Saturday, July 31, 2010

Brooks Family Photo(s)

A question runners commonly ask is "what running shoe should I get?".  The answer to that isn't simple.  There is no "best" shoe, or "best" brand of shoe.  As an example, I'll give you a bit of my shoe history.

When I started cross country my sophomore year of high school, I used whatever pair of shoes I had around the house.  I think they were made by Adidas.  From there, I tried a pair of Nike Air Pegasus because that's what my coach wore, but they ended up being terrible for me.  I then moved on to a pair of New Balance 765's, and they worked ok.  After that, I went to a real running shop for the first time, and they put me in a pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTS's.  Since then, the only shoes I've worn have been the Brooks Adrenaline GTS.

Why Brooks?  I had no real affinity to the brand (in truth, I had barely even heard of Brooks at that time), so I didn't go in to get those shoes specifically.  The truth is that I wore the shoes, and they worked.  I was comfortable running in them, I didn't have any injuries show up, and I just enjoyed wearing them.  So I bought another pair.  And another pair.  And another pair…

Here's a family portrait of my Brooks Adrenaline GTS shoes:

Oldest shoes are on the left (series 7, I believe).  Two pairs of series 9 in the middle, and my current (series 10) on the right.

These aren't even all my shoes.  Some of them are no longer in the land of the living.  Some of them have long since retired to grass-cutting duty:

Series 5, living far away in Michigan.

So yes, I own a lot of pairs of Brooks shoes.  I found a shoe that works for me, and I stick with it.  In fact, I get really, really nervous when they bring out a new edition and change a few things.  I always worry that the shoe won't work anymore, and I'll have to go through the process of finding a new shoe.  Luckily, though, this hasn't happened.

Here's my advice if you're looking to buy running shoes:
  1. Go to a running shop.  Not Dick's.  Not Dunhams.  Not The Sports Authority.  Running shops employ other runners, and they know what goes into fitting a shoe.  They'll look at how you run, and suggest some shoes that may work.  Remember, they're not perfect, though, so remember point number 2…
  2. You may not get it right on the first pair.  It wasn't until my 4th pair of shoes that I found the ones that were right for me.  A shoe may feel good in the store, but when you hit the road and start putting some miles on them, you may notice they're not quite right.  That's ok—you now know to look for something different the next time you look for shoes.  This can be expensive, though, if you need to switch them sooner rather than later, but remember point number 3…
  3. Don't give into the temptation to get fitted at a running shop, then go online to buy the shoes.  Yes, the shoes may be cheaper online.  But, you're being really jerk-ish if you have the running shop do the work to find a shoe for you, then don't give them your business because you're too cheap to pay the extra $10 they charge.  You're getting more than a pair of shoes when you buy from a running shop.  You get the service they provide fitting your shoes.  You support the local running community that is sponsored by the running shop (like through races and training runs).  You support a local business that employs people in your town.  You build a relationship with people who know a lot about running, and who can be really helpful when you need some advice.  So, don't be a jerk and pay the small premium at the running shop.
  4. Don't be concerned about brand.  Nike shoes are great for some people.  They don't work for me.  If the shoe that fits you best is a Saucony, then buy a pair of Sauconys.  Buy the shoes that are right for you.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Go Team Zombie!

Who wins marathon?  Skinny white guys and Kenyans, right?  Usually, it's no surprise who ends up winning a marathon—you know it will be one of the 20 or so "elites" who get to line up at the front and who generally get paid just to show up.

Well, at the San Francisco Marathon this past weekend, a runner by the name of Keith Bechtol won the race.  Why is this important?  Look at his bib number:

Yes, that's 30,811!  This guy was not an elite, and in fact, he started 3 minutes after the elites started!  Meaning, of course, the elites had a 3 minute head start, and Bechtol still beat them 2 minutes!  And, all of this in Team Zombie t-shirt!

