Saturday, October 23, 2010

Mankato Half Marathon - 1:43:43

When I think about how the perfect running event should be organized, what the atmosphere at the expo should be like, and the on-course support, it was the Mankato races I was thinking of.  This is the first year of the races and they did an excellent job.

The expo was held in downtown Mankato, and the $3 parking garage had plenty of spaces.  Free parking was available at area businesses and those parking lots looked like they had open spots too.  When I entered the expo I saw hundreds of people looking at the numerous booths and seating for about 200 in front of a stage.  Starting at 4:30 they had speakers, with Dick Beardsley as the featured speaker. 

The numerous booths included 2 different energy drink companies, complimentary chair massage, 3 different running stores, 2 different head wear companies, the YMCA, 2 local coaches, the "Orthopaedic and Fracture Clinic" with bones that broke in two to reveal a pen, the local newspaper, and a section selling Mankato Marathon specific apparel and posters.  The place was filled with runners and non-runners too.

Dick Beardsley setting the 1981
Grandma's Marathon course record
At 6:30 Dick Beardsley was speaking, and he was a GREAT speaker.  I enjoyed it so much I bought his book called "Staying the Course: A Runner's Toughest Race".  I finished my day by reading the first chapter in his book and went to bed confident the race would be a good one.

The forecast was rain, but when I woke up it was dry and in the 50's.  At the start it rained a little, but not enough to get my clothes wet.  I met the 1:40 pacer, his name was Seth.  Dick Beardsley did the start and I took a Hammer gel just before he said go.  I didn't take water with it like you should, and my stomach started to get upset.  The first two miles were a bit fast and the pacer was behind me so I took my time at the aid station and slowed down.  I think the combination of water and a slower pace helped settle my stomach.  Seth caught me at exactly the 3 mile maker.  Feeling good, back on pace, and only 10 more miles.

Mile 4 was flat and mile 5 had a great downhill that let me bank 40 seconds.  I kept the momentum going for miles 6-8.  I took another Hammer gel, this time with water, and my one hour Hammer supplements.  Mile 8 had some uphill and I started to feel a bit heavy in the legs and potential stomach issues.  During mile 9 I got such a bad side ache I had to walk.  Seth finally caught up and I asked for help, they recommended intense breathing and push on the side ache.  This helped, but I couldn't keep the pace and got dropped.  I hit the aid station and took some water, forced more air in and out and started to feel better.  "Better" is relative, as I still felt horrible but could at least run.  Mile 10 was more downhill and I did it in 8 minutes!  I pushed the pace and the ache came back.  This yo-yo continued for miles 11 and 12.  I'd push and hurt, back off and feel better.  I never ran with a side stitch before, so I was completely unprepared for dealing with it.  I had to walk again during mile 12 when the ache became unbearable.  Miles 11-13 were all over 8 minutes.

At about 12.5 miles I thought I could still PR if I picked it up.  I pushed hard and felt better.  Nearing mile marker 13 you enter an alley.  The alley was lined with yelling spectators and the noise bounced off the walls making it very loud.  Then you take a right and see the finish line and more people on both sides clapping and yelling.  It was a huge rush and I finished really strong.  Of the races I've run, the Mankato finish was the greatest in terms of motivation and crowd support. 

After crossing the line I got a pair of gloves, my medal, and then saw the food tables.  They had lots of great stuff like Greek yogurt, popcorn, chocolate milk, and the usual bananas, pretzels etc. 

I would definitely recommend this race to anyone.  I didn't do the time I wanted, but every race you learn something and now I'll be better prepared for the next one.  The lesson from this race is breathing.  I usually don't focus on breathing, but since I was slightly congested I should have made sure to keep the air flowing to avoid the side ache.  I also should never take a gel without water.

Official Results:
1:43:43 (A PR by 10 seconds, Gopher to Badger was 1:43:53)
7:55 pace
84 out of 874 total
69 out of 322 men
21 out of 103 age group

Proceeds from Dick Beardsley book sales go to his foundation.

Other Race Reports:
Depression Marathon Blog; Good. Good. Good. BOOM!
Historiadora on the Run; Race Report: Mankato Half-Marathon
Pacer Report  -  JerBear Shares; Race Report: Mankato Half Marathon; WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT?
Journey to My First Marathon....and beyond; Marathon #3 - Mankato
SHE SAID. SHE SAID; race recap: 2010 mankato half-marathon
A day in the Life; Mankato Marathon


  1. Awesome job Mark! Congrats on the PR!

    I was wondering how that race would be in terms of the crowds and course. Maybe I will have to think about this one for next year. You should do year. I know that you will do well and enjoy it:)

  2. Congrats on your PR! Considering that you were congested and had been sick, it's especially impressive!