Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon 2016: Recap (Part I)

Official time: 2:32:19 (Garmin distance 13.23 so 11:30 pace)

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Tim was probably the greatest sherpa of all time!

So. Wow. This race. I have so many emotions about this race I don’t even know where to begin. Do I talk about my pre-race burnout? The heat? The PR? Not reaching my sub-2:30 goal? The elation I felt at the end?

Since I have no idea how to write this recap, I’ll just start from the beginning of Grandma’s Weekend (for those who don’t know, the Garry Bjorklund is AKA Grandma’s Half Marathon). Tim and I left for scenic Duluth Friday afternoon. We made excellent time, even avoiding the lane closures due to construction! Of course once we got into town traffic all but stopped with everyone trying to get to packet pickup. And since there are only two ways to get from the highway to packet pickup, there was a LONG backup. Thankfully packet pick up was smooth and drama free. No lines whatsoever. I meandered the expo for a little bit, long enough to pick up a #BAMNR tee-shirt, but we still had another 20-25 minutes to get to our hotel, so we didn’t stay.

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Look at all the runners clogging up the freeway!

Our hotel was located in beautiful Cloquet, Minnesota, which is a city that is near impossible to pronounce without a Minnesotan accent! Unfortunately we were given a smoking room (which apparently still exist despite a state-wide ban on smoking in public indoor spaces) and couldn’t switch it because the entire hotel was booked. So was every other hotel in town. And the next town. And the next. I sucked it up, cranked up the fan, and left the window WIDE open. It didn’t help. Thankfully the sheets and pillows smelled fresh, so I was able to sleep OK.

After a quick shakeout run/walk with Tim, we headed to dinner at Applebee’s, where I learned that I would be starting the race at 60 degrees (yay!) and 100% humidity (WTF?). I calmed myself with the memory that the entire race is run alongside Lake Superior, which gives off beautiful cool breezes all year round, so I wasn’t worried.

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Carbo-loading for the big day!

We headed back for an early bed time since we had to be up and moving at 3:45am Saturday morning. Unfortunately the people above us were not keen on that idea and chose to have marching band practice or some crap because they were the LOUDEST WALKERS OF ALL TIME. These weren’t large hotel rooms. Not a lot of room to move! But, in any case, we finally fell asleep.

At 4am we were ready to check out of the room and get our long morning started. The hotel was nice enough to set out breakfast earlier than usual (I assume for the runners). This also was good for casino-weary travelers as well. We got our ears talked off by a man who eventually offered us a ride “to help us support the Grandmas.” No thank you.

Because the start line is rather remote, there are NO private vehicles allowed. Everyone needed to take a bus to the start, and there were lots of pick up points. Tim dropped me off at a bus at 4:45. Unfortunately, due to the large amount of people busing and the ridiculous way to get to the start, it was almost an HOUR before I got to the start line.

The race started at 6:15. I got off the bus at 5:45. That left me 30 minutes to drop my bag, get in a potty line, and mentally prepare myself. Only all the porta-potties had STUPID long lines. And bag check was kind of a cluster. And there was a giant mass of humanity. And I hadn’t pooped in 24 hours (TMI, sure, but runners, you know how important it is to poo before a race!!).

So I quickly threw my bag in the self-check box, forgetting to take off my glasses. Then I attempted to get in line for a potty, but they were too long, so I figured I’d just stop at a potty along the way. I made my way to the start area and lo and behold, there was the large bank of potties like you typically see at a race. And the line was moving quickly. So I hopped in the line just as the national anthem began. And when it was my turn to use it, SOME JERK CUT IN LINE AND TRIED TO TAKE MY SPOT. Both the guy coming out of the potty and I gently pulled the woman away and told her where the line began. As I was FINALLY relieving myself, the gun went off. Oh, and it wasn’t a wave start like I thought. So when I finally got out of the bathroom, I just had to make my way with the crowd of people running all different paces. Six minutes after the gun went off, I crossed the start line.

(Part II to come tomorrow!)

Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon 2016: Recap

Official Time: 2:34:12 (Garmin distance 13.26 so 11:38 pace)

Those smiles aren't lies! We really felt that good!

Those smiles aren’t lies! We really felt that good!

