Sunday, October 23, 2011

FM Half-Marathon Results

The FM Mini (Half-marathon) Race was a couple of weeks ago. I went into it with no real goals or expectations other than to finish the race and have fun. The weather was great -- sort of cool and overcast. Thankfully the 50+ mile per hour winds from the previous two days had gone away. We were left with just a nice breeze to keep everyone cool while they ran.

I met Jon and Erin at the Civic Center at 8:00. Erin's friend Sabrina was there with her sister who was running as well. Since the 5K and 10K races started so much earlier than the half-marathon, we had plenty of time to kill. Lamont was running in the 10K and we wished him luck as he made his way to the starting line. While we waited to start we bumped into Chris from our marathon training group. Finally after a forty-five minute wait we were lined up and ready to go.

Erin, Chris, and I were planning on starting together and lined up near the back. Jon lined up dead last and planned on passing as many people as he could. The siren sounded and we were off. Erin, Chris, and I started at a pace that was a little faster than I had planned on running, but it felt comfortable. After a few miles Chris started falling back. Erin and I kept our pace as well as we could; we figured we could finish in under two and a half hours.

At about the four mile mark Erin and I were starting to slow down a little. Just when we needed a boost we saw Jerry (from the Thursday morning group) waiting to join us for a while. He helped us push through and kept us moving at a good pace. We worked at passing people and used that as motivation to keep moving -- the same strategy Jon was using from the start. Jerry ran with us for about three miles before heading back home. Erin and I thanked him for running with us. Having him encourage us and keep the conversation going was a huge help.

I was doing okay until about ten miles in. That's when my legs let me know that my training had not been consistent enough to run this far at this pace. The course was laid out to have us run past the finish line with about two miles left. There was a large crowd of spectators and runners who had already finished. It was really hard to run by it knowing we still had some more miles to go before we could join them.

Just after passing the finish area we headed for the Oak Grove park. The bike path we were on had a small incline leading us into the park. At the top of that little "hill" is where my legs finally went on strike. Both calves were trying to cramp with each step. I hadn't taken a second round of electrolyte capsules when I should have and was paying the price now. Erin pulled away. She still looked strong and was still on track to finish under 2:30. I had slowed to a stiff shuffle trying to minimize the cramping.

It was a long mile and a half to the finish line. One bright spot was seeing Kristy cheering from the edge of the road. I finally made it across the line. Jon, Erin, and Heather were there. After I got my medal and some water we waited for Chris to come through. Then we decided to go to Rhombus Guy's Pizza for some food.

At one point during the meal our server took our glasses for refills. Erin pulled an amazing slight-of-hand and slipped her debit card to the server along with her glass. All any of us saw was Erin handing a copy of the receipt and a pen back to the server the next time she stopped at our table. Heather and I exchanged looks of "What the heck just happened?" Thanks so much for the pizza Erin!

All-in-all it was a really fun morning spent with friends.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Upcoming Races and New Training Plan

Anyone who has been reading my blog has probably noticed that my running and blog posting have been quite sporadic this summer. We have been incredibly busy at work and that really made it difficult to follow any kind of running schedule. When I did have some time to run, I lacked the necessary motivation to go out in the heat and humidity especially when most of my days are spent working outside. Now that the days are cooler and work isn't quite as demanding, I seem to be much more excited about running.

This Saturday is the FM Mini (Half-marathon). I was a little worried that the amount I have been running would not be adequate preparation for thirteen miles. Lately I've been able to get in several runs of ten or more miles and numerous runs just short of ten miles. I am much more confident that I will finish this race. I am not concerned about finishing in a certain time. I look forward to just enjoying a run along the Red River and all of the fall colors.

My last two runs have been fantastic. Last week Erin e-mailed me and asked if I would like to join her at the running store at 4:30 a.m. on Thursday to get five miles in before everyone else showed up at 5:30 for the group run. Then we would run another five with the group. Her husband Jon was out of town and Connie was tapering for the Twin Cities marathon, so she would have been running the first five alone. I said yes because I always enjoy our runs. I was so tempted to just stay in bed when the alarm went off at 3:30. I knew Erin would be expecting me which was all the motivation I needed to get going. We had such a pleasant run. The sky was crystal clear, and it was a little cool and windy which was fine as long as we were moving. It was a great morning for a run. I'm so glad she asked me to join her.

Last Saturday I went out to Buffalo River State Park to run the trails. I didn't have any distance or pace goals; I just wanted to get out and enjoy the weather. I also wanted to shoot some video of the trails but discovered that I am horrible at trying to hold a camera steady when I run. Only one short clip is steady enough to watch. I guess I need more practice.

The weather was warm, clear, but very windy. I had the trails to myself except for the garter snakes sunning themselves on the trails. I saw at least a couple dozen of them. They skedaddled pretty fast when they saw me lumbering toward them. At the end of my run I saw that I went 8 miles at a decent pace for such a relaxed run. All-in-all it was a super day.

Later this month I will be starting a new 24 week training plan in preparation for my first ultra-marathon -- The Trail Mix 50k. Jon and Erin ran at Trail Mix last year. Jon ran the 50k (31 miles) and Erin ran the 25k (15.5 miles). The route is a 7.75 mile loop which means four laps for the 50k race. Last year the trails were wet and muddy which resulted in cold wet feet for the whole race. The elevation profile shows it to be really hilly and includes running up a ski slope. Jon and Erin have both said it was a grueling ordeal, but the confidence they gained by completing this helped them prepare for the Fargo Marathon just a month later. While my goal at this point is to shoot for the 50k, I realize that I may have to try the 25k first.

My next post should be a recap of the FM Mini.