Completing my 4th Half Marathon – Lessons Learned – Part 2

In my previous post and the title of this article, I have indicated that this is my 4th half marathon that I have completed. I have been running since 2005 and completed half marathons in Phoenix, New York City, and San Francisco. I have also run shorter races in Chicago and Maui, Hawaii. Finally, I completed my first full marathon last summer in San Diego. As you can see I have done a fair amount of races in the 4 short years I have been running. In this time, I have learned how to train for certain distances. While I do not claim to be an expert, this post is to point out things that I learned while preparing for the half marathon route of the Minneapolis Marathon.

I originally signed up to do the Minneapolis Marathon because I had planned on running Grandma’s marathon this summer. Due to a health issue and losing my motivation for training in the winter time, I have decided to for go doing the marathon in June. I have never dropped out of a race that I have started and I would rather not start a race if I am not fully prepared to finish it. Running a marathon is no joke and puts serious strain on the body, I would rather not take a chance and will skip the race.

Even though I had known since the beginning of May that I was not running the full marathon, I decided I could still do this half marathon event plus with it being the inaugural event I thought it would be cool to participate. For those that are interested, my time was 2 hours 4 minutes and 7 seconds.This is certainly not the best time I have run the half in, but it was not my worst time either. Part of the reason for my time was due to how I approached training for the last 3-4 weeks before race day.

During the beginning of May and when I decided for sure that I wouldn’t run the marathon, I purchased a trek 7.5 fx bike. I have wrote many times about how much I enjoy the bike. After I had my 7.5fx, I spent more time bike riding than running. My knees and legs enjoyed biking because there was less pounding and stress. What happened was bike riding had replaced running as my primary means of fitness. I still didn’t want to give up on the half marathon so I did do a couple of 3-4 mile runs to remind my body of what it was like to run. During the last week before race day, I wanted to get at least 1 5-mile run in. The maximum distance I ran was 3 miles during the last week of training. Now if I had been training correctly the whole time, this would be appropriate to only run 3 miles during the week. Unfortunately, the last time I had run any sort of distance (a 12.5 mile run) was 6-7 weeks prior. Looking back on the final 4 weeks of training and how I ran the race, I think I learned a couple of important lessons…

I relied on my previous experience…I will admit here, I was pretty nervous on race day – more so than usual. I hadn’t prepared for this race in the same way that I prepared for prior ones. I knew that I would have to keep my pace a little slower than normal for the first 5-6 miles. I would have to avoid the tendency to start out with a faster pace because I would need that energy to get me through the race. I also knew that there would be an adrenaline factor like there is with every race. The body is amazing in the way…it provides you with that extra amount of energy to get you through to the finish.

Biking probably helped me get ready for this event…I realize that doing training runs is still the best way to get ready for this event. I also realize that if I had not stayed active in those 4 weeks before the race, my time would have suffered even more or worse I would have not been confident in my ability to finish the race. During those 4 weeks, I biked distances of 20-30 miles on average. I also did one long ride of 75 miles. To give you an idea of how interested I am with biking…after the marathon was over on Sunday (May 31), I went for a 26 mile bike ride. When I learned about the Minneapolis Duathlon event in August, I was going to immediately interested. Unfortunately, I am going to be out of town on the day of the event.

While going through the race and doing the bike ride in the afternoon, I proved to myself that I am pretty fit even if I didn’t train 100% the right way for this event. I am probably going to focus on biking most of the rest of the summer, but I am not ruling out doing a duathlon or two at some point in the future. I also do want to complete at least one more half marathon in less than 1 hour and 55 minutes. The next half marathon will have to wait because I refuse to spend my summer training for an event.

