2015: Hancock Canal Run Half Marathon

Hancock Canal Run signals the completion of two full years since I took to running half marathon distance and marks the beginning of year #3. Reasons to participate in this event haven’t really changed over these three years: a very well organized and attended race in my own backyard, potential to see and be with a lot of friendly faces from the awesome community I am so fortunate to live in and a chance to sleep in my own bed couch the night before, and show just about everyone in this community that has ever helped me run (better) that their investment in me wasn’t a wasted effort. Additionally, how the event spreads the event-awareness through social media outlets and periodic reminders, invite local running groups to contribute articles and gives back to the community helped the cause as well. So, including this event in the planned list of races for 2015 didn’t cost any brain cells, and neither was signing up for it as soon as the (mail-in/paper) registration opened.

Since I used the mail-in option well before the online registration opened and since I wasn’t sure which one of them would be chosen ahead of the other to start the numbering scheme, it took a quick check with the race director (and dear friend; thanks Sam for the idea) to learn that I indeed had earned bib #1 for the third consecutive year. Like last year, I understand that it’s just a number and what really matters is my performance in the race but it’s a matter of pride to be the first one to register. And like last year (and many years before that), some of the neural connections are still whacked making me act like an immature child every once in a while to go after materialistic memorabilia.

Given the self-imposed goal to run seven half marathons in 2015 (down 30% from the ten in 2014 to increase the base/race miles ratio), this year’s edition of Hancock Canal Run — #4 in 2015 — would serve as a good checkpoint halfway through the season and might provide a good guesstimate of available room to improve (and work necessary to get there) with three more half marathons before the 2015 season ends.

The closing ceremony for last weekend’s Run The Keweenaw: A Festival Of Trails (#RTK2015) came with a strong recommendation that I take rest of Sunday and all of Monday off from all training (including doing any/all kinds of Math). Looking back, I wasn’t disciplined enough and didn’t exercise enough common sense between first and second legs of the aforementioned race and ate some unrefrigerated food (I didn’t carry a cooler, and didn’t take up on the offer from friends to store my food in their cooler either).

Either that, or my immune system was not as good as it could have been due to insufficient sleep and pushing the body through multiple workouts per day during the week leading up to #RTK2015. Though fortunate that it (i.e., the act of not doing simple things correctly every time) didn’t affect my performance much in either of the last two legs, it did ground me through much of the week significantly limiting training activities. Fatigue, soreness, higher than normal body temperature, itchy throat and burning eyes lasted well into Thursday morning — for the second consecutive year, and for the second consecutive year, marvels of the medical world rescued me just in time for this event.


Summary of training activities since the last race
# Date and time Activity details
Device, Distance, Time, Pace, Speed, Heart Rate, and Weather Notes (when applicable)
01 2015-07-14 5:59 pm CCTC Weekly Workout 2015 #08
Garmin 620, 3.03 mi, 0:35:46, 11:48 min/mile, 5.08 mph, 142 bpm
66 F, 10 mph NNE, felt like 66 F, 46% humidity; sunny with blue skies and decent breeze
02 2015-07-15 6:04 pm KRG Weekly Run 2015 #27
Garmin 620, 4.08 mi, 0:42:49, 10:30 min/mile, 5.71 mph, 152 bpm
68 F, 9 mph ESE, felt like 68 F, 43% humidity; blue skies, sunny, a bit breezy and beautiful
03 2015-07-16 5:06 pm Houghton Short Ride
18.99 mi, 1:12:09, 3:48 min/mile, 15.79 mph, 132 bpm, 622
77 F, 8 mph E, felt like 77 F, 57% humidity; sunny, warm and windy
04 2015-07-17 6:05 am Strength Training
0:30:00, 185

Pre-race activities in the week leading up to the event included a live interview with TV6 (courtesy of race director) on Wednesday, and packet pickup and walking through downtown Hancock checking out the Key Ingredients. The evening came to end with a home-cooked pasta meal, one last course check to memorize the landmarks I need to get to on race day so as to not repeat the mistake from last year [McLain State Park (mile 3.25): 0:22-0:23; Waasa Road (mile 5): 0:36-0:37; Boston Creek (mile 6.25): 0:48; High Point Road (mile 8): 1:00-1:01; Fancy House on the right (mile 10): 1:16-1:17; M203/US41 intersection (mile 12.8): start of all out sprint] and getting the race gear ready before yielding to the call of sleep.

