I ran the Monster Dash Half Marathon yesterday in a time of 1:58:55!
This is a new personal record for me after my first two attempts at the distance (#1 at the Lake Minnetonka Half last spring and #2 in Chicago’s 13.1 Marathon this past June) and my last try at my goal of improving my half marathon time in 2013.
Race day went almost perfectly. I had plenty of time with the 8:30 start and I had some toast & jelly and a banana with my coffee while I got ready. My friend Hillary was an absolute saint and took care of all the critical details for me all weekend – she picked up my bib & race packet for me on Friday, picked me up Saturday morning, knew the fastest route to get there and had a permit for free parking only a few blocks away from the start. She even had extra mittens for me to use while I waited in the line for the porta-potty at the start, and gave me a quick “good luck!” before I ran over to the start just in time to take off.
The weather was cool, sunny, and perfect for a hard effort without getting too hot. I wore crop leggings, dri-fit tee and long sleeved half-zip and felt perfect. I had been worried the weather would be closer to 30 vs. the near-40* temps on race morning, so I was relieved to leave my headband and gloves at home and have a few less things to keep track of during the event.
I am proud of myself for sticking to my training plan about 90% of the time this cycle – my first half marathon I was still getting a hang of following a true training schedule, and my training during the beginning of this summer coincided with a bunch of work travel and I didn’t do the best job keeping up with running. I think I improved at sticking to a plan this time around and included runs with target times like interval training/sprints on the treadmill, Hal Higdon’s tempo runs, and goal-pace runs. These extra workouts definitely helped get me in better and faster shape, but the fact that I missed my very last long run while I was sick last weekend kept creeping into my mind as I took off at what felt like a pretty ambitious pace Saturday morning.
The Monster Dash course is downhill almost the entire way with only 2 very noticeable hills throughout the course. The St. Paul Cathedral made for a beautiful starting location and the rest of the course was filled with fall-colored trees and views of the Mississippi. Checking out other runners’ costumes made for the best on-course entertainment I’ve ever had, and there were live bands dotting the course.. but to be honest I was jamming out to my own playlist – enjoy on Spotify! You don’t even have to train, just sign up for a half marathon and listen to this playlist while you run it and you will get a PR. I just wrote that on the internet, so it must be true. Here ya go!!
Full List -
Beatles – Come Together
JAY Z – Tom Ford
Bastille – Pompeii
Timbaland – The Way I Are
No Doubt – Spiderwebs
Kanye West – Stronger
Feed Me – Love Is All I Got
JAY Z – Dirt Off Your Shoulder
Ram Jam – Black Betty
Lil Wayne – Knockout
Arctic Monkeys – R U Mine?
Miley Cyrus – See You Again
Lily Allen – Not Fair
Major Lazer – Jah No Partial – feat. Flux Pavilion
Lady Gaga – Telephone
Britney Spears – Work B**ch
Miley Cyrus – Do My Thang
will.i.am – Scream & Shout
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – Can’t Hold Us – feat. Ray Dalton
Gym Class Heros – The Queen and I
TV On The Radio – Mercy
OneRepublic – Counting Stars
Girl Talk – Triple Double
Flo Rida – Good Feeling
Avicii – You Make Me
Sub Focus – Tidal Wave
Trampled By Turtles – Wait So Long
Rusko – Hold On – Sub Focus Remix
Avicii – Wake Me Up – Radio Edit
Calvin Harris – I Need Your Love
The Joy Formidable – Austere
Leikeli47 – Heard Em Say (Feat. Curt@!n$)
What’s available on Spotify:
Despite my concerns about missing my last key workout, I just kept telling myself that I was strong and that last run didn’t cancel out all the other hard work I did in the last 12 weeks. I saw a sign at the very beginning of the race that said “Never Give Up!” and I sort of made myself a mental pinky-promise that I was going to gut it out during this race even when it started to hurt because I REALLY wanted to reach my 2 hour goal this year! I tried not to weave too much as I found a spot to run at my own pace in the crowd, and noticed I was chasing a girl dressed like a clown with a cute tie and colored hair in front of me. I was using the Runmeter iPhone app which tells me my pace at 5 minute intervals along with a stopwatch and a mile-by-mile time chart written on my hand to try and keep me on track. I focused on hitting my times each mile marker and continued to fall into step next to my new clown friend.
I don’t remember much of the run as I focused on keeping a good rhythm and listening to my music. I kept reminding myself to enjoy the moment, have fun watching the spectators, and be grateful for being out in the sunshine with the bright colored leaves lining the streets and it helped the miles fly past. I was glad I had my watch and hand-written time chart because I continued to hit my goal times while the app on my phone consistently told me I was running a faster pace than what could be true based on the course… a more accurate Garmin watch is definitely on my wishlist! I took part of a mocha Clif gel around mile 6, which didn’t go down easy and I tossed it after choking down about 3/4 of the pack. I also ran out of my handheld water around this time and took a cup of water at every aid station from there on out.
Around mile 7, I popped out my earbud and said to my anonymous running partner, “Over halfway there!”. We introduced ourselves and chatted a little bit and learned we both wanted to finish under 2 hours, and thanked each other for helping make it on-pace so far. We noticed the 2 hour pace group was running just in front of us, so we made a plan to stick together trailing them and try to catch up before running into the finish.
Around mile 10 I started to feel the fatigue in my legs. I could feel every footfall in my ankle and knee and my body definitely started sending “can we please give up now?” pleas to my brain. I told those little whiny brats in my head to shut it while I finished up the last 5k of the race while my race buddy and I caught up to the 2 hour pace group. The next 2 miles passed quickly actually and I tried to focus on visualizing myself finishing the race strong and knowing I was so close to reaching this big goal for myself, all I had to do was push myself a little longer. I ran the last 1.1 as fast as I could and smiled when I stopped my watch and looked down and saw 1:58:55.
My pacing buddy and I thanked each other one more time (she was headed off to watch her kids’ swim meet while I was already planning my naptime strategy – what a rockstar) and I found Hillary along the finish line while I grabbed my medal and snack bag before we headed home. I called Brandon quickly – he actually just got home from several weeks of work travel, yay!!! – and got home and into the shower before recovering with carbs and chocolate almond milk on the couch all afternoon. Mmm.
I have heard some negative reviews from the race – the main routes to get into the city and parking lots were overcrowded and some people missed the race as a result. The medals are oddly made of belt buckles attached to lanyards. And the chip system malfunctioned for a lot of runners (including me) but the chip company is correcting race times and mine is already up-to-date online so I can’t complain. Oh, and the 5k race interfered with the finish of the fasted half marathon runners. That would suck. For me personally, the day couldn’t have gone more smoothly thanks to Hillary knowing the city so well and I am just so happy to have felt great during the run and got my time. We bailed from a Halloween party last night because I was so tired and I can’t walk today, but it’s all worth it knowing I worked hard to get that sub-2 and I can only get better from here!
Hope everyone had a great weekend!! Leave me a comment with ideas on how to get my butt off the couch the rest of the winter now that my race is over…