As it turns out, this was also Bechtol's first marathon (he has done a lot of other running, though).  All I have to say is that there's hope for me to get my 3:45 this year!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Tips for Running in the Heat: Drink to Thirst, Not Ahead

It was HOT and HUMID here yesterday!  The dewpoint hit 78, and it felt like a rainforest (not that I've ever been to a rainforest, unless you count Animal Kingdom at Disney World, but I digress).  It's important to pay attention to the heat, slow down, and hydrate properly.  Lewis Maharam (aka The Running Doc) posted an article on with some important tips for running in the heat.  You can find that article here.  I'd like to point out a specific tip, though:
Do NOT over-drink. Drinking too much is as bad as not drinking enough. The best way to drink healthy is to drink only when you’re thirsty. Nevertheless, drink no more than one cup (8 oz) every 20 minutes while running or walking.
This is really important.  Plenty of times you'll find people telling you to "drink before you're thirsty" or "if you're thirsty, you're already dehydrated".  Well, if you are thirsty, you are dehydrated—and that's the point!  It's a signal from your body that it's time to drink!  Consuming too much water can lead to a very dangerous condition known as hyponatremia.

So, in the heat, slow down and hydrate properly—you're body will thank you.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Facebook Knows All

This popped up in the "Recommended Pages" section of my Facebook home page:

Seriously, Facebook?  Huh?

What is Facebook saying about runners and triathletes?  Why do "biking" and "cycling" have the same photo?  Well, since I'm a runner, I'm probably supposed to enjoy biking more than cycling.

Silly internet.  At least I don't do the Twitter.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Lifetime Fitness Triathlon — Spectator Report

This morning, the Lifetime Fitness Triathlon was held at Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis.  It is one of the largest triathlons in the world (3,500+ participants), and it attracts a lot of professionals and top-notch racers.  Katie and I decided to head down bright and early to check out some of the action.

Lake Nokomis was just teeming with people.  Because of the large number of athletes, they don't all start at once, so a large portion of them were just standing around waiting for their start time.  Plus, there were a lot of spectators and vendors, so the park was crazy.  It was also a very warm and humid morning, and the lake was over 80°F!

We got a late start heading to the course, and thus we missed the swim start.  Apparently, they began swimming at some point.  We found ourselves a spot along the course where the athletes run from the swim to transition.  Of the pros, the first one through was Cameron Dye:

He was followed closely by a few others, and not too far back was local pro, David Thompson:

The first woman out of the water was Sara McLarty, followed by a chase pack of a few others:

Since this is such a large triathlon, transition is pretty huge.  Here is a section of transition before most of the athletes finished their swims:

The pros, however, has already left, and it's amazing how few things they have at their transition spots:

All that's left is their running shoes and their swim stuff

From there, we went out to catch the athletes along the bike course.  For the international distance race, the athletes followed their 1500m swim with a 40k bike ride, and would follow that with a 10k run.  (The short course was a 0.4 mile swim, 15 mile bike, and a 3 mile run—deathmatch between metric and customary systems to come later).  We managed to find a spot on Minnehaha Parkway around the halfway point of the ride.

The leader at this point was the same guy leading at the swim, followed by the eventual winner of the race:

The leader, Cameron Dye

Eventual winner, Matty Reed

As we watched the pros go by, I was doing ok grabbing photos of them.  They were a little dark, but I mostly got them centered and not blurry.  However, that changed when David Thompson went by.  He's known for being crazy-fast on the bike, so I hoped to get a cool photo of him when he went by.  Here he is:

What?  You don't see him?  Told you he was fast…

From there, we went to another part of the course to see the pro men as they headed into the last few hundred meters of the bike, and also watch the pro women head past.  We then saw David Thompson again, and I had my camera at the ready:

Photo fail.  Again.

The cool part about this photo was that it happened as the athletes made a 90° turn off of Minnehaha Parkway onto Cedar.  David Thompson did this at almost full speed, weaved through cones, and managed to pass a rider or two all at that corner.  That's why he came so close to our side of the road.

Now, on to the run.  The run course was 2 loops around Lake Nokomis.  We missed the pro men head by on their first loop, but were able to catch the pro women.  The lead woman was American Sarah Haskins:

If you look closely at that photo, you can see a spectator with a shirt that was clearly homemade.  Here's a close-up of the spectator:

As it turns out, that guy is Sarah Haskins dad.  The front of his shirt said: "Go Sarah Haskins USA", and the back said "Sarah Haskins' Dad".  Katie and I remarked to each other that we didn't understand parents like that, but then admitted that we would probably wear shirts like that if the occasion presented itself.

Not too long after that, the men came by on their 2nd loop:

Leader, and winner, Matty Reed

David Thompson.  Look, a clear picture of him!

The course was a bit strange here, but it allowed me to head to the Cedar Avenue bridge to catch the pros one more time as they did a small out-and-back on the bridge.

