Saturday, September 4, 2010

Race 1 of 3-Lake Country 1/2 Marathon report.

Lake Country 1/2 Marathon report time.

So today was the Lake Country 1/2, race #1 of 3 for me in the next month. The great thing about living in Wisconsin is also a bad thing (sometimes). Sometimes, the weather can change, drastically, at the drop of a dime. Well, this was one of those times. We went from mid to upper 80s and humid to low 50s and cold, with a stiff wind on top of it.

All my gear was organized and sitting at the ready on the kitchen table, so I figured I would need only a short amount of time before heading out to the race. I woke up before my alarm even went off this morning. I was tired last night, was feeling a bit anxious for the race, and thought I'd be dead tired getting up on my weekend off. I was wrong! I was awake at about 4:15am, with the alarm set for 4:40. I got up, started the coffee and took a nice, hot shower to loosen up. I had only one cup of Alterra this AM, which was hard, in a way; normally I've got to have two cups-one on the way to work and the other in my aluminum sipper, which I sip until about 9am (a creature of habit thing...).

Breakfast time, I'm still the only one up. I had an English muffin with peanut butter and my coffee. I mix up a water bottle with a pre-packaged size of Hammer Heed sport drink. The Lemon-Lime mix is kind of bland, so I'm looking forward to trying the Berry flavor at next weekend's race. But overall, the Hammer nutrition, for me, is perfect. None of their products gives me a sour or upset stomach, and I've never bonked while using Hammer. Time to get the family up. The kids get up right away, with no complaining or issues at all. We packed up snacks and drinks in a cooler, so they had to just get dressed and hop in the van. My wife and the kids have decided to do the 5k today, so it should be fun.

The drive out to the race is about 50 miles, but with sparse weekend traffic, we make it in good time, with about 45 minutes to spare before race start. I still had to pick up the race packets, so I run inside and see a huge crowd of runners, family, support and volunteers. Well, I am pleasantly surprised when I see there is no line at the pre-reg tables. I grab the bags, walk over to timing chip check out and get our chips. Back outside, pin on the bib, strap on the timing chip and time to warm up. A little stretching, a short jog down the road we start out on and back, over for a Porta John stop. I didn't stay in the Porta long, there was no hand sanitizer (I'm sure these things are the same gross, nasty germ boxes all over the country!) so I cut out of there quick. This would be a mistake for me later, see mile #5 notes below.

Warm up run, stretching, Heed drink downed, iPod hooked up. Sip some water, then hit a Hammer gel about 5 minutes before the start. Sip some more water. Kisses and hugs from the wife and kids, then off to stand in the crowds until go time. I'm trying to stay warm, jumping up and down, trying not to tighten up as we wait. I check my GPS, the official start time is running about 5 minutes late. I don't even hear the start signal-the crowd just starts shuffling forward. It takes a good minute or two to get to the actual start mats, and we are off!

A really slow, clogged up jog at first, lasting for about the 1st mile or so. It seems common at any larger race, you have to bid your time and weave through the crowd for the 1st mile or two, then it starts to thin out. I checked my Garmin at the 1st mile marker, it took about 9:07 to get this far, a bit slower than I wanted, but I'm OK with it. I'm warmed up, picking my pace, feeling good. Still going right and left, speeding up and back to my race pace for another 10 minutes or so, until the runners start to separate into smaller groups, more evenly matched for pace to each other now. The race is taking on a really good feel now-my legs feel great, my HR is right in line. It's a beautiful morning, cool, almost cold, but the sun is bright and strong, beaming on my face, warming me up. I remember looking at a small lake on my right as we run past, with a small waterfall at a dam. The sun reflecting off the water, the runners in front of and behind me. I was thinking, "What a great day to be alive, to have my family here, to have us all healthy, to be able to do these things and how lucky I am". Maybe a little "runner's euphoria"...perhaps, or just being aware of these things around me, sometimes we take such things for granted in our lives.

