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Athletic Republic Half Marathon – Race Report


ff-half

Coming into this race, the goal was really to have no real goal. Just improve on my 1:40 half marathon I ran two weeks ago in Fargo. Even a 1:40 would’ve been considered an “improvement” by me just based on the course profile (very hilly versus Fargo which had a whopping 8 feet of uphill/downhill in the last 8 miles). I prepared for the race exactly how you shouldn’t – stayed up too late, ate hot dogs instead of pasta, hydrated so-so, and showed up 20 minutes before the start of the race not having picked up my race packet and not ever really knowing where packet pickup was.

Mile 1 – 7:07 – Two weeks ago, the goal was to go out in about 7:20-ish. I ended up running a 7:07 which coincidentally was the exact same I ran this mile. Overall, though, I wasn’t too disappointed. It’s not like I ran a 6:40 or anything.

Mile 2 – 7:19 – Intentionally backed off just a touch. Last race, I ran a 7:03 here with a 10 second shoelace break. So I was pretty happy with the 7:19. So far, the course was constant hills as advertised.

Mile 3 – 7:05 – Feeling really strong here. At this point, I’m hoping to keep this going because I feel entirely different than I did during my last race.

Mile 4 – 7:22 – Really upset because my shoelace came untied here. I’m debating whether I want to run 9 more miles with a shoe untied or suck it up and tied it. Cost me about 20 seconds to double knot both of my shoes. Was disappointed in myself because I made this mistake last race, too. Note to self: when I’m trying to break 1:30, TIE YOUR FREAKING SHOES!

Mile 5 – 7:00 – This was largely a really pretty mile through downtown Fergus Falls. Not a ton of spectators for the race, but there were enough to make it kind of fun. Just a really pretty course, though.

Mile 6 – 7:10 – For the first time in the race, I was starting to feel the legs a little bit. There was one point we took a right and went uphill and into the wind. Was pretty pleased when I saw this mile – which felt like it was slowing quite a bit – was still 7:10.

Mile 7 – 7:16 – Hit the marathon relay at this point. Was really starting to feel it. Hit the halfway point in 46:2x. Doubling that would be a 1:32:40. I didn’t think that was going to be possible. Mentally, I thought if I could maintains 7:30s and finish around 1:36, I’d have been thrilled.

Mile 8 – 7:36 – This was a really tough mile for me. I had forgotten, but this is the most uphill mile of the course. It hurt. Luckily for me, I had a guy that I had passed (and then he passed me – we repeated this process about 6-8 times from mile 3 to the finish). He passed me every uphill (and then I’d get them on the downhills) but I managed to stay close. Without him here, I may have fallen off a bit.

Mile 9 – 7:03 – Got done with the hills and I was just thrilled with how I felt this miles. At this point in Fargo, I ran an 8:07. In this race, I now feel like I’m attacking the course. My legs feel like they’ve got some pop.

Mile 10 – 7:09 – As I hit this mark, I knew that I was capable of running a good time. I actually saw my wife and daughter for the first time here which was a big boost. More than anything, I’m running with a sense of elation simply because I feel fit and I feel like myself. After 6 weeks of taking beta blockers, I was really struggling feeling sluggish. Every single run felt like it was at the highest altitude I’ve ever run at. Now, I’m feeling strong and getting stronger because every mile I feel like I’m gaining confidence.

Mile 11 – 7:10 – Starting to meander back through town. My Grandparents are from Fergus Falls (about 45 minutes away from my hometown), so I grew up sitting in the backseat of the car driving around these streets while my Grandma went and got groceries or while my Grandpa was headed out to the golf course. There was something kind of neat about running a race in a town I’m quite nostalgic about.

Mile 12 – 7:42 – This was the “wheels fall off mile” to a certain extent. I felt really initially catching two runners I’d been anywhere from 25-100 meters behind for about 7-8 miles. I passed the first guy in the initial part of the mile. I could tell he was hurting a bit as his pace had slowed pretty considerably. The second guy had bothered me the whole race. He was an older guy who was running without a shirt on. About a mile or two into the race, he was ahead of me when he stopped, pulled out his camera and took a picture. He proceeded to do this (no lie) 30 or 40 more times during the course of the race. Every time, I’d make up about 5 seconds on him, but he was constantly ahead of me. It just bugged the crap out of me getting beat by a guy who was stopping to take nature pictures! I finally passed him while he was taking a picture on this mile. Although this mile was my slowest and toughest of the race, it was also the prettiest as you ran 1 mile around a little lake that sits in the middle of town.