A pro (in front), followed by an amateur on his first loop.

We were standing at a spot where the athletes had to make a 180° turn.  Here's David Thompson running at an oblique angle.

Lead female, Sarah Haskins (on the right)

Here's a guy who started his lean nice and early, and his head got stuck (just kidding)

Side Note:  In red in the photo above is Devon Palmer, another local pro.  An interesting fact about him is that he also works at Gear West.  When Katie and I went to buy our wetsuits a few months ago, Devon was one of the guys who helped us.  So, even though they are "professional triathletes", they all have to pay the bills and have real jobs.  The other guy who helped us with wetsuits, Curt, also ran (as an elite amateur), and placed 16th overall:

So, that's a cool thing about going to Gear West—the friendly guy helping you shimmy in and out of a wetsuit may just be one of the top triathletes in the world.

One cool thing about sports like running and triathlon is how much interaction you can have with the professionals.  The pros use the same course as the guys in the mountain bike division.  When you're getting passed on the course, you could turn to your side and see one of the fastest runners in the world passing you.  Even at a race as big as this, you've got people out there doing their first triathlon on the mountain bike they had in their garage.  They may be slow, but the race is just as exciting for them as it is for the people who win it.  And who know, maybe even the pros once started racing in the mountain bike division…

Thursday, July 08, 2010

They Want to Charge Me $35 For This?

Official race photos are in from the Red, White, and Boom! TC Half Marathon.  Even in the slightly soggy conditions, they managed to get a few OK shots of me.

Ok, I do look a little awkward in this one

Her face looks like she saw a zombie—or she is a zombie

Managing a wave with about ½ mile to go and my calf going YEOOOWWW!

So really, those aren't so bad.  But it seems as though professional race photographers have a knack for getting the absolute worst pictures ever.  Exhibit A:

What am I doing here?  I look like I'm terrified, having a seizure, and ready to fall over all at the same time.

How do they manage to take such awful photos?  I think they do this on purpose.  But the rub comes if I want to buy the photo.  You see, if I want a high quality digital copy of this photograph sans watermark, I have the privilege of paying $35—for this one photo!  I'd be more likely to pay them $35 to not show it to me.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

My High School Self Surprises My 2010 Self

I began running in high school.  It was mostly on a whim.  I figured that I should stop being anti-social, so I decided to join the soccer team.  Being a small school (about 100 students), there weren't any tryouts to get on the soccer team.  In fact, there were so few students in my school that they cancelled the soccer team.  The next day, my chemistry/algebra 2 teacher stopped me in the hallway and said I should join the cross country team.  I had no idea what that was, but I said ok.  Being the kid who thought an 11 minute mile was tough, you can imagine the awakening I got on the 2nd day of practice when we ran 7 miles.

Throughout my sophomore and junior years for both cross country and track, I was slow.  I was even a member of the Slow Group.  I really enjoyed my time in the Slow Group, and didn't mind being slow.  Sure, I was thrilled the first time I didn't come in last at a meet, and that 5k time of 38 minutes was a bit embarrassing, but we ran because we enjoyed it and each other.  We didn't need speed to keep us coming to practice each day.

Then they graduated.  Most of the Slow Group graduated, and I was left with a choice.  I could go to my senior year and still be slow, or, I could work hard over the summer, and assume the mantle of being the fastest on my team.  I chose the latter.

My parents recently sold the house I grew up in and have moved to the 'burbs.  The last time I was home, I had to go through a lot of my things, and came across this piece of orange construction paper:

Yes, my pre-engineer self constructed a scatter plot.  I remember pulling out the green marker after each meet my senior year and putting my time on the chart.  I notice some interesting things about this chart.  First, there is the negative trend line.  I got faster over the course of the season.  I also notice how optimistic I was—I constructed the chart so that when I got that 17:xx time, it would fit on the scale.  That never happened, though.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the plot is what happened at the 4th and 5th meets, and then the 9th and 10th meets.  My time went up for the 4th meet (DeLasalle), but then dropped to give me a PR at the next meet (LHN).  The same thing happened for the 9th meet (Plymouth Christian) into the 10th meet (conference finals at LHNW) where I ran my fastest time ever.  Is there something to be gained from this?  I remember the faster times better than the slower ones, but I do remember that DeLasalle's course at Stony Creek was fairly hilly, and that the weather was warm for Plymouth Christian's meet at Cass-Benton Park.  Was there something about being slow that pushed me harder in my next meet?  Conference finals was the race of my life—the course was perfect, the weather was perfect, and I was going to run as fast as I could.  I pushed, and I pushed.  I fell short, though, and missed being all-conference by 2 places and breaking 20 minutes by 4 seconds.

