Saturday, April 25, 2009


I made it.


No I'm not talking about meeting my goal for the race, I'm talking about the race itself.

The start time for this race changed this year, but I couldn't remember if it changed from 9:30 to 9:00 or 9:00 to 9:30. Their website said 9:00 in one spot but also had a countdown clock that calculated to 9:30. For some reason I thought 9:30 was correct - I was wrong.

Normally this wouldn't be a problem because I typically arrive about an hour before the start of a race. Even if I was wrong, I'd still have a half an hour. However, since I picked up my race packet last night, there really wasn't any reason to get to the start so early.

The race is about 20 minutes from my house and at about 8:20 the logical side of my brain kicked in. I thought, "Why would they add a half marathon and make the race later?"

Hmm, I bet the race starts at 9:00.

I jumped in the car and arrived at the far south end of Minnehaha Park, near the off-leash dog park around 8:45. I changed into my race outfit and ran the 10 minutes to the start. As I approached the park I could hear the National Anthem.

Time for stride or two.

With probably 4,500 runners starting the half marathon and 10K at the same time, I was a little worried. Luckily I was able to jump a fence just as the Elites were starting - two minutes before the masses.

"Perfect" timing.

Race conditions were pretty good, especially for Get in Gear; 40-45 degrees, cloudy with a sight north wind, which meant a head wind for the first 2.5 miles or so.

My plan was to run the first mile in 6:20 +/- 10 seconds. I figure 6:10 would be a little too hot and 6:30 would be a tad slow. I ended up running a fairly comfortable 6:17. We started to get strung out a little during the second mile, so I tried to tuck in and relax. That was another fairly comfortable 6:17.

Given that I wanted to run faster than my Human Race pace of 6:23, I was starting to feel pretty confident. I know the 3rd mile has some uphill as we cross the Lake Street Bridge. I'm prepared for a slower split, so the 6:27 I see on my watch doesn't bother me.

A few seconds later I pass the halfway point in 19:37. Barring a complete and total meltdown, the sub-40 I wrote in my logbook is in the bag. I thought about writting sub-39:30, but didn't want to go "crazy".

Right after the 5K point we take a hard left and head up the hill towards St. Thomas University. If you've run TCM, you know the hill I'm talking about - it's around mile 22. The good news with GiG is that at the top of the hill we turn right and are rewarded with a downhill. Mile 4 passes in 6:20 and I'm happy that it's faster than the 3rd mile.

Did anyone read McMillan article in the last Running Times? He talked about race pace strategy. His advice is to break the race into sections and then mentally prepare yourself to "go for it" during some point in the race. He suggested working really hard during the third quarter of the race. At mile 4, this was what I was thinking about - along with my recent discovery that I need to focus on a quicker turnover.

It must have worked because the 5th mile ended up being my fastest of the day; 6:14. That means I ran 8K in about 31:20 or 23 seconds faster than Human Race. Not much happened during the last mile. I was able to maintain my pace with a 6:21 mile and 1:19 last two tenths.

39:15 with splits of 19:37 and 19:38. That's 6:18 pace or 5 seconds per mile faster than my pace for 8K five weeks ago. It also calculates to a 3:04 marathon.

So after all these years of trying to run faster at GiG than HR, I finally figured out how to do it. I just needed to let myself get really out of (running) shape during the winter.

Seriously, it's really great for the psyche to see the times going in the right direction.


Beth said...

Congrats on beating your goal. Sounds like you had great race strategy. Your season is off to a great start!

Adam said...

Nice job - it had to have made your day to come in under your goal time. The time had me confused too. I was lucky to have someone tell me last night that the start was at 9, not 10 (no idea where 10 came from). I was also thinking about the McMillan article. The "go zone" thing worked during mile 5, but I wasn't mentally tough enough to stick with it across the Ford bridge and I fell of my "go zone" pace. Something to work on.

Chad said...

Thanks guys. Adam, also keep in mind that McMillan said you need to be "race fit" to use this strategy, so it's best used towards the end of the season. I'm sure we'll get better with it throughout the season.

John G. said...

Way to go Chad. I knew you would hit your splits. A great start to your year! Brian and I needed a long run Sat. We ran 8 and then the gig half. A nice approach for many reasons. A solid test to see where we are at as well. Mentally tough though at mile "21" when you're getting passed by a few of the 13 mile crowd:) BTW, sad news: Nate is injured (piriformis, sciatic issues, painful, hard to walk!) GB will be impossible and he doubts Grandmas is a possibility. We are all bummed.
Stay healthy everyone,
John G.
QOD:) Brian yesterday with 4 miles to go: "30 minutes until the taper buddy"

Chad said...


Thanks. Sounds like you and Brian are ready to roll in GB. I'm looking forward to hearing how you guys do there.

Sorry to hear about Nate. Last I saw of him was at Daws. He should give Jenna a call. A trip or 2 to her and he may bounce right back.

Enjoy your taper. You earned it.

Thomas said...

Sounds like you had the perfect warm-up!

Anonymous said...

Off topic: Chad, what do you know about the Minneapolis Marathon on 5/31? Course, etc.? I'm looking for a late spring effort but not as late as Grandma's. Any thoughts would be highly appreciated. Thanks! Carl

Mike said...


I'll weigh in on the Minneapolis course since I've been running with the training group this spring and doing a lot of solo runs on the course as well. It basically follows the river and I'd say is a pretty nice course. Easier than TCM but not as easy as Chicago. Pretty flat with 3-4 hills worth mentioning, including one obnoxiously steep one around mile 17 to get out of Fort Snelling state park. I think miles 13-18 is a great area for running but expect that it will be almost completely devoid of spectators (if that's an issue for you). Also, the course has not been certified yet, they're working on it this week apparently. There is also a decent sized hill from mile 25-26, which seems like an odd spot for a big hill.

Chad said...

Carl, I don't know much about the Minnepolis Marathon. It's basically an out-and-back course along the West River Road and drops down into Fort Snelling state park.

Mike sounds like he knows the course. He says it's easier than TCM, however, the hill to get out of Fort Snelling is not easy at all. I'd say "obnoxiously steep" is an understatement.

Anonymous said...

Yeah especially when you have to go downhill (obnoxious hill) at mile 17 or 18. Our quads will be burning. I'm signed up but regretting not doing G-mas. My gut feeling is there won't be any spectators or course entertainment, some of the trails are so narrow that'll be a crawl, if too many runners are bunched up at the same time. I wish I could slightly injured, so I can opt out form MPLS and sign up for G mas without feeling gulity of wasting $95 which is still not full yet.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Chad and Mike, appreciate the comments.. Carl