The "Half Fast" Half Marathon Race Report

>> Monday, February 22, 2016

Or, "Making More Race Buddies."

Or, "My Second 25K" (yes, I know I just said "half marathon" in the title).

I got up early and drove the 2-loop course in the north metro because I knew I could be near the front of this small race. (Last year's winning time was about what I hoped to run.) So with map in hand (along with the 16-step turning instructions), I checked out the course.

Along 35E around mile 1.

Six wild turkeys!

There were lots of "straight" signs, turn signs, and mile markers.
Oh, and note some slipperiness on the shoulder - it rained the day before the race.

HERE'S SOME HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE FORESHADOWING: I didn't see a sign where I thought we should be turning off of Greenhaven, but then I noticed it laying in the snow. I got out of my car to put it back up, but the ground was so frozen that it didn't go in. (Notice how they mounded the snow around the "mile 2" sign above.) So I leaned it against a light pole hoping that the wind wouldn't knock it over again. HOPING.

This was "porta potty row" on the edge of the parking lot when I got to the race site:

From my Instagram: "You know you're at a small race when..."


Pre-race porta-potty selfie tradition.

Lots of hard-to-see slick spots from the rain the day before.

One thing that wasn't advertised (which is a BIG plus) is that we got to go inside the school before the race. The gym was packet pickup, and we got to use the bathrooms down the hall. That's great during a winter race - we can stay warm and then literally just jump out the gym doors to be at the starting line.

Katie and me - she was the winner of the race entry through the giveaway on my blog!

We had a pre-race briefing where 2 important things were said: "The sidewalks are slick, so run in the street," (which I was hoping they'd say) and "every turn will have a volunteer, so if you don't see someone, don't turn!" Good. I like that kind of race-course clarity. Especially on a pseudo-tricky course with lots of turns.

We all headed outside, got a 10 second count-down, and soon we were off!!

From the Tri Fitness Instagram page: "The half has begun! #halffasthalf"

Pretty much the same photo: that's me in 3rd, about to be passed by the
guy in yellow (Aaron [we were about to meet]) and the younger guy in blue.

My first half mile split was 2:53, so I was moving a LITTLE too fast for the opening mile of a half marathon. I slowed it up and dropped back to 6th as the lead pack of 5 opened a bit of a gap. My first mile still clocked in at 5:58.8 which was my fastest mile since my FINAL mile in the TC 10 Mile last October. Oops.

The roads were nice, and we just had to watch out for a few slick spots here-and-there. I knew I wasn't going to win, but I was hoping to "hold on to a lot of hurt" and put up a decent time. Hopefully something in the 1:25s. If not faster.

HERE'S WHERE IT STARTS TO GET A LITTLE WEIRD. We started coming up to a kid's playground. I didn't remember seeing a playground when I drove the course. (And once you're a parent, you tend to really notice these things: "Oh, that's a sweet playground - my boys would like it. We could live here!") After a bit more, we came up to a major road and I stoplight I never saw. "Yep, we're off course." I turned left to stay with the guys in front of me, and we continued along this major road (Hwy 96 I think) HOPING we'd meet up with the "real" course again.

In the meantime, my mile 2-4 splits were better: 6:47.4, 6:33.6, and 6:35.5.

Right around mile 4, the guy who was in 5th about 1-2 blocks in front of me stopped and turned around. He knew we were off course too. I ran up to him, we kept going while chatting, and we decided to turn left when we could. The 4 guys WAY up there in the lead kept going straight, but we turned left onto Rice (not a road I recognized from the directions). The guy behind us yelled at us, so we stopped and convinced him we were all off course, but this was at least the right DIRECTION we needed to go. He came with us, and we all chatted. It was me, Aaron, and Eric.

Mile 5 was a bit slower because we stopped to talk to Eric (I let my Garmin run), but it was still just 7:00.22. Aaron and I knew the missed turn we were SUPPOSED to have taken before mile 2 onto Elizabeth. Now, we were looking for County Rd E/F which intersected with the race course. And around mile 6, we found it.

