Saturday, August 2, 2014
Runners: 780 (348 men, 432 women)
Course: Street & wooded lake trail combo, Flat - 94 ft of elevation gain
Weather: 69 degrees, 90% humidity, no wind
Start Time: 7:00 am CST
SWAG: No Finisher Medal, Purple Tech-Tshirt
Race Organization: Good
Volunteer Support: Good
Crowd Support: None
Water Stops: Not nearly enough for a summer half-marathon
Food: Bananas & bagels
Health: Good, no issues
Conditioning: Good, but not good enough for the intense humidity during the race, still need more core work and need to lose about 5 pounds to race at my best
Time: 1:27:52 NEW PR
Place: 25th/780, 4th/90 in 40-49AG (2nd in 45-49)
Don't let the time finish time fool you, even though I made it from Point "A" to Point "B" in a half-marathon faster than I ever had before, this was NOT a great race performance from me. That's not a "humble brag", "sour grapes", or anything else ... plain and simple, I just didn't run a good race.
|Great picture of downtown Minneapolis I got this weekend before the race|
There were plenty of restaurants in the area, unfortunately I had a little trouble finding anything healthy. But I did locate a Whole Foods grocery store where I picked up a few things. Plus, since it was only a half-marathon, I wasn't super-consumed with fueling. But I didn't want to completely wreck my diet either. I've been eating fairly healthy lately and this half-marathon was only part of my training, not the final destination. So I didn't want to veer too far off track just because it was a race weekend.
For starters, there was no finisher medal. This was made clear in the registration information, so I knew it going in. I've always said that finisher medals are no big deal to me, but for some reason it kind of bummed me out at the end when there was no medal. They actually handed out the race shirts at the end, so at least there was a "reward" for finishing the race besides a banana and bagel. But the shirt was purple! Purple! So I bought one of the previous year's race shirts for $4, because I'm not sure I'll ever wear a purple shirt. (No offense if purple's your favorite color, it's just not me - ha)
Finally, there were simply not enough water stops for a summer marathon. The volunteers at all the water stops did a great job and were very supportive and well organized, but in the first seven miles, on a very humid day, there were only two stops. It seems like the frequency picked up after that, but they were fairly sparse at the outset. I just felt for a summer marathon, where we had over 90% humidity and all the runners were losing fluids at a rapid rate, there should have been more water available. I heard several runners complaining about it while we were running. But this too was identified in the pre-race info, so I could have carried water. Several of the homeowners along the course had their sprinklers on so we could run through as we passed their house ... which felt awesome! Race extras aside, this was a nice small race, on a very flat and shaded course. The organizers did a great job with organization and communication and were very, very friendly.
|Wood Lake in Richfield, Minnesota|
We also ran around two other small city lakes - Richfield Lake and Legion Lake - which were both very nice and well kept with adjacent parks.
|A portion of the race was ran on these well-maintained and smooth dirt trails around Wood Lake|
I kept an eye on the weather all week leading up to the race, and knew two things ...
1. At 65-69 degrees, the temperature wouldn't be too bad
2. At 90% humidity, it was going to be a GRIND!!!
There's no getting around it, regardless of the temperature, humidity just sucks the energy right out of you, and the race on Saturday was the perfect demonstration of this fact.
When I arrived at the starting area at the Richfield Ice Arena, I immediately noticed that the air was very still, and very very sticky. I ran about two mile of warm ups with some sprints and was already covered in sweat. I think it was only about 65 or 66 degrees when the gun went off, but the humidity was at or above 90%.
With this in mind, I tried to keep my pace controlled. My first mile was a 7:02, which felt very comfortable, followed by a 6:38, which felt equally as relaxed. But as we ran around Wood Lake during mile three, I noticed that my shirt was completely saturated with sweat. Including warm ups, I had only ran about five miles so far and I was drenched. Understanding that I would soon fatigue from the moisture laden air, I slowed my pace during the third mile to a 6:42. But conscious of the clock, I picked it up a little during the fourth mile to a 6:30 and felt fine.
Somewhere during mile five I began to labor a little. My breathing really seemed to be okay, but my legs were having trouble keeping the pace. Frankly I had tried to start this race a little quicker than normal, and I think it might have been a little too fast considering the conditions. I kept looking at my Garmin thinking, "I need to be down in the 6:20's", but I just couldn't seem to find a gear to get me to that pace consistently. I felt like I was running fairly smoothly, but I just didn't seem to have the ability to increase my speed.
I really wanted to PR in this race so I was fairly mindful of my pace. Based on my recent training times, I honestly felt like I could have been around 1:25 ... OR LOWER. Heck, a few weeks before the race I ran a Tempo Run where I averaged a 6:19 over 9 miles, and would have easily PR'd if it would have been a race day. But Saturday was a different story. I really hadn't wanted to stop during mile six, but knew that I was still way under PR pace. My 10K split was a 41:13, which for me is pretty quick, and I knew a few added seconds wouldn't hurt. But when I stopped three more times over the course of next seven miles, I really started wondering if it was going to be my day. I started doing the math in my head at mile 10, trying decide just how slow of a mile I could run and still come in under record time for me. I figured that if I ran the last three miles at a 7:00/pace, I'd be okay. The problem was that I was really fighting even keeping a 7:00 pace on track. I was beginning to get a little light headed from the fluid loss and took a salt capsule somewhere in mile 11.
I don't think I've ever faded in a half-marathon like I did on Saturday, but it was a grind to keep those last miles under 7:00. I would run for a while and then need to stop again. This was simply unbelievable for a half-marathon. I was just completely drained and soaked to the bone with perspiration and felt like I was breathing through a straw ... with an elephant on my chest. It was just a lot tougher than a half-marathon should have been.
I crossed the finish line with a 1:27:52 for a new PR. I would have been elated with this time a few years ago ... but on Saturday I was pretty disappointed. The race was supposed to be a stepping stone or a springboard to an awesome marathon in four weeks. But unfortunately, it left me with more questions than answers.
After the race, I stopped back by the hotel, showered, and hit the road as soon as possible for the 6-1/2 hour drive home. Even though I'd ran a poor race, probably the worst thing I did all day was only stop the car once over the trip home. Not a real smart thing to do. My legs were so stiff the next day. Hopefully I can get rid of the soreness quickly and resume the final phase of marathon training for Idaho. The half-marathon hadn't been a disaster by any means, I mean I DID PR. But it made it very clear to me that I still have a lot of work to do. Maybe that's a good thing.
... be great today!