2017: Cellcom Green Bay Half Marathon

Owing to the organizers’ unique three-year medal strategy that started in 2015 and my innate inability to let certain things go (one of them being the want of materialistic memorabilia since there is no display case for memories), I had signed up and completed the 2015 and 2016 editions. And the quest (read: want) for the final piece ensured I at least signed up, and would find ways to complete it given my very limited training.

Excuses for limited training in 2017 were as seemingly unending as the number of stars on a clear night, and of course, none of them were ever my fault. The longest training run (or run of any kind that matter) over the past four and three quarters of a month (including the weekly and weekend runs with friends from the Keweenaw Running Group) did not exceed 6.50 miles — less than one half the event distance. Barring less than a handful of these training runs, average pace for most of them hovered around 9:45 min/mile (or slower). While sleep — both quantity and quality — left a lot to be desired, I feel like I did few things around/above average: continued iron intake, increased protein consumption since early March, and strength training three times per week from about mid March. I did have quite a bit of help from friends in consistently sticking with these tasks (thanks be respectively to: Chris, Ray, Rob and Shannon; Adam, Anika, Joel, Liz, Melissa, Mike, Steph and Whitney, Anika, Ann, Chris, Don, James, Jennifer, Roger and Vern) as well as setting certain things where they belong.

Gentlemen, I’d like to tell you a story about two monks. And they are on a journey. Sometime down their journey, they stopped in a clearing. Near the clearing was a stream, and at the far side of the stream was a fair maiden who wanted to come across. The first monk, without any hesitation, crossed that stream, picked up that fair maiden, forded her back, and set her down. And the two monks, in silence, continued on.

Now, sometime further down their journey, they stopped again. And the second monk spun onto the first monk, said, You know it’s against our belief and our religion to, one, not only come into contact with the person of the opposite sex but actually to speak to one. You disregarded that back there when you crossed that stream, picked up that fair maiden, forded her back, and set her down. The first monk responded to the second monk.

I set her down back there, but you carried her all the way here.

— Rocky Bleier recalling a story from Chuck Noll
America’s Game: The Super Bowl Champions; The Story of 1978 Pittsburgh Steelers


The drive down to Green Bay on Saturday was very uneventful with a customary stop at a geographical marker that’s equidistant from the equator and the North Pole. A rather quick walk through the pre-race expo to pick up by bib also included a maiden encounter with some well known names and faces behind the American Birkebeiner. Another one half hour drive and I was in Neenah, wI, in the friendly confines with Chris, and Emily, Andy and their little one. I surrendered to sleep shortly after a hearty home-cooked meal and a couple card games.