Mile 13 – 6:58 – Right after I hit the 12 mile marker, we started to make our way back towards the 1 mile straight home. About 300 meters into the mile, I started running into the back of the 5k walkers. While it started off as just a few of them, it turned into literally hundreds of walkers. I know some people have horror stories about dodging 5k walkers, but they had the road completely shut down, so walkers stayed in the right lane and runners stayed in the left. It was actually awesome because all of the walkers starting cheering you on as you went by. I had the music cranked up to 11 at this point, but I could still hear the people cheering me on. My legs were heavy and I was struggling, but I can’t begin to describe how ecstatic I was to find out I ran the fastest mile of the race as my last mile. It’s been sometime since I’ve run a sub-7 mile at the end of a half-marathon.

Final Time – 1:34:08 which was good enough for 8th place overall and first in my age group. I don’t know if that won anything as I had to almost immediately head out to go to a birthday party with my family. All day, though, I was just feeling fantastic. Last year, I really recommitted myself to running. I really wanted to break my lifetime half-marathon PR of 1:31:07. I started by running in the 1:40s at the Fargo half and Perham half marathon before knocking out a 1:36:53 in August followed by a 1:36:23 in September followed finally by my season best of 1:34:53 at the Fargo Mini Marathon. I ran a poor race for the last race of the year, but it makes me feel phenomenal to think that on June 1st, I’m in better shape than I was last year after putting in a ton of work all summer/fall. I’ve worked really hard to get to the point where I’m at now and I’m finally once again proud of what I’m doing as a runner. I know that there are tens of thousands of runners in the world that can clean my clock in a race, but I race to be competitive with myself. And all the hard work I’ve been putting in has paid off as I’m nearing the best running I’ve ever done. I actually am starting an 18-week training cycle this Monday, so I’m optimistic that, of course if I can stay healthy, I may have the opportunity to put up some new personal bests at a bunch of different distances.

Up next, I’m just planning on training. I’ve got speedwork for the next few weeks. I’ll probably hop into some shorter races (Turtlefest 10k and possibly a 5 mile race on or around the 4th of July). My next half marathon (and hopefully at attempt to finally shatter the 1:30 barrier) will be at my hometown Perham Half Marathon on July 20th.

Fargo Mini Marathon – Race Report

For the past 12 weeks, I’ve been targeting the Fargo Mini Marathon as a race I wanted to run fast. I really have been hoping to set a PR (currently 1:31:06), but I knew I wasn’t quite in as good of shape as I was when I ran my PR. When I ran my PR, I was in killer shape and ran what I felt like was a poor race. But, since I was in such good shape, I still managed to PR by a little over a minute and a half.

Coming into the race, my training over the last six weeks has been good, but not great. I’d been averaging around 40 mpw. I’ve been getting really good long runs consistently every weekend, but my speedwork wasn’t what I was hoping for. I also had a wedding that came up sort of late in the game, so I wound up spending 8 hours in the car the day before the race. It’s not ideal for racing a fast time, but at the same time, you’ve got to live life.

Mile 1 – 6:28 – Was really disappointed in myself this mile. My goal coming into the race was to average 6:52’s. I knew coming in that it would be a tall order, but I thought it was possible. I like to run the first three miles slower, so I was thinking somewhere in the 6:55-7:15 range for the first mile. I went out and ran super easy and still ran a 6:28 (which, I knew, was going to screw me in this race…)

Mile 2 – 6:48 – A little bit of wind in this mile. I was worried because I wasn’t too familiar with the course, but if I got this much wind for half the race, it wasn’t going to be fun.

Mile 3 – 7:14 – I was trying to be optimistic and tell myself that if I would have run a 7:14/6:48/6:28 in reverse order, I’d be feeling really happy about my start of the race. I know too much about running to know that isn’t the case, though. My goal now switch from PR to running faster than I ran in at the Dick Beardsley half in September.

Mile 4 – 7:14 – Maintaining, but still was a little upset at myself for going out so fast.

