than 100 feet away from them, and JMatt and I nearly died from the BOOM! We hit mile 2 in 6:39 and got down to the river.
Photo from last year's race report when I ran with my camera
(it was sunnier this year)
We had been running out INTO the wind since mile 2. And there was a pack of runners forming behind us. In fact, the 1:30 pace group had fallen-in right on our heels. We were the "wind breakers" for everyone! JMatt joked that we needed to start a paceline and everyone needed to take their turn in the front.
A bit later, JMatt asked me "Steve, how are you feeling? You're our barometer here!" I smirked and said, "I'm OK... But I'm starting to think 'stupid' thoughts..." I think JMatt knew what I meant - I was thinking of speeding up a little. He said "Oh, I LIKE 'stupid thoughts...' Ha!"
During all of his, Henry was having a good time with Auntie Steph and Uncle Jon:
Henry feeling his cousin kicking in Steph's tummy (she's due in April)
Cheesy dudes!! :) Thanks for taking care of him Steph and Jon!
JMatt and I (and maybe Tom, but I couldn't tell) took a gel around mile 6. After getting that down, we had a final long gentle-ish uphill to tackle before the turn-around. (It was partway up that hill that we got incorrectly turned around last year at this race making it only 11.6 miles. I was chatting with some folks near that point, and when I asked Kirt how he was doing, he said "Horrible! Where's the early turn-around this year?!" Ha!) I was going to work up that hill a bit. I slowly pulled to the lead of our pack, and slowly started to up the pace. We hit mile 7 in 6:45. I thought that was pretty good considering that long hill. Shortly after, we rounded the cone at the turn-around. That's when I started hammering. I found another gear. We were now running WITH the wind, and it felt like I had no wind-resistance at all; I was running the same speed as the wind. I was going to make this next mile FAST. I was pulling away from the pack I was leading. At mile 6, I was 1:48 behind my "best of all possible races" goal pace (which would have me finishing in 1:25:13, or 6:30 / mile average). I lost a little ground with my 6:45 mile 7, but I WAS going to take a bite out of that over this next downhill mile!
Sure enough, mile 8 clocked in at 6:08. "NICE!" But that good feeling didn't last long. Mile 9 was 6:48. "What? I didn't slow up THAT much!" I was a little disappointed, but I felt better as soon as I hit mile 10 in 5:43! So mile 9 was long, and mile 10 was short! (That's happened a lot at this race - the mile markers can be a little inconsistent.) If I was running 6:30s (my AMAZING race goal time), I would have been at 1:05:00 at mile 10. Well, I was only 1:14 behind that pace!
Side note on my "race:" Before the race, Michael told me that him and I were "called out" on Chad's blog. Both Michael and I blogged that we'd like to be around 1:28 with 1:25 being our "great day" goal. Chad called us sand baggers and said "I'm betting they'll both break 1:25." (The 3 of us all raced together at the Meet of the Miles.) But during the race, the BIGGER STORY FOR ME was that Michael and I were both doing the "Grand Prix" series. So the more people I beat in the Grand Prix, the better my scoring would be. At the turn-around, Michael was about 2-3 blocks in front of me. I tried to keep him in sight, but I was NOT gaining much on him. For the final 5 miles, I made him my rabbit.
Mile 11 was downhill, and it was fast too: 5:56! But after that mile, we leveled out and I was hurting. I was depressed that there were still 2 miles left. I gained a LITTLE on Michael, but not much. And I was pooped. I knew my next mile could be a bit slower.
Another photo from last year's race report,
in the middle of the "lonely stretch" before downtown.
.... until THAT hill.
There's this killer 1-block hill that runners have to climb to get back up into downtown with about a mile left. I was TRUDGING up that hill thinking "Nope... not going to BREAK 1:25... but there's Michael at the top! Still go for him!" I was now under a block behind Michael! (But yeah, I know... if I was about 2-3 blocks back at mile 7, and now under a block behind him at mile 12.3, I'm running out of time to pass him.) Rounding the second-to-last corner by the Farmer's Market, I was just over a half block back.
I pushed and pushed, and TRIED to catch Michael. But I couldn't get him. He got me by 9 seconds. Nine. Freakin'. Seconds. I did the final 1.1 miles (including that hill) in 6:58 (6:20 pace).
Steve Stenzel, #1215, 30, M, St. Paul
6:30.99 / mile pace
21 out of 830 overall
5 out of ?? in the 30-34 age group
5 race notes:
• It was a "winter half marathon" PR by nearly 3 minutes! I ran a 1:28:05 about 3 years ago in Rochester, and I WOULD have ran a very similar time to this 1:25:22 last year if the race hadn't been cut short. So officially, it's a "winter half marathon" PR by nearly 3 minutes! (My actual half marathon PR is 1:22.)
• Guess what Michael's finishing time was. Just guess. Yep, Michael finished in E.X.A.C.T.L.Y. my "dream time" of 1:25:13. What are the odds?!? I would have LOVED to have made up those 9 seconds, but I'm super happy with how I did. Michael told me after the race that he knew "me and my 4:53 miler legs" were coming for him, so he knew HE had to work! I love that we worked off each other! He was surprised I got THAT close to him, and told me I must have had a KILLER second half. Which brings me to my next point....
• The race wasn't a TRUE out-and-back, but doing some math based on my mile splits, I figured out just how much I negative split the race. I ran the first half in 44:31 (or 6:47 / mile), and I ran the second half in 40:51 (or 6:14 / mile). That's a pretty extreme negative spilt. And I KNOW the second half was so fast partly due to trying to catch Michael! (Along with the wind at my back.) So thanks for the pull, Michael!
• I counted my foot-strikes twice throughout the race: once around mile 3-4, and once near mile 7 at the turn-around. Both times, I had 183-184 foot-strikes / minute, which is actually slightly on the high side. I used to be around 165 which was leading to some heel-striking issues, and 180 is ideal. So this was just fine; I wasn't over-striding in this race.
• Shortly after I finished, JMatt came through the finishing chute. And Tom wasn't far behind him! (JMatt was within a minute of me, and Tom was within a minute of him!) I think we were all happy with the times we were able to throw down! Nice running with you guys!
I found Pharmie and she was happy with her 10K finish! She finished in 55:50 (9:00 / mile), which was good for 131st out of 358 overall! (Check out her blog for her race report.) We ran back to the car (freezing cold because we were covered in sweat but were no longer hot) and drove to pick up Henry. He had a good morning with Steph and Jon. He zonked out on the way back home:
Oh, and if you haven't entered the Gu and Pearl Izumi giveaway yet, click here to enter! I'll be picking 2 winners mid-week!
- CLICK HERE for my 2011 Securian Run Half Marathon Video.
- CLICK HERE for my 2011 Securian Run Half Marathon Race Report.
- CLICK HERE for my 2010 Securian Run Half Marathon Video.