Or so I thought. It took probably another 90 minutes to two hours, closer to midnight, before I actually dozed off. Before waking up at 3:30 am, two hours before the first scheduled alarm, all I remember was tossing and turning throughout those three hours. I didn’t think much of it (i.e., sooner than normal arrival of race day morning due to shortage of sleep and associated some fatigue) since pretty much exactly the same thing had happened about a month ago, the night before Baraga County Lake Trout Festival Half Marathon. I did eat the same pre-race meal that I am used to, and got to the event well ahead of time. I rode the bus with many a familiar faces to the start line, and had enough time to exchange pleasantries with more friendly faces and do a warm up run.

13.06 mi, 1:48:49, 8:18 min/mile, 7.23, 176 bpm
Splits: 6:22, 7:02, 7:53, 8:12, 8:17, 8:16, 8:12, 8:28, 8:43, 8:51, 9:32, 9:51, 8:46, 0:23
Garmin Forerunner 620 and WP GPX Maps plugin for WordPress


The event started on time in near 100% humidity and for the first time, it involved a timing strip at the start. The plan of getting a fast start seemed to be on track as I got to the first of desired landmarks — McLain State Park at mile 3.25 — at 23:06. Cadence, heart rate and ground contact time seemed to be in the right region as well. I probably didn’t pay as much attention to detail to each step as I should have or cared better to do a simple thing as paying attention to small rocks on the road. Not doing so cost me one step — one missed step at that — to roll my right ankle at about mile 3.50. Comical irony is that I ran 51k on trails last weekend and didn’t once come close to rolling either ankle but end up doing so in a road race!

The fast start helped me get to two more landmarks at approximately desired times: Waasa Road (mile 5) at 37:47, and 10k at 47:48. Thoughts of dropping out of the race, and getting a ride back to the finish area in a cop mobile did surface at mile 5. With it came a realization that if I did quit, I would lose a lot of ground for many a worthy causes down the colloquial road. So, I was glad to have not acted on those thoughts but let them wane instead. And as if the rolled ankle wasn’t sufficient, my stomach decided to join the party at about mile 7. A quick puking session pretty much dashed all hopes of achieving most of the remaining goals and legs were feeling like lead blocks by mile 10. If not for dear friend DJ Rasner choosing to run with me for reminder of the distance, it would have taken a lot longer than 1:48:49 for me to cross the finish line.

Personal goals for the event (in order of importance)
## Goal Result
01 No walking including aid stations Yes
02 Negative splits for at least 3 continuous miles — preferably in the second half No (yes, mile 5-7)
03 Finish under 1:40:00 (7.86 mph, 7:38 min/mile) No, 1:48:49 (7.23 mph, 8:18 min/mile)
04 Keep every mile under 8:15 min/mile pace No
05 Keep the last climb on M203 under 8:00 min/mile No
06 All out sprint from M203/US41 intersection to the finish line (6:30 min/mile or faster) No
07 Finish in the top 25% overall, amongst males and in age group Yes, 47/192; No, 27/74; No, 6/9
08 Improve current PR for half marathon: 1:44:05 (7.55 mph, 7:57 min/mile) No, 1:48:49 (7.23 mph, 8:18 min/mile)
09 Improve current PR for this event: 2:12:51 (5.90 mph, 10:08 min/mile) Yes, 1:48:49 (7.23 mph, 8:18 min/mile)
10 Keep the 2015 average run time for half marathons under 2:00:00 Yes, 7:27:18 total and 1:51:50 per event

Post-run activities included spiking a water bottle in frustration that a volunteer so gracefully handed to me (I felt very silly and embarrassed about it a few minutes later), consuming ibuprofen and getting the right ankle iced (thanks to dear friends Melissa and Brian for all the medical help), participating in the awards ceremony, hanging out with friends in the Hancock Beach and few other establishments, and dinner at The Fitz (with Melissa, Joel, Matt, Karen and Ron, Carolyn and Jeff).

This certainly wasn’t my best effort from the final time perspective. And to do so in my favorite road race and to not have the final time be what I had desired in light of much practice and preparation would have been be a hard pill to swallow except for dear friends (and the race director too, in spite of countless things she had to take care of) taking time to explain the day’s proceedings in a way that I could easily understand. For now, this will be another entry in The Journal of Failed Experiments or a not so good data point, and plotting the average speed for all road half marathons certainly shows it. Takeaway lessons from this event will be to learn to rest well between big events, sleep well the night before, train better under myriad of conditions, increase the cadence (~180 spm), lower the heart rate (~150 bpm) and ground contact time (~200 ms), and to pay better attention to finer details and smaller things — before the next road race of similar distance, which isn’t until early November.