Mile 5 – 7:24 – Was really disappointed to see the 20s. I was doing math in my head and figuring if I could keep under 7:10s at this point, I could run in the 1:32s which wouldn’t be too bad.

Mile 6 – 7:20 – 1:32s not looking super likely.

Mile 7 – 7:27 – Yeah, scratch 1:32. Let’s just run faster than Beardsley.

Mile 8 – 6:59 – I was really proud of this race. When the day is done, this race is going to go down as a very “average” race. It wasn’t bad, but I certainly didn’t run up to my potential. I was proud, though, that I had a few bad miles and managed to run a few quicker ones. If nothing, I think I showed myself a little more guts than was necessary.

Mile 9 – 7:23 – I was a little disappointed for running in the 7:20s again, but maybe I shouldn’t have been. As I look back on my Beardsley race and my Park Rapids race, I averaged 7:41s (Beardsley) and 7:33s (Park Rapids) for the last 5 miles. I wound up averaging 6 seconds faster than my fastest last 5 miles from the other two races with a horrendous last mile.

Mile 10 – 6:59 – My proudest mile of the race. At this point, I kept thinking if I could just run three more 7s (or even, optimistically, close in 6:30), which would put me into the 1:32-high range (which I’d be quite happy with).

Mile 11 – 7:24 – Didn’t quite have 7 minute miles in me at this point. I was still pushing, though.

Mile 12 – 7:20 – Alright, doing the math that if I run the last mile in 7:20 (do-able) and kick a good finish, I could break 1:34.

Mile 13 – 8:06 – I’d love to say that I just didn’t have it. I was hurting at this point of the race, but I think I was mentally disengaged. I’d spent a lot of the race pushing myself. I wanted to push myself at this point. If my life depended on it, could I have run this mile faster? Certainly… I have no doubt in my mind.

0.1 – 0:41 – Final time of 1:34:53

Really strange that I’m running these races in 30 second increments. My last three half marathons have all ended in either 53 or 23 seconds. I ran this race exactly 1:30 faster than Dick Beardsley in September and exactly 2:00 faster than the Fish Hook half in August.

All in all, a good race, but nowhere near a satisfying race. I think I was somewhat close to PR shape. I’ve gotten good workouts and consistent long runs, but I don’t think my chaotic week helped foster a best time. That being said, I’m still improving over my last two races, so I can hardly complain.

Big congrats go out to my wife, though. She’s run probably around 15-20 half marathons in her lifetime and typically runs between 2:09 and 2:12. At the Fargo Marathon this year, she ran a great race around 2:06-ish, but forgot to wear her chip. Saturday, she ran 2:00:56 making it a new PR by six minutes (and a new “official” PR by probably about 8 or 9). She ran a killer race and I’m extremely proud of her.

So – what’s next? I don’t have any goal races, but I might try to focus on some speedwork this winter. Ideally, my plan will be to do speedwork 1-2 nights/week, wake up early a few mornings every week to get in “the miles” and get a good long run every weekend (ideally, watching my beloved Arsenal early in the mornings on Saturday or Sunday) on the treadmill.

Which brings me to my next problem. As I was running on the treadmill last week, I noticed it was getting increasingly wobblier. I thought it was strange. A few minutes later, I noticed the distinct smell of burning rubber. I looked down and my treadmill belt was way to the left and frayed. I was bummed because I knew I was going to have to replace the belt (see ya later $180). As I was taking it apart to survey the damage, I noticed something that made me super bummed. I noticed the four “legs” of the treadmill weren’t even meaning every step, my treadmill was “bouncing” about 1/2 of an inch. As I flipped over my treadmill, I noticed that the bottom frame was broken (see attached picture to the right). To make matters worse, the company that makes the treadmill (Pacemaster) moved to Canada and is no longer supporting their “lifetime” frame warranty, 12 year motor warranty or 5 year parts warranty. A little under five years ago, my wife & I bought the treadmill and I am just depressed because I don’t know how/when we are going to get this thing fixed. As I run on the TM probably 3 times per week (which will be increasing in the winter), I really want to get this fixed as soon as possible. So, if anyone has advice as to what I can do there, it would be greatly appreciated.

