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2015: Baraga County Lake Trout Festival Half Marathon

Had everything I planned for 2015 — life and running events alike — panned out as I had planned, this particular journal entry should have been seeing the light of internet a few days later, and I should have been just about done exploring the wicked(ly awesome) wilderness in Forever West and Big Sky Country planned around a half marathon each in the vicinity of Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks: witnessing stuff that I have only watched in various Ken Burns’ documentaries (Roosevelt Arch, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Old Faithful in action, Mammoth Hot Springs, Norris Geyser Basin, Tower Falls, Willow Flats and Teton Range, Moose Junction, Snake River Valley, Jenny Lake and a plethora of wild flora and fauna), hanging out with friends (Sara and Dustin) I haven’t seen in quite a long time, tracing and living many a fond memories of dear friend Kyle‘s 2008 adventures, re-tracing and re-living many more of my own from the 2010 Great American Road Trip with buddy Nils, visiting the Stickelmyers (Kari, Steve, Anna and Tommy) and Stenvigs (Tom, Annie and Alexa) in South Dakota — the birthplace of my pesto obsession during the aforementioned 2010 Great American Road Trip, adding some more photographs to the somewhat stale portfolio, flooding the instagram feed with images of food and beverages, and making more friends and memories to last few more life times.

Being in sciences and engineering for much of my adult (or what some would call an antique) existence and treating my life as a series of never ending experiments, it is much easier to comprehend the changed course of action by treating it as a new entry into the Journal of Failed Experiments (thanks be to Dr. L Brad King for sharing this phrase in a coffee shop discussion many months ago). An interest in the history of natural sciences, thanks to wonderful teachers at just about every level, has often led me to an assemblage of experimental results smacking down many a proposed theoretical predictions, and in turn, has taught me that one can seldom connect the dots looking forward — in lab and life alike. The cause of failure for this experiment may remain unknown or be put in I proposed it and life disposed it category forever, at least until other things transpire to disclose the value of another opportunity currently masked behind a missed one.

While the above sounds like a litany of would have, could have and should have, all that the changed course of action did was to replace three entries from from the planned list of races (a half marathon in Grand Teton National Park, a 5k and a half marathon in Yellowstone National Park) with a seemingly much less glamorous Baraga County Lake Trout Festival Half Marathon. The 2014 edition of this event had its fair share of highlights: first half marathon event since buying into eating, sleeping and working out habits, first successful sub 2:30:00 effort, first such event where the second half had felt as good the first half, first podium finish (there were only two in my age group although I didn’t stop others from participating in the event) and the worst time of all participants.