A couple months ago my sisters tried to convince me to run the Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon … again. If you remember, that was my very first half marathon. It did not go as well as I had anticipated. When I finished that race I was in tears and stated that I would NEVER run that race again.

So guess what I did this weekend? Yeah, I’m a sucker.

I had 13 miles on the schedule for today (which, yes, I know I’m WAY behind in my training logs AND I’m way behind in race recaps. It’s been a busy spring!), so the thought of a supported long run was tempting. Plus my sisters were running the relay, so just as I would want to start to fade, I’d get fresh legs running alongside me to push me along. So I figured, why not?

The week leading up to the race wasn’t great. I’d started strong, have just run 13.1 miles on a treadmill the week before (with stops at 4 and 8 miles to break up the monotony a bit) so I was feeling pretty confident. Then I got pink eye, and it rained an entire week and I just didn’t feel like running. So I didn’t. And when I tried to run my scheduled 5 miles on Saturday I only managed 4.5, wondering how in the hell I was gonna get through the race on Sunday.

Spoiler alert: I PRed. And not just a little PR, either. I took over 5 minutes off my time! AND my fastest miles came in the 2nd half!! I may have missed a few of my training runs this cycle, but the ones I’m hitting are paying off.

I felt pretty good through the whole race. I took it nice and easy on the first half, continuing my run/walk intervals of 1:30/:30.  Even with all the hills, it was nice to know that I’d only have to run for 90 seconds of the hill and then I’d get a walk. My 17 week pregnant sister ran that half with me and kept me from going too fast.

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SO grateful for these ladies for getting me through this race!!

By the time I hit mile 7, my plan had me speed up slightly. Thankfully that was past the relay exchange, so I had my other sister with fresh legs running with me, pushing me to hit those quicker paces.

I kept thinking about the last time I ran this race and how the wheels fell off and I walked a lot and had some major issues with cramping. This time I stuck to my run/walk intervals and didn’t take any unscheduled walk breaks (other than water stops). I had no cramping whatsoever. It was a wonderful race! The runner’s high I felt afterwards lasted a LONG time!!

Splits:

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This is a HARD course. It’s ridiculously hilly. Like, there aren’t many FLAT parts of the course. You’re constantly going either up or down! So the fact that I was able to keep a consistent pace throughout PLUS run faster in the 2nd half gives me ALL kinds of confidence for my goal race (next month!! EEK!) That course doesn’t have nearly as many hills, PLUS I’ll have 7 more weeks of training under my belt.
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Obviously I purified myself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka.

The shirt is REALLY nice! And I totally wore it to work.

The shirt is REALLY nice! And I totally wore it to work.

Looking ahead, I don’t have any more races until Garry Bjorklund in June, but I do have a few more LONG (for me) runs. As in one more 13 and TWO 14 milers! I just have to actually do my scheduled runs, which seems to be a problem for me this cycle. On the plus side, there’s still time to increase my fitness before then, I just have to stick to it!

Oh, and it wouldn’t be a post about Lake Minnetonka without any mention of Prince, so here ya go:

Hot Dash 5k: Race Recap

Official Time: 34:37 (11:02 pace)

We were hot messes after the Hot Dash!

We were hot messes after the Hot Dash!

As race #2 in the TC Summit MNy Challenge, my sister and I ran the Hot Dash 5k this weekend. While the temperature was 30 degrees higher than the last race we did together, it was still not wonderful. I was WAY under-dressed! I wish I would have worn a long-sleeve base and a hat. But anyway, we did it, cold and all.

Technically I had 4 easy miles on the schedule today, so we decided not to run all out. While we technically didn’t give it all, we gave quite a bit! In fact we had some awesome, solid negative splits! Mile 1 – 11:25, mile 2 – 10:59, mile 3 – 10:48, last bit – 9:51 pace.

There was what looked like an awesome after party which included free beer, hot dish, music, and costume contests, but we couldn’t stick around. My kiddo had a friend coming over to play that morning so I had to hurry home!

The swag was excellent!! This might be the best quality race shirt I’ve ever gotten!

The medal is an oven mitt! You know, for taking your hot dish out of the oven!

The medal is an oven mitt! You know, for taking your hot dish out of the oven!

In conclusion, A+ race. Would race again. Who knows, maybe I’ll even do the 10-mile next year!