Mankato Half Marathon Recap and Review

Good morning! I figured it would be best to get this down while it is still fresh in my head! This past Sunday I ran the Mankato Half Marathon. I am proud to say that I have been a part of this race since the beginning…ok, so this was only its fourth year, but still. The first year I ran the half, the second year I volunteered as a bike medic, and the third and fourth years I ran the half. Yes, I plan to have some part in this race every year! Whether I volunteer or run. Either way, count me in. Moving on…Saturday I went to the expo with my sister. Nothing too exciting. It was small but nice.  I think they do a great job! We stopped so she could look at the Scheels shop for a headband. Weather was supposed to be 36 at the start, 40 at the finish. We went to pick up our packets and race swag.  We wanted to listen to one of the speakers Dr. Cindra Kamphoff. She is an amazing marathoner and a sports psychologist. She gave a great presentation on mental toughness and went through positive self talk. What a way to get positive for crappy weather and hills!! Embrace them, because you can’t change them!

I am also a sucker for buying things at race expos. A Mankato Marathon coffee mug and a Punkeelove headband came home with me. Seriously, best headbands ever. They are adjustable and they do not slip. Every other headband slips off my head, but not these! We also ran into an older gentleman who has ran over 320 marathons all over the world!! What an inspiration! I asked if he was running the full. He said he doesn’t run full marathons anymore, but he was doing the half. He said “Just leave the lights on for me because I’m not speedy!” I wasn’t sure how old he was until I looked at some photos and captions. I saw the man and he is 88 years old! Amazing! Ok Ok….time for the race.

Throw away clothes
Throw away clothes

This was my best selfy at 0530am. My beautiful throw away outfit. My $2 thrift store wind pants from 1990 and a long sleeved white shirt I’ve had since 2003. Please don’t ask me why I remember the year and the place I got that shirt. It was chilly in the morning and I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to wear. It was either a long sleeved running shirt, or a tank with arm warmers.  I opted for a throw away shirt over my tank and arm warmers. I also bought a cheap pair of gloves so I could ditch them later. Anyhow, there is plenty of parking downtown so I parked with zero problems, hopped on a shuttle and arrived at the starting line. I saw my sister, who was running the 10K and they started a half hour before the half and full marathon. We tried to stay warm until it was time for her to run her very first 10K!!

I really had three goals for this race. Goal A. was a ridiculous ifeverythingfallsinplaceandifeelamazing goal. B. was finish better than last year goal. C. was just to finish. I knew the first few miles would be chilly with a head wind. I ditched the pants at the starting line (I should probably tell you I had shorts on under those pants!) and kept the shirt on for a few miles. I also wanted to start out slow and keep the first 3 miles at an easy pace, with the intention of the last 3.1 miles being faster.

The first three looked like this…8:03, 8:12, and 8:24. Oops. The first mile I always go way too fast. I didn’t feel like I had to dodge so many people this time! The first three were cold. I almost regretted not wearing something a little warmer but I reminded myself that as soon as we turned out of the head wind I would warm up.

I wanted to speed up after the first three, but I knew that I had a good downhill and some shorter, steep uphills to conquer the next few miles. Miles 4 through 9 look something like this…8:00, 7:52, 7:38, 7:49, 8:08, and 7:57. I felt really good through all of these miles. This course is really stunning. The fall colors and running on the Red Jacket Trail really makes the hills worth it. Now remember, my version of hill training (since where I run is all FLAT as a pancake), is wind training. So the wind ain’t got nothin on me! But those hills….This was my hill mantra, and yes, I did repeat it over and over…and yes, it worked wonders and got me through every single hill…”I eat hills for breakfast”. I remember hearing or reading it somewhere, but I have no idea where it came from. It came to me at the start, and it got me through to the finish.

After mile 9 my quads were sore and my legs were really starting to get heavy. I was trying a new fuel strategy…during the half mary I usually take 3 Clif Shot Bloks at mile 6 or 7 and the other 3 at mile 10 or 11. I remember that not working so well during Women Rock so I thought I would try 2 at mile 4, 2 at mile 8, and 2 at mile 10 or 11. Well, I dropped one at mile 4. Took 2 at mile 8, and 1 at mile 11 because I almost choked on 1 and wasn’t sure how close I was to the water stop. Whoops. Next time I should probably plan that better. I really wish I could just swallow and not gag on GU’s. I may have to try them again.

Anyhow, back to the miles. After mile 9 I thought to myself, “What?! Only 4 miles left? That is my normal easy distance. I got this.” I was feeling incredibly strong! As soon as I got into Sibley Park I knew there just a couple of short but steep inclines and then I could fly to the finish. Um….my legs had a different story. After I choked on the shot blok, I did go through a water stop and take in a Gatorade. I got to the next hill at about mile 11.5. I repeated my hills mantra, powered through, passed a guy (thought to myself, “You just got chicked….on a hill”), smiled, and embraced that I only had a little ways to go! My legs were tired, but my mind was going strong. The last few miles look like this…mile 10 was 7:43, 8:07, 7:59, 8:09, and the last .3 was 2:10 (7:22 avg pace). The last mile was the toughest. My legs hurt. I tried to push through that pain, reminded myself that it was temporary, and continued on. I tried to run fast to the finish but I just didn’t have much left in the tank. My mind was strong but my legs were about done.

According to Garmy my time was  13.3 miles in 1:46:15 with an average pace of 8:00/min miles. Official time 1:46:18. Not my best, not my worst. But, I beat last years time by about 5 minutes, and I finished!  My sis snapped a photo of me coming into the finish!

Photo credit to my sis
Photo credit to my sis. I am not the girl in purple on the right…But I am heel striking like a pro!

I absolutely love this race. I love the course, the course support, and the volunteers. The local Center for Sports Psychology team does a great job. They have motivational posters throughout at least the half marathon (I have not done or seen the full course, so I cannot vouch for the first half), and they have people throughout giving great mental support. Great job Mankato Marathon peeps!! And I would highly highly recommend this small, local race to everyone!

My sis and I had to take a few pics, and after we were done we went to go refuel…

Post race!
Post race!
Post race rehydration
Post race rehydration

There may have been some pumpkin Cold Stone Creamery in there too…but no picture because I ate it too fast.

Did anyone else race this past weekend??  Do you have any upcoming races?



11 thoughts on “Mankato Half Marathon Recap and Review

  1. Thank you for the awesome details of your race. I now have a better insight as to what you go thru and experience. Thank you too for your outlooks and are an amazing young lady!! Love you!!

  2. I also ran the Mankato Half this weekend. I have done it the last 4 yrs as well. And I got a 5 minute PR! I am planning on getting a sub 2 hr next year for sure! It was an awesome day. The weather didn’t seem to be as much of a factor as I thought. I am doing the Chocoholic Frolic 10K in a couple of weeks with a bunch of friends. Should be a fun time!

    1. Way to go on the PR! I really love the course. The weather didn’t seem as bad as I was expecting. I would rather run in the cold than the heat! Have fun with the 10K! It looks like fun 🙂

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