Lake Harriet on 11/15/15, about 60F
The finish line, Minnesota State Fairgrounds
Last weekend, 75% of the Kingsbury clan headed down I-35 to the Iowa state capital for the 14th running of the IMT Des Moines Marathon. I picked this race as part of the Fifty States quest, with Iowa and South Dakota being the closest ones to Minnesota that I hadn’t knocked off yet. Combine that with a very reasonable rate at the Downtown Marriott ($130 + tax) and what I thought was a rather flat state overall, it was a no-brainer pick for marathon number 25.
The hotel turned out to be great – within walking distance of the start and finish area, no forced two night minimum and a 2pm late check-out for runners to return and shower after the race. The room was your typical downtown business hotel as far as furnishings go and the staff was very friendly. Just like most business-class hotel chains, though, they still charge extra for wireless internet and a 30-second phone call I made from the room to Colleen’s mobile phone was billed at $5.75. Ouch.
As for the race, I was disappointed with my performance (4:37:23 – 10:36 pace, 895th overall, 77 out of 106 in my age division). I could blame lots of things, but it was mainly just a lack of faster training miles during this cycle that blew it for me at the end. Turns out this part of Iowa is far from flat – the course map shows a rise of “just” 150 feet, but the hills between miles three and eight were substantial. Not Superior Hiking Trail bad, but still very trying. Ironically enough, that part of the race was also my fastest (first 10K in 55:00 for an 8:52 pace).
The weather was really cold at the start – about 35F with clear, sunny skies and a light wind that picked up substantially as the morning went on. I had packed a “cold” outfit and a “warm” outfit and completely picked the wrong items to start with. It was great before the race, but once things started, I was too hot. Colleen and MK drove to around mile 16 and I was extremely thankful they had brought part of the other outfit with them.
One of my favorite parts of this course was the loop around the famous blue oval that is home to the Drake Relays. First held in 1910, this track has hosted a who’s who of the running world: Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner, Michael Johnson, Carl Lewis, Jesse Owens, Wilma Rudolph, Frank Shorter, Gwen Torrence and several hundred other Olympic athletes. My lap was probably one of the slowest ever recorded there, but it’s fun to think of Randy Wilson setting the 800m record (my high school event) on April 28, 1978 – a blazing 1:45.86!
I hit the halfway mark right at two hours and was hoping to stay in the 4:00 – 4:20 range, but I started to cramp up and had to take longer and longer walk breaks during the water stations. The sections around Waterworks Park and Grays Lake Park were not my favorite – you could see the huge loops around those areas and both felt like forever to complete (even though they were only about two miles long each). I saw Colleen and MK again around mile 25, then headed to the finish line, which was in the same spot where we started (Locust Street bridge). Running the second half 37 minutes slower than the first was just sad, but it’s over, it wasn’t my slowest marathon and it still counts as a finish.
My Garmin said I ran 26.4 miles, so I guess I took the tangents poorly. Here are the watch splits: 8:45, 8:53, 8:49, 9:01, 8:33, 9:03, 8:52, 9:05, 9:01, 9:04, 9:26, 9:34, 10:05, 10:14, 10:37, 11:56, 10:46, 11:35, 12:28, 12:01, 12:25, 12:25, 14:00, 12:08, 12:28 and 11:47. The official reported splits were: 10K – 55:00 (8:52), Half – 2:00:15 (9:11), 20 miles – 3:19:05 (9:58) and last 10K – 1:18:19. Nice food options at the end, which I also thought was organized very nicely. Still couldn’t find the family, but that my fault for not telling them where to meet ahead of time.
The expo was small, but nice. We saw our friend Kris Jessee, who ran the half in an impressive 1:43:58. You could tell this is really more of a half marathon event – there were just a couple of spots for marathon bib pick-up and a whole wall full of spots for the half. With just 1,392 people in the full, there was plenty of elbow room once we split from the half runners around mile three. The full marathon course was well supported throughout, but there weren’t a whole lot of spectators. They gave out the shirts at the expo and not at the finish (one of my minor pet peeves), but they are very nice. Cool medal design too.