Summary of training activities since the last race
# Date and time Activity details
Device, Distance, Time, Pace, Speed, HR
Weather notes
01 2015-05-18 18:00:00 Pool Swim: Michigan Tech Indoor Pool
Garmin 620, 0.31 mi, 0:20:00, 64:31 min/mile, 0.93 mph
60 F, 0 mph, felt like 60 F, 60% humidity
02 2015-05-19 17:49:00 Track Workout #01
Garmin 620, 2.51 mi, 0:25:49, 10:17 min/mile, 5.83 mph, 178 bpm
43 F, 16 mph WNW, felt like 35 F, 49% humidity; sunny, windy but comfortable
03 2015-05-20 16:08:00 Houghton Quick Ride
Garmin 620, 10.48 mi, 0:48:25, 4:37 min/mile, 13.00 mph, 132 bpm
57 F, 12 mph WNW, felt like 57 F, 28% humidity; sunny, windy and beautiful
04 2015-05-20 17:48:00 KRG Weekly Run 2015 #19
Garmin 620, 5.01 mi, 0:50:37, 10:06 min/mile, 5.94 mph, 160 bpm
59 F, 13 mph WNW, felt like 59 F, 18% humidity; sunny, breezy but comfortable
05 2015-05-22 16:26:00 Houghton Quick Ride
Garmin 620, 10.53 mi, 0:48:08, 4:34 min/mile, 13.14 mph, 125 bpm
54 F, 10 mph E, felt like 54 F, 41% humidity; sunny, breezy and beautiful
06 2015-05-23 08:58:00 Senter Quick Run
Garmin 620, 5.84 mi, 0:59:50, 10:15 min/mile, 5.85 mph, 167 bpm
64 F, 17 mph W, felt like 64 F, 32% humidity; sunny, warm but breezy and comfortable
07 2015-05-24 08:30:00 Houghton Long Ride
Garmin 620, 31.50 mi, 2:26:14, 4:39 min/mile, 12.90 mph, 134 bpm
66 F, 10 mph W, felt like 66 F, 46% humidity; partly cloudy, breezy but beautiful
08 2015-05-24 11:31:00 Houghton Quick Run
Garmin 620, 5.01 mi, 0:43:03, 8:36 min/mile, 6.98 mph, 160 bpm
72 F, 11 mph W, felt like 72 F, 38% humidity; sunny, warm but comfortable
09 2015-05-24 19:12:00 Copper Harbor Medium Ride
Garmin 620, 22.22 mi, 1:32:13, 4:09 min/mile, 14.46 mph, 144 bpm
70 F, 3 mph E, felt like 70 F, 40% humidity; mostly cloudy but comfortable
10 2015-05-24 20:50:00 Copper Harbor Quick Run
Garmin 620, 5.05 mi, 0:47:14, 9:21 min/mile, 6.42 mph, 157 bpm
63 F, 8 mph E, felt like 63 F, 48% humidity; mostly cloudy with a gentle breeze
11 2015-05-26 17:50:00 Track Workout #02
Garmin 620, 3.25 mi, 0:40:00, 12:18 min/mile, 4.88 mph, 156 bpm
63 F, 4 mph E, felt like 63 F, 72% humidity; cloudy, breezy but comfortable
12 2015-05-27 18:02:00 KRG Weekly Run 2015 #20
Garmin 620, 2.55 mi, 0:27:34, 10:49 min/mile, 5.55 mph, 158 bpm
75 F, 11 mph WNW, felt like 75 F, 44% humidity; sunny but comfortable
13 2015-05-30 09:00:00 Stanton 5 Mile Run
Garmin 620, 5.01 mi, 0:37:55, 7:34 min/mile, 7.93 mph, 114 bpm
45 F, 14 mph NNE, felt like 38 F, 76% humidity; cloudy, breezy but comfortable
14 2015-05-30 13:32:00 Copper Harbor Medium Ride
Garmin 620, 22.22 mi, 1:38:22, 4:26 min/mile, 13.53 mph, 56 bpm
46 F, 10 mph N, felt like 42 F, 61% humidity; mostly sunny but quite windy
15 2015-05-30 15:14:00 Copper Harbor Quick Run
Garmin 620, 2.01 mi, 0:18:45, 9:20 min/mile, 6.43 mph, 158 bpm
46 F, 12 mph N, felt like 41 F, 49% humidity; mostly sunny but very windy
