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Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon

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Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon

Post  Matt W on Mon Jun 20, 2011 5:35 pm

When I signed up for the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon, I was hoping to build off my Boston training and post a fast time in a half before moving up an age group. Unfortunately, I hit a few snags along the way. First, I didn’t get into the race because my name wasn’t drawn in the lottery. That problem was solved when Sara Jane used her connections to secure me a race number. With that dilemma taken care of, I had to put in the training to prepare me to run a good race. Life and work commitments hampered my May training though, and while I had some good workouts, I wasn’t sure if I had put in the volume to knock a half marathon out of the park.

It was nice to arrive in Minnesota and get a break from the Vegas heat, but I could tell that there was more humidity in the air than I was used to when I did a short run from my aunt and uncle’s house in St. Paul. On the drive to Duluth, the skies kept getting cloudier and cloudier, making it clear that the predictions for rain probably would hold true. The skies cleared just as we arrived in town though, which gave me hope for a dry race. After hitting the expo and getting lunch I did a short run along the lake walk for a final shakeout before meeting up with fellow runners at Sara Jane’s house for a wonderful dinner. It started raining again as I left and headed to the UW-S dorms to get my gear together and go to bed for the night.

When I awoke at 3:30 a.m., it was still gloomy and raining. I was glad that I had packed a garbage bag to help combat getting wet before the start of the race. When I got in line for the shuttles to the start, I was happy to see Mike, a runner from Las Vegas I knew. When we got to the start and saw there wasn’t much protection from the rain there, I joked with Mike about how much time you could hang out in the port-a-pots before it became unethical. I probably came close to crossing that line as I used my trips as an opportunity to change in drier conditions (multi-tasking isn’t bad, is it?). Mike and I hung out near the elite tent using some trees for shelter from the wind and rain, wondering if the people in the houses along the course would mind if we hung out in the garage. When it finally came time to turn in my gear, I joked with some people near me about leaving Las Vegas for this.

One of the only complaints I have about the race was the difficulty of getting from the gear bag vans to the start line area. Once I jumped the snow fence and went along the grass, it wasn’t too bad, but it was tough fighting through the crowd to get to that point. Once I was near the front, Mike and I wished each other good luck and I tossed my garbage bag to the side. It seemed to take a long time for the last few minutes before the gun, but I’m sure standing in the rain had something to do with it.

I had planned to go out in about 5:40 and work my way down from there, but I ended up going along with the pack and my first mile was faster than I had hoped for, but it still felt comfortable, so I decided to roll with it. I noticed that Katie McGregor, a professional runner who has made World Championship teams, was running with the group I was with. Knowing her times were somewhat comparable with mine, I decided to hang out at that pace for a while and see if I could get into a fast rhythm.

The group I was in was clicking off the miles in the low 5:30s, which put me on track for a decent time. I remember coming past the 5-mile clock in about 27:39 and felt pretty good. I started to pull away from my group around this point, but was still having doubts about whether or not I’d be able to maintain that kind of pace to the end. One of the runners from my pack responded to my surge and went ahead of me for a while, but I caught him about a mile later as we entered a more residential part of the course. I took my gel at about 8 miles and geared up for Lemondrop Hill, the toughest part of the course.

I was happy to handle the hill without any inner-cursing, and the downhill that followed gave me a chance to get back on pace. I could tell I was gaining on the pack ahead of me, but was still pretty much by myself. I was maintaining a good rhythm at this point, but looking back on the race, I think I could have run more aggressively at this point. I guess the saying about fatigue making cowards of us all holds true. Maybe next time, I’ll dig deeper in the last 5K.

Once I made it down to the final mile or so, I had a few more runners in my sights. The stretch coming around the DECC was tough because it was into the wind, but I knew the finish was getting closer. I was able to catch a few more of the guys who were ahead of me, including one runner who had surged ahead at about the 10K mark, so I could say no one passed me after the opening mile. Winding around the canal area to the finish took longer than I’d like, but I still felt fairly strong so it was much better than struggling towards a finish line that just won’t appear. With the finish line in sight, I picked up my pace slightly and crossed the line in 1:12:31, which is my third best time, and just missed my second fastest by 4 seconds. I’m a little disappointed in that, but it gives me something to shoot for next time.

