Monday, October 10, 2011

2011 FM Half Marathon

The morning of the race I woke up with some lingering knee pain.  I don't normally take anything before a run, but since it was still early enough I took a couple of ibuprofen.  I had a little bit of time to kill so I watched TV until Erin got up and I decided that a trip to Hardees for breakfast sounded good.  Her friend Sabrina was staying with us, so we got ready and informed her about the change of plans. She was a good sport and just rolled with the change.  I had some cinnamon and raisin biscuits at Hardees and then we headed over to the civic center to meet up with Erik.

We arrived a little bit early and to wait a bit, but Erik was right on time.  After we meet up we went over to the start line to watch the 5k and 10k races start.  One of the unusual things about this event is how late the half marathon starts.  Most of the 5k participants were finished with their race before the half marathoners started.  The starting time was a common complaint among those I talked to.  As we waited to start we met up and chatted with several of our running buddies.  Eventually the time came to get started and we lined up.  I finally too Rick's advice and line up at the very back of the pack. Once the race started I made sure I was the very last person across the starting line.

My goal for the race was to treat it more like a tempo run then a race.  My focus right now is on the 50k at Surph the Murph three weeks from now.  Even though I started last I quickly caught up to Erin, Erik and Chris.  I guess I still have to work on my starting pacing even if I start dead last.  Once I caught them I slowed a bit and settled in at my warm up pace.  I figured I'd slowly bring my average pace down to something comfortable the first 8 miles and then start to push it, if I still felt good at 10 miles I'd push the pace a little harder.

The first few miles passed quickly.  I was moving up the field of runners and could constantly focus on picking off the next person ahead of me.  A couple of miles in I spotted a solder running with a couple of packs on. I tried to catch him, but he was holding about the same pace I was. I continued to follow him for a couple more miles until I was finally able to move past. I held my lead long enough that I had forgotten about him when he came up behind me and said I was keeping a good pace and he was trying to catch up to me.  We chatted briefly and then he sped off. On our way back North I passed him a second time and I knew that he wouldn't be catching me again.  I had started off the race a bit faster then what I'd planned, but it was still a conservative pace.  Now it was late enough in the race that I didn't need to hold back anymore.

After crossing the bridge back in to Fargo the course kept going North for a bit.  I ran past the finish line and though about how nice it would be if I were done already. I continued on into oak grove where I heard Judy, my former piano teacher, shout my name.  She had already passed the turn around and was on her way back.  I felt like I had more to give and tried to gain ground on her. With around a mile left I passed Erin on her way out.  She told me that Judy was just ahead.  I continued to push hard and after turning a corner spotted Judy just ahead.  When I caught her she remarked about how quickly I had made up the distance since she spotted me.  She encouraged me to finish strong and I did. My finishing time was 2:15:25.  As I crossed the finish line Heather spotted my and came over to talk.  We chatted for a while before I went in to get my medal and some chocolate milk.  After I came back out we waited together for Erin to finish.  Erin's goal was under 2:30 which she was able to achieve by about 30 seconds. After the race, Heather, Erik, Sabrina, Erin and I headed over to Rhombus Guys pizza on main.  It was a great end to a good race.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Catching up on the past few weeks

The past few weeks I've been a bit lazy.  I've neglected my training and my blogging.  Here's what's been going on.

The day after the Bismarck marathon and my late night run with Connie, Erin flew down to Memphis to visit her sister and meet our niece.  I stayed in Fargo and did my best to stick to a normal schedule.  I had been focusing on eating better and that did manage to last a few days after Erin left.  That Thursday I got up crazy early and did a 17 miler before work.  I was hoping for 20, but started a bit late and I didn't really have much in the tank near the end of the run so I opted to end it early.

