Race Review: Lake Minnetonka Half

Wow. You could not have asked for a much better day to race. Mid to upper 40’s at the start with a slight breeze off the lake.  It was only in the mid-50’s at the finish.  Unfortunately, my race performance didn’t match the quality of the day.  But first some details.

Packet pick-up went smoothly at the Wells Fargo near the starting line.  A spacious and un-crowded room at about 7:15.  Picked up my bib number – 381 and then my timing chip.  Went to pick up some nice looking shirts and they only had smalls.  I’m not sure how you make that mistake when the race filled up ahead of time.  Seems pretty simple to place an order and get your shirts in time.  They are mailing them to us at a later time.  I jogged the 1/4 mile to the lake shore and warmed up a little bit before heading back to the start.  We were delayed for several minutes due to our missing police escort.

When the siren blew we were off.  I started a few rows back and went out what felt really slow.  I let a good number of people pass me and tried to stay very relaxed. I checked my Garmin pace and slowed down even more!  The first mile went along the Lake and then up a little hill where I saw my wife and we came through mile 1 in 6:47. I promise it felt a lot slower (the mile was a little short).  So I slowed down a little and didn’t push as we climbed the steepest and longest hill of the day. We kind of meandered through the countryside occasionally getting a glimpse of the lake through the huge houses. I tried to maintain my pace even with the mostly downhill coming through mile 2 in 7:13.  Ok and even 7 pace that is pretty good.  We continued a little bit before turning on to a main road – where I was expecting to see my wife and be able to toss her my arm warmers.  They had served their purpose and it was time to be done with them.  Sadly I wouldn’t see her again until the finish.  Evidently, she got messed up with some construction and had to turn around and then the cops wouldn’t let her through, so she ended up going all the way around the opposite side of the lake.  This is really odd since lots of cars were on the course and it was advertised as an “open course”.  It is really annoying that there was an apparent double standard.  So a little frustrated I came through mile 3 in 6:43.  I took water at the aid station and came through the 5k in 21:29.

These next few miles were on a random, hilly country road away from the scenery of the lake and pretty unshaded.  There were two large hills in this mile and per my plan I didn’t push the pace up them.  I tried to just stay relaxed.  I came through mile 4 in 7:18.  I felt ok with that and kept what felt like a steady pace.  There was a few small pockets of people cheering along the way but for the most part it was pretty quiet.  Mile 5 was 7:09.  A little disappointed in two mile over 7 I wasn’t too worried, I figured that it would be easy enough to make up.  As we kept going up and down I decided to take one of my Clif Shot Bloks.  I also took water and Gatorade at the waterstop. We came back out by the main lake and back onto the shoulder of a main road and through mile 6 in 7:32. Ok, now I was a little frustrated and given the plan was to run a faster second half I picked it up.  I came through 10k in 43:38 (my PR is 41:28) and the half way mark in 46:00.  It wasn’t marked so I didn’t know where it was, but that would seem to be right on track for where I wanted to be coming out of the first half.

We continued right next to the lake shore through a little town and my pick-up worked as I ran mile 7 in 6:52.  That was helpful, especially as I was catching up to some people.  More of the same as we kept running next to the lake and I came through mile 8 in 7:02.  I tried to stay focused on pushing the pace a little bit as we dropped down to within several feet of the lake shore for a little bit and then back up a short and steep hill through an aid station.  We were running next to a bike trail then we jumped onto it for a few yards before crossing a timing mat and turning back the way we came and then another turn back towards the lake.  We then hit mile 9 in 7:36.  I came through the 15k in 1:06:04. (My PR is 1:03:24).

As we continued on the lake shore it was almost as if something inside of me fell apart.  It was almost as if I hit a small wall or gotten into a funk.  I took a second shot blok to see if that would help, but the wheels were falling off.  I tried to keep pushing but it was getting harder.  I came through mile 10 in 7:29. I definitely didn’t remember their being so many hills throughout the last half of the race. I was starting to get passed my more and more people now. I came through mile 11 in 7:47.  Crap.  That’s unacceptable.  I remember telling myself I needed to keep it under 8 minute miles. Somewhere along here there was a waterstop – but it was off the course in a parking lot.  I probably should have gone through it but I just wanted to finish and the shorter the course the better. However I did come through mile 12 in 8:03. Yes the wheels were falling off the bus.  My 20k time was 1:30:35.

We turned onto a dirt trail right before the 12 mile mark and I knew this was going to be the way to the finish.  Yes, 1 mile to go pick up the pace a little…  Not happening.  Getting passed by everyone and their brother.  A few runners tried to encourage me and I did try to pick it up I promise. The last mile was a pretty slow uphill grind which wasn’t overly pleasant. As we got closer to the finish you could start to hear people yelling and getting excited.  It was a 6-8 foot wide trail but once we got within the last 1/4 or so it was lined with people on either side – making a lot of noise.  It was a cool tunnel effect.  I could hear someone coming behind me. I tried to open my stride a little.  Then he pulled up into my vision and I thought “I can’t let this happen” and dropped gears and gave it every last ounce.  I pulled away from him and left him in my dust – so to speak!  I came through mile 13 in 7:49 and the last 0.1(or 0.18) in 1:09.  My final time was 1:36:26.  A long ways off my goal, 3 minutes off my PR, and my 4th fastest half-marathon ever.  The course was a little long!

After recovering my breath I shuffled over to get water, Gatorade, and refreshments.  They had quite a spread of fruit, bread, and snacks available.  I found my wife and learned of her plight with the road marshals.  And I just sat down for a little bit.  Exhausted. Frustrated. Disappointed.  It was a pretty tough course though, I will give it that.  And in hindsight – not a PR style course.

As I’ve written this though I’ve realized that I’m in pretty good shape! While none of my splits are super impressive I was pretty consistent throughout the race and even with my wheels falling completely off I didn’t do too terrible!  As of this writing the official results are posted yet – but this is the link they are supposed to be posted at!  The results are posted here (pdf).

As you can see by the chart below – the “official” mile markers were a little bit off.

Split Times
GPS Marked
6:58 6:47
6:56 7:13
6:43 6:43
7:11 7:18
7:09 7:09
7:08 7:32
7:11 6:52
7:10 7:02
7:12 7:36
7:42 7:29
7:42 7:47
7:56 8:03
8:13 8:48
1:09

[tags] Half Marathon, Lake Minnetonka, Race [/tags]

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