2014: Door County Half Marathon

No more than 48 hours had passed since what was planned to be my first big city event and the last of organized running events for 2013, and a naive conversation started with a dear friend and a fellow participant in the said event. The said naive conversation soon turned into thoughts about participating in another half marathon in 2014.

Given how much I love the varied ambience of Door County (Wisconsin), and how much fun it was to get a personal tour driving through — albeit for a short time the only time — with a dear friend‘s dad, and remembering the attractive race bling that my buddy Nils had earned in 2011 (remember, registration for this race happened in 2013 — when I was still immature enough to run for the bling and hadn’t made up mind to run better myself instead), it didn’t take too much thinking on my part to pick the Door County Half Marathon (over Cellcom Green Bay Half Marathon) from a list of events Alicia offered.

Temperatures in March and April weren’t anything that I hadn’t or wouldn’t run outside in. But various interesting projects lead to almost non-existent training in much of March. Most of the runs over last 2-3 weeks included a speed/interval training concept taught by a dear friend, Rob Larson.

Just as I was getting into the groove of running (almost) daily, upper respiratory tract infection showed its ugly head about 10 days before the event with all the common symptoms: itchy throat, general body aches, shivers, cough and inability to often sleep well. Thanks be to a real doctor friend, Shannon Handler, for super quick diagnosis over a handful of text messages and getting me back on track via timely medication.

In an attempt to minimize the impact of car legs, I opted to leave for Green Bay as early as possible on Friday. Drive down was smooth and uneventful. After taking care of some necessary task for an upcoming activity in June, dear friend Matthew Becker joined me for lunch in HuHot Mongolian Grill — one of my happier places in that area.

Making I only put one letter for my last name. May be that could have confused the organizers and that won’t leave me enough time tomorrow to pick up the race packet with a relaxed state of mind as an excuse to drive through Door County once more, I headed up towards Fish Creek. The excuse, in this case, turned out to be a good reasoning: for one, Fish Creek was much further up the county than I had remembered or imagined or expected; more importantly, the one letter last name had indeed caused some confusion and took the organizers a few extra minutes to locate my packet (in Ephraim Village Hall, a few miles up the road along WI-42). It also turned out to be my first experience of a pre-race expo.

Summary of training activities
## Activity Date and Time Details
Distance, Time, Speed, Pace
# of falls
01 Great Bear Chase 08 Mar 2014 @ 09:45 pm 6.20 mi, 2:13:26, 2.70 mph, 22:13 min/mile 25+
02 Lakeshore Run 23 Mar 2014 @ 03:30 pm 2.02 mi, 0:23:12, 5.20 mph, 11:32 min/mile
03 Classic XC Ski: Michigan Tech Trails 29 Mar 2014 @ 11:25 pm 3.40 mi, 1:25:27, 2.40 mph, 25:00 min/mile 0
04 Classic XC Ski: Michigan Tech Trails 30 Mar 2014 @ 01:20 pm 2.15 mi, 0:44:57, 2.90 mph, 20:41 min/mile 3
05 Classic XC Ski: Michigan Tech Trails 05 Apr 2014 @ 09:00 pm 6.40 mi, 1:44:02, 3.70 mph, 16:13 min/mile 1
06 Atlantic Mine 5k 13 Apr 2014 @ 04:50 pm 3.10 mi, 0:38:45, 4.80 mph, 12:30 min/mile
07 Atlantic Mine 5k Cool Down 13 Apr 2014 @ 05:30 pm 0.50 mi, 0:05:16, 5.80 mph, 10:20 min/mile
08 Lakeshore Run 14 Apr 2014 @ 06:15 pm 2.00 mi, 0:20:38, 5.80 mph, 10:21 min/mile
09 Campus Ave/Lakeshore Drive/Campus Run 20 Apr 2014 @ 10:40 am 3.13 mi, 0:35:08, 5.30 mph, 11:19 min/mile
10 Lakeshore Drive/Campus Ave Run 21 Apr 2014 @ 06:35 pm 4.04 mi, 0:46:48, 5.20 mph, 11:32 min/mile
11 Lights2Lights Run 23 Apr 2014 @ 05:40 pm 1.00 mi, 0:10:34, 5.70 mph, 10:34 min/mile
12 Cemetery Ave/Lakeshore/Campus Ave Run 23 Apr 2014 @ 06:05 pm 4.50 mi, 0:52:04, 5.20 mph, 11:32 min/mile
13 Classic XC Ski: Michigan Tech Trails 28 Apr 2014 @ 05:25 pm 3.15 mi, 0:55:40, 3.30 mph, 17:39 min/mile 1
14 Tech Trails Snow Run 28 Apr 2014 @ 06:25 pm 1.04 mi, 0:17:27, 3.60 mph, 16:40 min/mile
15 Classic XC Ski: Michigan Tech Trails 29 Apr 2014 @ 11:40 am 3.10 mi, 0:49:15, 3.80 mph, 15:47 min/mile 0