16 2015-05-31 14:05:00 KRG Weekend Run 2015 #02
Garmin 620, 3.70 mi, 0:38:40, 10:27 min/mile, 5.74 mph, 132 bpm
48 F, 6 mph E, felt like 46 F, 57% humidity; sunny but a bit breezy
17 2015-06-01 18:35:00 Pool Swim: Michigan Tech Indoor Pool
Garmin 620, 0.31 mi, 0:12:00, 38:43 min/mile, 1.55 mph
60 F, 0 mph, felt like 60 F, 60% humidity
18 2015-06-02 17:54:00 Track Workout #03
Garmin 620, 3.50 mi, 0:44:59, 12:51 min/mile, 4.67 mph, 146 bpm
68 F, 7 mph E, felt like 68 F, 28% humidity; sunny and beautiful
19 2015-06-03 17:33:00 KRG Weekly Run 2015 #21
Garmin 620, 6.61 mi, 1:07:01, 10:08 min/mile, 5.92 mph, 139 bpm
72 F, 7 mph NNW, felt like 72 F, 53% humidity; partially cloudy but comfortable
20 2015-06-04 14:55:00 Houghton Quick Ride
Garmin 620, 10.09 mi, 0:41:13, 4:05 min/mile, 14.69 mph, 128 bpm
70 F, 7 mph NE, felt like 70 F, 60% humidity; partly cloudy, breezy but beautiful
21 2015-06-05 11:16:00 Houghton Quick Run
Garmin 620, 3.14 mi, 0:28:38, 9:07 min/mile, 6.58 mph, 160 bpm
54 F, 8 mph ENE, felt like 54 F, 77% humidity; mostly sunny but comfortable
22 2015-06-05 16:23:00 Houghton Quick Run
Garmin 620, 3.72 mi, 0:43:26, 11:41 min/mile, 5.14 mph, 148 bpm
61 F, 7 mph SSE, felt like 61 F, 59% humidity; mostly sunny but comfortable
23 2015-06-06 08:32:00 Calumet Quick Run
Garmin 620, 5.63 mi, 1:02:02, 11:01 min/mile, 5.45 mph, 154 bpm
43 F, 7 mph E, felt like 39 F, 81% humidity; a bit chilly but sunny and comfortable
24 2015-06-06 15:49:00 Houghton Long Ride
Garmin 620, 32.26 mi, 2:22:02, 4:24 min/mile, 13.64 mph, 66 bpm
61 F, 13 mph E, felt like 61 F, 55% humidity; sunny, windy but beautiful
25 2015-06-07 10:01:00 Houghton Medium Run
Garmin 620, 15.07 mi, 2:28:27, 9:51 min/mile, 6.09 mph, 102 bpm
61 F, 5 mph S, felt like 61 F, 88% humidity; mostly cloudy with drizzle but comfortable
26 2015-06-08 19:48:00 Houghton Quick Ride
Garmin 620, 10.34 mi, 0:42:29, 4:07 min/mile, 14.57 mph, 125 bpm
56 F, 13 mph E, felt like 61 F, 55% humidity; sunny, windy but beautiful
27 2015-06-09 16:46:00 Hancock Quick Run
Garmin 620, 5.32 mi, 0:52:17, 9:50 min/mile, 6.10 mph, 129 bpm
77 F, 7 mph NW, felt like 77 F, 39% humidity; mostly hot and cloudy but with a gentle breeze
28 2015-06-09 17:59:00 Track Workout #04
Garmin 620, 1.61 mi, 0:26:18, 16:20 min/mile, 3.67 mph, 84 bpm
70 F, 8 mph E, felt like 70 F, 60% humidity; mostly hot and cloudy but with a gentle breeze
29 2015-06-10 18:01:00 KRG Weekly Run 2015 #22
Garmin 620, 2.55 mi, 0:31:15, 12:15 min/mile, 4.90 mph, 147 bpm
66 F, 15 mph WNW, felt like 66 F, 54% humidity; clear skies
30 2015-06-11 18:21:00 Houghton Short Ride
Garmin 620, 17.55 mi, 1:16:27, 4:21 min/mile, 13.79 mph, 131 bpm
64 F, 5 mph E, felt like 64 F, 60% humidity; sunny, windy but beautiful
31 2015-06-12 18:29:00 Houghton Short Ride
Garmin 620, 17.55 mi, 1:09:36, 3:58 min/mile, 15.13 mph, 142 bpm
72 F, 6 mph SE, felt like 72 F, 43% humidity; sunny, breezy but beautiful