When I made it through the medal and T-shirt gauntlet, I headed straight to the massage tent. I could get used to those! After that, I changed into my dry clothes, which helped a lot, but it was still plenty cold. I met up with my family and got some food while we waited for the marathoners to come in. My friend Mike’s wife Erica was shooting for a sub-3:00 and she ran 2:58. I also saw Sara Jane finish off her big PR, so it was nice to cheer for some familiar faces and see them do so well.

While I’m happy with the result, I know I can do better. I haven’t really trained all that hard since Boston, and don’t know if I’ve gone over 50 miles a week in the last two months. Hopefully, I can get back on track and build up to a PR race in St. George this October.



Here are my Garmin mile splits (and HR):

5:29 (191?) 5:31 (172), 5:31 (170), 5:31 (171), 5:33 (172), 5:26 (172)
5:33 (172), 5:35 (173), 5:29 (173), 5:27 (173), 5:30 (172), 5:31 (172), 5:27 (173)


Total 1:12:31, 53rd out of 5990 finishers.
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Re: Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon

Post  Tim M on Mon Jun 20, 2011 5:40 pm

Hitting some snags in the training and running in less than ideal conditions and you still pull off your 3rd fastest - nicely done Matt.
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Re: Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Mon Jun 20, 2011 5:46 pm

Congrats, Matt on a great race in spite of the "poor" training. No doubt you'll have a great run at St. George. It's a great course.
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Re: Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon

Post  Dave-O on Mon Jun 20, 2011 5:52 pm

Impressive race, Matt. I mean, look at those even splits! Hitting that time off a less than ideal training cycle has to be a confidence boost.

You know what's coming....WE CAN BUILD ON THIS!!!!
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Re: Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon

Post  Jerry on Mon Jun 20, 2011 5:53 pm

Can't envy your time, but really envy the evenness of your splits, Matt.

Congratulations on a great race!
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Re: Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon

Post  Schuey on Mon Jun 20, 2011 7:12 pm

Matt great job on your race. I don't know if you should train more. I mean Boston and now this race it seems like you are racing better by doing less or at least not the idea training cycle. I love the even splits!
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Re: Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon

Post  Jim Lentz on Mon Jun 20, 2011 8:40 pm

Very nice Matt!
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Re: Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon

Post  Sara Jane on Mon Jun 20, 2011 9:11 pm

Wonderful to (finally!) meet you Matt. Thanks for taking the time to stop by for dinner. And congrats, of course, on another speedy race. I am glad I pulled strings for a worth competitor! Wink Next time come back and put on a show in the full!
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Re: Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon

Post  Randy E on Tue Jun 21, 2011 7:44 am

Matt, I agree about the even splits, very consistent. You do seem to do well with less training. Maybe that's a good thing. Congrats on a terrific race.
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Re: Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon

Post  Glenn on Tue Jun 21, 2011 11:14 am

Great race and great report. It was great to meet you again. We'll see you in St. George.
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Re: Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon

Post  Kenny B. on Tue Jun 21, 2011 11:45 am

Those are some consistent splits! What a great job congrats! cheers
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Re: Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon

Post  Diego on Tue Jun 21, 2011 12:02 pm

Fantastic job on the race Matt. You ran so evenly and nobody passed you! I think it's always easy to look back at a race and figure out where we missed a few seconds here and there. I guess if we ran the perfect race, we might quit at the top of our game(Elway). Unfortunately, more of us are like Muhammad Ali/ Bret Favre and like the punishment.
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Re: Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon

Post  Pete B on Tue Jun 21, 2011 12:24 pm

Matt - yes, amazingly consistent splits and an impressive performance. Next time will be the new Half PR.

It was great to meet you, Glenn and Sara Jane - also amazing over the years how many v-team, i-team , 365Runners I have been fortunate enough to have met and broken bread with - we are not all virtual.

Congrats again on an amazing run!
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Re: Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon

Post  Matt W on Fri Jun 24, 2011 6:00 pm

Thought I'd throw in a few race photos to spice up the report.















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Re: Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon

Post  Alex Kubacki on Sun Jun 26, 2011 9:52 am

Absolutely amazing on those splits. Congrats.
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Re: Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon

Post  Dave-O on Sun Jun 26, 2011 10:01 am

Damn boy, you been doing squats for those quads?
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