Personal goals for this event, in order of importance, were as follows:

  1. Finish the race without bodily injuries to myself or to anyone around me.
  2. Not be the last one to finish (overall, amongst males and in my age group).
  3. Finish in the top 90% (overall, amongst males and in my age group).
  4. Run at least 90% of the length of the course, irrespective of pace.
  5. Use the aid stations to hydrate/electrolyte well.
  6. Not yield to Exercise-related Transient Abdominal Pain or side stitches, as my body commonly knows.
  7. Set a new personal record, beating my previous best time of 2:38:48 (12:06 min/mile) from 2013 Hancock Canal Run Half Marathon.
  8. Finish under 2:30:00 (11:27 min/mile or less).

Having eaten well at the Pasquale’s International Cafe and rested well the night before in the cozy confines of dear friend Sarah‘s home, I left De Pere around 7 am towards the Peninsula State Park. The drive, as expected, was slow and took a little over 90 minutes. Fortunately, it didn’t take too long to find my friends well before the start time — Amber, Alicia, Doug, Angela and Tony — in a crowd of 3000 or more, giving us an opportunity to catch up on each other’s lives.

It was by far the most festive atmosphere for the start of any of the half marathons I have been a part of: a beautiful rendition of America, the beautiful was followed by a very joyous, energy filled, and music pumping start to the race. I chose to follow the 2:25 pace team (Amy and Katie, the pacers) and it took at least couple miles before I wasn’t rubbing shoulders with fellow runners.

##   Time/Pace Overall
F: 1058
M: 673
Age group
01 Alicia 1:47:58 (8:15) 252 63 17/187
02 Angela 2:24:41 (11:03) 1338 745 141/197
03 Yours truly 2:33:13 (11:42) 1480 627 127/135
04 Amber 2:53:27 (13:14) 1626 963 177/187

Thanks in great part to hilly courses used during minimal training, and Nils’ tips, the partly hilly course didn’t pose too much of an issue. A plethora of aid stations made sure that I didn’t have to carry the extra weight of a water bottle. A recent calorie counting insightful discussion with Christina Smigowski, Kara and Sam Graci made sure that I didn’t carry any gels (or use one from the aid stations) either. Side stitches weren’t an issue until about the 8 mile mark but they were severe when they made an appearance and stayed on for 4-4.50 miles, slowing my pace down considerably.

With side stitches seemingly going away with only a mile to go, the dream of 2:30 (or below) finish was within reach, albeit barely by a few seconds. Seeing a lady in tears, writhing in pain from a blister and knowing the only medical help was past the finish line, I stopped to check on her. It was well worth giving up a few minutes of my time to make sure she crossed the said finish line ahead of me and get her the medical attention she needed. All said and done, I still had beaten my previous time by 5+ minutes, and there sure will be plenty more opportunities to get below 2:30 in near future.