A lesson learned during the race and post-race festivities in Green Bay several weeks ago was to fight the urge to start out too fast but maintain consistent pace instead. Another very important lesson learned the hard way during a test ride n’ run in Copper Harbor for the upcoming Copper Man Triathlon with a dear friend some weeks ago (#10 in the above list) as well as an ill-conceived long run a week ago (#25 in the same list) was that I don’t do very well in terms of maintaining the pace if/when I stop: that is, I haven’t earned enough stripes to have a second (or third or fourth) wind and all I get is one wind per race. A combination of these two factors (latter coming from stoppages/slow downs through aid stations as well) probably had been costing me several minutes during many previous races. It took several training runs, trained as if they were races, to be somewhat comfortable with approaches to consciously fix these issues, or at least, minimize the chance of encountering them again.

With less than four hours of sleep the night before, and waking up with what seemed like bloodshot eyes and warmer than normal body temperature made the race day morning a little less pleasurable. With the fear of bodily injuries not too far from reality, thoughts of just not going to the race showed up but fortunately didn’t stay long. The ride to the event, like last year, was punctuated with a pit stop to watch the glorious sunrise over Lake Superior. Picking up the race packet and heading to Aura, the starting point of the race, was smooth and uneventful as well.

13.10 mi, 1:44:05, 7:57 min/mile, 7.55 mph, 158 bpm
Splits: 7:15, 7:31, 7:27, 7:54, 8:21, 8:17, 8:17, 8:08, 8:30, 8:26, 8:50, 8:01, 7:16
Garmin Forerunner 620 and WP GPX Maps plugin for WordPress


The race started a few minutes past the scheduled 7:00 am start, and the weather was near perfect for running. My idea was to start around the 7:45 min/mile pace, sustain it for the first five miles and buying a 2-3 minutes towards the eventual 8:00 min/pace, maintain around 8:20 min/mile pace for the next five miles, and somehow muster enough gas to finish the last three miles at 8:00 min/mile pace or faster. For one of the only times that I can remember, the plan went just about as exactly as I had planned. Carrying the hydration belt (thank you that seemingly familiar yet unknown lady in Green Bay that vouched for this product) turned out to be a good idea as well. With water and plenty other things — gel as well as many a penny for thoughts — fueling the run, I didn’t feel the need to stop, and totally forgot about the lack of sleep or warmer than normal body temperature or few knots in my stomach.

First two parts had gone nearly as scripted: first five miles had bought me a little over two minutes, and by the end of mile #10, the clock was hovering around 1:20:00. The question (read: doubt) that popped in a few times was whether or not I had it in me to get the last 3.1 miles in under 25 minutes to achieve the coveted and much sought after sub 1:45:00 finish — a goal that has been about eight months in the making with three previously failed attempts (Madison in 2014, and San Francisco and Green Bay in 2015): something, if achieved, would be more than just a PR in more ways than one at a very very opportune time; and something, if not achieved, would require an additional month of waiting for another chance with no guarantee of success — which might just very well be a bit too late. Mile #9 took nearly 9 minutes — not much of a confidence booster — leaving me with just about 16 minutes to spare. Mile #12 took about 8 minutes leaving me with an equal amount to accomplish the said goal. One of the long wanted thing has been to identify how far from the finish line I can start the all out push (or in the words of my favorite coach, Big Push). And again for one of the only times, the timing seemed to have worked out just right.

Thanks in great part to Keweenaw Running Group and Robert Larson‘s recommendation of picking up a speed workout in lieu of a strength/core workout and explicit workouts with the Tuesday night track workout crew, the Big Push began about a quarter mile from the finish line. I dropped the hydration belt off by the road side to shred some unnecessary weight (didn’t really need any more fluids to complete the sprint from that point), sprinted full steam and was out of gas as I crossed the finish line. I have no shame in admitting that I had no strength to stand and lied on my back catching my breath for a few minutes. And I have no shame admitting that I did cry looking at what my GPS watch showed for the final time — 1:44:05, nearly a full minute better than the goal time.

Personal goals for the event (in order of importance)
## Goal Result
01 A training run of equal or more distance Yes, #25 in the list of training activities
02 No walking including aid stations Yes
03 Maintain consistent pace (8:00 ± 0:20 min/mile) No
04 Negative splits for at least 3 continuous miles — preferably in the second half Yes; miles 11, 12 and 13
05 Finish under 1:45:00 (7.48 mph, 8:01 min/mile) Yes, 1:44:05 (7.55 mph, 7:57 min/mile)
06 Keep every mile under 8:30 min/mile pace No
07 Improve upon the current PR for half marathon: 1:53:11 (6.96 mph, 8:37 min/mile) Yes, 1:44:05 (7.55 mph, 7:57 min/mile)
08 Improve upon the current PR for this event: 2:22:48 (5.52 mph, 10:52 min/mile) Yes, 1:44:05 (7.55 mph, 7:57 min/mile)
09 Finish under 2:00:00 (6.55 mph, 9:10 min/mile) Yes, 1:44:05 (7.55 mph, 7:57 min/mile)
10 Keep the 2015 average run time for half marathons under 2:00:00 Yes, 5:38:19 total and 1:52:46 per event

Post-race activities included attending the awards ceremony with many a dear friends (I did successfully defend my second place finish from last year — there were only two in my age group although I still didn’t stop others from participating in the event) and refueling to some extent before heading back to Houghton.


