June 22: USATF Half Marathon Championships (Duluth)
July 4: FireKracker 5K
August 18: Heart and Sole Half Marathon
September 22: Boulder Backroads Half Marathon (CO USATF Championship)
October 6: Twin Cities Marathon (USATF Championships)
November 2: Loveland Half Marathon
November 21: Thanksgiving 4-miler
December 14: Christmas Classic 5K
Long-Term Running Goals:
Run until I'm old, and then run some more. Stand tall.
1 wife, 2 kids. Work as a GIS Specialist/Map Geek
Endure and persist; this pain will turn to your good. - Ovid
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. - Romans 5:1-5
500 Festival Mini Marathon (13.1 Miles) 01:08:05, Place overall: 11
Marathon Pace Miles
VO2 Max Miles
Indy Mini, short report. Overcast and upper 40s for temps, which is good. 20 mph wind with 30 mph gusts, which is bad. The wind came from the west, meaning that we would have a headwind for the first half of the race, and tailwind for the last few miles. Competition was much better than last year, with about 8 really solid Kenyans. Lead pack dropped me pretty quick (winner went on to run a high 1:02), and then I ran in no-man's land by myself for most of the race. This stunk because I had to battle the wind by myself. Went through 5K in 16:18, went through 10K in just under 33:00, and went through 15K in 49:02. Passed the 10-mile mark in 52:33, and realized then that I had somehow managed to average 5:15, and had a chance at beating my time from last year. And now I had an awesome tailwind to help me finish the race. With two miles left, I realized I had a shot at PRing, and with one mile left that I had a shot at 1:08:00. Closed the last 4 miles in 20:04, with one sub-5:00 mile at Mile 11. Finished at 1:08:05, in 12th place, and was out of the money by about 60 seconds, so not even close. It was not what I wanted, but still a good race, happy for the PR.
Video of start is here. I'm wearing a red singlet and black arm warmers, bib #15.
Long Report. Very long, actually, since I had time to kill in the airport. Don't read unless you're really bored.
I arrived in Indianapolis on Thursday evening. Stayed with
my sister and her family, and got to hang out with my niece and nephew, which
was nice. On Friday, my parents came over, and my dad and I went to the expo
and checked into my hotel room. Then we went out to eat at TGI Fridays, and I ate way too much. After dinner, I went back
to the hotel room by myself and just hung out. My assigned roommate was a
fellow named Scott Schmick. Turns out that he was a former DIII runner as well, a
UW LaCrosse alum. He now goes to MSU for grad school. We shot the breeze for a
few hours, until it was time for bed. Seemed like a good guy, fun to talk to,
and we had similar PR’s and goals for this race and for the marathon as well. Plus it's always fun to play the name game with other former DIII runners.
Saturday morning I got up at 5:30AM, in preparation for the 7:30AM
start. I usually like about 2 hours to eat, digest, and fully wake up before a
race. Ate a banana, an apple, and a Lara Bar, and brewed some coffee. At
6:40AM, I headed down to the street and jogged over to the NCAA Headquarters,
which served as the elite staging area. We got the comfort of an indoor
facility, plus nice bathrooms and a gear drop. I warmed up with Scott and his
teammates from Lansing, about 2 miles. Felt pretty sharp.
And the weather…gotta mention that, as it would be a big
factor. Temperature was in the upper 40s. Perfect. Skies were overcast.
Perfect. No rain or threat of rain. Perfect. Wind was 20 mph out of the west,
with 30 mph gusts (based on tv reports). Imperfect. Hey, I guess you can’t get
perfect conditions all of the time (or even most of the time), can you? To have
a great race, several things need to happen:
·Great competition (brings out the best of us)
·Great course (flat, few turns, wide streets)
·Great temperatures (mid-40s, upper 50s)
·Little or no precipitation (a little rain or
mist never hurt)
·Race day magic (when speed defies all training
and all logic)
If these factors do not all align, you can still have a very good race, but not that perfect race (we only get a few of those over a lifetime).
Out of these factors, I had decent training (but not great).
My health was good, finally. Competition would be there. The course is
magnificent. Temps were perfect. Precip was perfect. Wind was very bad. Race
day magic yet to be determined. Fortunately, it is a loop course, so I would
not have to face a direct headwind for more than half the race (less than that
actually). The wind was coming out of the west, and the race primarily goes
west to start (headwind), then north a little bit to the track (crosswind),
then a loop on the speedway (all directions), and then the route comes back east the
last 4 miles to finish (tailwind). If I had a pick a wind direction, I’d much
rather start with a headwind, and then finish with a tailwind, than the other
way around. At least I would have the wind at my back at the point of the race
where I’m the most tired and broken, and could face the wind while fresh. So I was hopeful to still have a very good race.
