Saturday, April 29, 2017

First Race of the Season: Get in Gear Half Marathon

A lot of hours have been logged over the last 6 months under a new training regiment and new coach (thanks Andy).  Leading up to this first race of 2017, my training has been focused primarily on bike and swim strength with some longer, slower runs to help build aerobic fitness.  With any change come some nerves about how things will progress, especially when it comes to the primary hobby!

With a change in training philosophy and very specific workouts, I was half excited and half nervous for how 13.1 miles would feel after not running really hard for nearly 6 months.  However, after a conversation with coach the night before and encouragement from my biggest fan, training partner, and awesome wife Emma, it was time to let the dog off the leash, game on!

Race morning:
It was up early (5:30 am) to get some calories and coffee in me.  Since Emma and I live pretty far away from the race venue, we had to get up early and out the door by 6:30 am.  We swung by caribou to get some more coffee and my mother-in-law, Heather (thanks for the light roast to keep my energy and nerves in check, Heather!)

We arrived at Minnehaha Falls at 7:40 am to get staged and go to the bathroom several times.  We ran into some folks we race with regularly at the park pavilion, good to see some familiar faces after the long winter!  We chatted and talked about the off season and the recent Boston Marathon.  After swapping stories, it was time to head to the corrals.

I got in the corral near the front and found a spot close to the railings to help avoid as much clutter during the start as possible as the half marathon and 10k folks started at the same time.

After finding one of our good friends Erin (check her blog out at lined up near me in the corral, we chatted a bit, enjoyed the National Anthem, and we were off!

First Half of the Race:
After chatting with coach the night before, we discussed the race strategy.  I was told that this race should be a true test and to not be afraid to let it all hang out.  The original plan was to run the first 6 miles or so at about 6:25 pace, so that's where I started.  After weaving in and out of bodies for the first half mile or so, I started to feel really good!  It was time to start pushing the pace, boo-ya!

We talked about taking in some calories at miles 4, 8, and 12 so after the first 4 miles I took in some Infinit custom  run blend (get yours today at using promo code INFINIT-JADRIAENS at checkout for a discount!) and pressed on!

This route is one that I have trained on in the past, so I knew what to expect in the ways of hills and boy, is the middle hilly!

I had been locked in a game of yo-yo with the lead woman for about 3 miles when I reached the turnaround, so I could see who was in front and behind me.  Now at this point I had been running about 6:00 pace and really getting my stride.  After grinding up the hills to the turnaround, I got a chance to actively recover and lengthen my stride down the hill I had just climbed up, let's go!

Back Half of the Race:
After the long decent after the turnaround, there was a huge stream of runners getting ready to charge up the hill I had just come down.  It is super uplifting to encourage and get encouragement from other athletes! This community never ceases to amaze and motivate me!

I took in some more Infinit and continued to press on as I had 5 miles left to go!

The course takes a turn and goes up some pretty steep hills leading the the East side of the Mississippi River and consequently allows you to see who is ahead and how far away they are.  At this point I could see 3 other guys ahead of me, so it was time to play some catch up!

After yet another climb up and over the bridge, I started to feel it in my legs so I took in another long couple of swigs of my custom Infinit run blend to get some carbs and electrolytes in and got my second wind!

After crossing the bridge, I was on the home stretch (more or less) less one pretty long hill just east of Summit Ave.

The last phew (little word play for ya) miles of this race were pretty powerful for me.  At this point, I had started to realize that I was in a great position overall and I was also realizing that this would be a half marathon PR!  That gave me some motivation to continue to push the pace, almost home!

Crossing back over the Mississippi meant I was about a mile from the finish line and I could hear the crowds, adrenaline rush!  As I was running across the bridge, I saw another guy about 50 yards ahead of me, I made it a vendetta to try to pass him.  Time to turn the screw driver!  In the midst of turning the pace up, I passed a friend of mine who was photographing the race and managed to snap a few shots of me (thanks Nick!).

The remainder of the race was a net descent, thank god!  I ran down the chute and was frantically looking for my biggest fan Emma, mother-in-law, and a couple buddies from work.  Digging deep, I was able to spot all 4 of them, flashed a little hang loose, and blasted to the finish line with my lungs on fire!

Final Time: 1:20:51
Pace: 6:09 per mile
Overall: 6/1124
AG: 1/70

Post Race
What a race.  I exceeded my expectations for the day and couldn't have done it without the support and encouragement of my people. So surreal.  Special thanks to my awesome wife Emma (love you babe!), my mother-in-law and super fan Heather, coach Andy, and team Andy athletes Erin and Nick!

Now time to kick back, eat some food, enjoy a G&T, and maybe watch some LOTR.  Until next time!


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