Category Archives: Half Marathon

Race Review: MN Half Marathon

9330_1406813551 This was probably one of my best executed races that I’ve ever run.  Probably in large part because I wasn’t concerned about my time.  My training wasn’t consistent or really at any level where I could set expectations.  I decided I wanted to finish under 2 hours and run a negative split.

The MN Half Marathon was the official race for Team World Vision this year.  I wasn’t 100% sure if I was going to race it, even though I’m our team captain,  as the date fell during the few weeks my wife had scheduled vacation.  We decided on a staycation and I signed up a few weeks before.  I had been training as if I was racing it so that wasn’t a big deal.  There were over 200 Team World Vision runners participating raising money for clean water in Africa.  The final stats have been released, but you can bet that a lot of people got will receive access to clean water thanks to the fundraising efforts.  You can donate to me here.

The event was a good size, not huge but not super tiny.  Packet pickup went smoothly at Union Depot the night before.  I arrived in plenty of time to park, relax, get our team picture, take a dump and race!  This event had a roller blade race, duathlon (roller blade and running), and several running distances.  I’ve never participated in an event with roller bladers before and I’m pleased to say that I beat some!!

The start was along Shepherd Road in St. Paul.  After taking my dump, I walked up and was at the very back of the pack.  I wanted to start out slow, but I didn’t want 11:30 pace slow and knew that it would be a lot of work to run through the crowd from the back. As I was walking, I saw one of my teammates and told him he needed to move up with me.  I wasn’t sure what he could for the half, but knew from the times we had trained together that he needed to start further up.  I did worry later that I might have ruined his race, but even at the end he was happy that I did that!!
I started with the 9:30 pace group and we took off heading East.  It was flat for most of this 3 mile leg, with one decent hill that you climbed two times maybe a mile or so apart.  As long as you didn’t blaze up it, there shouldn’t have been a problem.  This stretch was super sunny as there was not a single tree.  Running along the more “industrial” part of the river was interesting.

By the time we passed the starting area I was already between the 9:15-9:00 pace groups.  I was feeling pretty good and happy with my race so far!  The second out and back portion of the race was a little more scenic and had 2 hills that we ran up on the way out and of course on the way back!  I passed the half way mark right around an hour and knew that I was either going to hit both goals or neither goal!

By mile 8 I was starting to see Team World Vision runners that I knew from training and would wish them well as I passed.  Oh, I haven’t mentioned that the temp for the race start was in the 60’s but the humidity was pretty high and by the end of the race it was almost 80.  So it wasn’t a stellar day and many people were suffering from the heat.  There weren’t a ton of aid stations, but I think there was a good amount.  They had trouble keeping the supply of cups ready, but I was able to get water and Gatorade as I needed it.  I was also taking a shot blok every 3 miles.  We passed a runner down as we slipped under 35E and that’s where I ran into Scott and Erin.

We exchanged pleasantries and luck and I continued on my way.  A few minutes later Erin caught up with me.  We ran together chit-chatting for the next few miles.   I think having someone to chat with helped distract through some of the middle miles.  We were both trying to stay in the shade (what little was available) and finish strong.  I would say that we separated around mile 10, she really needed salt, but the aid stations nor medical stops had any salt.  Medical stops also didn’t have vaseline (I didn’t need it but a guy near me kept asking them for it).

At one point in mile 11 as we were coming upon the hill, I realized that everyone was following the curve of the road to stay in the shade, but that created a much longer way to travel.  I knew it was a little bit of a gamble to choose the shorter course over the shade, but I took the chance.  I think I ended up doing that twice.   I was still feeling pretty good and knew that if I kept pushing myself I’d finish well.  At a couple points I mentally checked myself so that I wouldn’t get over excited or ahead of myself before I actually finished.  In the last set of hills my glute and foot started hurting, but not in a way that impacted me too much.

CAM05278Most World Vision runners wore the bright orange jersey (t-shirt, a few of us wear the singlet).  During the picture time I had seen a guy wearing a t-shirt with the World Vision logo and pictures of kids on the back of his shirt.  I assumed the kids were kids he sponsored and thought it was great that he improvised a way to honor them in the race. At some point in these later miles I saw the pictures of the kids laying on the ground and scooped them up and handed them back to him as I ran past.  He was super amazed and appreciative.  I didn’t realize it but he was really struggling to finish and that really motivated him and helped him remember his purpose in running.  After the race this random guy comes up to me in the World Vision tent and said I want to give you a sweaty man hug.  Awkward!  Then I saw the pictures in his hand and realized who he was.  We talked a bit about the race, etc.  And he was wearing a crossfit shirt so we of course talked about that! We exchanged info and he e-mailed me a story that he hope his box will publish.  I couldn’t find it posted yet.  It is a powerful story of an ex-runner, but someone engaged in fitness who felt compelled by the need for clean water to run again!

In the last mile I knew that if nothing major happened I would be successful in my goals and kept pushing myself to finish strong. There was an ambulance near the finish line picking up a runner which was a little freaky and not something you want to see.  As I crossed the finish line I was relieved to see that the clock and my watch both read 1:5x:xx YES!!  I had done it.  I had executed the perfect race!   My tweet post race summed up my feelings:

Here is the data from Strava:

Final Official Results:


Trail Half Tomorrow

Tomorrow I run the Surly Trail Loppet Half Marathon.  This is a fun/tough course that I ran last year in 1:55:18.  I didn’t write much of a review last year, but it is pretty much all hills!

