photo by Steve Penland

Saturday, August 2, 2014

MN Half Marathon Race Report

My brother-in-law Sherpa Boy posted this picture on my Facebook timeline last night.  Yes, he's married to "that one sister," Energizer Bunny...and today EB and I had cause to re-create this photo.  But we'll get to that in a moment...

Today I skated the Minnesota Half-Marathon.  I haven't done a half marathon in two years, and the last one I did didn't go so well.  Neither, for that matter, did the one before that.  And I haven't exactly been training for distance skating; I've kept up with my oval workouts pretty well, but I haven't been on the trails for a longer skate since, um, June 8.  Which was a long time ago.  And then there is the small matter of all the CrossFit training I'm doing, including a nice heavy "front squat" WOD yesterday (why yes, I did PR, thanks for asking).  So I had no idea how this race would go, but I figured it might be a good test of whether or not CrossFit is good cross training for skating.

Turns out it is.  But of course I need to fill you in on a lot more details before I actually get to the results...

Today's race was to be a full-on family affair.  Both of our husbands were hauling themselves out of bed at 5 am to come take pictures, cheer for us, and schlep our gear bags around (which is, of course, how Sherpa Boy got his name), and EB and I were, of course, skating.

Or, well, we thought EB and I were skating.  She had planned to sign up the morning of the event, only to get there and discover that the race was full.  Naturally she was not happy that she couldn't skate, so I suggested, post-race, that she and I re-create the above picture.  EB rarely needs much encouragement to flip the bird.
EB and I express our opinions of how the morning went.

Once EB had accepted her new role as spectator, I got geared up and headed to the starting line.
Which turned out to be the first obstacle of the day.
I don't always sit on the ground to put my skates on, 
but when I do it's right in the middle of a walking trail.

Unlike most other inline road races that I've done, the MN Half Marathon does not divide the skaters into many different "waves."  In fact, there are only three: Elite; Duathlon (for those skating the half marathon and then running a 5K); and then the "Festivus for the Rest of Us" wave, the Open wave.  Which is where I was, and where part of the problem was.  It's simply not a good idea to let almost 300 skaters--male and female, young and old, lycra-clad and rockin' jeans--line up together to race.  I had learned my lesson on this the last time I did the MN Half Marathon and had decided to avoid the whole "dodging scores of rec skaters" thing by lining up right at the start of the wave (usually I'm much more "Minnesota Nice." Maybe some of that swagger I was talking about the other day has crept into my racing...).  So I lined up right behind the Duathlon skaters, who were to start two minutes before we did. And it seemed like a good plan...until the Duathlon skaters left and I discovered that I was not, as I had expected to be, at the front of the wave.  No, I seemed to be somewhere in the middle, surrounded by jeans and rec skates.  What the...?  Where did all these people come from?  I still don't know, but the end result was that my start this year was exactly like my start two years ago--slow, frustrating, and full of dodging.

I eventually worked my way into the clear, and then jumped onto a paceline.  I drafted for a bit, and then took my turn pulling...
That blurry little form on the far right is Skater Kid, son of 
Skater Cops 1 and 2.  He's about 11 now, and I'm afraid 
that this will be the last year I beat him.  He's a heck of a good skater.

Soon, however, my Long Track Skater personality took over.  I'm used to doing time trial-style races, where you need to be going as fast as possible (for the distance) at all times.  It just seems wrong to me to be coasting easily in a paceline, even though that's often the smart thing to do--so I left my comfortable paceline and set out on my own.  I caught up with and joined another paceline and stuck with it until mile five or so, but then I saw a couple guys moving up along the side of the paceline and I thought they were making a break and so I happily stepped out of the paceline to go with them...only to have them duck back into the line.  Oh, well, I thought--I'm out here, I might as well take off and see what I can do.

So I did.  I skated the next six or so miles solo.  And it was an absolute blast.  My legs felt great (well, they did have a flashback to the front squats on one of the larger hills), I felt strong, and I had my usual "race earworm" going ("Boom, Clap" this time, which has a nice beat for skating if you slow it down a little in your head).  True, I had a bunch of PVC's several times, but they weren't too bad and didn't slow me down much.  It was a really fun six miles.

And then, at about mile 11, the front skaters from the paceline I had left behind caught me (I did mention that a paceline is usually the smart way to skate, didn't I?).  I skated with them for a bit, then tried to pick up the pace with about a mile left.  It got a bit congested as the skaters spread out and started their sprints, and I heard a "skate click and crash" involving a couple skaters just behind me, so I moved to the outside and went as fast as I could to get away from the potential carnage.  And then I was across the finish line.

Scoring for the race is apparently experiencing some glitches and is still in progress at the moment so I don't know how I did relative to others in my age group, but I do know that my time--44:58--ties my third-best half marathon time ever, which was about eight years ago.  Which, of course, makes me very happy...I'm eight years older now and I haven't been training for road races, so feeling that good during the race and getting that good of a time (for me) really surprises me. 

 So as I said, apparently CrossFit does a pretty good job of cross training for inline skating...

Obligatory "post race sweaty picture."

Update:  I think the scoring glitches have settled down.  Looks like I was first in my age group (50-59) out of 23 old ladies, and 7th woman overall, out of 135 women.  Yes, this makes me very happy...


  1. Great result Kaari, glad to hear the Crossfit is working out for you. Looking forward to more of your training posts. They keep me motivated for coming back to training some unexpected time off.

  2. Thanks! Glad my ramblings can help motivate, and I hope you can get back at it soon.