Sunday, June 23, 2013

Gary Bjorklund 1/2 Marathon- review & recap

Yay the 1/2 marathon is in the books! It was a great day for running- about 55 degrees, misty, and foggy. I really appreciated the fog- usually you can see the finish line about 9 miles out, so it was nice not to have that taunting me the whole run.

So this year was my fourth time running this race. Every year I complain about the same things. Here are my major complaints:
  • Porta-Potties: These are only available at the start after you drop of your sweats bag. The bathrooms are arranged in two rows, doors facing in at each other. It's not that there is a shortage of bathrooms- but the area is SO disorganized! People can funnel in from either end and end up clumping in the middle- no rhyme or reason or anything. It is stressful, people get cranky, and also, people get trapped in the bathroom! Since the doors open into the crowd, it is tough to escape if you have actually made it into a bathroom. 
  • The sweat drop is another issue. The race folks want you to drop your bag into a u-haul, men in one, women in another, on opposite sides of the road. Well that is nice, but please, please, please mark the men's & women's clearly...and maybe figure out a way to reduce the incredible bottleneck that inevitably happens since the trucks aren't clearly marked as M/F. 
  • The last two miles are frustrating. Zig-zags, back and forth, and also, seeing the finish line but not actually being close? Ugh. 
Things I love:
  • Besides the finish, this course is pretty great. Nice, gradual down hills, only one "hill" which I think is exaggerated, and pretty awesome crowd support, especially over the last 5 miles. 
  • The expo is good- not too packed but they have good vendors. 
  • Duluth is awesome- the whole town seems to get involved with the race and although the crowd support is especially awesome over the last 5 miles, there are people all along the half marathon course out cheering. Did anyone see the bros offering a beer bong at mile 8ish? So friendly! I wonder how many people took them up on that offer.....                                              

Mr. B and I left at about 1 on Friday and made it up to Duluth by 3:30. We picked up my sister and headed to the expo for packet pick up. We stayed just long enough for Sarah to find a cute tank top, and then we headed to Grandma's (of course) for dinner.

Some sort of porter...I can't remember the name! It was good.
We got up the next day at 4:30, and Mr. B drove us (Sarah, my friends Leslie & John, and myself) to UMD for the buses to the start. We had to wait about 10 minutes but got onto a bus after running into my track workout buddy and friend Meg and her husband Ben. While on the bus, Meg discovered she left her bib back at the place she stayed- I don't know what happened but she was still able to run!

Anyway. My goal for the race was to pace Sarah to sub 1:40, which is 7:38 min/mile. Here are our approximate splits (which are wacky):

1: 7:47
2: 7:16
3: 7:10
4: 7:13
5-7: 22:24
8: 7:46
9: 7:30
11: 7:37
12: 7:30

Total time: 1:37:23 (me) 1:38 (Sarah)

A little bit before the 5 mile I needed to take a potty break so I gave Sarah the watch. I knew I could catch up with her but damn that was a hard mile (?not sure if that was how long it took). 

At about mile 9 I started trying to really get Sarah going since I could tell she was hurting (those pesky miles 2-4 were probably starting to catch up with her) and I honestly thought she was going to punch me. I guess I coach too much during races. Sorry, Sarah. But also, not sorry, since she finished well clear of her goal. I went with about 1200 to go (too competitive to not finish hard) and felt great finishing. I think I need to get my leg issues worked out and then work on running a 10 mile PR this fall. 

Here are some photos, courtesy of Mr. B:

  Meb Keflezighi (2nd overall, 1:01:22) and Mo Trafeh (1:01:16. winner)

Abdi Abdirahman (6th, 1:02:56)

Our friend Brian (in white) who got 2nd in the non-championship race.

Me, in the white hat (Dave Wottle style). Nice ambiance with the fog.

Sarah right behind me in the purple tank top.

Being tough after the race.
 I'm so happy that Sarah ran under her goal - she is better than she gives herself credit for! I think next year we should just shoot for sub 1:30. Go big or go home, right??


  1. Congrats on an awesome race, Julia! It was a great day for racing -- there were a lot of PRs yesterday :)

    1. Thanks! It was a great day to run!

  2. Great recap!! I ran the half last year and agree those port-a-potties are a nightmare! But I'm not really sure how they should do it differently... I think it's great that you are nice enough to pace your friend, I need to find speedy friends who don't mind slowing down and pacing me!

    1. My thought is they should put them back to back, to get rid of the middle cluster. I love pacing my sister- she is a good running companion!

  3. Woo! What an awesome performance! The portapotty situation does sound.. weird. I'm always a little taken aback when I see things organized poorly. It's like... didn't you give this a moment's thought?