Sunday, February 8, 2015

Minden Run For St. Jude Half Marathon Race Report

I've decided in 2015 that I'm going to run a bunch of half marathons, especially here in the spring.

When I've done a lot of announcing, my running will sometimes go to pot because of the time I spend preparing for a race to be at the top of my game in that aspect.

A week after the Chevron Houston Marathon (which is now three weeks ago), I did a pair of half marathons in Benbrook and Waco.  I'll go back and recap all three of these races at some point.

Last Saturday, January 31, I made a trip to Minden, Louisiana for the Minden Run For St. Jude (Children's Hospital).

Not even sure how I first saw the race, but the price certainly caught my eye - $45 for a half.  Reminded me a lot of the Huntsville Half Marathon produced by the Seven Hills Running Club.

I won't go into my thoughts of what I think is an exhorbitant amount for a half marathon.

The other thing that I noticed when I checked out the race's web page is that Mike Hutcheson with No Limits Timing in Louisiana, who times the Texas 10 Series for Willie Fowlkes, was working this event.

He said that he was timing it for the first time in the event's now 7-year history.

I drove up to thre Shreveport area late Friday afternoon and got in town early enough to go see a Red River Athletic Conference men's college basketball game between Huston-Tillotson and LSU-Shreveport.

I love to mix running and other sports up when I put a weekend full of activity together.

I'm not one that loves getting to a race site super early - especially after doing so with all of the events that I announce (and work), but this one paid off by being no more than 100 yards from the start / finish line.

There's something about running a race in a smaller town which has over 1,000 participants.

It is large enough to not be running in a new place totally alone, but enough for the event to have a little buzz to it.

After finding out where our packets were, I sought out and found Hutch.  He as busy, of course, but we enjoyed seeing the other.  I love working with Mike.

When I announce, I help timers at the finish line because I'll notice men that are wearing bibs for females or vice versa.  So it is a win-win situation and I know that Mike appreciates what assistance that I provide him and he puts together a solid reader mat solution for me to really provide the participant a great finish line call.

The biggest thing that surprised me was his finish line setup with a nice inflatable and chute.

Since the races I work with him at doesn't need his equipment, I never have gotten to see his first-class stuff.  And I expected nothing less from Hutch.

With a race start time of 7:30, I noticed that there was no activity going on.  The race day operations part of me was wondering how this was going to come down.

I saw the woman who I believed to be the race director and I told her that if she needed a finish line announcer for next year that I would get Hutch my information.  She responded, "You can announce this year if you'd like."  I told her that I was running it!

However, I did, at 7:15 a.m., grab the microphone and did my normal pre-race announcements - like I can do in my sleep sometimes - and we started to get people queued up in the corral.

Good stuff.

The race got started on-time and I remember in my communications with Mike that the first four miles going out were a little hilly.

I told him as I crossed the start line to not "mess up my time".

The temperature was perfect for me -- in the 42- to 48-degrees range.  That means I can breathe!

At Benbrook the Saturday before, I ran with Ken Johnson from Huntsville the entire way and then Waco the next day at Miracle Match, I didn't run quite as well.  Therefore, I really didn't know what to expect.

The first mile came through at 9:51.79.

A little faster than what I like for a half marathon, but I felt good.  The first water stop was coming up in mile 2 -- and it would be the only one until mile 5.  This was one of the things that I pointed out after the race via Facebook that they needed to correct -- was with a stop in the middle, even if it was a self-service aid station.

Volunteers were incredibly friendly and helpful.

Even given the inclines - as they weren't really hills, but they kept coming, the next two miles checked in at 19:47.07 for a total time of 29:38.86.

I wasn't registering that it was under 10 minutes a mile at that time.

And as you can imagine, I didn't see the mile 2 marker as they weren't really existent.

Past mile 5, we made a right-hand turn on to a road that wasn't closed to traffic as I noticed later that it was the only real east-to-west connecting street on the north part of the community.  Therefore, it would have been tough - in hindsight - to close it completey.

My recommendation was to keep runners in one lane and allow cars to pass in the other with construction zone traffic control.

It was an area that was dangerous to runners as cars drove up the middle of runners that were running to the outsides of their lanes coming and going.

We crossed a major north-south intersection going out without much problem on our way to the turnaround spot.

Without mile markers, I made it from mile three to presumably the 6.55-mile mark in 36:10.75 to bring my time at the half way point to 1:05:49.61.

Since my offset time was 28.75 seconds, it showed as 1:06 on my watch.

I doubled that time and added a minute or two and realized that I could have a pretty good race, just two weeks removed from my first marathon in approximately 14 months.

When we came back through that north-south intersection, the road guard to the right, who wasn't a certified peace officer (or wasn't dressed like one), let a pickup with a trailer through just as I was coming through and he didn't look to see.

I said something that I shouldn't.  And while wearing my Liberty top, it certainly didn't conform to the Liberty Way.

I tried to tank up at the mile 8 aid station because I knew that it was going to be a little bit before I saw another one.  Additionally, they only had water the whole way.  No electrolyte replacement.

The next mile marker I saw was one that indicated it was three miles to the finish.  So from 6.55 to 10.1, my time was 37:10.94 to bring my total time to 1:43:00.55.

Since I knew that we would get a net downhill going back from this point forward, I tried to push as hard on the downhills that I could and then walk the uphills for a breather.

The next two miles were 20:24.94 -- that's a 10:12 per mile late in the race.  Wow.  (Total time - 2:03:25.49.)

And the final mile to the finish, which was setup fairly well even though we were coming in with the back of the 10K and 5K pack, was 9:54.94.

I don't even remember what I saw on the final time clock, but the accumulated time would be 2:13:20.43.

Mike had me down for 2:13:17 so I put that on my ledger (with a 2:13:21 as a note at the end).

Either way, it was my sixth best half marathon time ever -- 28 seconds faster than the half that I ran a year earlier which was on a completely flat course in Mobile.

It was half marathon finish #103 in my 118th city or town outside of Texas.

And with age-grading, it made it my best-ever race at age 48 with an age grade time of 1:59:53.

Now the goal is to try and get down to under two hours.

My PR is 2:09:45, but that's 2:08:45 running time as I stopped to urinate for a minute early in the race in Wisconsin in September 2010.

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