The rest of trip was short, but fun. MK had a school project based on planning trips, so she practiced on this one. Based on her research, we stopped at the very cool Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden and drove by the pretty state capital building. We also hit up locally-owned Zombie Burger + Drink Lab for lunch, where I ordered the huge double “Dead Moines” burger (smoked gouda, prosciutto, ham and truffle mayo). It was great, but trust me when I say a single is more than enough. RAYGUN, the Greatest Store in the Universe, was just down the street, so we of course had to stop in and do a little shopping there.
We didn’t stick around too long after the race on Sunday, breaking our locals-only food rule with a quick stop at Noodles and Company before hitting the road back north. The road construction on I-35 once we passed back into Minnesota was completely ridiculous. MNDOT really needs to study ways to improve that whole situation. The Iowa DOT runs some pretty awesome “modern” rest stops – perhaps they can give MNDOT a call and lend a helping hand…
Wasn’t expecting much from my ninth straight running of the Minnesota State Fair Milk Run 5K – back issues prompted a three-week break from running in August, so the run log looks pretty thin. I even asked Kid Two if I could just run with her at whatever pace she wanted (Kid One has completely dropped the Milk Run Tradition™). But alas, I ended up trying to complete my quest for an age group ribbon anyways and came up short again. My official chip time was 24:48 (8:00 pace), with watch splits of 7:27, 8:31 and 7:50. This was 38 seconds slower than last year, but still good enough for 8th in my age group (out of 53) and 100th overall.
The top three ribbon winners still are flying, with the first place guy smoking almost everyone. Thomas Tisell, 48, of Saint Paul, ran an amazing 5:46 average pace to finish with a 17:55 (third overall). The important time to beat was the third place finisher (Piet Hansel, 46, also of Saint Paul), who had a chip time of 22:02. If I could just set a new PR for this distance, I would’ve had it this year. Oh well, still in the realm of possibility is enough to get me to keep coming back (and maybe even train a little).
One family member did set a PR this year – MK broke her old best time by nearly a minute (43:07 chip time). She too has declared that she’s done with this whole Milk Run business, however. There is one other runner that deserves some major props this year: Gloria Jansen of White Bear Lake set a new age group record that had held for 16 years. Her chip time of 25:00 gives her the fastest 5K time in Minnesota history for a 68-year-old woman. Way to go Gloria!
The course was changed again this year, with the start and finish line moved way over to Machinery Hill. The fair also decided to eliminate the option of paying for parking with an advanced purchase entry ticket, so managing traffic, finding a parking spot and getting to the starting line on time were extra stressful this year. The race organizers suggested entering at Snelling and Hoyt (which we did), but I think I’ll find an alternate way next year. We ended up with a spot near the West End entrance, but had to walk back to the starting line.
The new route basically added two new hills, one of which was right at the end (no fair, fair). I started out OK, but as usual, had trouble with that middle mile. Stopped at the midway water station (just like last year), which caused that ugly 8:31 middle split. Felt OK for the last mile, but it too was slower than I need for a ribbon. Kicked it in at the end to stay in front of this really short kid, but payed for it by nearly puking just beyond the finish line. Serves me right for sticking it to the kid, I guess.
We both picked up our shirts, got a chocolate milk from the Princess Kay crew, then headed back to the car to change. It was really weird starting the rest of our fair day on that end of the fairgrounds – all our past traditions involved starting by the old Heritage Square (RIP). Oh yeah, no door prizes yet again for either of us. WTH?
But enough with the complaining. This was my 46th straight year at the Great Minnesota Get-Together and I will always love it no matter what. In fact, we ended up staying for twelve hours Sunday and plan to go back Saturday for the Avett Brothers in the Grandstand and maybe again on Labor Day to see Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson and Sturgill Simpson.
Kid one is returning to work at the fair, but she is switching from the Corn Roast to the Taste of Midtown Global Market spot in the International Bazaar that is being split between Hot Indian Foods and The Rabbit Hole. Hot Indian had it the first half and their Tikka On-a-Stikka was the only new fair food I tried. Two pieces for $6, they described it as “chicken marinated in spices and yogurt, chargrilled and smothered in tikka sauce.” Colleen didn’t care for it, but I’d order it again for sure.