Completing my 4th Half Marathon – Reviewing The Minneapolis Marathon (Half Marathon Route) – Part 1

Minneapolis Marathon Race Shirt
Minneapolis Marathon Race Shirt

Note…
This is part 1 of 2 of a post discussing the half marathon router of the Minneapolis marathon. The second part will cover the lessons I learned after completing the race. Overall, I am glad I ran in this first annual race. I can see that this race is going to be very successful in the future.
End Note…

Yesterday morning (May 31st), I completed my 4th half marathon running in the first annual Minneapolis marathon. I want to say that the race organizers, Team Ortho did an excellent job of putting the race together, promoting it, and making it a success. Overall there were about 5,000 runners in total (3,500 in the half, 1,500 in the full). I overheard many people saying this race will only get bigger. I tend to agree. The race has a couple factors going for it and it will no doubt continue to steal runners from races such as Grandma’s marathon. Now let me talk about the race itself…

Running Conditions…
The running conditions for this race were excellent with the weather being in the 60s to start out and getting to the 70s by the end of the race. The wind was very calm with a slight breeze. It was very windy the day before the race and I was a bit concerned that the wind would be factor in affecting the run. Thankfully, there was a very calm wind to make the run more enjoyable!

Course
This race started in downtown Minneapolis near The Depot, ran by the Gutherie, and worked towards the Mississippi river. The majority of the race from mile 5 to the finish was spent running along the river. For the half marathon, there was a turn around between mile 9 and 10 which meant running back towards the finish line. The course contained a lot of up and down hills from mile 7-13. This is a part of town I had not previously visited during 4.5 years of living in the twin cities. While I enjoyed running by the river, the up and down nature of the hills was killer on my body. I have run a half marathon in San Francisco and run in general in hilly cities like Seattle. I would say the hills from mile 7-13 were worse than what I experienced in San Francisco. It is partially my fault for not reviewing or driving the course before hand, I guess I like surprises when it comes to running.

Cool things the race organizers did…
I was extremely happy with the goodies that race participants received. Besides getting the standard finisher’s medal, the race let you keep the race chip and finisher’s of the half marathon received a technical running shirt (pictured at the beginning of the post). I read in the registration materials and on the race website that finishers of the full marathon were to receive a jacket. I am glad to see the race organizers at least providing something that runners can use in their training for other events. I’ve done other races where finishers received a t-shirt. While a t-shirt is great to wear and I wear my San Diego marathon t-shirt all the time, I can’t wear it when I am training for other events. A big two thumbs up to the organizers for these things, I hope in future years, the included race items are similar to this year. Here is a picture of the race trinkets I received…

Back of the race shirt
Back of the race shirt
Race medal, race chip, and my bib #
Race medal, race chip, and my bib #

Things that need improvement
As with any race, there is some room for improvement. I can think of two things that could be improved namely – replace the sports drink and have a gel station for one part of the half marathon. The sports drink during the race was called Hammer Heed. Maybe because it was not cold or maybe I am just too picky, but this stuff tasted nasty! I kept drinking at least one cup through the aid stations because I wanted to get the calories from the drink. I like gatorade, powerade, and accelerade the best when it comes to sports drinks during a run

My other suggestion for improvement – having gel on the route for the half marathon – I know this sounds like a nit-pick as well. Many serious runners with more knowledge and experience than me would probably argue and state if you’re only running a half that this is not necessary, but I’ve also been in race where there was energy gel provided at mile 10 during a half marathon. I suppose this all comes down to dollars and sponsorship.

Verdict
For this being the first time of having a marathon race in Minneapolis during the month of May, Team Ortho, did a fantastic job! They deserve serious props and kudos for planning and putting on this event. Also, a huge thumbs up for the race shirt, chip, and medal! While I found the up and down nature of the hills challenging and more difficult than what I experienced in San Francisco, I enjoyed the course running along the river. I would encourage Team Ortho to look at changing the course for next year as there are many interesting parts of Minneapolis (hey maybe running through Block E or different part of downtown would be cool). I can definitely see this race being a success in future years to come!

If you ran the race, please feel free to leave a comment discussing your thoughts. I’d love to hear what you thought about this race.

Please check out Part 2 where I discuss my lessons learned from training for this race.

Busy Busy Busy

I just wanted to write a quick update on the last two weeks or so. So far, I have survived the first 2 weeks of my job. It is quite interesting. I am enjoying being in corporate america for once. Things are alot slower paced. Sometimes that is a good thing and other times I wish the pace would pick up.