These days, I have other goals for my running.  I run so that I can get that sub-4 hour marathon.  I run so that I can go for miles and miles.  I run to get away from it all, even for only an hour.  But, when I'm on a hard tempo run, or when I'm scaling a mountain in mile 7 of a half marathon, and find myself ready to ease up because it's getting tougher, I can still see that clock ticking at the end of the long final straightaway around Thelma-Spencer Park  19:50…19:51…19:52…and I push harder.

If I ever find myself with a DeLorean and a Flux Capacitor, maybe I'll go visit high school Matt and tell him that he may have been on to something.  I probably never would have ran a 20:03 if I hadn't ran a 22:43 the previous meet.  Heck, I would have never ran a 20:03 if I didn't limp across the line in 38 minutes just 2 years prior.  Some people are born fast.  Others, like me, need to run a marathon in almost 5 hours to run one in less than 4.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Red, White, and Boom Race Analysis—With a Scatter Plot!

As it turns out, I'm much more sore than I expected.  Maybe I didn't respect the half marathon distance enough, or I just pushed hard on Sunday, but I'm certainly in a lot more pain than after a regular 13 mile run.  I did an easy run yesterday in the rain (because I didn't get my fill of moisture from the race), and it helped a bit.  Katie and I also rode our bikes to the St. Paul fireworks on Sunday evening, so I don't know if that helped or hurt.  Either way, I'm going to take it easy today and may or may not get my 7 miler in.

On to the analysis though…

With the official results posted, I'm able to see how I placed in the race:

Overall: 427 out of 2375
Men: 306 out of 1051
20-24 Age Group: 39 out of 77

So, as usual, I did better overall than I did when compared to men my age.  This is something I need to improve.  I don't know how much I'll be able to do that this year, but next summer I'm going to focus on shorter races (and score that elusive sub-20 5k).  One bright spot, though, is that next year I'll move up an age group.  Wait—maybe that isn't so good…

Still, I'm happy with my performance from Sunday.  No, I didn't really meet any of my goals, but I did learn some important things about my fitness level.  First, I need to remember one thing—start slower.  I'll repeat—start slower.  Here is a look at my pace chart from yesterday:

As you can see, I did not negative split the race, and the mountain around mile 7 corresponds to the mountain on the pace chart.  What is interesting, though, is that for the last third of the race, I settled right into my target marathon pace (except for the last mile when my calf went YEOOOWWW!).

Now, what changes will I make for my marathon training?  At this point, none.  I'm still going to train with a goal of 3:45 in mind.  What I will do, however, is adopt a best case/worst case strategy.  Best case on marathon day—I'll be sub-3:45.  Worst case—I'll be sub-4:00.  My training paces so far for a 3:45 goal have not been too hard, so I'm rather happy with how things are going.  As long as I consider that I didn't train specifically for the HM, I didn't taper, and the weather worked against me, being 4½ minutes slower than my goal wasn't too bad.

So, now it's back to regular training, and I get to hit the track this week!

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Red, White, and Boom! TC Half Marathon Race Report

Or, Where the Hell Did That Hill Come From?

This morning, I raced my first ever Half Marathon, the Red, White, and Boom! TC Half Marathon.  I had set a few goals for myself, and hoped to enjoy this tune-up race in my marathon preparations.

The race started at 6:30am, so I was up by 4am and Katie and I left at 5:30am.  Yes, that's an early start for a race, but I'm guessing that the race director picked that time because the race is in July, and the earlier the start, the greater chance you have of a cooler race.  In the parking lot at our apartment complex, Katie and I saw Luís, our neighbor, and he said he was heading to the half marathon by bicycle—6 miles away!  Katie and I both thought he was planning on running it after biking, but, he was actually just heading over to spectate.  We parked and headed down to St. Anthony Main, then remarked how few porta-potties there were for 2300 runners.  As it turns out, this ended up being a problem for a lot of people, but thankfully my hydration strategy does not include a potty break just before the race starts.