Support all along the course from fellow racers, organizers, volunteers (Friends of the Peninsula State Park, Sturgeon Bay Skatepark Initiative, Shepherd of the Bay Guatemala Mission Trip 2013, Pirates in the Harbour, YMCA, Thumbs Up Riders, Sevastopol School Track and Cross Country, and Jacksonport Women’s Club), photographers, Sports Management Associates, Inc. (timing and results), vendors, sponsors, spectators and friends made for a very memorable event and day in Door County — something that I would like to be a part of next year. It has been quite a while since I hugged or high-fived so many people that I had never met before and/or might never meet again.

13.1 miles in 2:33:13 @ 5.10 mph, 11:42 minutes/mile
Splits: 10:55, 10:24, 10:44, 10:44, 11:53, 11:14, 11:31, 12:18, 11:38, 11:49, 12:36, 12:57, 13:12, 14:38
Courtesy: Garmin Forerunner 405CX, Garmin Foot Pod and WP GPX Maps plugin for WordPress

Comparing the results with the goals I had going into this event, I

  1. finished the race and did so without any bodily injuries to myself or to anyone around me.
  2. was not the last one to finish (1480/1731 overall, 627/673 amongst males and 127/135 in my age group).
  3. finished in the top 83% overall, top 93% amongst males, and top 94% in my age group.
  4. walked less than 1 mile, making it 92% for run.
  5. used all but one aid stations to hydrate and electrolyte well.
  6. did suffer from side stitches; realized that may be carrying few muscle relaxers with me might be a good idea.
  7. did beat my previous best time by 0:05:35 and as such, earned a new PR.
  8. took 2:33:13 to finish and as such, finishing under 2:30:00 (11:27 min/mile or less) remains a dream.

Given that the longest training run was 4.50 miles and that I only *trained* over the last 2-3 weeks leading up to the event, I will gladly take these results. Post-race activities included a warm shower (courtesy of Door County YMCA), black bean burger with sweet potato fries and chipotle mayo sauce (thanks to Sarah for helping with what to get) at Husby’s Food & Spirits with Shauna and Nathan, and Sarah and Jonathan, and Jamie, and Amber, and a bunch of fine women wearing fine and fancy hats in honor of the 140th Kentucky Derby. And return drive to the Yoop was about as smooth and uneventful as the drive down to Wisconsin.

Praise be to the Good Lord, and thanks be to 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 Engstroms (Christine and Jaime), the Fredricksons (Lynda 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 Meyers’ (Jeanne, Ted and John), the Obermanns (Catherine and Tim), the Oppligers (Shawn, Emily 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 and Dan), the Smigowskis (Christina and Tim), the Stenvigs, the Stickelmyers, the Tervos, 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 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, Houghton Police Department, Adam Griffis, Amy Madsen, Ashley Ames, Dr. Bryan Suits, Caleb Wendel, Chelsea Trowbridge, Christopher Schwartz, Dr. Daniel Fuhrmann, Darcy Donnelly, Erin Kauppila, Greg Reed, Jeffrey Toorongian, Julie Ruotsala, Katie Temple, Kelly Boyer and Todd Ontl, Kelly Wooten, Kelsae Eliszewski, Kim Green, Krista Kasuboski, Kristin Thompson, Laura Mlynski, Lauri Keteri-Smith, Leah Tollefson, Lena Widman, Louisa Raisbeck and Jesse Cleaver, Lynette Potvin and Matt Manders, Lynn Czarnecki Makela, Lynn Geisler, Mahesh Shastry, Marc Rea, Maria Janowiak, Mark Mehler, Matt Mlinar, Mary Webster, Michael Babcock, Mike LaMotte, Shreya Kumar and Randal Harrison, Ray Sharp, Rebecca Anderson, Ryan Towles, Riccardo Tortini, Robert Larson, Dr. Robert Weidman, Sam Roache, Sarah Bird and William Atkinson, Sarah Conner, Sarah Menassian, Sarah Stream, Scott Gibbs, 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 a runner.

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