Monday, February 29, 2016

Securian Winter Run 2016 - Half Marathon - Race recap

Time really flies off. Or I think I have completely forgotten that I have a blog. Or I was disappointed by my time in this race and did not feel it special enough to post. But it's a race with some unique experiences. So yes here comes my speedily written post.

I have signed up for Securian Winter Run for last 2 years. This year I showed up at the start venue,  like just before closing time for packet pickup; not a few hours in advance like last year.

It was cheerfully crowded. I like this race's waiting area - indoor on a January morning and perfect distance from car park. There are food samples, hot chocolate, Frosty the mascot and warm-up routine by Y.

The Half Marathon race route was usual from the Securian Building via St Paul downtown to Shepard Road and then back. Water stops were 3-4 miles apart. The race morning started out at 30F and soon it was 40F at the peak race time. It qualifies as hot, but nevertheless the water -stop spacing were perfect. As usual, there was enough race crowd till 10K turnaround - note the 5Kers and 10Kers start 5-10 minutes after Half Marathoners. Then after the 10K turnaround, I was left alone. I could see a pink-jacketed female half-a-mile ahead, and all I could do was follow her; not letting her go off my sight; else I would be truly alone in the back. This went one for another hour.

Soon the leaders could be seen coming back after the turnaround. Gwad I hate this part of loopback races. I am not embarrassed, I just hate their guts/training/skills. So the leader came, I don't hate him much. Then the next bunch of high-achievers, and soon the middle packers. I avoided eye contact with any, by looking to my right at the mountainous cliff. (Revelation music - Oh so that why I never have any memory of the river during the Securian race. I was wondering last week, if that part of the river is completely frozen, but did not remember. Coz I never looked at it !). But most of them murmured encouragements to me. At this point, somebody called out my name, and it turned out to be my training team Coach Beth. It felt good, so I hugged her, then off our way.

I had avoided looking behind me all this while. Thinking I was maybe last & proud of it. I didn't want the pressure of finding someone else behind me, and then competing to stay ahead of her, which I knew I wouldn't be able to and then be dead last again. Or know that, yes I was the last anyway and be disappointed. But turnaround is when it is inevitable and it is revealed where I stand. So here I saw there was one lady a quarter mile behind me. I shouted some encouragements at her. By now its like 7 mile and exhausted enough to not really compete. Soon she caught up with me, chatted and then went ahead.

I have come away with a new superstition now. That other talkers take away my energy. Ofcourse it is because I always train alone without conversing with anyone. And in a race anytime someone says a sentence, I overcompensate by jabbering away. Then that person goes way past me and soon disappears somewhere in the lead.

And by last 3 mile, we 3 had traded places. The last one was front of me and Pink jacket was behind me. And when I was in mile 10 or so , I saw an old guy on the other side. I didn't believe he was in Half because that would be like 6 miles for him. In the last mile, a girl in Ragner shirt ran with me and gave me a pep talk. I swear all those volunteers who stayed back for us last benchers - Big Thank You !

When I finished, the clock showed 3:03 hours. I was like, "Shucks where could I have saved those 3 minutes !" I mean with my pathetic non-training during the dark fall months with icy outdoors combined with a move, I didn't expect any better performance. But this was worse than last year's finish.

I made my way to the Securian building which was completely deserted by now. And this is why I never get to partake the freebies at the end of the race ! But volunteers had kept my bag and food ready for me. I limped around and settled on the granite bench. The girl in Pink jacket came. Once we were fed and drunk and basically alive, we chatted a bit. She is a young girl and was running with a bad knee. I lingered around for my ride to come. After more than half hour, that old guy came. I was so shocked to see him that yes he was in the Half. I wanted to help and we could find his bag but nothing more.

This time though, my run gear were perfection.
  1. C9 cap and Securian headband from the 2014 race. This is my perfect (slightly excess but still) head gear for Winter.
  2. C9 compression pant. No extra layer because I knew beforehand, that this would be in 35F-40F range. I didn't want to get hot like last year.
  3. And for jacket I stuck to the C9 Soft Shell Jacket from Target. It has a perfect Hood and neck protector. A hood that doesn't fly off and saves my neck from wind, without needing a separate gaitor.
  4. ASICS Women's GT-2000 3 Running Shoes
  5. Gloves - they were the only bulky ones, but I did not get double layers like last time. I promised myself to buy some decent real-runner gloves after the race.

Among the race swag this year they gave a Tech full-sleeve T-Shirt, which I was looking forward to and a mug. Both in Black, Blue & White color theme. This year since I did not come early, it meant they were out of my size shirts and I got a XL Men's size, which is big even for me. There was some exchange schedule latter, but St Paul is too far for me to go for the shirt.

Apart from tradition, the other reason I love this race is the singular view of St Paul downtown, while trudging along from the mile 10 to mile 12.

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