The wind continued to blow strong, which will be good later in the race. I think it might have heated up like it did in 2008 otherwise, but the winds kept it cool and made for excellent running weather. Things are going really good, superb. Then, about mile #5, my stomach starts to churn. Uh oh. Not good. I thought I could wait until the end of the run for this. There are Porta Johns on the race course, but they are few and far between, and the runners are flocking to them, lines are forming. Whoa boy, my stomach feels like it's cramping, bad now. Not good. About this time, I see a girl in front of me suddenly cut sharply to the right, off the road, across the grass. I look over, I see a brick pavilion, I see...real restrooms! I cut off the road in a second and follow behind the girl, around back to the men's side. Much better than a plastic germ box, any day, any time!

So needless to say, my stomach felt better after the mile #5 stop. It didn't bother me again for the remainder of the race. The problem was, I figured I lost a good 2-3 minutes on this pit stop. Oh well, better to pit stop than to become a picture on one of those funny posters you see of a runner in a race who has failed to pit stop and has...failed, lets say, you know what I mean. Another thing was, I had to pass a whole bunch of runners I had already passed in the 1st 5 miles. Seeing familiar jerseys, caps, the Fuel Belts, the same faces. It was a little deja vu, but what are you going to do?

The rest of the race is uneventful, and the miles simply melt away, the race seems to go by very fast. I must say, this was one of the best longer runs I've ever done, bar none. My legs and feet didn't even begin to make their presence known until about mile #10, when I got a bit of discomfort in my left foot. 5k to go, some uphill grades nearing the end, but I'm still passing people. My pace is rock solid, my HR only hits 160 on the longest grade, but comes back down quickly. Before I know, I'm turing into the lot and snaking around to the left and up through the finish chute, and this 2010 1/2 mary is in the books!

My Garmin said I was on the finish mat at 1hr 55min, the race clock said 1h 58m. The official time results said 1h 57m 48s, so I don't think they gave corrected times for those of us in the way back. Any which way, it was a great race. They put on a great event, well supported, on a great course.

The "official" race times and data from Midwest Sports:

My "official" GPS data, from start mat to finish line:
Just to point out, my HR did not go up to 175 bpm. I got some erroneous readings early on, which spiked at 175, then dropped back to normal ranges. Unknown why this happened, interference maybe? I averaged 156 bpm, which was right where I wanted to be. My pace of approx 8:49 min/mile was also right on line with what I wanted to get out of this race. I could have pushed it up to 160 or 162, for a 8:40 pace or so, but I would have been suffering in the last 4 miles. I am fairly certain the 1,983 kcalories burned is a bit on the high side, possibly as high as 10-12%. This is common with what I've seen using both Polar HR monitors as well as my Garmin GPS. Maybe a more realistic kcal estimate would be 1,500 or so.

Now, for some pics! 
Post race eats at van, right across from the finish chute:
The kids and I right after the race:
The kids, with cowbells balanced on their heads!
Ringing the cowbells for runners...more...cowbell...
A bit crabby this early on a Saturday? Yes...
A bit happier now...
Race number, tech tee shirt (a decent design, I like it!) and race medal:
Nice looking medals this year.
The finish chute. Note the "FINISH" sign, blowing in the strong W/NW winds!

I still feel great this evening, a little soreness in the legs but this is to be expected after a 1/2. The compression socks are on, I took some Acetaminophen and we cooked up some of our homemade tacos for dinner. I was even able to cut the grass this afternoon, so all in all, a very good race day with results right where I wanted them to be. And to top off the day, my oldest ran almost the entire 5k course, really surprising my wife ( and making her work to keep up with the youngster, who wanted nothing to do with all the running)! She wants to start doing some "real runs" now, as she put it, with me, around our subdivision. So, another running career is born!

This was a great test leading into next weekend's Tri. I'm feeling good, confident, and looking forward to getting into this next race! Bring it on!!