Our friends Thomas and Kat own The Rabbit Hole and we ran into them on Sunday (with their adorable daughter). They will be serving from the new spot September 2 through Labor Day with a mini menu of Kimchi ‘n’ Curry Poutine, Hot Tail and a Salad Named Soo (along with iced green tea). Can’t wait to stop back there and try it out.
As for other food, it was back to basics most of the day. Started with a Pronto Pup (of course, plus another one later), then 1919 root beer, cheese curds, corn roast, Danielson onion rings, Sweet Martha’s cookies and a frozen cider pop from Minnesota Apples. The free malt coupon from the Milk Run was again valid at the Dairy Building and I actually tried something other than plain vanilla – the new salted caramel puff flavor. The corn puffs were a little stale, but the flavor combination was genius.
We really seemed to walk all over during the course of the day. There were no birds in the poultry building this year due to the avian flu, but we did get to see some rather large horses. Our efforts to see the sheep, cows and pigs, however, were thwarted by an early 3pm barn closing time. We also missed all the shows in the Coliseum, but sat in there anyway, just to get away from the crowds and sit in front of the large fans. Speaking of crowds, it seemed jammed everywhere, but the official count for the day was “only” 179,724 – more than the last two years, but far from the all-time record set in 1994 of 209,969.
Let’s see, what else? Ye Old Mill is celebrating their 100th year of operation, so we of course had to go on that. We visited the Minnesota State Lottery booth again and purchased the $10 worth of tickets needed to get a “free” T-shirt. Colleen did the same and we won a grand total of $5 from our four tickets, so it was basically $15 for two shirts. Our friend’s band The Shiny Lights played a set on the new tpt stage outside the 4-H building at 6pm, which was the last thing we did before heading for the gates. Excellent job, Chris!
It’s been a few weeks since I signed up to run the 2015 IMT Des Moines Marathon and I really should come up with a formal training plan and get serious about running again. As my running log chart can attest, this has been a down year so far – less than 350 total miles in 2015 (and we’re already half done). Plus I now have the added pressure of a work colleague threatening to start a BQ challenge. Actually, that’s probably just what I need to get motivated again. Watch out, 3:25, I’m gunning for you again…
OK, maybe not. It would, however, be nice to PR on Sunday, October 18th. The race starts at 8am on the Locust Street Bridge in downtown Des Moines and has a course map that reminds me a little of Fargo (see above). There is roughly 150 feet of elevation change, though, so it’s not a completely flat course like one would expect to find in the great state of Iowa. Packet pickup is only open on Friday and Saturday, so I booked a room at the downtown Marriott on Saturday night. It’s close to the start/finish area and will have showers available afterwards, which sounded like a good plan.
Des Moines is a smaller race than I expected. Marathon weekend last year had about 9,000 total runners, which includes the marathon relay, half marathon and 5K events. Looks like they had just under 1600 marathon finishers, so it might seem a little more like Eau Claire than Fargo. I generally prefer larger races, but it will be interesting to see what I can do these days with fewer people on course.
Not sure what kind of training plan I’ll follow for this race – definitely need to pick up the mileage and continue cross-training. I still haven’t started my Wolverine workout plan due to travel/commute limitations, but I’d like to start adding in at least some of those new exercises. My weight is hovering a good 20 pounds higher than I want, but I’ve decided that I just don’t want to give up the things I like on the eating and drinking side of the equation. For now I’ll try the “increase workouts and practice restraint” method of weight control and see how that goes.
Step 1: 10K @ 5am – go!
My wife and I both think that the half-marathon should be called Grandpa’s Marathon because she tells me every day that men do half the work that women do….
One week after running John Storkamp’s wonderful Superior Spring 50K in Lutsen, a friend and colleague talked me into doing his race, the Stillwater Half Marathon. Starting at 8AM on May 23rd, this was a very different experience from the last time I ran a half in Stillwater. Ryan bought the race two years ago and has tweaked the course both years. It turns out that was a popular choice – the number of participants nearly doubled this year to around 1100 people (5K and half combined).