Anyway, that’s my tangent on race factors and on wind. About
15 minutes before the race start, I headed down to the start line, did few
strides, and then waited for the race to begin. 35,000 people run this event, but you
can’t see beyond the first few rows behind me, so I just accepted that fact on
They started the wheelers, and then the runners’ start was 5
minutes later. I lined up on the inside curve, knowing the race started by
curving left. All the Kenyans (about 8 total) lined up on the right. Sure
enough, when the gun went off, I found myself running next to my roommate
Scott, sharing the lead. That was fun, for about 30 seconds. Then I started
feeling the wind, right in my face. I was quite happy when the pack of Kenyans
finally merged over, and I quickly tucked in.
My strategy was this: since it was windy, I anticipated the race would be
slow and tactical. I would simply tuck in behind the pack, let everyone else do
the work on the first half of the race, and then I would take off and blitz the
field the final 5 miles, for the easy win. It sounded good in my head.
The first mile went exactly to plan – 5:16 for the split.
Very slow, very good. The wind would tire these Kenyans down soon enough. Then
the plan went awry! The pack of Kenyans ran a 4:50 straight into the wind. I
did a 5:04, and felt like I was standing still. And that was it, race over as
far as Top 10. The pack was just gone.
Gone. It was quite a site, and a quite a humbling feeling to get dropped so hard by
“real runners”. It’s the difference between real elites and whatever the heck I
am. My hotel roommate Scott and another American runner were working together a few
seconds behind the lead pack, but they were fast getting dropped too. I was a 5
seconds behind those two, and gapping with every stride. There was no one
behind me. And I ran most of the rest of the race like that, until around Mile
9. No man’s land, not a good place to be on a windy day. But I would try to
make the best of it.
The rest of this race report should be less detailed, as there is much less to say. Basically it became a battle of me vs. the wind, and just trying to get to the tailwind section of the course in one piece.
Mile 3 was 5:23. This was a bit discouraging, although frankly I was surprised that it was even this fast. 16:18 for 5K. I knew that the route would turn north soon, and I would get a cross-wind rather than a head-wind, so this thought kept me going. Sure enough, we turned north at about 3.5 miles, and the cross-wind felt beautiful. The hard gusts still knocked me back at times, but it was still much better. 5:13 for the Mile 4 split.
The course turned west again, and virtually all of Mile 5 was straight into the wind. Hit 5:27 for this mile, my slowest split of the race. 26:24 for 5 miles. The encouragement I felt at Mile 4 quickly turned into discouragement. I came into this race thinking I could break 1:07, but would I even break 1:10?
But despite the hardships and discouragements, I actually didn't feel too bad. Frankly, I've been beaten up by the wind far worse in previous races (Great Salt Lake Half in 2007 and Striders Half in 2009 were far worse). And holding sub-5:30 didn't seem too bad given the conditions. Again, I've done far worse in the past. I've found that virtually any runner can "fake it" in pristine conditions, but hard conditions (wind, rain, hills, etc) always reveal gaps in fitness and weaknesses. So that fact that I felt strong after 5 miles of dealing with the wind probably meant that my training had some substance. I suppose our hard winter and equally hard spring helped condition me to run in adverse conditions, moreso than others years. Typically I wilt in bad conditions, as I am more of a rhythm runner than a strength runner.
The route turned north on Mile 6, and even had a short east section with tailwind. Very short, but it hinted at what was to come. 5:10 for the Mile 6 split. Then 32:43 for 10K. I was getting sick of this yo-yo pacing, and it was hard to gauge what kind of time I was headed for. I was still assuming here that I wouldn't break 1:10. Still nobody near me, either ahead or behind. I just kept trying to push. Calves and hamstrings were getting tight, but that is normal, and I still felt decent.
I entered the Speedway at the end of Mile 6, and began the 2.5 mile loop on the race track. This portion of the race was tedious last year, but I liked it better this year simply because going in a loop made the wind vary, which was interesting. Mile 7 was primarily going north, and then west on the first curve. 5:23 for the split, not great. Mile 8 was mostly going south on the backstretch, so a crosswind, somewhat better. 5:20 for Mile 8.
At point I'm still thinking sub-1:10 is a stretch, but I also knew the best part of the race was coming (the part with the tailwind). Much of Mile 9 I had tailwind, around the second curve, and then out of the speedway. As I left the track, I could feel a couple runners coming up behind me. Both good and bad; it's not good to get passed, but perhaps I would have people to run with and push me to the finish.
Hit Mile 9 in a 5:10. Let the yo-yo pace continue. The two guys behind me caught me, and one guy passed me. I pushed to stay with him, and ran behind him for about half a mile. The other guy never passed me, but he was still there. Hit 15K in 49:03. Mile 10 was a 5:05. That's more like it! 52:34 for 10 miles (5:15/mile pace). I now realized that I would certainly break 1:09, and might beat last year's time. Having a new goal gave me a lot of encouragement. My hamstrings and calves were yelling at me, but the tailwind helped a lot and my legs still had a little pop in them. Perhaps if I could keep running sub-5:10, I could salvage a somewhat respectable time.
