Sunday, August 17, 2008

St. Michael Inline 1/2 Marathon Race Report

My goal was to finish the 13.1 miles in 45 minutes. I am very happy that I finished in 44 minutes and 18 seconds. My mile pace was 3:23 and that is just over 17 mph. This is the fasted I've skated all summer. I am actually quite surprised because at times I felt like I was going very slow during the race.

The weather was excellent. The course was really good...lots of tar snakes but as long as you keep your eyes on the road these can be avoided. I started out with a very fast pack. Just before the first turn around at 3 miles or so I thought my heart was going to explode it was racing so fast. I decided to drop off the group and calm things down a bit. I ended up skating to the next turn around all by myself but that was alright with me as it took me that long to slow my heart rate down.

I found another group to skate with for the last 6 miles. There was a group a head of us and behind us so I decided to see if I could push/pull the group to catch the pack in front of us. A few other skaters responded. This is where things got really fun.

With 4 miles left about eleven of us packed together and we really picked up the speed. Some times the backend of our group would have to split out to the left because we were going too fast for the whole. With 3 miles left I started planning on how I could break out in front and position myself for a sprint to the finish line. With a mile left and the finish line in sight I followed a skater out to the left of our group and said "Let's go" I turned to look behind me and said to the guy right behind me "C'mon let's hammer it to the finish." We broke off and then there were two lines screaming side by side. MAN! That was fun. I said to our group "We're bookin!!" Another guy behind me responded "No Sh#@, this is scary." It was the fastest I've gone on skates all year without the help of a big down hill.

With 100 yards left I decided to push off the group and go for it to the finish line and to try to beat these skaters. One guy came with me and I could feel him breathing down my neck. He literally was spitting for breath. There was 20 feet left to the finish line and I entered dream state - that slow motion running feeling. My facial muscles started to quiver and I knew I hit a wall. I've noticed this is what happens to me when my muscles are maxed, the right side of my face quivers. I just needed to stand up for another five feet and I would make the line. Right at the line the guy passed me. He finished at 44:17 and I was 44:18. The next 9 skaters in our group all finished from 44:19 to 44:27.

I placed middle of the road at 8th out of 16th in my age group. I really don't care because my overall goal was to beat 45 minutes and I did. It was a great event!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Hayward Inline Races Report

Did I really write that I would try to beat my personal best time? Was that me? Yes.

Crossing the finish line yesterday at 1:52 was a stride forward toward humility. My first words to my joyful wife as she greeted me with a huge smile was "That was a (B- word)." Sorry Babe. I wish I would have had a smile too. What was I thinking....beating my personal best at HILLY Hayward? Yeah right!

I've had some time to process things and I don't feel as bad about my time today. I learned the course was actually 27.4 miles, according to some other skater's GPS units. An extra 1.2 miles that added at least 4 minutes to my time. Also, the course was a bit different this year. Last year the main turn around was on a flat stretch but this year it was in the backwoods, as the rest of the course, and that just means more hills. I figure there was an extra 3-4 miles of hills added to the course. I heard the pros even comment at how much more difficult the course seemed this year (who by the way skated close to 41 miles in the 39 miles challenge!) The overall marathon winning time was close to a full 10 minutes longer than last year. So with this perspective I am not as disappointed. Nevertheless I keep learning how to get better. Hayward made me a better skater.

I got dropped again by the initial group around 10 miles. Things were going great until that happened. Like St. Paul I found myself leading more pacelines. It is a lot of work. At the first water point I took the outside on a turn and another skater who had been drafting behind me took the inside and cut in front of me right before the water. I had to stop completely to avoid hitting her. By the time I got going again the group was a good 30 yards in front of me and pulling away. I tried and tried to catch them for at least two miles but I gave up. Earlier I had waited for a guy so I was waiting for him to return the favor. Nope. I skated alone for the rest of the race, another 10 miles or so by myself. I had some choice words for myself.

One highlight was when I won a sprint prem. A prem is a race contest with in the larger race. There was a flat sprint of about 50 yards. They blow an air horn, if you can hear it, you are part of the prem. I was behind four other guys and I decided to go for it. I sprinted hard and passed the first guy right at the finish. It was really fun and I won a set of 90mm wheels!

In spite of it being a slow day it was a great day! My wife was with me. She loved the experience and that made me happy. The weather was perfect and we made some new friends.