Summary of training activities since the last event
# Date and time Activity details
Distance, Time, Pace, Speed, Heart Rate (% of Max), kCal, and Weather
001 2017-03-13 6:15 pm Houghton Level I Ski XC Classic
3.67 mi, 0:45:00, 12:15 min/mile, 4.90 mph, 000 bpm (0.00%), 563 kCal
No weather data
002 2017-03-14 7:17 pm Houghton Level I Ski XC Classic
2.78 mi, 0:34:24, 12:22 min/mile, 4.85 mph, 139 bpm (67.80%), 331 kCal
19 F/10 F, 8 mph N, 49% humidity; clear and pleasant
003 2017-03-15 6:20 am Strength Training 2017 #03
0:30:00, 211 kCal
60 F/60 F, 0 mph, 60% humidity
004 2017-03-15 6:00 pm KRG Weekly Run 2017 #06/52
3.02 mi, 0:35:49, 11:51 min/mile, 5.06 mph, 149 bpm (72.68%), 381 kCal
27 F/16 F, 11 mph WNW, 42% humidity; sunny and pleasant
005 2017-03-16 6:50 pm Houghton Level I Ski XC Classic
3.52 mi, 1:25:09, 24:11 min/mile, 2.48 mph, 124 bpm (60.49%), 526 kCal
37 F/33 F, 6 mph E, 38% humidity; clear and pleasant
006 2017-03-17 6:15 am Strength Training 2017 #04
0:30:00, 205 kCal
60 F/60 F, 0 mph, 60% humidity
007 2017-03-17 4:20 pm Houghton Level I Ski XC Classic
4.04 mi, 1:02:06, 15:22 min/mile, 3.90 mph, 155 bpm (75.61%), 666 kCal
34 F/29 F, 5 mph SSE, 86% humidity; snowy but pleasant
008 2017-03-21 9:26 am Alexandria Run Level I
4.21 mi, 0:53:51, 12:47 min/mile, 4.69 mph, 148 bpm (72.20%), 491 kCal
46 F/43 F, 6 mph NE, 66% humidity; cloudy and comfortable
009 2017-03-22 6:45 am KRG Weekly Run 2017 #07/52
1.26 mi, 0:13:34, 10:46 min/mile, 5.57 mph, 146 bpm (71.22%), 109 kCal
52 F/52 F, 13 mph NW, 37% humidity; cloudy and cold
010 2017-03-22 7:00 am Strength Training 2017 #05
0:30:00, 205 kCal
60 F/60 F, 0 mph, 60% humidity
011 2017-03-23 7:38 am Alexandria Run Level I
4.02 mi, 0:41:09, 10:14 min/mile, 5.86 mph, 167 bpm (81.46%), 492 kCal
30 F/24 F, 6 mph ENE, 37% humidity; sunny and comfortable
012 2017-03-27 6:10 am Strength Training 2017 #06
0:30:00, 214 kCal
60 F/60 F, 0 mph, 60% humidity
013 2017-03-27 3:04 pm Houghton Run Level I
3.75 mi, 1:03:22, 16:53 min/mile, 3.55 mph, 136 bpm (66.34%), 530 kCal
37 F/31 F, 8 mph WNW, 81% humidity; cloudy and comfortable
014 2017-03-27 4:22 pm Houghton Stationary Ride Level I
1.10 mi, 0:04:42, 4:16 min/mile, 14.06 mph, 131 bpm (63.90%), 61 kCal
60 F/60 F, 0 mph 60% humidity
015 2017-03-29 6:10 am Strength Training 2017 #07
0:30:00, 214 kCal
60 F/60 F, 0 mph, 60% humidity
016 2017-03-29 6:02 pm KRG Weekly Run 2017 #08/52
2.19 mi, 0:30:11, 13:46 min/mile, 4.36 mph, 136 bpm (66.34%), 259 kCal
34 F/26 F, 10 mph E, 69% humidity; sunny and pleasant
017 2017-03-30 5:32 pm Houghton Stationary Ride Level I
13.04 mi, 0:59:35, 4:34 min/mile, 13.14 mph, 147 bpm (71.71%), 865 kCal
60 F/60 F, 0 mph 60% humidity
018 2017-03-31 6:10 am Strength Training 2017 #08
0:35:00, 246 kCal
60 F/60 F, 0 mph, 60% humidity
019 2017-04-02 8:30 am Houghton Run Level I
3.80 mi, 0:43:25, 11:25 min/mile, 5.26 mph, 155 bpm (75.61%), 520 kCal
34 F/34 F, 4 mph ENE, 80% humidity; cloudy and comfortable
020 2017-04-03 6:10 am Strength Training 2017 #09
0:30:00, 209 kCal
60 F/60 F, 0 mph, 60% humidity
021 2017-04-04 6:02 am Houghton Run Level I
3.28 mi, 0:34:25, 10:29 min/mile, 5.72 mph, 155 bpm (75.61%), 437 kCal
39 F/31 F, 13 mph N, 93% humidity; cloudy and comfortable
022 2017-04-05 6:10 am Strength Training 2017 #10
0:30:00, 208 kCal
60 F/60 F, 0 mph, 60% humidity
023 2017-04-05 6:01 pm KRG Weekly Run 2017 #09/52
3.23 mi, 0:32:22, 10:01 min/mile, 5.99 mph, 162 bpm (79.02%), 408 kCal
43 F/38 F, 8 mph NNE, 49% humidity; sunny and pleasant
024 2017-04-07 6:10 am Strength Training 2017 #11
0:30:00, 209 kCal
60 F/60 F, 0 mph, 60% humidity
025 2017-04-07 2:04 pm Houghton Run Level I
6.33 mi, 1:07:56, 10:43 min/mile, 5.60 mph, 161 bpm (78.54%), 811 kCal
63 F/63 F, 11 mph SE, 25% humidity; sunny and pleasant
026 2017-04-10 6:10 am Strength Training 2017 #12
0:30:00, 209 kCal
60 F/60 F, 0 mph, 60% humidity
027 2017-04-10 6:00 pm Michigan Tech Indoor Pool Swim Level I
0.51 mi, 0:26:04, 51:06 min/mile, 1.17 mph, HR bpm, 224
60 F/60 F, 0 mph, 60% humidity
028 2017-04-12 6:10 am Strength Training 2017 #13
0:30:00, 209 kCal
60 F/60 F, 0 mph, 60% humidity
029 2017-04-12 6:01 pm KRG Weekly Run 2017 #10/52
3.98 mi, 0:38:00, 9:32 min/mile, 6.29 mph, 164 bpm (80.00%), 501 kCal
55 F/55 F, 4 mph, 28% humidity; sunny and pleasant
030 2017-04-14 6:10 am Strength Training 2017 #14
0:30:00, 209 kCal
60 F/60 F, 0 mph, 60% humidity
031 2017-04-15 9:16 am Houghton Run Level I
4.06 mi, 0:39:38, 9:45 min/mile, 6.15 mph, 161 bpm (78.54%), 519 kCal
