Running is hard work, but it’s also a lot of fun! My experiences at Saturday’s Dick Beardsley half marathon in Detroit Lakes Minnesota were great examples of both of these statements.
First the hard work. 13.1 miles is the length of a half marathon, and that’s a long way to run! The Dick Beardsley half marathon contains a few hills, some of them kind of long, and that makes the work exerted all that much more. A runner’s body produces heat while working and we rely on the environment to remove it while running. The temperature was 70 degrees at start; not ideal for cooling. The humidity was 94%, so the sweat produced by our bodies didn’t evaporate, compounding the cooling problems caused by the 70 degree temperature. The sweat we produced didn’t evaporate, so it accumulated on our clothing, weighing us down and rubbing unceasingly against our skin, causing extreme chaffing. Running on Saturday was hard work!
Now for the fun part! Sue and I got to share a nice evening together Friday, eating dinner in Fargo and dessert in Detroit Lakes. When we arrived at our hotel and found the lobby full of runners, I teased Sue about Detroit Lakes being overrun by physically fit people (and their spouses)!
Quite a few Red River Runners ended up taking part in the race and we had an enjoyable time chatting before it all started. Mike, Anne-Marie, Holly, Jessica, Teresa, Kevin and Barb all drove down that morning from Grand Forks, catching great pictures of the sunrise in the process. We posed for group pictures, and even hammed it up just a bit at the starting line prior to the starting gun. I also ran into Sheri, a friend who had made the trip from Fargo.
Sue got some great pictures of Dick Beardsley and Bill Rodgers signing the street before the race started. Sue also met up with her friend Sally, who kept her company while I was out running.
Holly, Jessica and Sheri all finished the race, working hard in the unfavorable conditions for their well earned times! Sheri was proudly showing off her racing bib, which she had somehow gotten Dick Beardsley to autograph. Mike and Anne-Marie ran the race as a relay (6.55 miles for each runner), as did Teresa and Kevin. Both teams started and finished strong in the damp conditions
Barb and I had decided a few weeks ago to run the race together, side by side. Our plan was to maintain a pace that would bring us to the finish line in less than 1 hour 40 minutes which would be a significant half marathon personal record (PR) for both of us. We revisited our plan again before the race and even though we realized a pace that fast was almost impossible in the current conditions we decided to attempt it nonetheless.
We eased into the race as our trainer Martin suggested we should, but after a few miles it felt unlikely that we could continue at a 7:40 pace for too much longer. Barb convinced me to at least hold the pace through mile 6 before making a decision. We managed to pass the half way point and relay exchange area still on our scheduled pace, and even though Anne-Marie yelled out her encouragement, telling us we looked great, I knew I couldn’t hold if for 6 more miles.
Barb and I agreed that we needed to slow down, but neither of us wanted to be the first to do it. I kept waiting for Barb to start walking, but she continued on like the “Energizer Bunny.” She later told me that she was waiting for me to stop the madness, but I had no intentions of being the one to cry “Uncle.” We did end up slowing down a little during miles 8-11, enough to make a 1:40 finish impossible, but still had a chance to sneak in under 1:44, which would still be a PR for both of us. We were both stubborn enough that quitting wasn’t an option, so 1:44 became our new goal, and we quickly calculated the pace we would need to hold during the final 2 miles to achieve it.
We were exhausted, soaking wet and chaffing, but we somehow became more determined to make it happen with each step. We both dug a little deeper for the will to continue, and it worked: we picked up the pace and began passing everyone we came upon, even some obviously half our age! We ended up finishing very strong with miles 12 & 13 being two of our faster ones! Barb turned on her afterburners when the finish line came into sight, and recorded a time of 1 hour, 43 minutes and 28 seconds: I followed 6 seconds later, both of us getting our PR’s in the process!
Barb and I finished 75th and 76th out of 514 runners overall. I ended up placing 7th in my age division, and Barb ended up winning hers! It turned out to be a great day for both of us!