I made sure to dress very patriotic—and reflective!

We both wore yellow hats.  Easy to spot one another, or something like that...

As I was lining up to start somewhere between the 1:45 and 1:50 pacer, David appeared next to me.  He even helped a woman climb the fence so she could grab her spot.  Good to see you, David!

Mile 1: 7'41"
This mile was WAY too fast.  I was about 5-10 seconds behind the pacer running 8'01" miles (for a 1:45 finish), so he ran it too fast too.  I can't blame the guy, though, because it's tough to get on pace right from the start.

Mile 2: 8'13"
Much better pace.  It was around this time that I realized how humid it was.  At 6:30am, the temps were hovering around 80°F, with storms threatening for later in the morning.  A nice, light rain would have been fantastic.  Little did I know how much my wish would come true…  I saw Katie just before turning west to cross the Mississippi, and she managed to get a shot of me:

I'm just to the left of the guy wearing the red bandana, who is just to the left of the speed limit sign.  You can also see the 1:45 pacer on the right side of the image—he's the one carrying the sign.

Mile 3: 7'57"
Too fast again.  At this point, I decided that I would run my own race and ignore the pacer.  Turning to head back over the river, I saw Luís and startled him a bit with a "Hi Luís!".  After crossing the river, I saw Steve.  His wife was running the race too, and he was out snapping photos and cheering.  I hit the first aid station in this mile, and went with just water.  I kept moving and didn't lose a whole lot of time.  I hoped to bank a little time at the first aid station to make up for my Gu's in the later stations.

Mile 4: 8'04"
And the heavens opened up, and down came the rain.  The rain started building, and building, and building.  For the next few miles, it was a really heavy downpour.  I like running in the rain, but it doesn't necessarily make me faster.  My shoes became waterlogged, and I was pretty sure I'd get some nasty blisters.
At one point in this mile, the course turns left, and you're able to see the part of the course that is about 2 miles ahead.  In a bout of sheer luck, I reached this point just as the leaders reached it.  It's pretty rare to see the leaders after you've started, so I thought that was pretty cool.

Mile 5: 8'12"
Still raining.  Harder.

Mile 6: 9'06"
I hit aid station #2, and downed a Gu.  I washed it down with some water and kept going.  I did walk this aid station, and my split shows that.  I also saw Luís again.

Mile 7: 8'25"
I began to settle into a slower pace.  I decided that today just wouldn't be the day to have a super-fast time.  I decided to do the rest of the race just by intuition.  There were a couple hills here leading up to bridges so we could cross the rail yard.  I figured the hills wouldn't be much worse than these tame ones.

Mile 8: 9'37"
Holy Crap!  That's a hill.  I knew there would be a hill, so I just took it easy and eventually reached the top.  This is where knowing the course would have been more helpful.  I looked at the elevation map the night before, and figured that this was the hill that led to the highest point on the course.  Nope.  After reaching the top, there was a 2nd hill.  A bigger hill.  A longer hill.  A hill where I had to ask someone "am I still moving?".  I probably could have crab-walked up the hill faster.  I took another Gu at the top, and walked through the aid station.  I then found the corresponding holy-crap-that's-a-downhill!, and leaned forward and picked up the pace.  That was fun.

Mile 9: 8'39"
From here on out, I began to hold my TMP pretty steadily.  The rain reduced itself to a sprinkle/drizzle, too.

Mile 10: 8'36"
Another Gu and aid station.  They were handing out watermelon, too, but I settled for my orange Gu.

Mile 11: 8'52"
Saw Steve again.  My plan was to make the last 5k a bit faster, but today wouldn't be the day.  I just tried to hold my pace fairly steady, and finish strong.

Mile 12: 8'36"
Aid station, but no Gu.  I took Powerade instead.  Nearing the finish, we turned into what can best be described as an industrial plant.  It was a little weird, but we're runners, and thus we're weird to begin with.

Mile 13: 9'17"
At the instant I passed the marker for 12 miles complete, my right calf went YEOOOWWW!  Well, maybe I went YEOOOWWW!, but my calf would have too if it had vocal cords.  I hobbled for a few feet, but was not going to stop.  If I held my pace to slightly slower than 9 minutes, it wasn't too bad, so for the whole last mile, I had a fairly tenuous grip on running.  It was a good exercise in pace control.

