This blog entry is going to be about something that I am looking forward to much, much more. The Bismarck Marathon/Half-Marathon/5K on September 17. Let me explain why I have this one circled in red on my race calendar.
Yes, I'm sure you are getting tired of me reminding you that I experienced a pretty serious injury earlier this year. Back in March, it was confirmed that I suffered a pelvic stress fracture. I even shared with you the gruesome pictures, such as this one:
I shared with you that I had even run a 5K, taking 2nd overall, before I knew I had this injury. I had simply run through the pain. Then it was twelve (12!!!!) weeks of not doing a damn workout to try and heal the fracture. And this was to have been my year, when I would breakout and be a regular finisher on the 50-54 podium. I mean, the year started out so well with a podium finish at a duathlon in Texas, followed by two consecutive overall second place finishes in 5Ks.
However, once I started training again I was determined to try and salvage as much of the back-half of the season as possible. So, I trained smart and strong during May-July. I entered as many races as I could, using them simply as speed work with the goal of 'hitting on all cylinders' by the time August rolled around. The early season tale-of-the-tape had success, near misses, and miserable failure:
• Jan 23 - Frost Yer Fanny Duathlon; Houston, TX (USAT) - 3rd in 50-54 AG (19 total)
• Feb 6 - Hamel 5K; Hamel, MN 2nd overall. 19:14 (6:12 per mi pace)
• Mar 1 - Pelvic Stress Fracture happens, but still unknown to me
• Mar 12 - Chase a Leprechaun 5K; Becker, MN 2nd overall. 19:36 (6:16 per mile). 1st in 41+ AG
• Mar 22 - Pelvic Stress Fracture Diagnosed
• May 14 - Lakes to Pines Triathlon; Park Rapids, MN 1st overall in Male Relay (I swam/biked and Boy® ran)
• May 28 - Apple Duathlon; Sartell, MN (USAT) - 36th overall (226 total). 1st 50-54 AG (12 total)
• Jun 5 - Pigman Sprint Triathlon; Cedar Rapids, IA (USAT) - 66th overall (648 total). 7th 50-54 AG (35 total)
• Jun 12 - 22nd Manitou Sprint (USAT) - 45th overall (251 total); 5th in 50-54 AG (20 total)
• Jun 19 - HyVee Rochesterfest Sprint Tri - 15th overall (153 total); 2nd in 50-54 AG (11 total)
• Jun 26 - Lake Waconia Tri (USAT) 68th overall (315 total); 3rd in 50-54 AG (24 total)
• Jul 2 - Minneman Triathlon; Oak Grove, MN (USAT) - 30th overall (342 total); 3rd in 50-54 AG (24 total)
• Jul 17 - Heart of the Lakes (Long Course) - 120th overall (383 total); 11th in 50-54 AG (37 total)
But I knew I was making progress. And I started to plan for the back half of the season. I learned about the Bismarck event and became intrigued. I have done the Bismarck Triathlon on several locations and loved the course. I was told the run route for the full and half-marathon was flat...as is everything in North Dakota. I started to think this would be an amazing carrot for me to dangle on a stick in front of me. If I could compete at a high level in the Bismarck event, that would be a very complete and fulfilling comeback from such a bad injury.
I talked with locale triathlon legend, Mike Fretland. I talked with my brother-in-law, Kim Hocking. Both live in Bismarck. They encouraged me to consider the race. So, I entered into the half-marathon. Then the floods came.
It has been a horrible year for weather across the USA, and North Dakota has taken the brunt of it. Fargo and Minot were both affected. And this year, so was Bismarck. For the first time since the Garrison Dam was constructed in 1954 the giant spillway gates were opened to release water from Lake Sakakawea and poured into the Missouri River and found its way down to Bismarck. Devastating flooding happened. And the run course....that nice flat run course.....had to be changed as the water is not expected to recede in time for the event.
As a result, the race map now looks like this. And, smack dab at the start of mile 5 there is a hill to climb. A one mile, 4% grade hill. We half-marathoners have to climb it only once. Gotta feel sorry for the full marathoners who get to tackle the hill twice on the double looped course. Here is the full course elevation map. The little blip you see twice....that's the hill (click on image for larger view):
I'm a home-grown North Dakotan. I wasn't about to bow out simply because of a little challenge. I have come so far since the injury that the challenge of this big hill has brought out the 'take no prisoners' mentality even more. Hey, I was a member of the 1977 & 1978 North Dakota Boys Cross Country champions for Jamestown. Member of the 1979 North Dakota State Indoor mile relay champions. My North Dakota sports history shows pain is nothing.
So, it was time to ramp up the ol' hill training. While I am not a good climber on the bike, I am the polar opposite when running hills. I love 'em. I intend to tackle this challenge like any other, straight on. This past Saturday (8/20), I headed out to Baker Park where I usually do all my cycling. From my riding, I knew a good hill that was about the same grade, only a bit shorter (0.65 miles) that would be perfect for some hill training. The day was beautiful, about 74F and light winds and blue sky.