Praise be to the Good Lord and life’s blessings, and thanks be to

the opportunities, organizers, sponsors, volunteers, law enforcement/border patrol/immigration officials, timing folks, photographers, community members, fellow racers, electronic gadgets, software, the internet, and my good friends — the Abbotts (Kathy and Mike), the Blakes (Amy and Scott), the Boissevains (Margi and Paul), the Brewsters (Katie and Brian), the Bunkers (Kris and Kate), the Carlsons (Abby, Cassondra, Josh, and Justin), the Carmeans (Jess and Tim), the Chards (Amy and David), the Durochers (Bridget and John), the Eles (Sarah and Stephen), the Engstroms (Christine and Jaime), the Fredricksons (Linda and Dave), the Gracis (Kara and Sam), the Handlers (Christine, Rob, Shannon and Stephen), the Kramers (Mandy and Jim), the Lehtos (Tammi and Chris), the MacDonalds (Cynthia and Bruce), the MacInnes’ (Elizabeth and Scott), the Makelas (Lynn Czarnecki and Jason), the Meyers’ (Jeanne, Ted and John), the Milligans (Sheila and Dr. Walter) the Obermanns (Alicia, Catherine, Doug and Tim), the Ontls (Kelly and Todd), the Oppligers (Shawn, Emily, Ruth and Doug), the Pergers (Liz and Dr. Warren), the Rasners (Amanda and Donald), the Resslers (Dee and Tom), the Richards’ (Carrie and Dr. Bob), the Salos (Karen, Dan and Don), the Smigowskis (Christina and Tim), the Stenvigs, the Stickelmyers, the Tervos (Chris, Jim and Ryan), the Vendlinskis (Andi, Jim and Rick), the Vertins (Melissa and Joel), the Vizankos (Kelly and Steve), the Watrous’ (Liisa and Matt), the Weathers’ (Stacy and Bryant), the Wendels (Heather and Caleb Wendel), the Wilmers’ (Kelly and Stephen), the Youngs (Amber, Christine and Michael), the Zerbsts (Kristen and Ron), team /var/run (Nancy Banfield, Josh Myles and Amy Blake), Keweenaw Running Group, Tuesday night track workout crew, Houghton Police Department, Jim and Randy in Cardinal Hotel, Adam Griffis, Dr. Alex Mayer, Amanda O’Toole, Amy Madsen, Ann Hoover, Ashley Ames, Ashley Miller, Dr. Bryan Suits, Ben Wittbrodt, Chelsea Fagan, Chris Swanston, Christopher Schwartz, Dana Bianco, Dr. Daniel Fuhrmann, Darcy Donnelly, Deedra Irwin, Elizabeth Stempihar, Erin Kauppila, Greg Reed, Jeff Brookins, Jeffrey Burl, Jeffrey Toorongian, Joan Becker, Joe Caron, John Burton, Jonathan Kilpela, Julie Koskinen Ruotsala, Julie Springsteen, Justin TerAvest, Kate Waring, Katie Temple, Kelly Wooten, Kelsae Eliszewski, Kim Green, Krista Kasuboski, Kristen Schmitt, Kristin Thompson, Laura Mlynski, Lauren Schaefer, Lauri Keteri-Smith, Leah Tollefson, Lianna Miller and Benjamin Ciavola, Lena Widman, Louisa Raisbeck and Jesse Cleaver, Lynette Potvin and Matt Manders, Lynn Geisler, Mahesh Shastry, Marc Rea, Maria Janowiak, Marine Foucher, Mark Mehler, Mary Webster, Matt Mlinar, Michael Babcock, Mike, Mike LaMotte, Shreya Kumar and Randal Harrison, Ray Sharp, Rebecca Anderson, Ryan Towles, Riccardo Tortini, Robert Larson, Dr. Robert Weidman, Sam Roache, Sam Robinson, Sandy Houle, Sarah Bird and William Atkinson, Sarah Conner, Sarah Menassian, Sarah Stanek, Scott Gibbs, Shannon Vairo, Sue Peterson, Tony Schwenn, and more (in and outside of my community) — for the often unexpected, undeserved, unrewarded acts of constant encouragement, and offerings of constructive criticism, tested tips and tricks to improve myself as an athlete.