I have survived the first week of my marathon training. I did runs of 3, 5, and 8 miles. The training program I am using is from runnersworld and is 16 weeks long. Since the race isn’t for 20 weeks, I plan on doing the first 4 weeks of running and then starting over on the training program. This will help me get my mileage up and in the right mindset.

Another change that I’ve done with my running is that I have started to listen to music. For the 3.5 years that I’ve been running, I can count on my hand the number of times that I ran with an MP3 player and earphones. So this has been a nice change for me – although I still feel there are benefits to running without any sort of music/distraction.

Also – a quick update on my chinese language classes…So far its been going very well. The language is pretty difficult to master because of the different tones, the many meanings of words, and the fact that a direct english translation isn’t always possible. With this in mind, I am enjoying the class and just need to put a little more effort into listening to the audio a little earlier than 30-40 mins before class 🙂

Finally, I am going to share more articles that I stumble on in my google reader or the random ones that my friends send me. I apologize for the lack of article posting!

More to come this week…I’d like to write a more indepth post on my chinese classes especially the cultural aspects I am learning and also do a posting about my trip to India.

Have a great evening.

"Lasts" for awhile…

As I sit here in my home enjoying a few last beers until June, I thought it would be good to announce that on Monday, January 19th, I will start training for my second marathon. I have decided to enter the race known as Grandma’s. This is a race in Duluth, Minnesota on June 20th.

This year I am going to be more disciplined in my training as far as eating more healthy foods and drinking less alcohol during training. As part of that effort, I am going to do three things.

First, I am giving up drinking beer while in training. Don’t get me wrong….I love drinking beer, but it won’t help me train better for a marathon. It also helps me keep my gut (which I am trying so hard to get rid of).

The second thing I am going to do is lift weights at least two times a week. I think this will help be a stronger runner and it should certainly help me burn more fat both during my runs and while I am resting.

Finally, I am going to eat more healthy foods. I have ordered multi-vitamins for training and I am trying to eat more fruits and vegetables. To help me do this, I have order a beverage called mix1. (www.mix1life.com) I ordered the blueberry vanilla flavor. I am hoping that this will contribute to my overall nutrional health. Overall, I am going to pay more attention to what I am eating.

I am both excited and nervous about training for a second marathon. This is definitely a big committment over the next five months. I have never signed up for a race and not completed it. I have no reason to believe that my trend will stop with this race. I encourage you to check out the marathon website —> http://www.grandmasmarathon.com/ . The next 5 months will certainly be interesting and hopefully a lot of fun as well.

Warming up for 2009 training season….

I must admit getting back into the swing of training for races has been more difficult than past years. I left the country on a much needed overseas adventure to India (I plan on writing about this in an upcoming post) for 20 days, 3 of which were spent in New York City recovering from jet lag and catching up with friends. Once I returned from India, I spent a day at the office and headed to Iowa for the holidays. I spent 4 days in Iowa and returned to Minneapolis, where I became extremely ill with stomach cramps. Needless to say, I took it easy for the next two days and came back in to the office. By then it was New Year’s eve. Originally, I was thinking about doing something because it would be my first New Year’s eve in Minneapolis, instead, I wanted to take it easy on my body and not partake in excessive festivities.

Out of the entire month of December, I ran a grand total of 1 day (New Year’s eve). I proceeded to run on January 1st and 2nd as well to start warming up for my 2009 training plans. I intend to continue warming up with 3-4 miles runs during this week and possibly into next week and then start training for a marathon. I also want to add weight lifting back into the routine.

I am not yet sure which marathon I will be doing. I have some ideas and have narrowed it down to 2 or 3 possible choices. I do know that the race has to be in May or June and that I want to run a half marathon as part of the training.

Another new training thing for me will be the elimination of the consumption of beer while I am training for the marathon. Don’t get me wrong, I like beer alot. The problem is that it does not contribute to my overall fitness. I want to see what happens to my body when I able to eliminate beer for a substantial amount of time.

Overall, I am about 34 seconds off my 8min/mile pace. Not that I plan on running this pace in actually races, but I would like to get back to be able to run 6 miles in 48 minutes. Running at a 8:34min/mile pace isn’t bad considering I didn’t run for 30 days in December. For right now, I will have to be content with that.