Race Report – Dick Beardsley Half Marathon

Dick Beardsley Half Marathon

According my running logs, the 2012 version of the Dick Beardsley half marathon will be the 7th time I’ve run this race. Twice (2006 & 2007) was with my wife and dad, so it’ll be the 5th time I’ve actually run it solo. I’ve run 10-12 miles (around the lake in Detroit Lakes, MN) an uncountable amount of times. Yet, I’ve never actually run this race well. My race PR coming in is 1:40:25

Mile 1 – 7:07 – Was hoping to go out close to the same pace that I went out at the Fishhook Challenge (7:00). Had a panic moment when I hit play on my iPod and the volume started immediately going down to mute. I’ve had this problem before and had to have my Nano replaced. BTW – I love me some Apple products, but I’m 100% convinced that the current version of the iPod Nano is the single worse product they’ve ever released. My wife and I both got them for Christmas (9 months ago) and have both already had to send them back multiple times. Can’t wait to get my money back on this thing in the inevitable class action lawsuit in a few years…

Mile 2 – 7:30 – Some hills in this mile, but was hoping to be closer to 7:00. Oops.

Mile 3 – 6:50 – That’s more like it. Feeling really good and I’m passing a group of about 5 runners.

Mile 4 – 7:00 – Running well… my goal for the race is to run somewhere around 1:34 which is 7:10 per mile. Right now, I’m sitting at 13 seconds (total) quicker than 7:10 pace. My goal is to hit 10 miles as much as possible under 7:10 pace because I know I’m likely to slow a little bit.

Mile 5 – 6:48 – Best mile of the race. Feeling incredibly strong like I can run this pace for a long time. Unfortunately…

Mile 6 – 7:20 – I know that the big hills are coming up. The first five miles of this race are relatively flat and the last 8 miles are continual rolling hills.

Mile 7 – 7:09 – Feeling really good because I’m over a minute ahead of goal pace. Saw my wife and daughter for the first time. It’s always a big boost seeing your family cheer you on.

Mile 8 – 7:30 – Still over a minute ahead of pace, but I’m definitely feeling the hills taking their toll on my legs. I just don’t have that same pop in my legs that I had a few miles ago. They don’t feel as bad as when I’m at the end of a long run when I’m completely out of shape, but I just can’t turn them over as easily as I’d like.

Mile 9 – 7:27 – Starting to come to terms with the fact that I’m not gonna be breaking 1:33-1:34. Goal now is just to keep it in the 1:35s which I know is going to be tough. My least favorite miles of this course (which I’ve probably run over 100 times) are the next three coming up.

Mile 10 – 7:49 – Total time is 1:12:35. For some reason, I’m obsessed with a 70-minute 10 mile split (exactly 7:00 pace). I’ve broken it twice in my life (both times in 2008). To me, it’s the benchmark two what kind of shape I’m in. Needless to say, the goal is to be under 1:10 at the 10-mile mark in 6 weeks when I run another half.

Mile 11 – 7:34 – Hills! Wind!

Mile 12 – 7:58 – …and my legs are officially dead. My breathing is just fine, but these two dead legs just aren’t doing the job in projecting my body forward.

Mile 13 – 7:37 – I’m really pushing myself as hard as I can. Closed a little slower than I did in Park Rapids, but at this point, I’m pretty sure my time is going to be a shade better than my last race (on a much tougher course).

Last 0.1 – 0:36 – Felt really good about my kick. There were no runners in front of me to catch, but apparently some guy was only a few seconds back of me (according to results… I never saw him).

Finish time: 1:36:23 – Exactly 30 seconds faster than my race three weeks ago, but on a tougher course. I feel good (enough) about this one. I was hoping to go somewhere between 1:33-1:35, but the hills and wind really took it out of me. I’ve got six weeks between now and my next half marathon, so I’m really hoping I’ve got another big drop in me. Ideally, I’d really like to run a 1:29:xx and break my all-time half marathon PR, but I don’t know how realistic that is at this point. Anything faster than today will be a positive move forward. At the very least, I’m moving forward and not backward.