Full disclosure: Ryan provided me with a complimentary entry in exchange for feedback on the race. Thankfully, I don’t have to make up nice things to say – this was a fun, well-organized race that a vast improvement on my 2009 experience. The new course runs along the Gateway Trail for the first nine miles or so, which was nice and flat (with no real road traffic to deal with). There are some short, nasty hills at miles 10 and 11, but the finish is all downhill (including a steep drop at the actual finish line just in front of Pioneer Park).
Race day morning was low stress and easier than I expected. Race headquarters was located at the Water Street Inn in downtown Stillwater and runners were instructed to park nearby. I found a spot in a city ramp a few blocks over (on Second between Mulberry and Myrtle) and walked over to registration to get my shirt, bib and timing chip. The room had many helpful staffers, race numbers were posted on the wall if you didn’t know yours and there were lots of extra large safety pins to attach your bib. That whole process took me about 45 seconds, so I walked back to my car and dropped off the extra stuff.
The start to the half marathon was located just off highway 36, almost all the way back to I-694. There were two rows of busses parked on north Water Street – one side for 5K participants and the other side for the half marathon. I boarded the first bus to leave for the start and our driver got a little lost. There were people that knew where we should be going, though, so he turned the school bus around and got us to the start with plenty of time to spare.
The starting line was near the Gateway Trail bridge under highway 36, which quickly filled up with busload after busload of runners. There were about eight portable toilets set up to the side of the trail, but they were on the wrong side of the starting line. This basically meant that everyone who was still in line when the gun went off needed to backtrack to trigger the timing chip. Not a big deal, but it’s something I’d change in the future. I also wasn’t wild about having a prayer said before the race (and no national anthem). It was cool to have Minnesota race legend Gaylen Morse announce the start and finish of the race, however – he is such a big part of the Get in Gear and Twin Cities Marathon experience.
If you sign up early enough, you get a personalized race bib (like many other races are doing now) and the gender specific tech shirts were very nice (with a cool design). I’m not big on finisher medals for shorter races, but Ryan was very proud of the interlocking design of his medals. If you run the half along with the two other races he produces (the Lift Bridge 10 Mile on July 25th and the Log Run 10 Mile on September 19th), you will have three medals that all snap together.
Water stops were fairly spaced, well-staffed and didn’t run out of liquids (unlike some other smaller races I’ve done). I found out these stops are staffed by volunteers, but each person is also paid an hourly wage that goes to whatever charity they are supporting. Not sure if that is common at other races, but I thought it was a cool idea. At the end, Pioneer Park had a number of tables and tents set up for finishers, including a food tent that had water, bananas and pretzels. I missed the usual Minnesota race staples of salted nut rolls, Old Dutch potato chips and Great Harvest Bread, but this is a smaller race than some of the others I run (and it doesn’t cost as much either).
Overall, this is a nice race that I’d recommend for those interesting in the half marathon distance. Ryan reports they may tweak the course again next year to deal with the late hills, but I’m not sure how much of that can be done within the confines of Stillwater proper. I do like the Pioneer Park finish area and the walk back down the hill to the parking ramp wasn’t nearly as bad as I remembered. I think they also offered a free beer back at the Water Street Inn, but I’m just never going to be a beer drinker – especially after running a race. Many others will love this little touch, though.
As for my actual race performance, I knew I wasn’t going to break any records this time around. My “A” goal was simply to break two hours and my chip time was 1:56:26. Didn’t think to get my splits off the Garmin, but that averaged out to an 8:54 pace. Most of the early splits were decent – the only bad ones were during the hills. I was 181st out of 521 finishers and placed about in the middle of the pack for my age group. Fine by me.
