This race rocked!
I already leaked a spoiler in a previous post, so it should come as no surprise that I’m super excited to tell you that I crushed my goal. Redemption run is complete!
Although I did set a personal record at the Mankato Half Marathon, I knew I could do better. I really wanted to complete a distance race with a pace that started with a 9. This has eluded me for to long. A 9:59 would’ve been awesome – I would totally take that. Making it actually happen this past weekend was absolutely amazing.
This race was a completely different experience than Mankato. There was no horrific head games, no tears, and most importantly, NO DRY HEAVES!
The week of the Monster Dash was really the opposite of the week before the Mankato Half. I worked longer hours, I didn’t get as much sleep, my eating wasn’t as clean and I was definitely not focused on the race. The day before the race, I was on my feet all day (shopping with Carin), which I would have normally not recommend the day before a race. But, I figured I didn’t have anything to lose since doing everything ‘right’ didn’t produce the result I really wanted, maybe mixing things up would.
Packet Pick-up was a most unpleasant experience. Between traffic, parking and the ridiculous line to get “out” of the room, it was a 2 1/2 hour time suck. By the time I got home, I was crabby, tired and STARVING. I had planned on making a ‘proper’ pre-race dinner, but with circumstances what they were, that went out the window. In came Brette with our favorite take-out. As per usual, I got the Captain’s Curry with extra veggies and fresh tofu with a spice level of mild. When I opened it, I took one look and knew it could be problematic. The dish was riddled with red chili flakes. My palette has come a long way, but this would be a stretch. This was also the time when Brette suggested I have a glass of wine. Since avoiding alcohol did not produce the desired result, maybe a glass would help relax me and prepare me for a good race. I loved his logic. However, I opted for a beer. With my food as spicy as it was, the only logical way to tame it was a cold beer. One of my running heroes, Heather, always has a beer the night before a race (and lots of water too), so I was hoping it would bring me good luck just like it does her.
Race morning came early but I slept well. I did stick with my typical pre-race breakfast of oatmeal and a banana. I was picked up by Jon and Henriet. Henriet was running the race too – her first race since moving back to Minneapolis! Her hubby was in charge of dropping us off and mine picked us up. That way Jon was free to prepare for the epic brunch that would follow the race.
We got about 6 blocks away and Henriet got a call from Brette. I had forgot my Garmin. Geez! I hoped it wasn’t a sign. A quick turnaround and we were off.
We got to the race start, at the St. Paul Cathedral, and started high-tailing to our meeting spot to find Willa. After we connected, it was time to find a bathroom in the 20 minutes we had before race start. The port-o-pottie lines were ridiculous, so we ended up in the basement of the Cathedral….with many others. Of course, the line for the women’s room was super long and there was absolutely no line for the men’s room. So we went in the men’s room. Duh.
As we headed to the start corral, I was struck by how big this event is. They had more than 2,100 folks running the 10 mile and about 4,500 running the half-marathon. We all started together. It was a pretty darn big corral! I absolutely love the excitement and the energy at the start of the race. I know we were all a bit nervous, but the crowd made us more excited than anything.
My plan going into the race? I really didn’t have one. I was just going to run and try to run hard without dying along the way. I opted not to run with a pace group since running with pace groups hasn’t worked for me yet. I told Willa and Henriet that I was just going to run my own race and if that meant we were together, great and if we weren’t, that was fine too. The head phones were on and I was focused. This was a new route for the race and rumor had it that it was a ‘fast course’. My fingers were crossed that the rumors were true.
At 8:30 a.m. we were off! With so many people, we got separated pretty quickly. Henriet found me not long after and we ran together for a few miles – and they flew by. We hit a fairly decent stretch of downhill and I took off for a bit. I run downhills well and I hoped to pick up the pace to add some cushion in my goal time.
Mile 1 – 9:48
Mile 2 – 9:45
Mile 3 – 9:35
Mile 4 – 9:29
Mile 5 – 9:36
Clearly that happened. At this point I felt pretty good, but it was definitely not easy. I was halfway done and I was only telling myself positive things. “You are stronger than you think. You can do this. You own this race.”
At mile 6 (9:38), I looked at my watch and saw that my average pace was 9:40. I started to do the math and realized that even if my next four miles were at a 10:20 pace, I would still hit my goal of a sub-10 min/mile average. That put a huge grin on my face. I knew I could do this. It was right about then that Henriet appeared next to me. That speedy little Dutch woman caught up to me. It was awesome to see her. At this point, I couldn’t hold a conversation, but she could still talk. She kept giving me boosts of encouragement and helped me take my mind off how hard the running was getting.
At the 7 mile marker was the only significant incline of the race. It was significant enough to me to make me worry, but I just kept my eyes on Henriet and powered up. Thankfully, there was a downhill on the other side and that gave me some relief. When the 8 mile marker came around the mental game was on. My heart rate was up, talking was out of the question, and there were many times I wanted to stop for a break. However, I was worried that if I stopped, I would not start again and I would kiss my goal good-bye. So, I just kept going. During this time Henriet and I kept going ahead and dropping back, but always ended up back together. I know she was talking some of those last two miles, but I was so out of it, I’m not sure what she said….other than there was granola waiting for me at brunch.
Mile 7 – 9:53
Mile 8 – 9:57
Mile 9 – 9:45
Once the last mile started, I knew I had this. There was no stopping now. I turned up the music and tried to pick up the pace as much as I could. My favorite part of the day is when we made it to the finish chute and Henriet turned to me and said, “do you want to sprint?” and I shouted (loudly), “I AM sprinting!”. We received some laughs from the spectators. Henriet took off sprinting which made me attempt to sprint harder.
I saw Brette (and Lily), Arnoldo (Willa’s hubby) and pals Jose and Sylvia. I was all smiles and let them know “I Kicked Ass!”.
Mile 10 – 9:40
Official Chip Time: 1:36:26
Official Pace: 9:39
Official PR?: Yes, I crushed my previous 10 mile PR by 5 minutes and 41 seconds!
Official Reaction: Beaming with satisfaction. Absolutely elated.
Henriet finished 5 seconds in front of me. She is amazing. For a woman who hates getting up early to run and whose longest run was 6 miles, she kicked some serious tail. And she helped me get through the tough parts of the race. Thank you awesome lady!
Willa ran a very smart and consistent race. This girl is made to be a pacer. She can pick her pace and stick it. She improved her pace big time from the Women Run the CIties 10 miler and the Mankato Half finishing in 1:45:13. Go Willa!
Many of my friends ran the half marathon that day and they all had great races. Congrats to Brian, Carin, Scottie and Mel!
This was a great event. I’ve always enjoyed Team Ortho events and this one did not disappoint. We all agreed that the route was awesome. Beautiful scenery and consistent downhills = happy runners. There were plenty of water stops and signage, a great finish line and rad finisher medals. The only thing I would change is the packet pick-up.
So, what’s up next? I will be basking in glee for a bit longer and then to be honest, I don’t know. I’m running the Diva Dash 10K on November 12th and a 5K in December, but I have no real plan. After three months of a following a very specific agenda, I almost feel lost. For right now, I’m okay with that. I’m perfectly content being gleeful.
Last year: race recap: Monster Dash 10 mile 2010