02
May
11

Race Report: 2011 Get In Gear Half Marathon

Winter starts early and ends late in Minnesota. Snow can remain on the ground from the beginning of October until the end of April. For those of you keeping score, that’s seven months out of the year. Thus, it’s natural that once Minnesotans get a taste of Spring they want to drink it up for all that it’s worth. This is the premise behind the Get In Gear 10k, 5k, 2k, and Half Marathon.

Apparently this event has been held for more than 30 years. Although I grew up in Minnesota, I didn’t start running until I had lived away from Minnesota for more than ten years, therefore I never had any knowledge of this “Rite of Spring” in Minneapolis. Three years ago Get In Gear added a half marathon to the existing 5k and 10k, and while it’s a good size event with about 1000 finishers, you still feel a little lost in a sea of 1800 5k runners and 3100 10k runners. What’s more, the 10k and Half Marathon start at the same time and share the same course for the first 4.8 or so miles. This gives you a bit of a big race feel even in a medium sized half marathon.

Looking at my training schedule for Grandma’s Marathon I saw that I was supposed to run 10M on Saturday and 20M on Sunday. I had a greet week of training before this and decided to do the half marathon and then run the seven miles home. I figured I could manage this because I wasn’t necessarily “racing” this race, rather I was running with my Grandma’s Marathon partner and attempting to keep our Marathon pace of around 9min/mi. Or, as she put it, we wanted to beat Mutai’s 2:03:02 Boston Marathon time for our half marathon.

What we didn’t anticipate when we signed up was that it was going to be about 50°F and a steady rain during the entire race. Thankfully the event had access to the shelter where we and thousands of other runners could cower while we waited for the race to start. About 10 minutes before the start we squeezed way to the starting line and ungraciously budded up to a point where we felt that most of the really casual runners would be behind us. The rain and wind picked up as someone sang a nearly inaudible rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner”. The horn went off and we started to run. The course started on a nice wide stretch so there wasn’t any of the silly run-walk-run-walk that comes with most over-enrolled races. About 400m we ran under a wide overpass and got a taste of music — either “Blue” by Eiffel 65, or “Fuck You” by Cee-Lo Green. Things were shaping up nicely…Unfortunately, because of the rain this was going to be the only music during the race. 13.1 miles with me muttering the lyrics to “Fuck You” the whole way. My running partner apparently had less profane tastes and had “Blue” stuck in her head.

As stated beforehand, our goal was to maintain a constant pace for the race. Somewhere right around 9min/mi. Yes, this is much slower than I can run in a half-marathon, but it would be good practice for Grandmas. Most mile markers had someone shouting off the time, unfortunately, often times you only heard the seconds which made it difficult to tell your exact time. Luckily clocks were provided at 4mi and 10mi. We estimated that we were running pretty close to our goal, despite the nasty rain.

A little after mile 4 the thousands of 10k runners veered back over the Ford Parkway bridge to the finish while we began our long out and back portion of the course. Despite being an out and back for the next eight miles, it was gorgeous scenery. Yeah, we lost nearly all of the fans except for a few die hard locals who lived on the street and drug their kids out at 10am in the rain to cheer on runners (mad props for that, that was AWESOME), but the bigger highlight was the river. The entire distance was running above the mighty Mississippi with the beautiful tree lined bluffs in Minneapolis on the opposite side of the river. It was quiet, but not rural race quiet. Just the right level of noise to keep you going.

The turnaround was around mile 9 and wasn’t the best. Because it was a true 13.1 course it went over a grass…err…mud median in the middle of the road. If I hadn’t already gone through dozens of puddles I might have been annoyed, but one of the great things about not racing and just running is that small things don’t bother you as much. The rest stops during this section of the course were great with folks handing out GU packets. I’m a little torn on this. During a half marathon I don’t need a GU packet and normally don’t need much water, so it’s nice that they were handing them out and I grabbed one, but didn’t open it, the first time we passed the aid station. The second time we passed the aid station they were helpfully opening the GU packs, which is great for runners, but bad if you just want to hoard the packs.

Around mile 11 my running partner managed to find some extra legs inside of her and push us forward as we climbed the last set of hills toward the Ford Parkway bridge and back across the Mississippi to Minnehaha Falls Park. At mile 12 we really kicked it into gear as the wind and rain kicked up on the bridge. We managed to cross the line at 1:55:43.

2011 Get In Gear Half Marathon Results
Distance Time Pace Overall Place Division Place Sex Place People Passed Passed By
13.1 Miles 1:55:43 8:50/mi 397/1030 87/141 280/494 29 4
10 miles 1:29:25 8:56/mi 438/1037 97/142 303/499 25 60
4 miles 35:41 8:55/mi

438/1036 93/142 296/495 299 100

A couple of words on the results: first, they look a little rubbish because WordPress.com enjoys stripping out all my CSS. Arghhh! Second: I’m not certain what is up with the numbers when it comes to people passed and passed by. According to the results between mile 4 and mile 10 I should have fallen 35 places back, but my overall place remained the same. I’m not certain what to make about this. It’s helpful that MTEC provides this information, but the numbers just don’t add up. And now, back to chatter about our pace.

For most of the race we had a conversation going, so I had no idea about how our splits were recorded in RunKeeper. I feel happy that I’m finally getting to the point where I know what a 9min/mi pace feels like. While these cant be considered to be exact, they show that almost all of our miles were under 9min/mi and that we certainly got some kick for the last part of the race. It looked even better when I looked at the pace/elevation graph.

2011 Get In Gear Half Marathon Splits

2011 Get In Gear Half Marathon Splits

2011 Get In Gear Half Marathon Pace and Elevation

2011 Get In Gear Half Marathon Pace and Elevation -- That Flat Line is Nice!

Post race there was an enormous amount of food and beverage, including lots of chocolate milk, thanks to a new sponsor DynaMoo, a purveyor of chocolate milk that is pastuerized in a special way such that it doesn’t require refrigeration. My running partner was so high on endorphins after the race that I’m pretty sure we’ll appear in some propaganda for them. The food tent was quite a distance away from the finish line, and it was now raining very hard and I felt very cold. I don’t think I would have found it if we didn’t run into some 5kers who told us about it and all the goodies (Clif Bars, Salted Nut Rolls, Bagel Bites, Bananas, Yogurt, Popsicles, Yum!).

At this point I decided that even though I was supposed to go 20 in the rain it wasn’t going to happen. I hopped back on the shuttle bus and got a ride back with my running partner and took a nice long hot shower.

This was a GREAT event. It was extremely well managed and despite the miserable weather the people, both runners and volunteers, did a great job. I was impressed with the knowledge of the runners about how to run a race course — of course that might be one of the differences between doing a 5k and a half marathon. No silly walkers at the front of the line, no groups eight abreast running. Race staff provided clear instructions and excellent support. It really was a top notch event for what is still early spring in Minnesota.

My Bib and Medal from the 2011 Get In Gear Half Marathon

My Bib and Medal from the 2011 Get In Gear Half Marathon

Keep running!

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Marathon Times

2011 NYC Marathon3:57:45
2011 Hartford Marathon3:58:17
2011 Chicago Marathon4:20:16
2011 Grandma's Marathon4:07:43
2010 Big Sur International Marathon4:22:49
2009 NYC Marathon4:37:05
2009 Twin Cities Marathon4:43:28
2009 Pittsburgh Marathon4:14:38
2008 Erie Marathon5:11:40

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