Sunday, March 13, 2011

Irish for a Day

When I signed up for the 100% Irish for a Day 10 Mile back in the middle of February, I had just got back from New Orleans and it was 50 degrees out.  At the time, I was pretty excited for a fun spring race and to take a crack at a good time in my first 10 mile.  Turns out I was definitely fooled about the "spring" part, which sort of did a number on the "good time" part.  I must have forgotten this is Minnesota.

As it turned out on race day, it was about 20 degrees with around 30 mile hour winds, and just enough snow and ice to make the footing pretty miserable.  Not going to lie, I was less than excited about this one (even my skier friends are saying its been a long winter).  But then again its a race and everyone's running in the same conditions...and the positive thing I've learned about racing in bad weather is the worse the weather is, the more memorable the race is.

Matt Trok and I met up to run for an hour or so before the race, and got some extra miles in while scouting out a good chunk of the course.  It really didn't seem so bad as we trotted along slowly, but it was pretty clear there would be sections into the wind that would be pretty ridiculous in the race.

I was a bit surprised at the pace at the start of the race when there were probably 8 or 9 guys that ran about a 5:35 first mile...seemed pretty fast on a tough day.  The group started spreading out quite a bit by mile 2-3 as we came north up the east side of Lake Harriet, running on snow into the northwest wind coming across the lake.  There were two fast guys up front that I sort of gave up hope on by mile 3 or so, and a third who was steadily pulling away.  This is where the shorter distance is so different than a marathon or a 10 mile or less you probably won't ever catch guys that you lose sight of, where in a longer race there's a decent chance you might see them again.

By mile 4 or 5, I was feeling pretty terrible around the windy side of Lake Calhoun, and had slipped back to 6th place and running about 6:00 pace.  Thankfully, right around mile 5 is where the course turned south, the footing was much better, and the wind was mostly at the back for the next 3-4 miles.  I had a Gu and eased my way back into a rhythm a bit around here and started feeling pretty good.  There were quite a number of 5K runners who made the last few miles around Lake Harriet a bit of an obstacle course, and the last mile or two was pretty brutal back on snow and into the wind, but all things considered it felt like a pretty steady second half.  The official results put me in third place, but it was really fourth since one of the guys far in front of me apparently took a wrong turn right before the finish.  My time was 58:45.

My 10 mile PR is now almost 2 minutes slower than my first and second 10 miles of the marathon four weeks ago, but that probably sounds about right with the combination of tough winter conditions and non-tapered legs.  All in all it made for a great workout in the middle of a 22 mile training run.

Next race is the MDRA 7 Mile in two weeks (hoping for a fun spring run...but planning for snow and ice).  Then on to the trails!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Canyon on my mind...

So I think I have declared that it is the "last coldest day of the winter" about 9 times so far...but now that its March, one of these days I'll actually be right.  I feel like once spring does come it always goes by quick, which means the big trip for the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim in May is really just around the corner!  I am so excited...never been there before, but I'm very glad that I will be able to see it for the first time by running it.

It seems like the majority of my travel these days has been related to running.  Most of the time though, the big event is a race, and not just running for fun.  Don't get me wrong, I really do enjoy races...but I'm really looking forward to just enjoying the run, taking in the scenery, not worrying about how fast we're moving, taking pictures, and just appreciating it all.  Sometimes it's easy to forget in the day-to-day, but I have a feeling it will be one of those experiences that will remind me how lucky I am to be a runner.

While some of the guys have been busy reading this recommended reading for the trip, I took a different route to learn about how to survive 44 miles in the Grand Canyon.  A few weeks ago, I watched this really bad movie called "The Canyon".  Here is a list of things I am now well aware of:
  • Don't go on a mule ride with a crazy random local guy.
  • It is a bad idea to go off the could get lost.
  • Rattlesnakes can kill you.
  • Cell phones don't work very well in the Canyon.
  • It can be quite hot down there.
  • It's sort of a good idea to bring lots of water.
  • Don't try to climb vertical rock walls without any experience or equipment.  
  • If you break your leg in the canyon, you will probably be attacked by wolves.
  • If you are a guy there on your Honeymoon, whatever you do don't trust your wife.
Sorry if this ruins it for all of you who have been itching to see this movie.  

Seriously, though, I really can't wait to get there and experience it for myself.  Maybe it's because I'm from MN and do not get to see places like that very often, but I've already decided it'll be one of the coolest running experiences I'll ever have.  And nothing beats a trip with the guys...will be a ton of stories and memories for sure.