Apple Blossom Half Marathon

May 19, 2014

First – a shout out to all my friends who ran the Green Bay Cellcom Half Marathon today!! You are too numerous to list, but I hope everyone had a great race. It certainly looks like it was fun from facebook pics!!

My Half

So, I ran a half marathon today too. I didn’t advertise it because I wasn’t sure I would. Since I was traveling, I knew getting my workouts in would be hard and I for sure would not want to do the long run on Sunday – my training plan called for a 90-105 run (1:30- to 1:45 hours, if I did my math right – I’m looking at you, Shannon). With my current pace, that put me within range of a half marathon. So, I hit up the Running in the USA calendar and looked for any halfs around Red Wing, MN. And I found the Apple Blossom Half Marathon in Hastings, MN, 30 minutes from Red Wing. SHAZAM!

I figured running an actual event would help motivate me, because I had registered and paid for it, and because the other runners would help get me excited too. I wouldn’t have to use my brain to plan a route and try to follow it in a strange area, and it would be fully supported. Lastly, if something happened to me or a crapped out, I would be the problem of the race volunteers and officials, who presumably would be prepared to handle such a problem runner, rather than my friends from the wedding who most certainly would not appreciate being put in that position. It was clearly a small local race, and relatively cheap too – $40 well spent, if you ask me.

The Start

Cheap also meant it wasn’t at all fancy, which was totally fine with me.  We had ankle time chips, like they use in triathlons, and I’m guessing they just all started us at once, cuz there was no timing mat at the start:

Start Line

This was fine because there weren’t that many of us doing the half – maybe 40-50, so gun time and chip time were probably pretty close.

Since I biked about 60 miles yesterday, was still nursing some bruises from falling on the bike, and got about 4 hours of sleep following the wedding, I also wasn’t “racing” this race. I viewed it as exactly what I mentioned – a supported training run. And I wasn’t feeling that social, if you can believe it. But, as I was standing there wondering what the hell I was thinking trying to run a half this morning, a really talkative girl marched up to my side and started chatting with me like were were long lost friends.

She said she was a teacher from a nearby small town, and was really looking forward to being done with school in three weeks. My background is in school psych, so we chatted about schools and teaching for a while. I asked her what time she was hoping for, and she said she was hoping to do 1:45, but she wasn’t arrogant when she said, it she really wasn’t. She also mentioned she hadn’t run in the past week. Since she said it confidently and she certainly looked like she could do it, I was all “Get it girl!” She asked me what time I hoped for and I told her I was just there for the scenery, haha. I really was just treating it like running with the Pacesetters, not a race. When we started, she took off at a clearly 1:45 or faster pace and I wished her good luck.

The First Mile

Remembering yesterday and freezing bike and wanting to never ever ever feel that cold again, I wore tri shorts, knee high compression socks, a running shirt, arm warmers, and a throw away long sleeve shirt. This was too much. I was glad I hadn’t worn the running tights, which I seriously considered. I threw away the long sleeve shirt at the first chance I got. The arm warmers were quickly too much too, but I actually like those arm warmers, so I didn’t want to throw them away. I would have worn my tri top again, but I forgot my number belt and I don’t like to pin through it. Had I done that, I would have had a rear pocket to stick them in.

Seeing no other option, I ended up shoving them right in the front of my shorts. Whatever, I’m never going to see these people again. Thankfully, the gender-bending bulge I feared my crotch would become wasn’t as bad I thought it would be. :) I actually forgot about them in a few minutes, until after the race when I used the porta potty and they fell out. On the floor, thankfully.

The Third Mile

This was a very hilly course. The third mile was remarkable because it involved a very long and fairly steep downhill. I took it easy, but I was passed on my left by a seriously crazy woman galloping twice as fast as I was down the hill. Her arms were literally flailing around, helping her keep her balance. I thought “Hey crazy lady, when you lose it and start going @ss over tea kettle down this hill, can you do me a favor and try to roll to the left, so I don’t have to try to run over you? Kthanxbi.” But SHE DIDN’T FALL. It was impressive, in a crazy way, it really was.