Up next: State Fair Milk Run 5K (unless I pick up a summer race)
UPDATE: My Garmin still had the splits in memory – 9:03, 8:47, 8:46, 8:55, 8:41, 8:43, 8:51, 8:49, 8:50, 8:55, 9:01, 9:23 & 8:44
Wisconsin mac and cheese with grilled chicken, Eagan Noodles and Company
I’d been warned by Jean that this was a hard race. I had joked with the people at the Arrowhead 135 that I was planning to run a “baby ultra” as my first trail race (and first race longer than a marathon). They all laughed at me and said there is nothing “baby” about Superior.
Were they ever right.
The 50K event starts at my old haunt, Lutsen Mountains ski resort. I’ve been there so many times growing up – skiing in the winter, alpine slide and Moguls in the summer. Hell, I even had brochures to buy one of those condos when they were first built. This made everything feel very comfortable before the race. I had stayed at my sister’s apartment in Duluth the night before (with awesome marathon spaghetti from Grandma’s), woke up at 3:30am and pulled into the parking lot around 5:45.
The race organizers, Rock Steady Running, had an efficient check-in center where the gift shop used to be. I got my bib (#105) and waited for Megan and Yaniha. When I signed up for this race, I didn’t know Yaniha had already registered. When Megan found out we were both running, she got one of the last spots in the 50K. This, of course, came with the added benefit of the world-class Menning Support Team. Joan and Tom are just wonderful – hauling bags between aid stations, taking pictures, providing motivation when we want to drop out and offering a seemingly endless supply of Coke.
Minnesota has been in a drought the first part of the year. The week before the race, it rained just about every day. Saturday turned out to be the only sunny day of the week, but the trail was a mess. I’ve never seen so much mud in my life. There is still dirt on my feet now (and I’ve taken multiple showers). I threw away my socks and don’t know if my Mizunos will ever be usable again. The temperature at the start of the race was in the lower 40Fs, but quickly climbed as the day went on. It never seemed too hot, though, and there was a light breeze most of the day.
I went into this race thinking it “just” a marathon plus an extra five miles. The 4200 feet of elevation change that everyone talks about didn’t really register in my mind, but I’ll never forget those six climbs now: Mystery Mountain, Moose Mountain, Oberg Mountain, Levaux Mountain, Britton Peak and Carlton Peak. From a snobby skier standpoint, these aren’t “real” mountains, but as part of a trail race? Oh my. I honestly thought the return back up Moose Mountain was going to kill me – it was hard to even walk it slowly.
The aid stations are spaced nicely – 7.75, 13.3, 17.7 and 23.25 miles. The volunteers were amazing everywhere, but especially at those stops. You could tell a lot of them were trail runners themselves and knew exactly how I was feeling. They gave me salt tablets at the last one when I told them I was getting leg cramps and someone was always there right away to refill my water bottle. The selection of food and beverages was perfect.
I tried to run with Megan and Yaniha at the start, but we ended up getting separated a bit by the crowd of people on the single track course. They never got too far ahead at this point, though, and we reunited at the Oberg aid station. We stayed together from there to Britton and Carlton and back to Britton. The hike up Carlton was really intense, but the view at the top was amazing (along with the greetings from Chuck and his offer of free beer). I started to fall behind between the two aid stations and ended up about 35 minutes behind by the end.
My primary problems during that time were mud, fear of falling and/or twisting an ankle and the leg cramps, which strangely moved from one leg to the other (and back again). I did fall once when my right thigh cramped up, but thankfully it wasn’t into the mud. Tom gave me a great pep talk at the last aid station and asked one of the volunteers if I was clear of the cutoff. Normally, if you don’t finish within eight hours, it’s not official and the finish line closes. With the muddy conditions this year, they announced at the start that we had nine hours. The volunteer said I could walk it in from there and still be fine, which is close to what I ended up doing.
That last 7.75 miles was just brutal. I didn’t see many other people the entire time, climbing Moose was horrible, Mystery Mountain seemed to never end and the all of the downhills that I wanted to run down were incredibly muddy from all the traffic from the 25K runners. The mud was so thick and unpredictable, I didn’t want to risk injury by trying to run through it. It wasn’t all walking, but the run/walk ratio dropped significantly compared to the rest of the day. I was so happy to finally cross the Poplar River again and get back on the chalet road, where I found Tom with more words of encouragement. It was easy to run the rest of the way after that.