Race Report: Fishhook Half Marathon

Right around a year ago, I was coming off a summer where I did almost no running (and a lot of staying up late at night working on my movie while drinking a ton of Mountain Dew). Needless to say, the first few weeks of coaching cross country were pretty brutal. I decided that I was going to dedicate myself to trying to be more consistent with my running. From October of 2011 until March of 2012, I was really consistent. I was in really good shape. Unfortunately, there just weren’t many races (and the races they did have were outside in the ice and snow), so I don’t have any race results to sort of “prove” what kind of shape I was in. The next 3-1/2 months of my running were wildly inconsistent, but for the last 9 weeks, I’ve been making steady progress to get back into the shape I want to be in. I’ve run a few longer races (10 miles to half marathon) that have been progressively getting better and better over the last few months. Three weeks ago, I ran a half marathon in my hometown. My goal was to sneak under 1:40, but I wound up running a disappointing 1:45. I don’t know exactly what it was, but I just didn’t have anything that morning. I felt like my legs were running in quicksand. I put together a quick six week training program making small, manageable goals. The Fishhook Half Marathon this past Saturday was the first step in my goal of eventually trying to take down my half-marathon (currently 1:31:07).

Mile 1 & 2: 14:01 – I missed the first mile split. Not the first time that’s ever happened. Wanted to take the run out very conservatively. Felt like I was taking out as easy as I could, but the mile splits were maybe 10-15 seconds quicker than I would’ve liked. Not terribly, though.

Mile 3 – 6:59 – At least I’m consistent. Beautiful run along side the lake so far, though.

Mile 4 – 7:16 – Rolling hills and I’m feeling really good so far. First water stop and they’ve got a sports drink called Skratch Labs. It’s like Gatorade minus the gut rot. Guess who’s trying to find Skratch Labs for some future long runs?

Mile 5 – 7:18 – Heading away from the lake. I actually had to stop and tie my shoe for about 15 seconds this mile, so I was really happy with this split.

Mile 6 – 7:40 – Care to guess during which mile the hills really started?

Mile 7 – 7:37 – Rolling hills once again. Feeling like I’m straining a little bit, but not too bad. Was going to pass a runner and as I pulled even, he put in a nice little surge because he didn’t want me to pass. It was kind of nice because I got to drag off of him for a little bit.

Mile 8 – 7:27 – Another mile of rolling hills. Felt really good this mile.

Mile 9 – 7:25 – Heading into the race, I was hoping to run between 1:36-1:38. I thought it was possible, but knew that I’d bombed a race three weeks ago. At this point in the race, I’m starting to do some math. I figure (since I’m feeling good), if I could knock out 7:20s to finish, I could sneak out a 1:35:xx finish time. I even figured if I ran 7:30s for the next three miles, I would just have to close in 6:50 (which seemed do-able) and I could sneak under 1:36.

Mile 10 – 7:26 – Feeling really good on this mile. Made a turn in and now running by the lake again. I’ve passed the runner who was throwing in surges. I can occasionally see the guy up ahead of me (he’s probably got 2 minutes on me), but for the most part, I’m all by myself.

Mile 11 – 7:49 – Holy hills. A couple big ones got the best of me on this mile. Breaking 1:36 just went out the door. Now, the goal is to get to the bike path (last mile of the race) which is completely flat and finish as strong as possible.

Mile 12 – 7:54 – Hills are getting best of me. Legs are still feeling somewhat fresh, but I just can’t power up these hills at this point in the race. I know I can close hard. I used to make a goal of closing every race in sub-7 which is my goal here. I know in my head I’ve got to be below about 7:20-7:30-ish to run under 1:37.

Mile 13 – 7:14 – Finally some flat land. The finish is a one mile straight shot on a bike path. I’m a few seconds above my 7-minute goal, but I felt like I was turning the legs over real well.

Last .1 – 40 seconds – Final time – 1:36:53 – Kept it under 1:37 which I’m really happy about. Overall, it’s my 6th fastest half marathon and my fastest half marathon since 2008. It feels really good to be back in the 1:30s.

I also feel good that half marathon 4 years ago (1:33:08) was followed up by my best race I’ve ever run (1:07:04 for 10 miles) less than a month later. I’m currently 3:45 behind where I was on that day, but I might be close to that level in three weeks. I feel like, with a good training cycle, I’m two months out from possibly running at that same level. And, two months from today, there is a half marathon in Fargo.

Stay tuned…

Overall thoughts: If you are ever near Park Rapids, MN in the middle of August, I definitely recommend this race. It’s one of my five favorite races. At the very least, check out the course map and punch it into your GPS. Well worth the trek. Good organization, beautiful sites, and a great overall experience.