Mile 13.1: 0'51"
Turning onto the homestretch, I tried to pick up the pace, but my calf had other thoughts.  So, I grimaced and groaned the last 0.1 miles.  Katie got some pictures of me at the end, and she got a HOVERING PICTURE!

See, I don't run—I hover.  I'm also soaked.

Finishing Time: 1:52:17

As always, Twin Cities in Motion has great post-race food.  I got chips, salted nut bars, a banana, raisin rolls, and a hot dog.

Did I make Corral 1?  No.  Did I get my 1:47:30 goal time?  No.  Did I practice my marathon pacing strategy?  Not so much.  BUT, considering the heat and the rain, I'm really happy with my first half marathon.  AND, since it was my first half marathon, I PR'ed!  Hehe…

Talking with Steve's wife afterward, she thought the hill was a bit much too, so I don't feel so bad about being owned by that hill.  I love running hills.  But there comes a time when they just bludgeon you over the head, and today was one of those times.

Good race, and I'll post sometime this week about how this will change my marathon training.

Oh, and I got some nifty hardware, too:

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Musings on my Upcoming Half Marathon

A number of things have changed with regards to my training when comparing this year's marathon with last year's.  I'm cross training more.  I'm running faster.  I'm doing speedwork.  All good things, and I'm pretty happy with the quality of my training so far this year.  Somethings else I'm doing this different this year is happening tomorrow—I'm running a half marathon.

More specifically, I'll be running the inaugural Red, White, and Boom! Half Marathon in Minneapolis.  I'm running this mostly to gauge my fitness level so I can better predict my marathon time.  Unfortunately, though, I've encountered a bit of a problem:

I've never raced a half marathon before!

Well, it's not that big of a problem, but I don't know a whole lot about how to run the half.  So, I've read a few articles and looked at my training, and came up with a few goals for the race tomorrow, listed in order of importance.

  1. Pace myself as I would in the marathon.  In terms of overall pace, I hope to run faster than marathon pace, but the strategy should remain the same.  For the first 5 miles, I'll run a little slower than my goal pace.  In the second 5 miles, I'll gradually increase the pace to just faster than goal pace.  Then, I'll run the last 5k as a 5k—meaning, I'll be picking up the pace a bit more and start racing.  I think it will help me a lot to test this strategy out for a short race before I get to the marathon where I'll divided it into the first 10 miles, the second 10 miles, and a 10k.
  2. Finish with a time of 1:47:30.  My target marathon time is 3:45.  A good predictor of marathon times is to take a half marathon, multiply the time by 2, then add 10 minutes.  Working backwards from 3:45, this give me a half time of 1:47:30.  If I can finish in that time, I'll be pretty confident that I can run a 3:45 marathon.  Of course, if I go slower, I'll know that a 3:45 marathon may be too ambitious, and will adjust my goals accordingly.
  3. Finish with a time of 1:45 to qualify for Corral 1.  This goal isn't much different than #2.  If I'm having a good race, and I can shave off 2½ minutes, I'll finish in 1:45.  This is big because a time of 1:45 or faster will qualify me for Corral 1 at the marathon in October.  At big marathons, it would be a nightmare to have everyone start at the same time.  Can you imagine 11,000 people all starting at the gun?  So, they divide runners up into 2 corrals—the 1st corral requires a qualifying time of either a 3:45 marathon or 1:45 half marathon.  Corral 1 runners then get to start a few minutes earlier.  Why is Corral 1 important?  It's not, but I've never qualified for something based purely on speed, so by doing this, I'll be very happy with my progress and will just feel good.  It won't make much of a difference during the race, though, because whether I start at 8:05am or 8:10am, my time will be recorded accurately by the chip.
Even though goal #3 isn't high on my priority list, I have to admit that I'm a little eager to qualify for Corral 1.  I'll admit, though, that this isn't an "A race" for me.  It's more like a B+.  I haven't done a full taper, and haven't been training specifically for this distance.  I did get a mini-taper, though, by taking the trip to Baltimore.  I couldn't be as active as if I were home (I did get a 7 mile run in to Ft. McHenry, though), so I have been taking it a bit easier.

Anyway, I'll let you know how I do tomorrow, and if you're in Minneapolis, come out and cheer.  Race starts at 6:30am (early!  I know!) near St. Anthony Main, and winds its way through Northeast.
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