Just before mile 7, Aaron and I thought we were coming up a hill where we'd have to take a right to be BACK ON THE REAL RACE COURSE. And sure enough, when we got near the top, we saw volunteers and police officers. "Uuuh, you were supposed to come from THAT way..." a volunteer said as she pointed to our left. Yep. We knew that. NOW. We quickly told them what was up, made a right turn, and all breathed a sigh of relief to be back on the race course. We'd done an extra 2.5 miles (once we got to a mile marker). "That's fine," said one of the guys. "I guess we're doing a 25K today." None of us REALLY cared that we were doing more: Eric was training for Boston, and Aaron was training for an Ironman. We just went with the flow and kept chatting.

Mile 6 and 7 were nice and steady: 6:32.68 and 6:35.45.

And so were 8 and 9: 6:33.19 and 6:33.42. Four miles within 2.8 seconds. Nice.

We got back to the school to start our 2nd lap AT MILE 9! That's a depressing thought: to be running a "half marathon" and starting your 2nd loop at MILE NINE!

AWKWARD PHOTO! Eric, me, and Aaron stopping as we start our 2nd lap to tell
race management that there are people out there on Hwy 96 who might be quite lost!

Oh, and I threw down my mittens, hat, and stripped off my long sleeve shirt too. It was a beautiful 37 degrees, and I was going to do the final lap of this race in shorts and a T-SHIRT!! In Feb! In MN!

One of the guys joked "Well, I guess we're now taking home 1st through 3rd!" But as we started our 2nd loop, we saw all 4 of the "faster" guys coming back towards us - they essentially did a Garmin-mapped 6.55 mile out-and-back to equal 13.1 miles. We had no idea how they were going to "rank" runners at this race. Glad we weren't the race director! Yikes!

Aaron and I knew where we were SUPPOSED to have turned off of Greenhaven Drive around mile 2 (of the loop), so we were going to do it RIGHT this time. And this time, there was a volunteer at that corner, and the sign was put back up (assuming that it had tipped over after I set it up pre-race).

Miles 11-13 were 6:42.82, 6:42.72, and 6:33.45.

We weren't AS chatty now, and Aaron was dropping back a bit. Eric and I still ran together. I noted that we hit 13.10 miles at 1:26:18 - that's 32 seconds faster than my Securian Run Half 3 weeks ago, and we still had 2.5 miles to go. I decided right around that point to not push the pace and race these final miles TOO hard. I did that half marathon 3 weeks before, but besides that, I had 4 runs around 11 miles in the last 5-6 weeks. And here I was about to go somewhere around 15.5 miles. I didn't want to injure myself and run my legs into the ground. In fact, I don't know how many times the other 2 guys mentioned something like "Well, this will just be a nice training / tempo run I guess" over miles 5 through 10ish.

Eric lead me through the final twists and turns on the 2nd loop. We'd be side-by-side for a moment, and then I'd let up a bit to watch our (potentially icy) footing around corners.

Miles 14 and 15 (of this HALF MARATHON) were a BIT faster, but not all out: 6:26.56 and 6:25.09. (Remember, I opened with a sub-6 mile.)

We saw the school in the distance, ran up to the driveway side-by-side, and I made a comment like "Well, lead us home!" He led 95% of those final 2 miles, so I wasn't about to be a jerkhole and out-sprint him to the finish. But he said "Nah, I'm going to get in a few more miles for my marathon training" and just kept running. Here he is running off on the left as I head for the line:

I hit the line, and the timer immediately asked "So how far did you run?" 15.41 miles. Just about 1/10 of a mile shy of a full 25K. I'm calling this my 2nd 25K.

Aaron hitting the line! He said once we hit 13 miles, it's like his body knew
that's how far he was SUPPOSED to go, and everything slowed up a bit.


