Crushing the Half Marathon

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As you can tell by this post's title, I had an awesome half yesterday at Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon. It was my best feeling race yet, I had fun during the entire race and I finished with an awesome time. My goals for this half were:

  • Goal A: PR (faster than 2:20:27)
  • Goal B: sub 2:15

I tried a new training plan than my previous races and did a heart rate based training. You can read more about it in general in my post Running with Heart (Rates) and read about how weeks one, two and three of tapering went for me.

I was a little bit scattered the morning of the half. I woke up at 4:30 a.m. since it was about a 30 minute drive to the race and according the website we should arrive between 6-6:30 for the 7:30 start time. I had peanut butter and jelly oatmeal (of course) as my breakfast as well as the first cup of coffee I had in a week. I was listening to a podcast (I think it was the Kara Goucher episode of C Tolle Run) where they talked about doing a no caffeine period before a race to reset that sensitivity so I decided to try it out. It wasn't as bad after the second day of not having caffeine and I could really feel a difference when I finally drank coffee.

Mike had to run back to the house once we got into the car because I forgot my wallet (not important for the race but very important for my post-race mimosa) and finally left the apartment at 5:50 a.m. A little later than I had wanted to but since it was early on a Sunday morning we weren't worried about running into traffic at all. I read some magazines on my tablet on the drive over to save the battery on my phone for music and having Mike track me during the race.

We arrived near the start line at about 6:20 a.m. and were able to find parking not too far away (up a giant hill but since it's a point to point race I wouldn't have to walk back up it to get to the car). Corraling was suppose to start at about 7:10 a.m. so we walked around until then after I made a quick stop at the porta-potties. One plus of arriving that early was there was no lines at all!

Once they blocked off the road for the corrals (the race course is open to traffic but they blocked off areas for corralling/start line and regulated road crossing across the course), I made plans with Mike on which side of the road I'd be on at the start and end so he could take photos, handed off my hoodie to him and jumped in with the 10 minute pacer (2:11 finish time). I had a great chat with both the pacer and couple of other runners (including another first-time marathoner running Twin Cities this fall!) while we waited and had my pre-race Gu. It took about 15 minutes from race start to when I actually crossed the mat. It was a sold out race (of people doing both the half marathon and two person relay) so they had three waves going out and I was at the end of wave two.

But finally, I was off! I managed to spot Mike among the crowd at the beginning and waved to him. And he managed to get a great photo of me even though I was in the middle of the pack. It was pretty crowded for the first mile or two even with them having a wave start but I didn't have to do too much dodging. I stuck with the 10 minute pacer through about mile 3.5 and felt comfortable running at a little bit faster pace at slowly peeled away from the group.

Lake Minnetonka Half Elevation
Lake Minnetonka Half Elevation

It was rolling hills pretty much the entire race course but it was gorgeous the entire way. Most of it was along Lake Minnetonka (at points you could jump into the lake if you really wanted to) and the weather was perfect. Cloudy but it was warm enough at about 50° that I was feeling a little warm by mile 4 even in a tank and shorts. Throughout the entire race, I kept on repeating "slower on the uphill, you'll gain speed on the downhill" and just got into a groove on the run. It just got to a point where I got lost in watching the scenery and listening to my playlist, where it didn't even feel like I was putting in effort while running.

Until I got a little past mile 11 where we got on a crushed limestone bike trail that was pretty flat. That is where the 10 minute pace group caught back up with me. I don't know if it was because there weren't anymore rolling hills and I was just using the same leg muscles over and over again or because I was just close to the end but it started feeling those miles on my legs. I kept on running and stayed pretty close to the pacer so I wasn't feeling too bad. And I felt a lot better when the pacer shouted "just a little bit further to the end of this gravel trail!"

Then we turned into Excelsior and towards the last part of the marathon and I felt the energy come back. There had been a lot more crowd support along the race than I had expected since a lot of it took place along roads in between towns but at the end there was a ton of people on both sides of the road. And I knew I was coming up to Mike taking photos. Even though I wasn't sure exactly where he was, I knew he was on the left-hand side so I kept my eye out for his striped hoodie.

Lake Minnetonka Half Finish (1)
Lake Minnetonka Half Finish (1)

And he got an awesome race photo of me! Mike used the burst mode on  his Nexus 6P (which I do not have on my Nexus 5X) to get a series of action photos (including a gif made of them that he posted on Facebook) and he was seriously impressed with how well it worked. I just excited to have race photos and to see all the comments on the photos he posted while I was running.

I've been keeping you in suspense long enough of how I did....my final time was 2:10:51 which is a 10 minute 5 second PR! I cried after I crossed the finish line and then again after I found Mike. When I was doing my training, I couldn't have thought I'd be getting far under a 2:15 time.

And my mile splits aren't too shabby either. You can tell in the beginning when I was trying to get around people and which miles were more uphill than downhill and see where I had my tough moment at mile 12. But mile 13 is just amazing to me where I dropped over 30 seconds from mile 12.

Lake Minnetonka Splits
Lake Minnetonka Splits

After finding Mike (and having to go up and down stairs that were not that fun), we got back to the car to head out for brunch. We were originally going to eat someplace in Excelsior but traffic around town was not fun with the main road being blocked off for the race. We decided to head back to Minneapolis to Wilde Café, where we've gone for our dating anniversary brunch the last couple of years.

Brunch after Lake Minnetonka Half.jpg
Brunch after Lake Minnetonka Half.jpg

I was exhausted and hungry once we got there but it felt great to sit down in a comfy chair outside. Our food came quickly (and my mimosa even quicker) and I had an awesome plate of crab cake eggs benedict. When we got home, I did a little foam rolling before an epsom salt bath and a short nap. I did some more foam rolling after I got up and wasn't feeling too bad (not the same story today) but I did go to bed that night at 8 p.m.

This race was a great boost to me before I go into marathon training (in three weeks!) and it was just an awesome experience all together. And best of all, I got to share it with my almost husband (five more days!) who has been supportive with all my training, got up early to drive to me the race, played race photographer and bought me food. What more could I want?