A few days later I was out in Park Rapids for the headwaters 100.  I wanted to get a century bike ride in this year and I had a blast doing this event the previous year. I hadn't thought too much about the event until the night before, normally I do a better job mentally preparing myself for these things.  I decided to pack up the truck the morning of the event and forgot to pack my biking shoes. Not a deal breaker, but not what I was hoping for either.  I also felt a little off that morning, like I was starting to come down with something or had allergies starting to act up.  When I started the ride it was a bit cold out, not unlike the previous year.  I had forgotten to pack gloves to ride in, but lucked out when I dug through my gym bag and found a pair.  I started off the ride along, but eventually picked up 2 couples from the cities who were attempting their first century ride.  They were a bit faster then I was but I decided to keep pace with them so I had someone to chat with.  As we rode up towards Itasca I was getting hungry.  Skipping breakfast was another bad choice I had made that morning.  I could have stopped and grabbed something from my pack, but I decided that I was close enough to the first rest area that I would just wait.  Eventually we made it to Itasca and the first rest area.  I had some hot chocolate and about half a dozen cookies.  I don't know where they get these cookies from, but they were as delicious as the previous year.

After the rest stop the group I had picked up encouraged me to continue riding with them, so I did my best to keep up with them.  The next part of the ride loops around Itasca and was significantly hillier.  I wasn't able to keep up for long.  Without my bike shoes I didn't have much power going up hills and would fall further behind with each hill.  It was a gorgeous ride, but I definitely got my ass kicked by the hills.  My group stopped at the first rest area again when we went by and I grabbed a few more cookies.  I left the rest area with them and again tried to keep up.  After leaving the park we were out on the highway again, and they formed a pace line.  I'm not terribly comfortable drafting off people when biking, so I was probably further further back then I should have been and working a little harder to keep up.  After 10 miles or so I had to drop back and let the group speed off.  When I made it to the next rest area I  grabbed some food and found my group.  I started to explain that I was thinking of calling it a day and before I even got 2 words out one of the ladies said she could already see that I was done in my eyes.  I went back outside and started to look for someone in a SAG vehicle when I ran across Ray.  I chatted with him a bit before a lady came over and said that should couldn't help overhear that I was looking to drop out.  She was driving a SAG car and would take me back to the school where the ride started. As we drove back to Park Rapids I had an interesting conversation with her about biking.  She was part of the bike club that organizes the ride.  It was neat hearing about the different places in the area that they go riding.  When we got back to the school I packed up my stuff and drove back to Fargo.  When I got back to town I stopped by five guys for a late lunch.  I didn't really deserve it, but it sounded really good at the time.

The following week I was out in western North Dakota for work.  We were doing some work for a coal mine near Beulah but since we'd booked the hotel late the closest we could find was in Bismarck. Tuesday morning I woke up early to get a run in.  Since we weren't far from the normal Bismarck marathon route I figured I'd meet up with that and go from there. I had my headlamp on and as I ran by sertoma park several deer crossed the road. I turned my head to watch them and I could see dozens of eyes looking back at me from the park. It was a bit creepy. As I was getting back to the hotel I saw a steel rod poking up across the sidewalk so I moved to the other side. There was a rod poking up on that side that I didn't see. As I supermaned towards the ground the garmin beeped for 5 miles. It was only about a block and a half back to the hotel from there. When I got back I looked like a really mess, dripping sweat and blood running down to my ankle. I didn't get any running in the rest of the trip.  We were working long days, and with an hour and a half commute in the morning and at night I didn't have much time or energy to run.

This past week I've been easing back into things. Tuesday I ran the overpass with Erin and I put in 7 hard miles this morning with the Beardsley group.  I've got some knee pain from my fall still, but I'm hopeful I'll do well at the FM Half Marathon on Saturday.  With the past few weeks not being ideal for training I'm starting to get a little nervous for Surf The Murph. Hopefully I can string some good runs together between now and then and gain some confidence back going into the event.  The craziness continues to grow, Heather will be joining us at Surf The Murph for her first ultra marathon and it seems Erik is eyeing the 50k at Trail Mix in the spring.  I'm going to have to keep working hard if I want to keep up with the growing group.