12 April 2008

Race Report: South Shore Half Marathon Steeplechase

Most challenging conditions I've ever run in.

Absolutely loved it.

One of the puddles.

As previous posts pointed out, I knew going in this was going to be a different animal today. Wisconsin has had 3 straight days of rain, and add that to a previous week of temperatures warm enough to melt all the remaining snow, and you've got a saturated situation.

Still, I had paid my 9 bucks to run this 13.1 so I might as well suck it up. I was out of the house at 6:30, stopped at the store to get the breakfast of champions, and then heading South for the hour-ish drive to the race. I wanted to get there early so I could run about 6 miles before the race started and increase my total mileage to 19 on the day.

After checking in and picking up my sweet gloves (no medals at this event, only gloves) I started off on the course. It's actually a great course--bike trail the whole way, right on Lake Michigan, some rolling hills. I kept telling myself to keep these first 6 miles at 7:10 and save some juice for the rest of the morning. Mother Nature accommadated that task, too, by presenting me with gusty winds and drizzle. At Mile 3 I looked ahead before turning around...and saw what would be the first of several puddles. Not all that enthused at the thought of running through it, I turned around and returned to the start line, finishing up in 43:13.

I returned to the car, grabbed a Gu and some water, and called Ellie, who informed me it was SNOWING in Plymouth. WTF?!

My shoes were already damp, my running pants were wet, and I was faced with a dilemma. I brought a change of socks and some shorts to use if I chose to. But shorts on a day like this? I wasn't sure about that. And while my socks were slightly damp, they were Wigwam socks and were actually holding up pretty good. I didn't want to risk changing it (the other socks were cotton), so stayed with the same socks but bit the bullet and changed into shorts. The thought of slugging around soaking wet pant legs for 13 miles wasn't all that appealing.

Back at the start line (I only had about 10 minutes between finishing the first 6 miles and getting back there) I was somewhere in the middle when the gun (in the form of a guy with a bullhorn yelling "go") went off. Again, the course took me South along the lake and was beautiful. Especially with a tail wind that would gradually increase in speed for the first 6.5 miles. First mile: 6:48.

Mile 1, in my red running hoodie

Way too fast there, Nic...slow it down. I was aiming for 7:00 splits and hit them for the next couple miles. Then came the puddles. It was interesting to watch the runners in front of me...go straight through the water, slip and slide in the mud adjacent, go wayyyyy off the course and stay (relatively) dry. I chose going way out of the way.

For the most part, I avoided any real saturation in the first half. I'd stay out of the water when possible, and do my best Deion Sanders high step when I had to go through it. At the turn around, my clock read exactly 45 minutes, and I had counted about 45 people in front of me (it was an out and back course, so I got to see all the speedsters).

Me in the background, "Chasing Boston"...well, chasing a guy in a Boston Jacket! I want one!

As I began to fatigue a bit, my footwork did too, and tiptoeing through the grass around the puddles became more difficult. Finally around mile 8, I got to the point where I figured I'd just go through one. Big mistake. This puddle was actually the 6th Great Lake, and fully shin deep on me. As I waded out of it, the run suddenly was a LOT less fun.

From Mile 9 to the finish, the wind seemed to really pick up, right into my face, and my breathing was getting a bit labored. I held on to the 7:00 pace until about Mile 11, when I thought of Doug's post, remembered this is a training run, and allowed myself to slow down a bit. There's no benefit to going anaerobic at this point...just bring it home.

Mile 12, two thumbs up.

I crossed in 1:33:07 (7:07), good for right around 40th overall and 8th in my age group. A quick call to Ellie to let her know I didn't drown, a change out of my shoes galoshes, and it was off to get some food in my belly.

The refreshments were wide ranging, and I helped myself to a bit of everything. Walking from one spot to another, I decided that in endurance sports, there is a "Mount Rushmore" of Post-Race Drinks: Coke, Chicken Broth, Beer, Dunkin' Donuts Coffee. I had a glass of each.

Looking back right now, Here's what comes to mind:
- My Rushmore of Post-Race drinks actually sounds rather disgusting. But Wow!--at the time, it was fantastic!
- That water was cold.
- The wind on the way back was NOT fun.
- Overall, 19 miles in 2:16 is a 7:07 pace and I'll take that any day.

Photos courtesy of Jeff from Badgerland Striders.


keith said...

wow! that is a good time for those conditions!

Tri+Umph said...

Great run, Nic. I'd say you made all the right decisions before the race by keeping the socks and losing the pants. (Hm, lets keep that in context, shall we?)

Now we just need to work on your oxygen deprived decisions post race and watch out for the beer-broth-coffee-coke in the future!

Nitmos said...

Way to go! That's a nice 19 miles right there and well on your way to your BQ. That's the big picture after all right?

Marcy said...

Duudeeee killer job! Heck I'd do it too for some Dunkin Donut's coffee :P

Totally loving the breakfast of champs. My 4 y.o loves that stuff HAHAA

Reid said...

I am way impressed! That is an incredible run especially in those conditions. Way to go!

bill carter said...

Hi Nic

That sounds like a really cool adventure. It is amazing how much variability there can be between courses and for the conditions that was a great time.

Congrats and best of luck with the training.

Non-Runner Nancy said...

Oh my, nasty conditions. Nice work getting through it without too many problems. Interesting post race drink line up. Maybe it will start a craze? :D

The Laminator said...

Wow, great time for those crazy conditions. Congrats. You're well on your way to a good BQ.

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