Todd’s Weblog

A place to collect and share my random thoughts about running and other stuff

Lake Minnetonka / Wells Fargo 1/2 Marathon Race Report

Posted by toddruns on May 4, 2010

It’s been so long since I posted anything, I feel obliged to report on my most recent “donning of the chip”. The race in question was last Sunday’s Well’s Fargo Lake Minnetonka 1/2 Marathon, a point to point endeavor that starts in Wayzata and ends in Excelsior. Adhering to the old adage that it’s good to have goals, I decided to start out at pace that if sustained, would net me a finish time of 1:40:00 or less. This magical number is under my PR by over a minute, so it was aggressive and yet maybe doable should I be in decent race shape. It is also the time I would need to run to net a guaranteed entry into the New York City marathon. Not that I have immediate plans to run that. Or even distant plans to run it. It’s just a nice round number that means something besides 100 minutes. Of course, it was 3 years ago when I set that PR and I was probably ( OK – definitely) in better shape then. This year it was my first race of the year and I’ve only recently been feeling like my training is actually accomplishing anything, so I was not super confident that I would be able to hold that pace for an entire 1/2 marathon. For me, the typical first and second miles of a half marathon race consist of me running too fast while the effort feels almost too easy. Not these first miles. At mile 3, I started to think that I was crazy for attempting this. From 3 to 6 I slowed some but I decided to stop looking at my watch and I just tried to relax. At mile 7 I was pretty deflated and discouraged because it felt like I was slowing more, but I think  I was settled into a pretty consistent 7:50 ish pace. Somewhere between 7 and 8 I started to actually feel a little bit better and decided that racing doesn’t suck after all. About this time I heard someone say to a runner behind me – “nice job Trish”. I thought – hey – I know a Trisha running this race and sure enough she caught me and we chatted a bit. She is someone who is faster than me and I like running with her as she usually pushes me out of my comfort zone a bit. I guess I was expecting her to do this again, but I noticed after a minute or 2 that she wasn’t running with her usual effortlessness. (She also said something to the effect of it being a miracle if she manages to finish which I took to be merely a little bit of hyperbole on her part in an attempt to humor me). She fell back a bit as we went up a slight slope over the Narrows bridge, and I kept expecting her to pull back up to me but she never did., but I think she stayed pretty close back. I guess in a way though she did push me because I was determined to at least keep up the appearances of racing which I had started to do when she joined me. I also noticed that I was finally relaxed enough to feel like I was enjoying the ride. I haven’t looked at the splits (they are Garmin miles not the ones marked along the course) but I do remember that my slowest mile was 8 to 9, which is about where I got that Trisha boost. I was eventually passed by a familiar looking gal who made me feel like I was a rock as she flew by. After the race I figured out who she was – a friend of my friend’s daughter who was running her first 1/2 marathon. She ran the first 6 miles with my friend Susan in a very conservative fashion and then decided to crank it up the second half. I think she has a 20:43 6k cross country time to her credit, so I didn’t feel quite as slow as I did initially.

The changes to the finish area became the story of the day for many runners. The original course was essentially from the Wells Fargo bank in Wayzata to the Wells Fargo bank in Excelsior, but over the years it has been tweaked a little bit – mostly at the very start and finish to accomodate some changes in roads near the finish. For most of the previous 5 or 10 years it ended on a little bit of the LRT gravel trail near the Excelsior Wells Fargo but this year they decided to move the finish to the area of Excelsior known as The Commons – a very nice community park on the shore of Excelsior Bay with lots of room for runners and spectators alike to mill about and cool down post race. Instead of the pancake flat and gently curving gravel trail folks were used to, we were faced with a several quick turns and 2 short but steep hills in the last 1/4 mile. Good times. I probably should have been annoyed but instead found it kind of funny. I was able to pass a few people who were obviously not enjoying the speed bumps as much as I was. Well, enjoy is a bit of a stretch, but it was interesting. And I do enjoy trying to release that potential energy I’ve worked so hard to gain on the backside of those bumps. My final time was 1:43:23, so more than a bit slower than the original goal, but not so slow as to leave me unhappy with the effort. I’ve run this course enough now that I know what to expect (other than the finish), and it truly is a scenic course. Other than some windy stretches where the course was right by the lake, a guy couldn’t ask for better running weather.  Now that its all over, I sort of wonder why I don’t run more half marathons. I think 1/2 marathons and 10 milers are great distances. Maybe I need to  find a couple more to do this year.

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