After declaring to the world that I am focusing primarily on the bike this year, I went ahead and signed up for a running race. My bad. It's winter here and in my opinion, it's a lot easier to run in the winter than it is to bike in the winter.
I ran into Steve at Dome Running last week (yes, I was running again) and he was telling me that he was planning to do the half marathon at the Winter Carnival again. Although I haven't been running much lately at all (I've been averaging a whopping 5-8 miles a week for the last 3 months), I did manage to pull an 11-miler out of my ass the other weekend with the Barefoot Runners Society. If I can do 11 miles with no training, I can do 13.1. It wouldn't be fast, but it would guarantee I would do a long run that week. I decided to do it.
Race MorningI drove the 8 miles from my house to downtown St. Paul. Since I started working in downtown Minneapolis 13 months ago, I find I don't ever go to downtown St. Paul anymore. That's too bad. Fortunately, the race courses (there was a 5K, 10K and half marathon) were altered this year to do a loop around downtown before heading out for the out-and-back section on Shepherd Road. I picked up my race packet and hung around inside until it was time to run. I skipped a warm up because 1) I was just running this for fun and really didn't care how fast or slow I ran and 2) it was pretty cold out there. It was about 24 degrees, but had a windchill of around 15. I really had no desire to stand around outside any longer than I had to. I was beginning to wonder why I decided to sign up for the half marathon. Why didn't I sign up for the 10K? All of a sudden, the 10K sounded a lot more fun than the half. Oh well. It was too late to change my mind. The race was about to begin.
Miles 1-2: We looped around Mears Park and the St. Paul Farmers Market, ran up the long hill on Kellogg, and ran a quick loop around Rice Park where the Winter Carnival ice sculptures were all set up. I haven't ever gone to any of the Carnival events other than the race, so it was super cool to finally get to see the ice sculptures.
Miles 3-6: We started the not-so-entertaining part of the race.... the out-and-back along Shepherd Road. Besides a few grain elevators, there is absolutely nothing to look at between downtown and my neighborhood along this road. In my head, I broke up this section of the race by landmarks and concentrated on getting to each one. After my first two landmarks (the intersection at Randolph and the intersection at Otis) we were a little over 5 miles into the race. A guy I was talking to mentioned he thought the turn-around would be coming up soon. I thought we had a couple more miles to go. The faster runners were already on their way back toward downtown, so I gave a quick shout out to Steve as he passed by. I knew the turn-around point would be after we crossed under 35E, but I wasn't sure exactly where it would be. Apparently the race organizers weren't exactly sure where the turn-around should be either.
Miles 6-8: These miles didn't exist. After the 6 mile mark, I came up to the turn-around point. I ran around the barricade as the policeman instructed and headed back toward downtown. Almost immediately after the turn around was mile marker 8. We all knew this was inaccurate since we had just passed the 6 mile marker about 7 minutes back. There was no way we had just run 2 miles in 7 minutes. In fact, we were running slow enough that there was no way we had run 1 mile in 7 minutes. I figured some kids were trying to play a prank on us and had moved the mile markers. Unfortunately, that is not an uncommon thing in races. We all ignored the mile marker and just kept running.
Miles 9-10: A little while later we passed the 9 mile marker. I wasn't really watching my splits, but it seemed like this marker was about a mile after the last one. I noticed this marker was pretty official looking and had the name of the organization putting on the race on it. At this point I wasn't quite sure what was going on. My legs were starting to hurt, so I slowed down my pace while I got some calories and fluids in my body.
Mile 10-13.1: At the 10 mile mark, there was a clock and a guy. The guy was announcing that the race course was short. We only had 3.1 miles left. At this point, I didn't care that the race would be short. In fact, I was pretty happy to hear that. I wasn't hurting, but I wasn't having a ton of fun either. I was so happy with the news of the short course, I decided I wanted to race the rest of it. Up until this point I was just running. I was probably averaging between 8:50 and 9 minute miles. After mile 10, I picked it up a little and kept my last 3 splits under 8 minute miles.
I have no idea what the actual distance of the race turned out to be. I would guess it was somewhere just shy of 12 miles. I finished in 1:38 which is an hour and 38 minutes of exercise that I wouldn't have done if I hadn't signed up for this race.
I got outside and got in a good workout on a 20 degree morning. What more could I ask for?