Last year I did a 10k training plan as part of my training for the Square Lake Triathlon.   I feel pretty good about tomorrow even though I’ve run a lot less hills – having 2 kids make slipping out for runs at Wirth harder.  My plan is to go out conservative and see where I’m at around the half way mark and pick it up from there.

I think that means going out between 8:30 and 9 minute pace.

Wish me luck!


I’m racing as part of Team World Vision raising funds for clean water projects in the Congo! $50 provides clean water for life for one person.

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Trail Loppet Half Marathon Results

I feel pretty good about these given the course.  Everyone seemed about 20 minutes slower than a “normal” half so that was encouraging.



Race Time Time of Day Pace Between Overall Place Division Place Sex Place Age Graded Place
Time 1:55:18 10:55:28 8:58 110/600 60/181 92/311 203/600
10 Mile 1:27:32 10:27:42 9:08 108/595 60/181 90/310 201/595
5 Mile 41:55 9:42:04 8:28 72/599 46/181 63/310 168/599
1 Mile 8:05 9:08:14 8:05 79/599 49/181 67/310 168/599
ChipStart 0:08 9:00:10 78/600 45/181 67/311 67/600
GunStart 00:00 9:00:02


Here is a pic I stole off SkinnySki’s website. From their Mile 4 album!

Get in Gear 10k

I didn’t run the Get in Gear 10k this year, though I would have loved to be in shape to take part in this “Annual Rite of Spring.”  It was a cool (low-50’s) and rainy morning (with a spell of lightening and thunder before race time), which was actually better than two years ago when it was in the 30’s with snow on the ground!  See my race report from the 2008 edition.

As I mentioned on Monday a friend and I showed up to Minnehaha Falls fairly late, close to 10am or an hour after the 10k and 1/2 started and 40 minutes after the 5k.   The 10k race is the main event, even though there is a 2k, 5k, and half-marathon.  We got to see the back of the pack runners finishing and then the half-marathon leaders finish.  It was sad to see that they haven’t fixed the finish area problem of runners from the longer races merging into the shorter ones and having to dodge runners and walkers.  It seems it would be easy to setup cones for at least the last tenth of a mile to separate the races.  I’m sure the leaders would appreciate that!

Below is a video montage I created from some of the videos and pictures I took.  I’m not sure what the issue is with my cell phone’s video encryption but sometimes Windows Movie Maker doesn’t read the video, while Flickr does.  So Kim Scheel, Women’s 1/2 marathon finisher, didn’t make it into the montage, but gets her own separate video!

Kim Scheel finishing the 1/2 marathon in 1:28:23.

Rocco at the MDRA (who finished in 37:21) also found this video by Brett Sall who finished in 45:25, not bad for his first race:

Get In Gear 10K from Brett Sall on Vimeo.

How was your Get in Gear Experience this year?

[tags] Get in Gear, 10k, GetinGear[/tags]

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January Races

It is a little late to be doing this, but better late than never!

Here are some upcoming races for the month of January:

January 16 – Polar Challenge 5k in Bemedji, MN

January 23 – Securian Frozen 5k & Half Marathon at the St Paul Winter Carnival.  Check out my thoughts on last year’s race.

January 30 – Winterfest 5k in Waconia sounds like fun.

Last weekend was the “World’s Most Prestigous Indoor Marathon” the Zoom! Yah! Yah! Indoor Marathon.  The Meet of the Miles was also recently held, but I can’t find a link.  It also is the first race in the MDRA Grand Prix.

Since I’m not running I won’t be running any of these… will you?

* This is not a comprehensive list!

[tags] January, 5k, half-marathon [/tags]

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Week 12: Half Marathon Training

Last Year

I celebrated being done with the training cycle by resting and racing the Get in Gear 10k – almost setting a PR (posted my race number).  To go along with this phase I talked about detraining. A local marathoner used his mad skills to chase down a thief (Team Cross doesn’t recommend doing this).  My mom sent me a story from the hometown paper about a co-worker/teacher who ran at Boston.  This week’s Foto Friday was a picture of “Get in Gear” written in the snow before the race start.


Running – 9.2 miles

3 m run + strength
6 x 400
5-K pace
2 m run + strength
30 min tempo
Half Marathon

Monday was an easy 3.25 on my Metrodome Loop.  Nothing too exciting. About 42 and overcast with a wind chill of 35.  It didn’t really seem that windy and overall the run felt nice and relaxed.  I finished in 24:30.

Tuesday I ran my 6×400 workout on the Greenway on a nice morning.  44 and sunny with a decent amount of headwind.  My goal was 1:26 which is 5k pace but I didn’t want to push too hard.  I won’t see any benefit from this workout on race day – it was just an opportunity to open up the legs and sharpen up a bit.  My splits were 1:33, 1:30,1:30,1:27,1:29,1:28 and only on the second half did it really feel like I was having to push.  The rest felt very smooth.  It was a total 5 mile workout in 39:44.

Wednesday – a 2 mile run felt like such a waste of time.  It would take almost as much time to get ready as it would to run it.  So I decided to take the day off, rest my foot and enjoy tapering.

Thursday was a pretty overcast morning but warm.  55 and humid for my 4 mile run. I didn’t really try to make it a tempo at all.  I figured an easy run was more appropriate and it felt good.  I did it in 30 minutes heading East along the Greenway.  Nothing special. My heel felt pretty good all day.

Friday felt a little lazy but rested.  Foot pain is almost gone!

Saturday another rest day.

Sunday Race Day!  I was initially very disappointed but after processing it and writing my review it wasn’t quite as bad as previously thought.  But still a 1:36:26 is not what I had planned on.


Running – 25.5 miles

Biking – 8  miles

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

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

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