After Grandma’s Marathon I was on such a runner’s high that I wanted to sign up for every race I could. I wasn’t sure how recovery was going to go since I’ve never run a full before. I knew how I did after the half marathon distance, but this was new territory. I could not get my legs moving. I know they say that you should recover one day per mile you ran. Well, there’s no way I was going to take 26 days off from running. Just not going to happen. I took it pretty easy and worked on shorter distances for a couple of months.
This was the third year for the race. I ran their Inaugural Half Marathon in October of 2010 with a time of 2:06:18. I was overdressed, under trained, and miserable most of that race. Last year I volunteered as a bike medic and was stationed on the last 3 miles of the course. It was a blast to cheer on the runners through those tough miles, and take care of those that needed help. This year I decided I was going to run the half again.
Anyhow, I decided about 8 weeks out that I would start training for the Mankato Half Marathon. I already had a good base under me and I was keeping my long runs at 8-9 miles per week all summer. They were hard miles because it was so damn hot and humid this summer, but they were still miles. A couple of weeks before the deadline I registered for the Mankato Half Marathon.
For being a newer race I thought everything went very well. The race directors made some changes this year and I think everything worked out fine. The biggest change was the day. The last two years the 10K, Half Marathon, and Full Marathon and relay have been on Saturday morning and the 5K and kid’s K was on Friday. This year the 5K and kid’s K were on Saturday and the other races on Sunday Morning. They also changed the location of the Expo which didn’t make much difference to me, the old and the new locations were nice locations and facilities. The only thing is I think the expo could have been bigger. I’m sure eventually it will be. I went to pick up my packet and left right away because we had a wedding that night. I went home, got my stuff ready to go for the morning and headed to the wedding festivities.
Sunday morning I woke up, drank my java, ate my pre-race english muffin with peanut butter and honey, and put my banana in my bag to eat on the way to the race. I packed everything I thought I may want…arm warmers, gloves, headband, and sunglasses. It was supposed to be a very chilly morning. I wore my new amazing Oiselle shorts, Nike tank, and laced up the Saucony’s with the timing chip on. I had a 45 minute drive to Mankato and when I got there I put on my arm warmers and throw away fleece top. I totally forgot my sunglasses. I then realized that I was incredibly early, was on one of the first busses, and was going to have to wait for a good hour and a half at the start. Eff…it was cold. Some of us took shelter in one of the bus shelters because the wind was COLD. I stood in there until I decided it was time to use a port-a-potty. Finally the 10K’ers took off and the half and full marathoners could start lining up.
The pace groups started lining up so I stretched for a little while, tried to warm up, drank the last of my water, and took off my throw away fleece. There were only about 2,000 runners for both the half and the full I think. No corrals, just a cluster-f. I started out with the 1:55 pace group to keep myself from starting out too fast. We started out going into the wind for the first 2 miles but most of my training has been in the wind so the worst part was the cold. I was freezing but knew I’d warm up by mile 3. My arm warmers were perfect. I pulled them down over my hands for a bit and eventually took them off towards the end of the race. The only downside to running with a pace group is the cluster of people around you. Some girl almost kicked my foot out from under me, another stepped on my right heel, and another kept elbowing me in my left side. Then I was going to stop at the first water stop and I always head towards the last person handing out water. However this water stop only had 3 people handing out water so I grabbed a water and some chick behind me wasn’t paying attention and plowed into me. Thankfully I didn’t go down and luck for her she didn’t get too many curse words from me. And no, I did not stop right in front of her, I kept running as I grabbed the water, she just wasn’t watching where she was going.
Right before mile three we turned right and now had a nice tailwind to take me down the big hill. I was also sick of the crowd, figured I had 3 slower miles in, so it was time to speed up a little. I passed the pacer and kicked it up a bit. These 8:20 miles felt so incredibly easy. And I have no idea why. I knew the course, I knew where I was comfortable, so I set the cruise and kept on going. The crowd support was awesome and I gave lots of high fives!
At about mile 5 we turned and got onto the trail and that’s where I picked up a stray. I had my music blaring and he asked me a question. I turned it down and he asked me about the hills and what my pace was. Turns out he took a digger in the first mile because someone kicked his feet and his Garmin took a hit and wasn’t working. His fingers were pretty scraped up too and had dried blood down his hands. We actually ended up running together for about 5.5 miles. I kind of gave him a play by play of the course and what to expect. He was really impressed with the course and the all the people along the way cheering.
My goal going into this race was to negative split and come in sub-2 hours. My plan was to take it easy the first 5 miles, then take my fuel (Clif Shot Bloks), speed up a bit until mile 10 (more fuel), and then last 5K I would push myself harder. I told stray at mile 10, that at mile 11 I was going to speed up. He was welcome to join me, but I wanted to let him know I wasn’t just ditching him but I was going to take off. I should’ve taken off at mile 10, but my quads were tired from the rolling hills. The elevation really wasn’t bad at all, but when you run on flat county roads and then race on rolling hills, my legs get tired. So I took mile 10 easier, telling myself I still had a couple of miles to push myself. At mile 11 I sped up, passed a bunch of people, cheered people on, and really focused on the run. I just kept thinking, why does this feel easy? It shouldn’t! I kept looking at my Garmin for my pace and I never once looked at my time.
I turned the last corner, high-fived Chris (he ran the 10K and was cheering on his wife running the half…we used to work together!) and I really gave it my all that last half mile. Then I saw all the people lined up and cheering. I saw my dad, sister, and the Hubs as I started to sprint towards the finish. I looked up at the timer and I almost started to cry! I crossed the finish line in 1:50:12 chip time. I worked so hard for that time!!! The last half marathon I ran was Grandma’s in 2011 with a time of 2:04:43. I just had a 14:30 PR!!!!! I came in sub 2 hours but I’m not sure what my splits were. The website that tracked us didn’t give us any splits and I’m too lazy to figure out how to download my information from Garmy. But I think I had negative splits just from looking at my pace randomly throughout the race.
I have to say this race, for being a pretty new race, is a great race. From the expo to the volunteers, everything went great! I do wish there were a few more water stations, but it’s hard to have more if you don’t have the volunteers to work at them. The course is amazing. I just wish the leaves wouldn’t have turned so early because that trail would’ve been absolutely beautiful! Trust me Mankato Marathon, I will be back next year!