The finish line sits right next to the old condo pool, which was great. The party was still going when I crossed the line after nearly 8.5 hours. They announced my name and placed the tree stump around my neck. Success! I headed for the hoses to wash off some of the mud, got a Coke and clean shoes from the Mennings, posed for pictures with Megan and Yaniha, then hopped in the car to drive back to Minneapolis for the Kids in the Hall concert at the State (that I thought I’d easily make when I bought the tickets).
My official time was 8:29:06 (16:24 Minute Miles), which was good for 169th out of 186 overall, 128th of 136 men and 53rd out of 56 male masters. As Megan said, the time and rankings aren’t what it’s all about, but my goal time of seven hours was overly optimistic. I’d like to blame the muddy conditions, but most others didn’t seem to have a problem. Hell, the winner ran a 4:08 (8:00 Minute Miles) and was totally flying through the mud when he passed us on the return loop – ten whole miles in front of our pace.
Still, happy to finish at all and check off the first “baby ultra” and trail race. It was an incredible experience in a beautiful part of Minnesota with a bunch of amazing people. When I checked this morning, there was one spot left in the fall 50 miler (which Megan and Yaniha are both running – Megan for the second time). I thought about it briefly, but opted to wait. I’d like to try that distance on a course that isn’t quite that brutal before heading back north. Perhaps next year for that one.
So now I need to decide what comes next. The only race I’m currently registered for is the State Fair Milk Run 5K in August, so it’s probably time to commit to something for the fall. I’m still leaning towards the Des Moines Marathon on October 18th. It’s relatively inexpensive and would help with the 50 States goal. The I-35 Challenge is intriguing too: you run the Kansas City Marathon on Saturday and Des Moines on Sunday. Of course, this would be significantly more expensive and logistically difficult – not to mention running 52.4 miles in two days. Surf the Murph at the end of October would be an “easier” 50 mile course (and one that I’ve already run one loop of with Megan), so maybe Des Moines and that?
Had a few more thoughts after publishing the original post:
Last weekend was the 38th annual Get in Gear 10K – my 14th in a row (15th overall). I had a nice little streak going of sub-50 races (six in a row) that all averaged 7-something minute miles. This year I started with a 7:32 first mile, but felt a really weird pain in my chin that I’ve never experienced before. With my big race coming up next month, I decided to dial it back and ran the rest of race with splits of 8:16, 8:31, 8:44, 8:36 and 8:31 for an official time of 52:23 (8:26 average pace). This was good for 662nd place (out of 2626) and 59th in my age group (out of 136). Slowest time since 2008 – and far from my 44:40 PR two years ago – but I also didn’t get hurt before Superior.
The best story from this race, though, had to be 8-year-old Faith Quinn from Winona. She was announced before the start as the 7-year-old course record holder from last year, back to race again. I saw her in front of me at the start and she looked all of about four feet tall and fifty pounds soaking wet. I passed her in the first quarter mile or so, but she caught up not much later and I never saw her again. Not sure if she set the 8-year-old course record, but she beat me by four minutes and ran a 7:47 pace. Nicely done, Faith.
The weather the night before was rainy, but that system moved out by race time and the weather overall was very nice for running: light wind, mid-40s, dry and a little sun mixed in during the race. I also saw Shannon out running the boulevard in the opposite direction, cheering people on as she got her own training run in for the day. All the other race logistics were mostly unchanged from prior years – easy packet pick-up on Friday and nice post-race refreshments afterwards (although Pearson apparently didn’t send any salted nut rolls this year).
Congrats to all the finishers and hello spring – so glad to have you back…
A few years ago when you Googled my name, this site would show up on the first page of search results, often battling for position with Dr. David Kingsbury from Johns Hopkins University and with a bankruptcy attorney in Apple Valley, Minnesota. When Hugh Jackman decided to become Wolverine, however, the online David Kingsbury universe changed forever. London-based David Kingsbury (above) is Mr. Jackman’s personal trainer and he developed the Wolverine Workout that has bumped all the other David Kingsburys of the world down the Google results hierarchy.