Miles 4-10

These miles were relatively uneventful. I took some photos:

Running Pic 1Running pic 3

Yes, I really did take photos while running. No, I don’t think this is weird anymore. I really was serious when I told you I was just running it and not racing it.

The race was pretty basic, as you can see. No cones or anything. When a turn would come up, they had just spray painted “Turn Right (or left)” on the road. And every water station consisted of a card table or the tailgate of a truck. Again, totally fine with me.

Mile 10.5 – The Tables Turn

As I approached mile 10.5, I saw a girl up ahead of me walking. And not power-walking, either.Sad walking. I thought it could be the teacher, but we had only talked when she was directly to my left, so I wasn’t sure I was recognizing her from behind. And this runner’s hair was falling all around and her shirt was all rolled up and tucked under her sports bra, looking every bit of the definition of a hot mess, which made it harder.

When I got up directly side-by-side to her, we made eye contact and there was no doubt it was her. I started to say “What happened?” but all I got out was “What” when her eyes when wide, she cut me off, and said loudly “I’M DYING!!”

I was so stunned I didn’t know what to say. I know – me, speechless! It’s true. Then she immediately blurts out “I lied – I haven’t run in the past two weeks!!” Not helping me come up with words, Teacher. I literally had no idea what to say. I had taken my 2nd and last energy gel 2 miles ago, and had very little Hammer Heed left in my water bottle. Besides, I could see a water station up ahead at what must have been mile 11. I couldn’t help her. I also couldn’t stay with her very long, since I was still running, and she was walking. Walking with her might have been nice, but it was clear it wouldn’t have changed anything for her and would only have ruined my run, which probably would have only made her feel worse.

When I was about 10-15 feet ahead of her, I finally yelled “Only 2.5 miles to go!” Wow. That was profound, Teresa. I’m sure that fired her right up. She’s probably sitting somewhere right now telling one of her friends all about the jerkface runner with a weird bulge in her shorts she met today – haha!

To be fair, I’m not sure there was anything I could have said to make any difference, good or bad. (Read an interesting debate about this issue from Runner’s World here). Still, I was too afraid/embarrassed to look behind me for the next mile! When I finally did look back, I couldn’t see her. I didn’t hang around the finish after the race, so I never did find out what happened to her. I wouldn’t have blamed her a bit if she DNF’d at mile 11. I hope whatever she did, she felt better. Poor girl.

The Finish

But I really felt pretty good! Still, I didn’t give it any sort of real kick until I was at about 12.80 miles. This was mostly due to the continued, unrelenting hills. Anyway, here’s a pic of the finish (taken before the race):

Finish Line

Love the apple crates lining the way! Everyone working the finish and the post race food area was either a little old lady volunteering for the Carpenter Nature Center that the proceeds benefited, or a boy scout in full uniform – scarf, badges, everything. I thanked each one that helped me, and the little old ladies thanked me for supporting the nature center. They were all adorable. Every last one of them.


The course was long, which I had figured out from a few mile markers I did manage to see on the course compared to my Garmin. So I stopped my watch at 13.1 and compared it to my chip time, just for fun:

Garmin TimeResults list circled

Overall, I was pumped about the time. I seriously had no idea I was doing so well. It was really hard to judge from all the hills. Speaking of, here’s the elevation profile taken from my Lie Detector:

Apple Blossom Half Elevation

Up, down, up, down, up, down….No flats for you!

And the map:

Apple Blossom Half Map

And the splits:

Apple Blossom Half Splits

Post Race

After the race, I joined Celeste and Sarah who were just finishing up their gift opening ceremony. They didn’t plan on that until yesterday, so I think they were ok with the fact that I couldn’t make it. I know for sure they appreciated me coming in wearing all my spandex and smelling delightful ;) I’m so glad my friends love me despite myself.

A little later I did finally shower, put on my favorite post-running race t-shirt, and we had lunch. Then I drove home, which takes me right through my hometown, so I of course had to stop to hang out and have dinner with this awesome lady:

Mom and I

Yeah I know it’s blurry. I didn’t take it :)

And now I’m one level above exhausted. Good night – hope you had a good Sunday!


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