50 F/47 F, 7 mph SSW, 76% humidity; cloudy and comfortable
032 2017-04-16 9:16 am Houghton Run Level I
6.28 mi, 1:01:29, 9:47 min/mile, 6.13 mph, 167 bpm (81.46%), 831 kCal
36 F/29 F, 9 mph WNW, 93% humidity; cloudy and cold
033 2017-04-17 6:15 am Strength Training 2017 #15
0:30:00, 209 kCal
60 F/60 F, 0 mph, 60% humidity
034 2017-04-19 6:15 am Strength Training 2017 #16
0:30:00, 209 kCal
60 F/60 F, 0 mph, 60% humidity
035 2017-04-19 6:01 pm KRG Weekly Run 2017 #11/52
3.20 mi, 0:36:57, 11:32 min/mile, 5.20 mph, 163 bpm (79.51%), 490 kCal
43 F/39 F, 7 mph E, 70% humidity; cloudy and comfortable
036 2017-04-23 3:35 pm Houghton Run Level I
6.24 mi, 1:03:43, 10:12 min/mile, 5.88 mph, 164 bpm (80.00%), 797 kCal
34 F/34 F, 4 mph SE, 75% humidity; cloudy and comfortable
037 2017-04-24 6:15 am Strength Training 2017 #17
0:30:00, 209 kCal
60 F/60 F, 0 mph, 60% humidity
038 2017-04-24 5:58 pm Michigan Tech Indoor Pool Swim Level I
0.60 mi, 0:29:48, 49:40 min/mile, 1.21 mph, HR bpm, 214
60 F/60 F, 0 mph, 60% humidity
039 2017-04-25 6:13 am Speed Workout 2017 #01
2.03 mi, 0:26:40, 13:08 min/mile, 4.57 mph, 139 bpm (67.80%), 237 kCal
60 F/60 F, 0 mph, 60% humidity
040 2017-04-26 6:15 am Strength Training 2017 #18
0:30:00, 209 kCal
60 F/60 F, 0 mph, 60% humidity
041 2017-04-26 6:00 pm KRG Weekly Run 2017 #12/52
0.25 mi, 0:03:00, 12:00 min/mile, 5.00 mph, 160 bpm (78.05%), 537 kCal
60 F/60 F, 0 mph, 60% humidity
042 2017-04-28 5:00 pm Strength Training 2017 #19
0:30:00, 209 kCal
60 F/60 F, 0 mph, 60% humidity
043 2017-04-29 7:32 am Houghton Run Level I
6.26 mi, 0:59:54, 9:34 min/mile, 6.27 mph, 164 bpm (80.00%), 751 kCal
30 F/25 F, 5 mph NNW, 69% humidity; sunny and comfortable
044 2017-04-30 1:08 pm Houghton Run Level I
3.12 mi, 0:27:54, 8:56 min/mile, 6.72 mph, 159 bpm (77.56%), 308 kCal
43 F/36 F, 13 mph E, 61% humidity; sunny and breezy
045 2017-05-01 6:10 am Strength Training 2017 #20
0:30:00, 209 kCal
60 F/60 F, 0 mph, 60% humidity
046 2017-05-02 4:05 pm Houghton Run Level I
3.15 mi, 0:26:00, 8:15 min/mile, 7.27 mph, 164 bpm (80.00%), 348 kCal
45 F/37 F, 19 mph N, 53% humidity; cloudy and breezy
047 2017-05-03 6:15 am Strength Training 2017 #21
0:30:00, 209 kCal
60 F/60 F, 0 mph, 60% humidity
048 2017-05-03 6:01 pm KRG Weekly Run 2017 #13/52
4.71 mi, 0:56:11, 11:55 min/mile, 5.03 mph, 170 bpm (82.93%), 790 kCal
61 F/61 F, 6 mph E, 34% humidity; sunny and warm
049 2017-05-04 6:05 pm Houghton Run Level I
2.77 mi, 0:28:42, 10:21 min/mile, 5.80 mph, 161 bpm (78.54%), 362 kCal
55 F/55 F, 5 mph N, 47% humidity; sunny and pleasant
050 2017-05-05 4:15 pm Strength Training 2017 #22
0:30:00, 209 kCal
60 F/60 F, 0 mph, 60% humidity
051 2017-05-05 7:34 pm Houghton Run Level I
3.01 mi, 0:39:41, 13:11 min/mile, 4.55 mph, 148 bpm (72.20%), 446 kCal
39 F/39 F, 0 mph, 87% humidity; cloudy and pleasant
052 2017-05-06 9:00 am Houghton Run Level I
4.87 mi, 1:01:17, 12:35 min/mile, 4.77 mph, 152 bpm (74.15%), 679 kCal
41 F/37 F, 6 mph NNE, 75% humidity; sunny and pleasant
053 2017-05-08 6:00 am Strength Training 2017 #23
0:50:00, 337 kCal
60 F/60 F, 0 mph, 60% humidity
054 2017-05-10 6:15 am Strength Training 2017 #24
0:30:00, 209 kCal
60 F/60 F, 0 mph, 60% humidity
055 2017-05-10 6:04 pm KRG Weekly Run 2017 #14/52
5.26 mi, 0:48:28, 9:12 min/mile, 6.52 mph, 165 bpm (80.49%), 635 kCal
63 F/63 F, 7 mph E, 39% humidity; sunny and pleasant
056 2017-05-12 6:10 am Strength Training 2017 #25
0:30:00, 209 kCal
60 F/60 F, 0 mph, 60% humidity
057 2017-05-13 5:16 pm Houghton Run Level I
6.43 mi, 1:05:37, 10:12 min/mile, 5.88 mph, 160 bpm (78.05%), 777 kCal
61 F/61 F, 6 mph, 39% humidity; sunny and pleasant
058 2017-05-15 6:10 am Strength Training 2017 #26
0:35:00, 233 kCal
60 F/60 F, 0 mph, 60% humidity
059 2017-05-15 6:10 pm Michigan Tech Indoor Pool Swim Level I
0.57 mi, 0:23:11, 40:40 min/mile, 1.48 mph, HR bpm, 206
60 F/60 F, 0 mph, 60% humidity
060 2017-05-16 6:10 am Strength Training 2017 #27
0:35:00, 233 kCal
60 F/60 F, 0 mph, 60% humidity
061 2017-05-16 6:22 pm Houghton Run Level I
4.41 mi, 0:50:26, 11:26 min/mile, 5.25 mph, 144 bpm (70.24%), 500 kCal
64 F/64 F, 7 mph SE, 68% humidity; partially cloudy and pleasant
062 2017-05-17 6:15 am Strength Training 2017 #28
0:35:00, 233 kCal
60 F/60 F, 0 mph, 60% humidity
063 2017-05-17 6:01 pm KRG Weekly Run 2017 #15/52
3.27 mi, 0:41:02, 12:32 min/mile, 4.79 mph, 146 bpm (71.22%), 462 kCal
52 F/52 F, 4 mph NE, 87% humidity; cloudy and comfortable
064 2017-05-19 6:15 am Strength Training 2017 #29
0:35:00, 233 kCal
60 F/60 F, 0 mph, 60% humidity