I’ve owned the davidkingsbury.com domain for a long time, but never really used it (there was a re-direct set to 7minutemiles.com for years). On a lark, I decided to email the UK DK to see if he would be interested in swapping the domain for a customized training program. I believe his initial reply was “that would be brilliant!” So now Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Lawrence and I all have something in common…
He sent me a detailed questionnaire to fill out and asked me to send some “before” photos (which I’m too embarrassed to post right now). I told him about my running goals for the year and my current commuting schedule and he produced multiple training and nutrition documents that I still need to study and research. I was initially planning to start the new training routine before my 50K trail race this spring, but priorities shifted and I won’t realistically be able to start until a few other things fall into place.
I’m very excited about starting this new program and finally paying attention to my upper body and core. After years of running and biking, leg strength has never really been a major issue. The past few years have been depressing on the weight front, though, with most of that accumulating in a growing beer belly (even though I don’t drink beer). My arms have never been very strong, so toning those and shedding some inches around the middle would be extremely welcome (not to mention a likely boost for my golf game). I’d also like to improve my flexibility, which was getting bad even before I pulled a muscle in my back last weekend lifting boxes.
My run log so far this year doesn’t look great, but right now I’m less concerned with mileage totals and more interested in cross-training for variety (and to prevent boredom). I’m really looking forward to the Lebanon Hills mountain bike trails to reopen for the season and my first race of the year is coming up soon (Get in Gear 10K on April 25th). I probably won’t be fully prepared for the Superior 50K on May 16th, but it felt great to run last weekend at Lebanon (even if was just 6.8 miles).
If things go the way I want, I’ll complete those races with decent times, start the new training plan and look for a fall marathon to run fast (Des Moines?). Throw in the State Fair Milk Run 5K that MK and I just signed up for and 2015 should be a great fitness recovery year.
OK, so I may regret this decision based on Jean’s review from two years ago, when he said it was “by far, the hardest race I have done.” All fear aside, I managed to get past their overheated web server on Thursday morning and signed up for the Superior Spring Trail Race 50K in Lutsen. The 2015 edition will be held on Saturday, May 16th, with a start time of 7AM.
If all goes well and I like trail running on that difficult part of the Superior Hiking Trail, I may try to register for the 50 mile fall version, which will be held on Saturday, September 12th. Registration for that race opens on March 15th, so hopefully it doesn’t fill before I get a chance to try the 50K and see if I’m really up for 19 more miles. The race organizers added registration qualifiers for the 50 and 100 mile races, so I have to finish the 50K before I can attempt the others.
So now my race calendar has two registered races, this one and my usual Get in Gear 10K on April 25th. I may register for the TC 1 Mile on May 14th, but that might not be wise to risk injury so close to the 50K. We’ll see, though – defending the mile title against Megan may demand participation. The fall schedule will totally depend on how the 50K goes – if I like it, I’ll try the 50 mile (if available), otherwise I’ll probably do either Twin Cities (October 4th) or Des Moines (October 18th).
Next week I hope to announce my other big health initiative for 2015 – stay tuned, it’s pretty fun…
After the last time I tried to run New York went sideways, I wasn’t sure what would happen this time. Weather did end up playing a role again this year, but overall I just feel incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to experience the race and the city.
The trip needed to happen on the cheap and I’m very thankful to my friends John and Dillon, who helped me with airfare and lodging. Dillon’s dad Tom also gave me a subway pass for the weekend and my mom snuck some extra spending money in my pocket when I left town on Friday night. I also feel extremely grateful to my immediate family – we don’t get to take many vacations these days and this chance for me to complete a major running goal is a true gift.
Heading into this week, I felt pretty good about my running readiness (even with the two week illness break in September). My yearly mileage is currently the second highest since I started keeping track and I really felt a PR might be possible. That was my A goal for this race, with a B goal of sub-4 and a C goal of finishing without getting hurt.