The guy who passed me eventually dropped me, but I was still holding off the second runner. Still running east with the tailwind. Mile 11 was 4:58. Dang. Made me feel better about getting dropped, as the other guy must have been under 4:55. I know realized that I had a slim chance of breaking my PR of 1:08:12. I almost couldn't believe it, with how up and down the race had gone so far. I kept pushing hard, trying to run more 5-minute miles...
And succeeded mostly. The route turned south-southwest, and I had a favorable cross-wind, other than some random gusts. Hit Mile 12 in 5:03. Kept pushing. The runner ahead of me was still pulling away (dang, he's moving!), but the runner behind me was still...behind me. The route turned east again and the last 1.1 was with the tailwind. Tried to put the hammer down. A PR seemed very possible, perhaps even sub-1:08, if I could finish with a 4:5x mile?
Mile 13 split was 5:01, and then I took it on in. 27 seconds for the last 0.1. Finish time was officially 1:08:05, good for 12th place overall and a 7-second PR. I had no idea of my placing the whole race, other than knowing that I was well out of the Top 10. I ended up 62 seconds out of 10th, and the money. (10th place was actually my hotel roommate Scott, 50 second PR for him). So I placed similar to last year, but unlike last year, I wasn't really close to the Top 10. The competition was very good this year, but with higher-caliber Kenyans than last year, and good local runners too. I think last year was actually an outlier, with slower times than usual, and this year was more normal.
If you had told me a week before the race that I would fail to break 1:08, I would have been really disappointed, and probably threatened to quit running. I was that sure of my fitness. But in the circumstance, I have to take what I can get, and I'm pleased to come out with a PR, after running that many miles over 5:20 during the race. I was pleased to be able to push through, not give up, recover from getting slapped in the face with wind, and still have enough spunk and pop to be able to take advantage of the tailwind at the end and finish strong. I think other years (including last year), I would have been broken, and just limped in. So the race was a success in all those regards.
My one regret is not being able to pack it up with a group. I wish I could have run with the two runners ahead of me (although I would have had to push hard early on to keep up). Or I wish I had gone out slower and packed it up with the runners behind me. Being able to trade miles while going into the wind would have been invaluable, and would have conserved more energy for the second half of the race.
At the same time, I'm forced to acknowledge that I'm not "there" yet. Even if I spot myself a full minute for the wind (which I think would be liberal), I still need much improvement before I'm a quality-enough runner to hit that sub-2:19 mark. Am I in sub-2:22 shape? Probably. But sub-2:22 is a long ways from sub-2:19. I really wanted to see 1:06:xx at that finish line to give me the confidence that 2:19 is possible. I do still think it's possible, but I need to improve. I need to get faster, to get stronger, and to get even better at running in adverse conditions (may have to deal with bad conditions during a marathon, after all). The wind today definitely hurt, but it was not a killer to those who were truly fit, judging by the finish times. A truly fit runner will just plow through the wind, heat, rain, hills, or whatever else the day through at them. A less fit runner will feel adverse conditions much more.
Looking forward, I'll take a week of rest, and then get back to it. Will probably go back to the bread-and-butter of long tempos, while trying to increase my mileage up to 90mpw. We'll see where that gets me for Utah Valley Half, my next key race. The downhill will aid times at UVM, but my goal there is more oriented toward competition rather than time. But I need to be fit enough to compete with ferocity.
From Predog on Sat, May 08, 2010 at 18:05:20 from 188.8.131.52
Nice race Paul! I think I'd rather do just about anything than fight the wind by myself in a race. Way to tough it out and get the PR.
From Jon on Sat, May 08, 2010 at 18:26:13 from 184.108.40.206
Wow- a PR in a very windy, flat race, despite running the whole thing yourself. And your last 4 miles in 20 min is amazing. Congrats and well done.
From Burt on Sat, May 08, 2010 at 18:28:23 from 220.127.116.11
Great job Paul! I can't believe it's been a year already. 30 seconds faster this year and still 11th place. That's some serious competition. Look on the bright side. If you would have got your 1:07, you might not PR again for a long time if ever. With just a little PR, you'll be PR-ing again soon.
From JD on Sat, May 08, 2010 at 18:30:29 from 18.104.22.168
Great running! Congrats on the PR.
From JimF on Sat, May 08, 2010 at 19:08:39 from 22.214.171.124
Awesome race. I live in Indy (didn't run today) but agree that the wind was crazy so it was great that you ran a PR in those conditions.
