Sunday, January 30, 2011

St Paul - Securian Half-Marathon Race Report 2011

If you read my Weekly Rambling you would have seen me mention that someone I know mentioned this race to me, and it did not take much work to get me convinced to run it.  As endurance athletes... don't we all have a slightly crazy side to us?  Endless hours of training, early morning workouts, or running when its freezing cold are just some of the reasons others may think that anyway!

I had a great Week 1 of workouts to take me up to Rev 3 Knoxville which will come in more detail tomorrow in my Weekly Ramblings post.  All that I will discuss is that on Tuesday I did a 6.22 mile run at roughly race pace, 7:22/mile.  It was a good effort and it gave me an idea of what to expect for this "race."  I say race loosely because I was not racing anyone, I was not competing to place, but only trying to better my PR from the Urban Wildland Half, a 1:39:34. With less than a week of preparation, I thought it will be a good benchmark of where I stand currently to look back on towards the end of the year.  There would be no taper, no change in workouts, just me aiding recover as much as I can!  This involved a nice 6 mile run Thursday to loosen the legs up and my 5 min FTP test on the bike Friday... not exactly ideal the day before a race.

Some will get humor of this which I have mentioned on twitter, but Friday after the bike, I took an ice bath.  Yeah cold water in the tub, empty the ice machine to the tub, and plop in.  Now we did not have a ton of ice, and I thought of using snow, but then opted out of that due to dripping sweat from the ride.

One key thing to remember when taking ice baths, a strategically placed warm water soaked wash cloth.  Yeah... I forgot that and it made this whole experience a whole new level of cold.  

On to the race.  I drove to St Paul and found parking, then found the plaza where they had pre-race activities and bag check etc.  I stretched, evaluated the temps to decide on clothing, listened to some music, and talked with a few people, then did warm-ups outside.  It was cool, and by cool I mean about 25 with 13 or so MPH winds.  My goal was to line up with the 1:35 pace group and see if I could push myself to hold that pace.  As I lined up, I saw the 1:30 pacer and I saw the 1:40 pacer, then found out that the 1:35 pacer bailed.  Wonderful I thought, this is going to be a bit more of a challenge, but lets roll with the punches.

As people lined up, I started talking with a girl who was also shooting for 1:35 so we decided to pace off each other and keep each other going.  Before I knew it, we were weaving through the streets of St Paul before getting on Sheppard Rd for a the majority of the course's out and back.  We were only a few miles in and I heard someone say the course was not a full 13.1, although I thought I saw that it was a certified course, maybe that was only the 5k and 10k.  Either way we kept together and chatted a little bit trying to keep our pace even at 7:15.

As many of you can relate, there are times when you "pair" up with someone and it is a mutual agreement, stated or unstated, that everyone is here to run their race, so if someone needs to break away, go for it.  I started this race with the mentality of setting a PR for myself, what a great motivator to start the year.  A PR in January would surely show that I did not slack too much in the off-season and indicate good things to come right?  At some point this race stopped being about me, and it became about helping someone else keep motivated.  Our pace had fallen from the 7:15 at some point and when we hit the turn around, the 1:40 pacer went past us, partially due to the bad distances of the course etc, but we plugged along and ended up in front of them again.

Having someone to keep you accountable works wonders, if it be a work goal, or a fitness goal, someone to check up on you, remind you of your goal, push you to do things that align with that goal, and help you celebrate!  I could tell she was hurting, still trying to recover from a 2 week bout with a cold, and then out running in the cold would work a number on anyone.  We pushed on, pace fluctuating up and down but moving forward still.  As we entered back into downtown St Paul, she kept telling me to finish strong, but I stuck by since we had done the whole thing together as I know she would have done the same for me.  As we got to the final straight-away, she said to pick it up and go my pace so it pushed her to run harder to keep up, so I did.

After we finished she thanked me greatly for sticking with her and pushing her at the end.  It felt good to know there was more in the day than just looking for my own PR.  My finishing time was 1:28:19 (by the official results, the course was 11.6 miles so my pace was 7:37/mile translated out would have been a 1:39:47, while that would not have been a PR by about 20 seconds, I felt so much stronger and know my pace could have been lower.  The Garmin had me at a 7:29 pace.  I think I needed a day like this to keep me thinking about things in perspective.  It is not always about me me me, sometimes there are other reasons to be at an event.

I finished 185/817 people this day!

I am excited to see where this benchmark takes me over the next few months!


Andree January 30, 2011 at 3:03 PM  

Great Job! You were certainly fortunate to find a good running partner

Mark January 30, 2011 at 3:26 PM  

Jeff, nice roughly 10k page brother.

The rest of your post was great. I read the word "pace" at least fourteen hundred times.

Just kidding, man. Congratulations on a kick-ass race!

Jeff - DangleTheCarrot January 30, 2011 at 3:32 PM  

Great race! Too bad it was short I bet you would have dug down and pulled in a new PR, sounds like you were cruising.

Hey, for the ice bath, keep your tri/cycling shorts on - works wonders, trust me here (-:

Anthony January 30, 2011 at 6:58 PM  

Finding a new distance is always a great way to set a new PR ;) Seriously though, Congrats on a great race!

Steve Stenzel January 30, 2011 at 7:19 PM  

Nice work helping out another runner! Hope you're doing well the day after!

Colleen January 30, 2011 at 8:31 PM  

Congrats on a great race! :)

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