Monday, January 25, 2010


Ahh, the Winter Carnival Half Marathon – one of my favorite races around. Prior to incorporating skiing over the last two winters, I used to run it nearly every winter. I would put in a lot of miles over the winter and then use this race as a benchmark leading into the spring racing season. When I looked back over the years I was actually surprised by how many times I’d run 1:24 on this course.

1/27/07 1:24:06
2/4/06 1:24:45
2/5/05 1:24:27
1/31/04 41:40 – shortened due to weather
2/1/03 1:27:59 – different (tougher) course due to construction
2/2/02 1:24:55
2/5/00 1:32:03
One of the hardest things with this race for me is that I never know exactly where I’m at fitness-wise. In most years, I probably haven’t raced for at least 3 months. And most of my mileage is long and slow. This usually means that for the entire race I’m constantly asking myself “how does this pace feel?”

On the other hand, one of the best things about this race is that I never know exactly where I’m at fitness-wise. As a result, I’m probably more in-tune with my body than during any other race during the year. By the time spring rolls around, I usually have a pretty good idea of what kind of shape I’m in and what pace I should be running.

Given that my long MP workouts on the treadmill have been at 7:00 pace, I thought that’d be a good goal (sub-1:32) for this race. But I secretly thought I might be able to break 1:30.

Obviously, when you race in Minnesota in January, you never know what the weather will bring. In 2004 the race was shortened when it was -10 degrees. Then in 2006 I can remember running in shorts and a t-shirt because it was 50 degrees. This year it was 25-35 and pretty windy. Right when the gun went off it started to rain. Luckily that only lasted about 5 minutes. Overall, I thought the conditions were better than they would be. This is an out-and-back course, trending uphill going out and downhill coming back. I thought the wind during the second half would be brutal – especially since the pack is usually strung out by then. But I wasn’t really bothered by it until the last mile.

A few things about this race lead me to not even check my splits; 1) the first mile has a huge downhill, so the splits are usually 20 seconds fast, 2) one year the mile markers were all over the place (short and long) and it was really frustrating, and 3) since I don’t know what shape I’m in, why worry about each individual split. I usually just take my halfway split and then try to run negative. This year I hit the turnaround in 45:25. I felt pretty good and thought I had a shot at sub-1:30.

I was able to pick up the pace and catch about 10 people during the second half, while only two passed me. With 1.1 miles to go, my calculations said I needed to run about 7:30 to break 1:30. I thought I could do it, but failed to factor in the wind and the steep uphill near the finish. I ended up hitting the line in 1:30:20, so I ran the second half in 44:55. Somehow I managed to finish 3rd in the 40-44 age group. HERE are the results.

Overall, I’m pleased with where I’m at. Of course, I’d love to bust out more 1:24s, but I think those days are gone, at least in the middle of January. I still have a lot of work to do, but I’m looking forward to it.

Prior to the race I finally got to meet Steve in a Speedo. If you don’t read his blog, I recommend you checking it out. We bumped into each other again after the race too. I was secretly hoping he’d take a self-picture of us shirtless with fogged-up glasses. But he had to run to a birthday party and I had to run to the annual MDRA party.

At the party, my name was drawn for a free entry into Grandma’s Marathon. Although I wasn’t planning on running Grandma’s this year, I think I may have to revisit Highway 61, come June.

Last night I had a really hard time sleeping because I was planning my training schedule. Oh wait, no, it was because of the Vikings. Having been happily married for nearly 12 years, I forgot what it’s like to have a rollercoaster ride-like relationship. Luckily, the Vikings never let me forget.

Quote of the day;

“Oh God said to Abraham, "Kill me a son"
Abe says, "Man, you must be puttin' me on"
God say, "No." Abe say, "What?"
God say, "You can do what you want Abe, but
The next time you see me comin' you better run"
Well Abe says, "Where do you want this killin' done?"
God says, "Out on Highway 61."
– Bob Dylan


Julie said...

Hi Chad,
Nice recap! I am so happy for you and your speedy time! Way to take third for your age group...very impressive:)

Beth said...

Very funny about the Vikings. I saw you on your way back, obviously way before I hit the turn around, but you were just past me before I could yell out a hello. I'm glad you had a good race. I agree that the weather was better than expected. You were faster than you were 10 years ago. Not too many people can say that!

SteveQ said...

I'm most impressed with how you run 1:24, year in, year out, regardless of weather. I missed seeing you out there on both the out and back - and I only saw Steve "in a Speedo" because of his red socks; everyone looks different bundled for the cold.