Gopher to Badger Half Marathon

Monday, August 14, 2017

Started strong, fizzled at the end. Race number 26 for 2017 and half marathon number 12 is completed.

It was an early morning wake-up call for this one. I was up around 4:40. We had to leave our house by 5:30 to get to Hudson by 6:30 to catch a bus to the starting line. Our shuttle bus driver got lost and the 10 minute ride to the starting line took 30 minutes. But it was a bit chilly in the morning so it was ok. The start is in the Washington County Fairgrounds. It wasn’t that exciting of a place. There were 1,058 finishers so it was relatively small. I started at the back with DJ and Brenda. There were only a handful of people that crossed the starting line behind me.

The start of this race was fairly flat. The first half mile was in the fairgrounds before we head out to the roads. This was not a closed course so we shared the road with traffic. Not my favorite thing in the world, especially when we ran on the highway. The first 3 miles were mostly residential so the traffic wasn’t bad at all. DJ and Brenda stayed with me for the first 2 miles before I left them. I stayed pretty consistent with my minute running and 30 seconds walking. That interval really works well for me. This course shows a predominately downhill nature but it seemed like we had a lot of long gradual uphills which would trick you into thinking you would have a nice downhill but it never really worked out that way.

Miles 1-4 went well. I was feeling great and my pace shows it. Mile 3 was a bit slower because we had a water stop that I walked through. My times were 12:36, 12:56, 13:34 and 12:54. Before every half, I create a pace chart where I predict where I will be at the end of each mile. Well I did way better that I expected, I was a 1:30 ahead of my goal after 4 miles! That made me happy. But I could tell from that point on could be a struggle. We were getting out of the shade and into open roads and it was starting to warm up.

I struggled through mile 5. It isn’t surprising as it had the longest climb to the highest point of the course. And the hill came right at the end of the mile so I was pretty shot. But my time was still faster than I predicted and I was almost 2 minutes ahead of my goal time. Mile 6 was entirely downhill, it was one of the few times that I immediately ran downhill after hitting the peak of a hill. I was back under 13 with 12:53. Mile 7 was one second faster than I predicted at 13:29. After 7 miles I was 2:30 ahead of my goal. For a brief moment, I thought I could break 3 hours again.

But then miles 8 and 9 came. I knew I was going to struggle with these miles. These miles were a constant gradual uphill and they were on a major road. I have run this road before with the Lift Bridge Races so I knew what I was getting into. What makes it worse is we were running on the shoulder with traffic. So, I had no clue what was coming behind me and there are a lot of large trucks on this road so it was somewhat scary. Also, there is no shade and it was really getting warm. My legs were had a hard time moving during these miles but I predicted that both miles would be 14:30. And I was close, they came in 14:39 and 14:42 respectively. I was still 2:10 ahead of my goal and was still under the 3-hour marathon pace.

Mile 10 was a lot slower than expected. I knew that mile 10 had a nice downhill and I thought I’d be able to recover with the shade but that wasn’t the case. Mile 10 was consistent with the two previous miles at 14:41. Mile 11 was also shaded and I managed a 14:39. My legs were done at this point. My face was on fire, I was so hot and my legs felt like Jell-O. My two and half minute cushion had eroded to just over a minute. I knew under 3 hours was out of the question.
I was so happy that the water stop at the end of mile 11 had ice. I took handfuls and filled my water bottles and put some in my bra for later (to rub on my face, not to drink, LOL!). I was struggling to fill my bottles but thankfully the guy with the pitcher saw this and came over and filled them up for me. That was awesome! That is part of the reason why mile 12 was so slow. I started it out spending 30 seconds or more trying to get my bottles filled. And then immediately after that was the last major uphill climb to the I-94 bridge. I contemplating walking it in at this point. The hill was about 1/3 of a mile and I didn’t run a lick of it. When I final got on the bridge and could see the cool water of the St. Croix River below, I was relieved that the finish was near. I didn’t dread this bridge as much as the last time I ran across it.  I switched my 1 minute running/30 seconds walking to 30/30. And eventually 30 running and 1 minute walking.

At this point in the race there were very few people in front of me and nobody behind me. I kept running/walking towards the girl in the red and white stripped socks. I could never catch her but she was also there, just in front of me. And every time I looked behind me I couldn’t see anybody. I find that interesting because there over 30 people who finished behind me. Mile 12 was the worst at 16:39. I anticipated this would be the worse mile and if you take into consideration the time I wasted getting my bottles filed I would have been right on. Surprisingly, I was still about 40 seconds ahead of my goal!

Mile 13 was along Hwy 35 and into the park in Hudson. I continued to do some running and walking but at very random intervals. There was a water stop just after 12 and the guy poured 3 cups of water over my head, that was refreshing! I had to stop at the boat launch for a group trying to put their boat in the water. I said “Are you fucking kidding me?” And the bitchy lady on the boat said “sorry” in a very snotty voice. I dodged around them in a fit of rage and flipped them off and said “you aren’t fucking my time” and I heard them say, “wow, she’s a bitch.” In the process, I tweaked my Achilles so now that hurts. Dammit! This is not how I wanted to finish this race…angry and in pain... I was PISSED!

The course was bit long, when my watch hit the half marathon mark I was 40 seconds faster than my goal time but with the extra tenth of mile, my time was 59 seconds too slow. Overall it was a good race. I may have started too fast which hurt me during miles 8 and 9. Overall, it was about what I expected. I’m happy with my result.

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