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 Bogans (Ronda and Jim), the Boissevains (Margi and Paul), the Bradfishs (Anna, Eva and Eric), the Brauns (Teri, Louis, Louis, Tom), 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 Donnelys (Darcy and Brian), the Durochers (Bridget and John), the Eles (Sarah and Stephen), the Engstroms (Christine and Jaime), the Fredricksons (Linda and Dave), the Friedrichs (Dr. Mary and Dr. Craig), the Gracis (Kara and Sam), the Grays (Stasi and Richard), the Greens (Kim and Greg), the Handlers (Christine, Rob, Shannon and Stephen), the Janowiaks (Rexx and Maria), the Johnsons (Rich and Erik; Robyn and Adam), the Kramers (Mandy and Jim), the Kostinskis (Dr. Lilliana and Dr. Alex), the Lehtos (Tammi and Chris), the MacDonalds (Cynthia and Bruce), the MacInnes' (Elizabeth and Scott), the Makelas (Lynn Czarnecki and Jason), the Meyers (Lisa and Mike), 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 Pandeys (Aparna and Dr. Ravi), the Pergers (Liz and Dr. Warren), the Ransoms (Cindy and Chip), the Rasners (Amanda and Donald), the Resslers (Dee and Tom), the Richards' (Carrie and Dr. Bob), the Rukkilas, the Salos (Chris, Karen, Dan and Don), the Smigowskis (Christina and Tim), the Stenvigs (Alexa, Annie, Chelsea, Erik, Helen, John, Nils, Mike, Nancy Verscheure, Tom), the Stickelmyers (Kari and Steve), the Tervos (Chris, Jim and Ryan), the Tomasis (Susan and Mike), 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), Adam Griffis, Dr. Alex Mayer, Alice Flanders, Alison Umbarger, Amanda O'Toole, Amy Madsen, Angela Luskin, Angela Yu, Anika Kuczynski, Ann Anderton, Ann Hoover, Arni Ronis, Ashley Ames, Ashley Miller, Audrey Manderfield and Kyle Kelley, Aurelia Leigler, Dr. Bryan Suits, Ben Wittbrodt, Carolyn Stevens, Cassandra Wagner, Chelsea Fagan, Chris Swanston, Christopher Buckley, Christopher Schwartz, Cindy Harwood, Crystal Haataja-Holzberger, Dan Kauppi, Dana Bianco, Dr. Daniel Fuhrmann, Deedra Irwin, Elizabeth Stempihar, Ellen Manderfield and Ryan Jones, Eric Byykkonen, Erin Kauppila, Greg Reed, Heidi DePuydt, Jeff Brookins, Jeffrey Burl, Jeffrey Toorongian, Jenelle Potvin, Dr. Jennifer Slack, Jim and Randy in Cardinal Hotel, Joan Becker, Joe Caron, John Burton, John Vertin, Jonathan Kilpela, Julie Koskinen Ruotsala, Julie Springsteen, Justin TerAvest, Karen Koethe and Adam Manty, Kate Waring, Katie Temple, Kay Tislar, Kelly Wooten, Kelsae Eliszewski, Kenny Gilkerson, 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, Lindsey Goss-Maurisak, Lynn Geisler, Mahesh Shastry, Marc Rea, Mariana Grohowski, Marine Foucher, Mark Schnabel, Marilyn Swift, Mary Webster, Matt Mlinar, Dr. Maximilian Seel, Melissa Elmer and Justin Hoffmeyer, Michael Babcock, Michael Karinen, Michael Sereda, Patrick Rozich, Peter Negro, Polly Bolduc, 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 Bolon and Alison Skwarski, Scott Gibbs, Shannon Vairo, Sue Peterson, Tom Edinborough, Tony Schwenn, Wayne Mills, 5th & Elm Coffee House, Copper Country Track Club, The Fitz, Houghton Pizza Works, Houghton Police Department, Keweenaw Running Group, Madison crew (Christine and Scot Van Asten, Claire Luby, Gus Lang, Kelly Higgins, Maggie Turnbull, Mark Mehler, Phat Huynh, and Susan Speth), Michigan Tech Athletic Department, Michigan Tech Public Safety, team /var/run (Nancy Banfield, Joshua Myles and Amy Blake), 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.

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