17 Oct 2014
Race Day: October 11, 2014 – 8:30am
I jumped in the Whistlestop Half Marathon after much, much deliberation. My priority race is the Wild Duluth 50k, which is only a week after Whistlestop, so the risk of injury or slow recovery is pretty high. Not to mention, it was $90 to register late. I wanted to register because I knew I was more fit going into the race than I had ever been in my life and I could shave a lot of time off of my half marathon PR. Also, a lot of familiar faces were racing and it happened to fit into my busy weekend timing schedule. The tipping point was when a girl came into Duluth Running Co. asking if there was a board or something to post her Whistlestop half marathon race transfer. I guess she had a last minute obligation and the Ashland Chamber wouldn’t refund or transfer to next year, only transfer to someone else. I heard her story and offered her $50 for the transfer. I had to pay an additional $10 to Ashland Chamber, but whatever, athletes got a pretty nice race jacket.
My last big workouts before Wild Duluth took a precedence over any sort of taper, and I did a long run just over 4 hours on Wednesday. I took Thursday off and did a nice easy run on Friday. I drove to Ashland early on Saturday morning and definitely still felt a little worn down from the Wednesday run. My plan was to hit 5:45 minutes per mile through the whole race. Realistically, as long as I have a strong race, I’d be content. Of course, if I felt really bad, I’d ease back as not to put myself way back with recovery.
The weather was perfect for running, and after a little, yet very tight and stiff, warm up run, the gun went off. I didn’t look at my watch and just wanted to feel out the first mile. Jerry said we were running 5:20 pace, so he eased back a bit. The first mile was 6:17 or so. Sure, it was easy and felt good, but I knew I could crank it up. Jerry’s watch need a configuration!
Just as I started the second mile with aspirations to hit under 6 minutes, I noticed my shoe was untied. Bummer! I tied it as quickly as possible and double knotted it (again…). The second mile was still over 6 minutes. I was still feeling good, but really wanted to crank it down more. At this point, we were on the gravel trail. It took a little bit to get locked in on this sort of surface, but I found a good pace and let it rip. Each mile was closer to my goal pace, and I seemed to lock in at around a 5:53 pace. This was fine by me! There was no need to risk blowing up. I clicked off miles consistently, and next thing I know there was 2 miles left. After putting in so many long hours on the trail, an hour just flies by!
I managed to reel in another guy, which gave me just enough mental boost to finish strong. That last mile was the only one that felt overly strenuous. I felt my form deteriorate and I was breathing hard, but running really hard.
I didn’t know what place I was in, but knew that I had a big PR. My watch said 1:17, which is smoking compared to my previous record of 1:21. I watched a few friends come through, ate a ton of snacks and showered, then headed to Spooner, Wisconsin for an evening timing gig. I was super pleased with a PR, 5th place overall, age group winner and a solid, strong race overall. Above all, though, I was happy that I felt really good the rest of the day and the next day. I knew I would be able to recover quickly for Wild Duluth in 7 short days.
Shoes: Brooks Pureflow 3