Sunday, April 11, 2010

South Shore Half Marathon

I am not calling this a race report since I didn't really race this one. I did it as a part of a long run Saturday morning but it was a nice race and I ran fairly well. Here are the morning's events.

I woke up at about 5:45 and was down to the registration area held at South Shore Pavilion by 7:00 AM. I saw a few friends and acquaintances I know from previous races and spoke with them briefly but I needed to get signed up and on the bike trail for my miles before the race.

The South Shore Half Marathon is put on by the Badgerland Strides who are a Milwaukee based running club. I have never ran this one before but have heard a lot about it. There are no big frills with this race. It is only $13 to sign up on race day and I got a pair of knit gloves and a race number. The race is not chip timed nor is it advertised to the community to come out and cheer on the runners. It is run entirely on a bike trail so it gets very crowded at times but it brings out LOTS of local runners for a really nice (and fast) race.

I finally got going on my before race run at 7:22 AM. The plan was to run 6 1/2 to 7 miles before the half marathon so I could get in an even 20 for the day. I wanted to run these miles slower and try to run the race portion faster, like a tempo run or fast long run. I ended up running this portion faster than I wanted to at 8:54 pace but got back in time for a quick restroom stop and then to the start.

There were 836 runners in this race which made it VERY crowded at the start area. I was able to find Paul for a few minute talk before the race started. We were even talking when the race started without us even knowing. No gun, horn, bell, etc. They just started running. This race is run on a bike path so it was very, very crowded at the start, and during most of the race. The first mile was the worst as everyone thinned out and got to their paces. I started easy and ran the first 3 miles at about 8:45 pace. It was sunny and beautiful out but there was wind in the face to start.

The race is an out and back with the final 0.1 just past the start line. There were some hills along the way but the course is absolutely beautiful as you run just along Lake Michigan and through many different parks and up the bluff along the lake before turning around and doing it all again in reverse order giving an awesome view of the Milwaukee skyline (what skyline it has) along the lake over the last mile.

By about mile 5 1/4, the leaders are coming back on the trail toward us slower runners. Now the race gets tricky as we all negotiate running on a bike trail with fast runners going the other way. I saw no problems but I suspect there were a few. As I get about a 1/4 mile from the turn around, it is VERY crowded both ways so passing and getting passed was not happening unless you wanted to run in the grass or dirt/mud but it was very wet along the course. There were even 2 spots (each way) that a large puddle covered the course. I get to the turn around and my average pace is 8:34, right where I wanted it to be.

Now I decide to pick it up and see what I can do with the wind at my back some and I begin to pass runners. Puddles? Forget them, I just run right through them as I didn't want any chance of mud on my shoes. I find that if I take quick steps on my toes, the shoes didn't get wet for the 4 or 5 steps I needed to get through. Mile 9 dips under 8:00 and I am feeling really good and then a guy in a bright green shirt passes me. He is running the same pace as I am and he is running maybe 25 meters ahead of me as we pass lots of runners. He becomes my goal, pass him by the end. I am keeping cautious to avoid any issues with injury or pulled muscles as this is only a long run. Mile 11 is a 7:32 with the wind at our backs and a nice downhill portion but mile 12 is 8:03 as we turn into the wind for a 1/4 mile on an uphill stretch. Bright green shirt is still right in front of me but I haven't poured on the fast running yet so I am confident I will get him.

Mile 12 starts with a nice downhill to the beach area right on the lake. With 1/2 mile to go, I pass Mr. Green Shirt and leave him behind. I run a 7:24 for the last mile but pull up right at the end to avoid passing 3 ladies at the line. I did not want to be seen as a jerk passing them just to pass them. My goal to push the end and beat Mr. Green Shirt was done so why pass the ladies? To show off? Come on, not cool. If this were a race and I was going for a PR, then all bets off, but I pulled off my goal.

My final time was 1:47:34, about 4 minutes faster than I anticipated earlier in the week. Average pace was 8:13 and I end up with one great long run workout. There is no medal for this half marathon, it was only $13 after all ($10 if you sign up in advance) so it was not expected. But it was well worth it and it was a very nice race. I highly recommend this one. I end up in 242 place overall (195 male). And as you can see by my time and place, it is a fairly fast half marathon as well. The winning time was 1:12:47 and considering he had to run past 835 runners going the opposite direction on a bike path, I would say that is smokin' fast.

Here I am coming close to the turn around. You can see how tight the bike path was.

Paul didn't run as well as he wanted to but still finished in 1:42:22.

A picture of the finish area and the skyline of Milwaukee along Lake Michigan.

Another picture of the finish area right on the lake. The cones mark off the final stretch of the course.

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