I did a little warm up and then hit the elevation. Here is the elevation map:
My intention was to do at least 3 repeats and then assess. I felt good after the third and ended up doing two more. So a total of 5x0.65mi hills with easy recovery in between and easy warm down after. I wanted to attack the hill at about 10-20 seconds faster than race pace. The splits below show the hills being attacked in Splits 2-4-6-8-10:
I would have liked to have been under 6:30 pace for all five repeats, but this is a good start. And I ended up finding a dandy hill for repeats. Eight miles just flew by.
The other great thing about the Bismarck event: This will be the first running race in which I will be wearing the colors of the Fargo Running Company race team. I'm pretty excited about this opportunity and I thank Cley Twigg and Mark Knutson for allowing me to race with their team! My team uniform arrived this past week and it looks and feels great.
So, yes. I'm looking past the next few events to September 17. Still plenty of time to sign up if you want to join me out in North Dakota. The Boy® and the Well Kept Wife© are even getting in on the action by competing in the 5K event. Should be a grand day out for all of us.
Speaking of future events, I may have lied when I said the Turtleman and Maple Grove events would be my last multisport events of 2011. It could still turn out that way, but the current calendar (including confirmed and tentative events) now looks like this:
Aug 27 (signed up) - Maple Grove Sprint Triathlon; Maple Grove, MN (USAT) - 0.3mi swim, 14mi bike, 3mi run
Ended up 7th overall (301 total) & 2nd in 45-49 AG (16 total) last year. Hope to improve in the overall standing and also make podium in the 50-54 AG.
Sep 11 - CyMan Triathlon, Polk City, IA - 500yd swim, 14.3mi bike, 5K run
Last year I was 17th overall (204 total) & 1st in 45-49 AG (11 total). It was a VERY windy day. I would say its about 70% certain I sign up for this one, pending the Maple Grove result. I may need another high USAT score to have an outside chance of a national honorable mention.
Sep 17 (signed up) - Bismarck Half-Marathon
As above, this one is high on my A-Race priority ranking.
Sep 24 - Plymouth Fire Fighters 5K
Third overall the last two years. Would like to try for a Three Three-peat! And Plymouth is our home. Last year, I led for the first mile+ before finishing 3rd overall (401 total). 18:48 (6:03 per mile). It may be race day before I decide to go or not. Depends if I have recoved from Bismarck in time or not.
Oct 2 - Du the Bear Duathlon, Houston, TX 2mi run, 10mi bike, 2mi run
Really, really want to do this. Same course as Frost 'Yer Fanny that I did in January. Flat, flat, flat. And everyone is so fast you just get dragged along. I may need another high USAT score here depending on how my par score from Turtleman ends up in order to get into that elite top 10% nationally. I'd say it is 50-50 right now whether I do or not.
Oct 8 (signed up) - Fargo Mini Marathon 5K
Last year, I did the 10K Run and was 4th overall (637 total). 1st in 45-49 AG (15 total). 39:40 (6:23 per mile). This year, I'm opting for the 5K to run with not only the Boy® and the Well Kept Wife© but also my father. My day turns 70 in August. I have entered him (he doesn't know yet!) and will find out on his BD in a few weeks. He is always talking about his walking prowess and how many steps he takes.....now it is put up or shut up time!
Oct 22 (signed up) - Lincoln Family Downtown 5K; Phoenix, AZ
Another running event with a bit of a hill! Last year, I was 10th overall (367 total). 1st in 45-49 AG (12 total). 20:09 (6:30 per mile). We are all signed up again this year, & I intend to get it under 20-minutes this time on a very tough course.
Nov 12 - The Speedway Run, Ft. Worth, TX - 5K/10K
Last year, I jumped into the 10K on whim. Had gone down for Bronda's Du at the same venue (Texas Motor Speedway) held the following day. Ran easy at 39:55 (6:25/mi pace). 6th overall (121 total). 1st in 45-49 AG (9 total). Probably about a 25% chance of a return this year. If I do, I will opt for the 5K and save some legs for the du the next day. It all depends on money, available time off, and if Tim 'Buckwheat' Carroll is in Spain or not. Tim is my long-time Texas training partner. If he is not in Spain, then I say the chances of doing this double event weekend goes up to 50%.
Nov 13 - Bronda's Du (USAT), Fort Worth, TX - 2 mi run-15 mi bike-2 mi run
The day after the Speedway Run last year, I ended up 12th overall (212 total). 1st in 45-49 AG (20 total). Another flat and fast course with great depth in the lineup. I came away with a 87.94644 par score there last year.
Dec 11 - BCS Half-Marathon; Bryan-College Station, TX
The inaugural Full and Half Marathon for the place in which I spent three years of my life from 1987-1989 and started doing triathlons! It would be nice for a visit and also end the 2011 race season here doing a half-marathon. Home of the aforementioned Buckwheat. Probably 50-50 chance.