Next weekend I skate a 1/2 marathon in St. Michael, Minnesota.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Heading to Hayward For A Very Hilly Inline Marathon

I am leaving today about 3:30 to head up to Hayward, Wisconsin for my second year skating the Hayward Inline Marathon.

Last year I learned about this amazingly beautiful country course filled with big hills everywhere. I am filled with joy that my wife will be coming along for support (my great mother is taking all four of our children overnight...THANK YOU.)

My goal up until yesterday was to finish in 1:45. Yesterday I psyched myself out and changed my goal to 1:39 - I want to beat my personal best of 1:41 set last week at St. Paul. The weather is suppose to be perfect in Hayward and I am going to change a few things based on what I learned about myself last week. I still felt like I was holding back so this week when I feel like that I am going to push it. Also, I am actually a better skater on hills so I plan to use that to my advantage. Last year I didn't know what to expect, this year I will charge every hill.

I am excited as well to see what happens in my race class - which is actually based on weight, it's called Clydesdale and for skaters over 200lbs. I am 216 today. Last week I talked to the organizers and they thought there were only five registrants in Clydesdale. There are awards for the top three. I actually have my best chance to bring home some hardware, unless I skate against 200 lb pros.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

St. Paul Inline Marathon Race Report

I've been waiting for this race since I crossed the finish line last year. It is such a great time. The weather came through, there was no rain and the heat stayed low. My only nemisis was the south wind.

I wanted to beat my personal best of 1:47 and I set a goal to finish in 1:40. I finished in 1:41 with an average speed of 15.5 mph. I was really happy with a top ten place in my age group - open men 35-39. Here are the other details of my results.

I started in the first wave of open skaters and the pace was very fast. Everyone was incredibly focused as we all jockeyed for the right pace line. Lines formed almost immediately. Before I knew it we made the first turn back at 5 miles. I found myself leading a few pace lines for a while. I hadn't done this in prior years.

Soon we merged with two other nearby lines between 7 and 10 miles and I was on the tail end of that line. Not sure why we did this but it turned out good for us as the course narrowed quite a bit. We're talking about 25 skaters and I'm guessing but we were probably pacing 18-20 mph as we passed by the first large group of spectators. My Wife and children, Mother and Krist Noser were there with cowbells and hoots and hollers. What a blast! Last year I missed seeing them but this time I positioned my self in order to look at them directly. We flew by fast but it was so great to see them. Thanks for coming out to cheer me on guys!

I was dropped off that large group at about 12 miles. The wind was very stiff and I tried to grab a breather but the group just kept moving. Then as we approached a hill the group sailed off and I was alone. I skated a very torturous windy mile to the next turn around. It feel like I was standing still. But I recovered as I made the turn and the wind was at my back. I was alone until coming back through where my family was watching. This time I tried to reach out and high five my daugher but I pulled back as I realized I'd probably send her flying as we connected. It was refreshing to see them again and this gave me the drive to pick up the pace and catch a group a head of me.

At mile 14 or so I caught a group and we formed a line. Again I found myself leading. But this time our line seemed to work much better together as we started taking turns in the lead. We kept a very steady pace.

Next thing you know I see the mile marker for mile 25. I'd soon be making the left turn up the finish hill.

I finished as strong as I could. I felt like I was sprinting but then again it also felt like running in a dream. But my wife said I looked strong and happy.

What a great race. I pushed it hard but I've spent the day thinking about what my time could have been if I would not have been dropped in the wind. Every time I race I learn something new, try something new, and push a little harder. I believe I still had something left in me and I could have gone harder (especially to make up that 1 minute.) Next Saturday I'll have a chance when I head to Hayward.

Friday, August 01, 2008

When and Where To Watch

The St. Paul Inline Marathon is this Sunday, August 3rd. It runs along Shepard road down by the riverfront in St. Paul with the finish at Mears Park.

If your so inclined to get up early and come and check it out, here are my estimated times where I think I'll be crossing under Wabasha bridge which is a great place to watch all the skaters (and its a straight shot up Sibley to the finish line.):

Race start - 8:05-8:11
1st Pass (10 miles) - 8:40-8:45
2nd Pass (16 miles) - 9:05-9:10
Finish (26.2 miles) - 9:40-9:51

I will be wearing a red sleeveless shirt and my helmet is dark orange and black.

The heat will be on but I don't think it will reach the forecasted 94 degrees until later in the day.