The morning of the half marathon came at leisure. While sipping a cup of coffee (I hadn’t had one in over two months), I realized that I had left the bottles (that hold the hydration) in my hydration belt back home in the Yoop. But Emily’s take on it was simple: it’s one less thing to carry around, there’ll be plenty aid stations throughout the course, and the extra weight I need to carry will decrease with consumption of each gu/gel pack. It was what I needed to get my mind of dwelling on things I could do nothing about and helped a long way in the upcoming hours.

Chris and I got to the starting area with sufficient time left to check our bags, use the facilities and make it to our corral. We (the half marathoners) missed the heavenly downpour that the marathoners had to endure at their start — it couldn’t have been comfortable for them, and it wouldn’t have been comfortable for us. The rendition of the Star Spangled Banner was less than spectacular but the event started on time. For the first time in three+ years, the weather was very Yoop-like and conducive for running: light drizzle, cloud cover, gentle breeze and not muggy. Cognizant of my lack of training leading up to this event, expectations were – for once – proportionally low, and I’d be satisfied if I finished around 2:30:00 mark. What I thought was a slow start was anything but that … clipping away the first few miles at 8:39, 8:40 and 8:30 min/mile pace. Realizing that this pace was at least a minute per mile faster than most training runs, it was around the 5k mark I began to wonder worry: that I’d crash and burn by 10k mark if I kept this pace up, and that I’d have a LONG and PAINFUL second half.