Option C would be the winning bet, I’m afraid.
When I read the National Weather Service had issued a wind advisory for marathon day, I knew it would be tougher than normal. When I heard the wheelers would start in Brooklyn instead of Staten Island for fear of being blown over on the Verrazano-Narrows bridge, I got really nervous. Turns out that part of the race was terrifying – the wind literally tossed me back and forth and nearly ripped my securely pinned bib off my chest (not to mention my hat). I read later that the reason there was no marker at mile one was because it blew off the bridge and into the water.
The weather Saturday was terrible – nearly the same wind and a constant, cold rain all day. Thankfully, the precipitation cleared out by Sunday morning, but the cold stuck around and the wind picked up. I left the Astoria Boulevard station at 5:30am, taking the N and 4 trains down to Bowling Green and the short walk to the Staten Island Ferry dock for my 6:30am assigned boarding time (made it with five minutes to spare). The waves were big and the wind was howling the whole way across. It’s really amazing how many people can fit on those boats – the police escort was nice too.
When I arrived at the St. George Ferry Terminal, I made a beeline for the waiting buses. They were nice and warm and it was great to beat the crowd and not have to wait outside any longer than necessary. The short ride over to Fort Wadsworth was quick and easy, with the driver dropping us off right in front of the security contingent. The police presence was both reassuring and frightening – you don’t see cops with automatic weapons and full riot gear at TCM.
The starting area zones had lots of great pre-race items (coffee, water, bagels, energy drinks), but it was crowded and cold and everyone basically had to wait around for two plus hours before being called to the corrals. Everything was running behind schedule too, but wave two was finally allowed in around 9:25am. It was very nice that they had extra bathrooms in the actual corrals and there were tons of Goodwill bins to discard the extra layers I purchased just for that purpose.
The canon went off for my wave and I officially made it up the bridge ramp and over the starting line at 10:15:19am. That first hill is supposed to be the biggest on the course, but I didn’t think it was too bad (other than fearing for my life each time a 50mph+ gust hit). My Garmin wasn’t very accurate all race and outright stopped measuring distance at one point, so I quit looking at it when I knew the A & B goals were shot. I held sub-nines for the first seven miles and hoped to at least stay in the nines for the rest of the race, but it was not meant to be.
I knew there were a lot of miles in Brooklyn and it seemed to never end. There were several points on this course that have very long straightaways, so you see waves of people for what seems like forever. I don’t really like that much – all my mind can think is how far I need to run to catch up. The stretches in Manhattan up First Avenue and down Fifth Avenue were similar. Brooklyn did finally turn into Queens, home of my least favorite part of the entire course. The Queensboro Bridge is just Evil. I was slowing down a few miles before that damn bridge, but it put an end to any thoughts of a decent time.
The crowds in Manhattan really were everything people say – the whole course has great support, in fact. It was also fun hearing the bands and DJs (I especially liked the Run-D.M.C. sample in Queens). The brief jaunt through the Bronx tossed a few more wonderful bridges in the mix and I was really surprised by the amount of elevation at the end of the race – it doesn’t look like much on the chart, but Fifth Avenue and Central Park hit you with gradual climbs when you least want them. And don’t get me started on the “little” bump between mile 26 and the finish. More Evil.
I’d been mentally playing a strong finish in my mind the past few weeks of training, but all I felt running past Columbus Circle and into the home stretch was pain and disappointment in my slow time (officially 4:24:14 and a 10:05 pace). I know the wind impacted every runner, but it was still a letdown to not be closer to at least my B goal. Oh well – still grateful for the experience (and to be walking around now without any major pain).
The finish line experience was interesting – I liked the recovery bag idea (everything pre-loaded) and the no bag check poncho was really nice (and an excellent way to warm back up on a cold day). The long march north was a pain, as I basically had to walk an extra three miles or so to get back to the right train station. That walk was made much more enjoyable, though, by all of the people who congratulated me on finishing the race.
Here are the splits reported by the timing mats:
I’ll write another post later this week about the rest of the visit (food, shopping, theater, etc) – stay tuned…