race recap: 2010 mankato half-marathon

24 Oct

I cannot believe it’s over! I signed up for this race last spring and I started training the first week of August. It  seems like just yesterday and now it’s all done.

And it was fantastic.

I had a great race, learned a lot,  and finished with a personal record of 2:15. Yay!

But let’s back up a bit, shall we?

This was a the inaugural Mankato Marathon and Half-Marathon so I wasn’t sure what to expect.

We headed down on Friday afternoon, picked up my parents, and headed to the packet pick-up and expo. Everything was very organized and the expo was hopping. They had some cute merchandise and had already sold out of some things 2 hours into the expo. I picked up a super cute white running hoodie. I adore cute running clothes.

That evening, we hosted dinner at my parent’s house for our out-of-town runner friends and their family – a total of 10. I loved this. It was so fun to be together over great food and talk about the looming race. There were a number of local restaurants offering pasta specials, but I really wanted to be in control of what I was eating. Are you shocked? Plus, this was way more relaxed and casual.

On the menu:

Whole wheat pasta with roasted veggies in a tomato basil sauce

Quinoa pineapple and cashew stir-fry

Sautéed chicken and chicken a la George Foreman

Salad greens with goat cheese, pomegranate seeds and walnuts

Slaw salad with peanut dressing

Fresh fruit

Bread and butter

Cookies – oatmeal and chocolate chip made my mother (she’s the best cookie baker I know)

pre race dinner

My mom and I cooked the main dishes and our guests brought the sides. Everything was delicious and no one went to be hungry.

I had a decent night’s sleep and am so grateful. Both Brette and I were fighting off sickness all week so sleep was even more important than normal. The days leading up the race, we were living on zicam, airborne and ecchinacea immune-boosting tea. I truly believe it helped.

Everyone brought along their pre-race breakfast of choice (never try something new on race day!).  For me: cinnamon raisin english muffin with pepita butter and banana. For Brette: granola of course.

Here we are ready to go!

BK, Willa, Me and Brette – ready to run!

Unfortunately, my dear friend, Carin, was not able to race. She had been pretty sick all week and just was not in race condition. It was a major bummer. The positive? She was able to take photos and be a superstar spectator!

On to the race!

All week, the weather was saying rain on race day. It did rain during the night and a few sprinkles were present before the start, but then like magic, the sprinkles stopped and it stayed dry for the entire race! It was overcast and in the mid 50’s. Perfect!

My Race:

I feel like I ran two separate races. My first half and second half were completely different. Here’s why…

I decided to line up with the 2:10 pace group at the start and see what happened as we went.

As I predicted, I felt great at the start (who doesn’t?) and moved ahead of the pace group. My first few miles (9:35, 9:25, 9:55) felt great and I was feeling very strong. I was a bit worried that I had gone out to fast, but I didn’t feel like I was going all out so I thought I was fine.

We turned onto the Red Jacket trail and the next three miles included a significant downhill and then some gentle ups and downs (9:53,9:31, 9:33). I was still feeling good but now seriously concerned I went out to fast.

I did.

Things started to change at the halfway point. I walked through the water stop at mile 6.5, put down a GU, and started running again. I felt slower and I was starting to feel tired. This was also the point I started hitting some parts of the trail where there were no spectators and I felt like I was all by myself. I was wishing I had brought my ipod to distract my brain. I was having a hard time motivating myself. The next three miles (10:04, 10:28, 10:17) were rough. Those splits do not include the couple walk breaks I took. At one point I stopped and a woman came up behind me and said, “nope”. That was needed and appreciated. I picked it up and started running again. It was shortly after that the 2:10 pace group passed me. My heart sunk a little. I knew I was not going to be able to hit that goal. I was determined though to hit my primary goal of getting a personal record.

Those next three miles (10:25, 10:48, 10:49)were lonely and my head was playing mind games. There were some highlights though! We ran through sibley park, one of my favorite parks as a kid, and passed by my beloved billy goats who were also cheering on the runners. It was hysterical. The fans would cheer and then all the billy goats would start bellowing. It was a much needed laugh.

As we exited the park, I realized I just had a mile and change to go. I could do this! I managed to pick it up a bit (10:30) and just focused on the finish. I couldn’t wait to hear if Brette made his goal and how my friends had fared.