 

13.19 mi, 1:54:10, 8:39 min/mile, 6.94 mph, 171 bpm (83.41% of max)
(1) 8:39 (2) 8:40 (3) 8:28 (4) 8:30 (5) 8:34 (6) 8:43 (7) 8:46 (8) 8:49 (9) 8:25 (10) 8:34 (11) 8:49 (12) 8:48 (13) 8:44 (14) 1:41
Garmin fenix 3 HR, Garmin tempe external temperature sensor and WP GPX Maps plugin for WordPress
Sharp spike in pace around mile 13 is when I entered/exited the Packer tunnel in Lambeau Field

 

Fortunately enough, the expected crash and burn never really happened, and the pace remained consistently below 9 min/mile mark. Focusing on the lovely lush green canopy of trees while trying to have fun (per a strong recommendation from a dear friend) helped keep my mind off some lingering pain in the recently sprained left ankle. And so did seeing familiar faces in the crowd at multiple locations. Several good friends, mentors and familiar faces from previous editions had passed me by, and more would do so before all was done. Remembering the course, I hoped to keep the pace under the 9 min/mile mark over the next two ascending miles, 7 and 8, for I knew the rest of the course was mostly downhill or flat. By some divine intervention (or maybe it was the result of two months of strength training — since I think divinity had better things to do than intervene in my performance), I was able to sustain the desired pace not only for the next two miles but throughout the rest of it. I didn’t feel like I was pushing it beyond the level of comfort either. With wetness left behind (in the Packers tunnel) by a pantheon of runners ahead of me, my plans of sprinting the last mile had to be changed but this change wasn’t something I’d lose sleep over.

Splits and Δ splits analysis
Mile mark Metrics (0 -- mile mark) Δ split Metrics (between successive mile marks)
03.10 00:26:37, 8:35 min/mile, 6.99 mph 00.00 -- 03.10 00:26:37, 8:35 min/mile, 6.99 mph
06.20 00:53:09, 8:34 min/mile, 7.00 mph 03.10 -- 06.20 00:26:32, 8:33 min/mile, 7.02 mph
10.00 01:25:52, 8:35 min/mile, 6.99 mph 06.20 -- 10.00 00:32:43, 8:36 min/mile, 6.98 mph
13.36 01:54:12, 8:32 min/mile, 7.03 mph 10.00 -- 13.36 00:28:20, 8:25 min/mile, 7.13 mph

All said and done, the clock showed 1:54:10 — a whopping 35+ minutes ahead of my initial hope. To quote someone that once had coached a football team in this town, fatigue makes cowards of us all, and fortunately enough, unlike 2016, proper conditioning (i.e., ~two months of consistent strength training and protein intake, and consumption of energy gels during the run) more than made up for less than ideal distance preparations. It wasn’t my best time for this distance (that PR has been calling the Golden State its home since late 2015), it wasn’t even my best time for this course (that honor belongs to the 2016 edition) but I do feel like, with tangible evidence, that it was my best effort for this distance. I’ve NEVER run any race this consistently — every mile was under 9 min/mile but above 8 min/mile mark, and only 30 seconds separated my fastest mile from the slowest one.

If the numbers don’t lie and they don’t in this case, I am at about the same point in my performance curve now as I was at this time in 2016. What I thought was lack of progress and ability to let go of things in a similar situation in 2016 edition had turned out to be all that and then some — protein and iron deficiency. Lessons learned while recuperating from these as well as learning to better manage my own expectations (I’m still not very good at it yet) definitely is helping to be at peace with the today’s result.

Apart from a successful completion of the quest for all three parts of a three-part medal, it also marks a good baseline for 2017. Unlike 2016, I do feel good about where I am right now … as the real training for the Chicago Marathon begins during the first week of June. Hopefully, consistency in strength training and protein/iron intake so far will flow over to consistency in sleeping (quality and quantity) as well as in runs (number, variety and distance) over the next many months.


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

the opportunities, organizers, sponsors, volunteers, timing folks, law enforcement/border patrol/immigration officials, photographers, fellow racers, spectators, technologists with their creative electronic gadgets and tools, and my good friends 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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