Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Two halves don't really make a whole....but...

the races sure were fun!

I'm talking about finishing Fargo 1/2 and Minneapolis 1/2 marathons recently.

Fargo was May 21st. I drove up to Fargo with my friend, Gary. We spent the drive time catching up and solving the world's problems. That made the drive time pass pretty quickly.

Other friends doing Fargo events were Nat and Lance, Marcia and Heather -- the group has participated in this race for several years now and we always enjoy it.

The weather is always the "iffy" factor at Fargo. Typically, the weather is on the crummy side, with lots and lots of wind. The forecast for this year seemed ominous: rainy and cold, but we lucked out. The temps were cool (not cold) and we had a little drizzle, but nothing too drenching.

The best part was the LACK of wind this year. There definitely was a breeze, but not gale force winds or any thing that was too daunting.

I had really only done one long run in preparation -- a 10 mile run on April 3rd. Not an ideal situation, but after that run, my Achilles really started to hurt. On shorter training runs, I'd feel great running, but would barely be able to walk the next day.

Turns out my shoes were terribly worn out, and my coach had me doing lots of treadmill work with inclines. This, apparently, is a very bad combination.

So, lining up at the start, I was concerned about finishing, but finish I did.

I had a pretty good race considering. I ran pretty steadily for the first six miles and then did a walk/run to the end. My head got me in to a rough spot a couple times, but certainly not like the big dark spot that happened last September during IM WI.

I covered the miles -- didn't PR, but finished with a time that wasn't too shabby.

Now: Fast Forward a couple weeks -- after some background info.

Last December, I talked to my coach about doing a spring marathon. It had been a while since I did one and wanted to make sure (psychologically) that I can cover 26.2 miles without being pulled off the course at 10:32 pm at mile 19....

He thought that was a dandy idea and suggested Minneapolis Marathon, since it is challenging (aka: HILLY).

Then, a couple months ago, he decided that doing Fargo 1/2, a Marathon and then a 1/2 iron distance tri all within one month of each other might lead me to an injury, so he told me to skip the marathon.

Imagine my surprise, then, when my training schedule had me running the marathon last Sunday....! I emailed my coach to remind him of our earlier conversation and told him that I hadn't trained for a marathon.... Fortunately, he relented and said it was okay for me to drop down to the 1/2.

So I lined up last Sunday, in downtown Minneapolis, with several thousand other runners and ran the 1/2.

I really liked the course and it really was a challenge. Unlike Fargo, the weather was warmer, sunnier and more humid. Oh, and hillier. Much, much hillier.

I ran okay for several miles but felt I was off from my Fargo pace, which was disappointing to me. I chalked up the race as a "training event" and kept moving forward.

About a quarter mile from the finish, once past the last final yucky hill, I noticed a woman in front of me who was stumbling quite a bit. She finally took a big fall on to the pavement.

I went over to her and asked her if she was okay. She said "yes" but it was clear she was not. She had injured her knee before the race and then re injured it during the race and was in a lot of pain. But, this was her first 1/2 ever and she was not going to give up.

I told her that we were going to finish together. I helped her up and had her lean on me for support and we started walking to the finish.

I talked to her and asked her lots of questions so she would take her mind off her knee and focus on answering me. Soon enough, I could see the finish and I pointed it out to her.

"See, you are almost there. You are doing this".

She was ecstatic. She asked"Should we run in?" and I told her I'd follow her to make sure she got in.

She did a little hop/skip step; stopped and walked some more but got across that finish line with me right behind her.

She was thrilled. I was too. I was happy for her and really happy that my pace wasn't so off from Fargo after all. Although I didn't PR (again) I was only about 20 seconds slower than Fargo --even with more walking.

So: two halves down; two to go before the end of the month.

There is the 1/2 this weekend as part of Liberty 1/2 iron and then another 1/2 in Madison as part of a training run for Ironman.

My pace may be slow, but I'm getting the miles in!