October 31, 2015
St. Paul, MN
Half Marathon #24
For the fourth year in a row, this was the final race of the season. Sure, I sometimes did an off-season Turkey Trot, but this has been the psychological finish line to the running year. After this event, I would be in off-season mode…resting, recovering, swimming, spinning, weight training, and very little running for awhile.
This race has always been good to me. My PR in the half marathon was set here last season…a stunning 1:44:03 (under 8 minute/mile for a HM), people run in costumes, a decent after party, and the event is HUGE. It is also a Team Ortho train wreck…which is why this will be my last Monster Dash for the foreseeable future.
This event also makes me a little nostalgic. It is a chance to reflect on the season that was…and it was a good season. Five full marathons, a 50k Ultramarathon, four triathlon, back to back marathons, my fifteenth marathon in my tenth state…
Yep, it was a good year. It would also be the last of the “crazy” years. Moving forward, this would be my new “long” event…the half marathon. Fewer events, shorter events, more focus on balence, fitness and fun. 2016 would not be a bragging rights year, but it just might be a lot more enjoyable.
But first, I have one last order of business before I close out the season. The Monster Dash Half Marathon, and the completion of the Monster Series.
My last Half Marathon was not pretty. I ran it injured and got a Personal Worst. I would want some redemption today. I know a PR is out of the question (I have not come close to running that fast all year). But, I was consistently finishing in just under two hours earlier in the season. That was my goal today.
The weather was a wild card. All forecasts called for rain overnight. It would blow through quickly up north, and linger all day down south. It was a razor sharp line as to who would see sun, and who would get rain. Most forecasts called for sunny skies.
They were wrong.
A cold downpour greeted me when I got up (43F). A quick look at radar told me that it MIGHT dry up for the ride home. My best hope was that the intensity of the showers would dwindle.
I did a quick analysis of my running gear…and swapped most of it out. Multiple thin layers that were water and wind resistant, gloves and ear protection, no iPod, lots of Glide, and a garbage bag.
I got there early. Traffic is a mess at this event even an hour before the race starts. I got there about 90 minutes in advance and traffic was decent. With the rain, I elected to stay in the car as long as possible. With 10 minutes to the gun, I headed out (and almost didn’t make it in time).
The rain had fortunately changed to a misty drizzle. Didn’t matter all that much…I looked like a drowning rat by the first mile marker. Around that time, I happened to bump into the runner that (unknowingly) paced me to my PR at that event the previous year. She was pacing someone who was hoping to go sub-2 hours…so I latched on and hung with her as long as I could. It killed the time (I was shocked to cross the halfway mark when I did), but I knew that I didn’t have it in me to finish at that pace (I don’t run well in this weather, the training was not where I wanted it, and my legs were not fresh after my back-to-back marathons). So, just before mile 9, we parted ways.
The next four miles were not pretty. I was cold, drenched, stiff with feet that were starting to blister (and chaffing wherever I missed applying Glide).
Finish Time – 2:09:54
So, now for a few more reasons that I will no longer sign up for Team Ortho events (I heard today that their BBB rating is an “F”…and I confirmed that when I got home). First, the water stops had water. Nothing else. Really. No Gatorade anywhere. Second…cold and wet day…no heat blanket (hot broth would have been nice too…nope).
I ran the Monster Series and was supposed to get a bonus medal…except that nobody at the finish line knew anything about it. I was directed to the information tent two blocks away. They had a Series Fulfillment line (most runners were getting their series jacket, but I had to stand in line with them…for over 30 minutes…in the rain. When I got to the front, they yelled accusingly at me that I already received my jacket. I said yes, but I need my series medal. They handed me one still wrapped. “What? No ribbon?” “No, not this year”.
I am so glad to be done with this organization…except that this summers Duathlon was rescheduled for next year.
As an aside, a writer from Runners World magazine repeatedly tried to contact me over the past month as he is writing an article about all the problems runners have had at Team Ortho events. I replied that I have no interest in bashing a running organization in a national magazine (and still don’t). But I have to say that I am looking forward to reading the article…
On that note, the off-season is finally here. I think that I will celebrate with 1-2 weeks without any exercise at all (probably just one week). Then ease into to cross training for awhile. It will be a short offseason as the Disney/Star Wars HM/10k/5k is coming in 10 short weeks!