The red arrows show what happened the first loop, and the green arrows show
our 2nd loop (what were were SUPPOSED to have done both times). Oops.

Back at the finish, we heard people talking about the missed turn. Apparently, a volunteer didn't show up, and no one knew about that. So there was an un-manned corner with a "turn left" sign that wouldn't stay upright. Oops. Everyone missed the turn.


15.41 miles
6:33.90 pace
Hit 13.1 in 1:26:18 (6:35.28 pace)

The results aren't posted yet. If this had been a "normal" half marathon, I probably would have been 5th or 6th. I think that lead pack of 4 was running away with the race by mile 4, but I maybe could have caught Aaron who wasn't as far ahead. Who knows. It doesn't matter.

A little slow-up around 4.5 where I met up with Aaron (and it was icy), stopping at mile 5
to convince Eric we were all off course, and stopping at 9 to let race management know
people were lost. (I just let my Garmin run.) I think many of the sputters in the last
3 miles were watching my footing on all the little turns as I ran with Eric.

So the 4 guys who lead the out-and-back group were faster than me, and a lot of other people who did that finished before me too (because we ran an extra 2.3 miles). But I was the first to finish 2 loops. That spurred this confusing Instagram post:

From my Instagram: "Missed a turned, so the @trifitnesswbl ‪#‎HalfFast‬ Half Marathon
turned into a 25K. But I still won. Kinda. Sort of. Maybe."

One of the 4 guys faster than me turning to the finish
from the opposite direction after doing an out-and-back.


• Not too many people were upset about the unmarked course / missing volunteer. Some of the lead men and women seemed a bit peeved post-race, but most people didn't really care. Not too many people are shooting for a 13.1 PR in February in Minnesota. And TECHNICALLY, it was our job as runners to know the course. New race buddies Eric, Aaron, and I just went with it. Sure, it's disappointing, but it was no biggie.

• Even though I wasn't planning on running 25K and didn't "race" the closing miles, I was only 80 seconds off my first (and only) actual 25K race. I just broke 1:40 at the 2012 City of Lakes 25K. I'm feeling pretty good about my overall endurance right now. (Just gotta stay injury-free!)

• I got THEE BEST post-race massage from someone names Suzie. She really dug into my tight calves and hammies. She asked "are you racing again this week? No? Well, then I'm really going to tear you up." Nice. I loved to hear that. She dug her knuckles and/or elbows in my hammies as she moved my legs around. I grimaced. And then she said "This is gonna hurt - take a deep breath." And she put all she had into some scar tissue in my groin. I nearly cursed. It was amazing. She loads up her massage table and COMES TO YOU, so Pharmie and I might see what her rates are for a stop over at our place. Her name is Suzie Danner (CMT, CPT), and her contact info is 651-235-1078 (text or call) or through email: massuzie @ (remove the spaces). Thanks Suzie!

• My legs seemed to hold up OK for those extra miles! I was a bit worried during the race, and that's why I didn't sprint to the finish over the last 2 miles. But what DIDN'T hold up were my feet. I noted near the end of my Securian Run race report a few weeks back that the bottom of my feet got QUITE sore with a few miles left. Well, that happened at this race too. Here's what they looked like as soon as I got home:

Big blister at the base of my big toe. (And a somewhat pruney foot from damp socks.)

Normal callouses on the right, and another big blister at the base of my big toe.

Well, now it's a week of rest. I'll probably do something similar to what I did after the Securian Run: maybe spin on the bike in a day or 2, run a few miles Wednesday or Thursday, then spin a bit harder before the weekend. Then maybe a mid-distance run (7-8 miles maybe) on the weekend if my legs feel OK.

Then it's time for shorter races! Maybe the Lake Johanna 4 Mile in mid-March, and then hopefully O'Gara's Irish Run 8K the next weekend. Thanks for a fun race, Tri Fitness!!


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