When I could hear the crowd at the finish, I got really excited. That last stretch was awesome. Some of my running friends (who weren’t racing) had made the trek to cheer at the finish and that was so motivating. My parents, sister, niece were at the final turn and that’s when I put it in to high gear. I was literally by myself for the final .1 and I wanted to make it big. I sprinted with everything I had in me. The crowd was awesome and cheering loudly. I crossed the line with a smile on my face and right past the line, were Brette, BK and Carin screaming their heads off.

It was awesome.

I crushed my last half marathon time by 6 minutes and that it something I’m very proud of.

Like all runners, I’ve gone through all of the “what ifs” of my race and out of that know what I need to work on to continue to achieve personal records. The biggest thing being the obvious: pacing. I’m going to save that for another post and for now, focus on the positive. I had a great race, a personal record, and I can’t wait to run another one. Races are addictive!

What made my race extra super special?

These guys.

The main reason I signed up for this race was because it was in my hometown and I wanted my parents to be there.  I’ve done all sorts of biking and running events (and have helped plan quite a few too!), but it has never worked out for my parents to actually see it. It meant the world to me that they were there.

My sister Joan and my niece/god-daughter, Kate, were also there which was amazing! Seeing my family at multiple spots along the course was so exciting and it’s crazy how much it helps. Joan and Kate made some awesome signs for the route….however, they forgot them in the car. Sad smile That is something that would happen to me. How awesome are these signs?

Some people want beer at the finish…some people get excited for eggplant. That would be me. My family knows me so well.



How did the rest of the crew do?

Brette also had a personal record and finished in 1:37 – a speedy 7:29 pace. This husband of mine amazes me. He was 46 out of 871 runners. How awesome is he?

It must be the beard.

BK also had a PR and hit his goal of a sub-2 hour half marathon coming in at 1:58!


BK on his way to a personal record.

So happy to be done and celebrating with his sweetie.


Willa, my awesome and inspiring training buddy ran such an awesome, smart and consistent race and completely crushed her goal. It was so exciting to see her finish her first half!

Amy-Marie, my long time gym-buddy, decided after she realized that it was just not her best running day, to help  someone she met on the route finish her first half. She became that runners cheerleader and moral support for the race. I love that she did that, but I’m sure that fellow runner loved it even more. I just love the running community. I wish I had a photo of her crossing the finish line because it was the cutest gallop I had ever seen.

As for the overall event? It was fantastic. The route was beautiful. I did struggle with the times where I felt so alone and there were no spectators, but now that I know that, I’ll bring the ipod next time. The volunteer support was incredible and I was very impressed with the organization. The water/fueling stops were frequent and well staffed. The route was well marked. Everything about the event itself and the communications before hand were great – I have no complaints.

Areas for improvement: The only issue I had was the event t-shirt. I know, it’s kind of silly, but I love event swag, so I was disappointed when they gave me the shirt. They warned me that they ran big and gave me an XS.  I look like I’m swimming in this shirt and the fact that it is an XS if hysterical. It’s a technical t-shirt and I’d love to wear it for future training runs, but it’s just way to big. Major bummer. I would love if it if they would consider women’s sizes for next year. Hint hint.

I’m confident this event will continue to grow and my plan is to stay a part of it. I would highly recommend this race to others.

Way to go Mankato – you made me very proud to say you are my hometown. See you in 2011!

A big thank you to all of you that have supported me and send good vibes my way – I really appreciate it.

So, what’s next? The Monster Dash 10 mile this coming Saturday! The thought of running 10 miles does not sound so hot right now since I’ve been walking around like an old lady all day, but I’m sure that will change. Good thing I’m just running it for “fun”.


5 Responses to “race recap: 2010 mankato half-marathon”

  1. vinh October 25, 2010 at 7:42 pm #

    Congrats, jen! I enjoyed your story.

    -vinh in florida

  2. Steff October 26, 2010 at 8:29 am #

    NICE race report! And congrats on the PR, lady.

  3. Heather C October 26, 2010 at 9:47 am #

    Congrats, Jen!!! It’s not easy to push through those tough miles, especially when they come earlier than you expect it – the more races you do, the better it gets and the more you learn :) What a great experience for your parents and quite extensive fan/cheerleading groups :) I’m glad you had such a great day for your big race and PR!

  4. Brittney November 2, 2010 at 7:55 am #

    I’m late reading this, but GREAT job!!! Way to crush your PR :)


  1. a year in review « She said. She said. - December 30, 2010

    […] Training and running the Mankato Half Marathon – it wasn’t always fun, but I still loved most minutes of it. I can’t wait to do […]

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