October 25, 2014.
It was the typical Team Ortho train wreck. I signed up for the race a year ago. They sent me my packet three times, with three Monster Dash jackets, 2 bibs, and 2 chips. Despite this, I had to go to packet pick up to get my series jacket, series medal, and early pick-up for next year’s Polar Dash (including bib/chip/fleece). Packet pick up was on Thursday evening and all day Friday. I knew I had to go Thursday…they would run out of everything by Friday (always go early to Team Ortho packet pick up). Unfortunately, there was a MN Wild hockey game in the same building that night…so it was a nightmare getting there, parking and getting in the door. I made it with 5 minutes before they closed. The place was empty and pick up went smoothly. The next day was a disaster. They ran out of event jackets, series jackets, and just about everything else.
Race morning was perfect. Tempurature was in the low 50’s, and would get up to 60. It was sunny, but the wind was a little gusty. I originally was planning to do this race as a training/recovery run. But, I realised that I had set PR’s in almost every race distance that I ran this year…but not in the HM. I felt that my half marathon record was strong for me…and unlikely to fall. It was 1:54:43. I thought that I might be able to shave a few seconds off…if I ran a perfect race.
I arrived at race race site very early. I knew that parking and traffic would be an issue. The weather was ideal and I was just in a short sleeved shirt and shorts. The wind was a bit of an issue and I found myself a feeling a little chilled, but I knew I would warm up once I started running. There were several people in costume (there would be a lot more at the 5k untimed fun run), but I was shocked to see how many were in multiple thick layers and huddling in bus stop shelters. Last year, the race temps were in the 20’s and the water tables were full of ice cubes in cups. This weather was perfect!
While waiting in the start coral, I bumped into Lisa, who I recently met at Ironman Wisconsin, and is on the IM Wisconsin FB page. She was nursing an injury and planned on taking it very easy. She introduced me to her friend, Molly who is a multi-Ironman finisher and who is ridiculously fast. She too was going to be taking it easy, but that was sub 1:40 territory for her. While we were all chatting about Ironman, another finisher came up to join the conversation (I was wearing an IM Wisconsin finishers shirt). Amazingly, all of us had massive GI issues during the Ironman that started during the swim! We all got lost in the conversation when we realized that the national anthem was playing. It was almost race time. We said goodbye and parted ways.
I wanted to hook up with the 1:50 pace group. I looked around and saw that I was standing next to the 1:45 pace group. I knew that 1:45 would blow me out of the water. That would be a 9 minute PR. The 1:50 group was far behind me and it was too crowded for me to try and we’ve back towards them. Even with the 1:50 pace group, I had no expectations that I would stay with them the whole time. I just hoped that I could stay long enough that I could hang on for a PR once I started to fade. With the 1:45 group, I expected to get dropped early and the get picked up by the 1:50.
I kept up for the first mile or so when I noticed that Molly was running next to me. We started talking and we kept pace with the 1:45 group. We are both in health care and had a lot in common. Chatting made the miles fly by. We eventually pulled ahead of the pace group. I knew that she was running slow by her standards, but this was flying by my standards. I was able to keep up, so I let her pace me. At every split, I would look at my Garmin and I would be floored that we were under 8 minute/mile. I never run this fast!
By mile 9, she announced that she would be walking the next aid station. I knew that I could not do that. I would not return to this pace if I took a walk break. I assumed that my pace would slow and that she would catch up and then I would try to keep up again. Instead, the 1:45 pace group caught up with me. By this point, I was at mile ten and on track for a crushing new PR. I had 5k to go. I was determined to keep up with this pace group. I did. I almost lost them at mile eleven when we hit the only real hill on the course (and the only time I ran slower then 8min/mile). I kept them in my sights and kept pushing. By mile twelve I started pulling ahead of them. This was incredible. Never dreamed of crushing my old PR like this…
Finish Time- 1:44:03 (broke old PR by 10:40)!
I have participated in 8 different events this year and have set new PR’s in 7 of them. The only one that is missing is the full marathon. That PR is 4:25. I should be able to break that with ease based on today’s results. I get one more chance this year for a clean sweep. That happens next month at the Route 66 marathon.
Thanks to Molly (my unofficial pacer) for helping me achieve something I never thought possible! This also confirms to me that I have fully recovered from Ironman Wisconsin and ready to attack the end of my season!