From Clay on Sat, May 08, 2010 at 19:46:59 from 126.96.36.199
Nice race Paul! Keep working hard dude!;)
From Scott Ensign on Sat, May 08, 2010 at 20:03:02 from 188.8.131.52
nice job Paul!!! we missed you today at your home turf Smithfield health days, certainly a more prestigous race, but we understand indy needed you this year as well. have a safe trip home. nice weather awaits you...
From Holt on Sat, May 08, 2010 at 23:54:09 from 184.108.40.206
Good job Paul!
From Kory on Sun, May 09, 2010 at 02:58:19 from 220.127.116.11
Another knock out run for you. You have to be happy with the conditions the way they were. Great determination and run.
From jtshad on Sun, May 09, 2010 at 09:24:55 from 18.104.22.168
Great run in difficult conditions to run to an amazing PR! Dang, you such a strong runner.
From Seth on Sun, May 09, 2010 at 19:03:43 from 22.214.171.124
Great race, those last 4 miles were blazing fast! Your reports are always a joy as well.
From Superfly on Sun, May 09, 2010 at 19:13:51 from 126.96.36.199
Great way to finish strong and great longish report. Is that a PR on length?:) Looking forward to seeing how you run at UV next month.
From Paul on Sun, May 09, 2010 at 19:16:04 from 188.8.131.52
Clyde - haven't checked, but I'm hoping it's a PR.
From MichelleL on Sun, May 09, 2010 at 23:42:17 from 184.108.40.206
Congrats on a PR in non-ideal conditions. I actually think wind is much harder to deal with than precipitation. I think tail wind doesn't make up for headwind.
As I read the top of your race report, I was like dang, why was your third 5k faster than your first and second, but it all started to make sense as I read the details.
As far as needing a 1:06xx, perhaps you need that fast, but you aren't that far off if you spot yourself some time for the wind. And you have plenty of time still.
From Cody on Mon, May 10, 2010 at 10:44:29 from 220.127.116.11
Nice Job Paul! Way to gut it out and finish so strong. Yes, you are fit!
From Dave S on Mon, May 10, 2010 at 14:33:16 from 18.104.22.168
Great race! It's got to feel great to still PR after fighting that wind alone. And yes [like Scott mentioned] we did miss you in Smithfield Saturday.
From Sasha Pachev on Tue, May 11, 2010 at 11:42:32 from 192.168.1.1
My rule of thumb for adversity slowdown is 2:1 ratio. E.g. Suppose you run 5:30 into the wind, and 5:00 with it. That is 5:10 windless effort. Same for uphill/downhill. So assuming you were putting in an even effort while the pace fluctuated between 5:27 and 4:55 that does put you somewhere around 5:06 average, which is 1:06:51. So your race shows the half speed is there.
From Paul on Tue, May 11, 2010 at 11:46:08 from 22.214.171.124
Thanks Sasha. I agree with the 2:1 adversity ratio; it's something I've thought about in the past. It works for hills, anyway.
From MichelleL on Tue, May 11, 2010 at 13:05:02 from 126.96.36.199
Yeah, Sasha's quantifying my comment quite nicely. I was thinking of this as I was running today (it was windy). What if on my next marathon I got tailwind without any head wind? That would be a bit of luck.
From Paul on Tue, May 11, 2010 at 13:21:00 from 188.8.131.52
Yeah, I was thinking during my run how my last 5 miles at Indy were 25:17. It would be great to run that pace for the first 8 too! That would have been sub-1:06.
Sometimes people will get lucky with tailwind on a point-to-point course, such as at Boston or Grandmas or CIM. Out here in Utah we can get a good wind for TOU or even St George. So it can happen. But for some reason it's usually a headwind! Murphy's law, I suppose. In the case of my race last week, I'm just grateful for having half the race with a good wind. I would have cried if the wind had shifted for the second half of the race. The thought of "tailwind" was the one thing that kept me driving forward.
From Sean Sundwall on Thu, May 13, 2010 at 12:07:49 from 184.108.40.206
Really nice run Paul. I'm amazed at what you accomplish with your training. As for the wind...not sure there is an answer for that. A tailwind NEVER makes up for a headwind. It's simple physics. At 5:00 pace in completely still wind, you are creating a headwind of 12mph. So even on a completely calm day, you still have a headwind resistance factor. Add in a 10mph, for example, and now you are looking at a 22mph headwind. With that 10mph wind at your back, you still have a net headwind of 2mph. So it never pencils out and so it's the one weather condition that I don't think you can ever compensate for. You can do more to train for heat, humidity and rain, but I'm not sure there is anything you can do for wind. Great race.
Add Your Comment.
Keep it family-safe. No vulgar or profane language.
To discourage anonymous comments of cowardly nature, your IP
address will be logged and posted next to your comment.
Do not respond to another person's comment out of context. If
he made the original comment on another page/blog entry,
go to that entry and
If all you want to do is contact the blogger and your comment
is not connected with this entry and has no relevance to others,
send a private message instead.