A few weeks back I posted about my summer and some races I had scheduled for the Fall. Now you get to hear about them. Exciting right???
October started off with the MO’ Cowbell Half Marathon. I had to drop last year due to a stress fracture on my tibia. So, this year, I was excited to race it. My training had been out of sorts since we just had our 4th kiddo back in September. So, while I was thinking I could PR, I didn’t think I could hit my stretch goal of 1:38. One hour and 38 minutes would be a special time you see… It would mark me knocking off 1 full hour from my first half marathon time in 2006.
Race day, my friend Laura and I set off on our journey to St. Chuck to toe the line. It was a cool morning but perfect racing temps. Traffic was a bit silly and there was some doubt on whether we would be able to make the start in time AND use the bathroom. As luck would have it, We were able to jump into a Hotel on the way to the start area. There was no line, the bathroom was heated, and didn’t smell like… well you know.
Business was done and we lined up in our separate time groups. I got up close to the start and within 5 min the gun went off. Just about perfect timing. I got started and within about 3 minutes found my buddy Luke and a friend from college. Luke took off a bit ahead after a mile or three and my friend and I kept what seemed to be an easy pace and talked for about 6 miles. We were dropping 7:30’s like it was nothing and were having our way with the first half of the race.
As I was running I noticed a dude wearing Altra Instincts. The originals. Since I am the only one in STL that sells them, I was curious where he got them. His buddy almost read my mind and started asking about the Merrell’s I was wearing. Of course I then mentioned I sold them and Altras also. To which his friend replied “I only buy shoes from John Shepard.” Well that was me. Anyway, I found it amusing and completely awesome to see a dude running in the shoes I sold him. Kind of like a sense of pride or that I am doing the right thing.
Ok well after that encounter, the one hill on the course was coming up. It’s a gradual hill and it is about a mile long. I dug deep and kept a great pace up the hill and knew that it was all downhill to the finish. With about 2 miles left I looked at my watch and knew I was going to PR if I could manage 10 min/mile. I was happy, but not content. I decided that this is when I push and go for 1:38. So I pushed. As I was approaching the finish, I could see the clock ticking at 1:38 and change. So, I was able to find a very small extra gear left and cross the line when it was at 1:39:02. All, good because my chip time was 15 sec behind the gun and I got it done. A 1:38 and 1 hour off my first Half Marathon. BOOM! Laura also PR’d. Good day.
Much like the Cowbell, I didn’t get to compete in this race last year either… At least not the 30K. I was just back from my injury and had to drop all the way to the 10K. The Skippo is a 10K looped course. There’s a 10, 20, & 30K option. I was pretty pumped from my finish at the Cowbell, and had some good training this summer with Tri’s so I was fairly confident I could give this one a go. One side note, that until this race, my longest run to date (like ever ever) was a 27K earlier in the year. That was a disaster. I didn’t write about it. Just blah. Anyway, I didn’t have the training time I wanted for this race, I felt like I needed another long run, etc (I think everyone goes through this). So I told myself that I was going to have fun at this race. There’s no way I was going to win and just me finishing would be a victory in itself. One thing I also did was… wait for it… come up with a strategy about how I would run and how I would fuel. Shocking.
Race morning was again incredible. Mid-40’s at the start and not a cloud in the sky. Looked to be about upper-50s at the finish. Money. I got there a little later than I wanted to but was able to catch a shuttle to the start with no issues. I met up with my wonderful running friends and we all said our hello’s and took our place in the starting line. My buddy Matt and I lined up next to one another. Matt is probably the most disciplined runner I know and I knew he could help me keep my pace in check out of the gate (part of my race strategy). We waited to start at the front of the 10min/mile group to get some separation from the group in front of us. Which was great. Now we were the ones kind of controlling the pace. Matt and I would stay together for the first 3 miles or so. Then he saw an opening to jump some people on the trail and did it. I hung back because I still wasn’t sure about the distance & elevation.
Through miles 4-15 there’s not much to report other than I followed my fueling strategy. I would have package of my kid’s fruit snacks when I reached the bottom of Cardiac Hill (~halfway through the loop) and I would have a Clif Bar after I completed a 10K loop. Oh, really quick, I used my UltraAspire Quantum Belt to hold all this stuff. Super piece of gear. I also made a point of drinking just water for the first two laps and then doing half water/half Gatorade on the last lap. You might think wow that’s not very exciting but for me, the guy who just wings it, it was a huge accomplishment. Ok so now we are at mile 15 and the bad thoughts come in. It’s been a really uneventful day and they just crept in there. I was contemplating crazy stuff like who am I and why I even run in the first place. Luckily, Cardiac Hill and a pack of fruit snacks snapped me back to life and by mile 16 I was doing better with just about 2+ miles to go. I had settled into a nice pace and I hadn’t seen anyone for what seemed like forever. Until…
All of a sudden there there was a guy in front of me about 200 yds up. I didn’t think I would catch him but it might be worth a try since he was wearing the same clothes as Matt…. OH DAMN! It is Matt! Once I realized this I started to gain slowly. I came up behind him and left enough space to where he could probably barely hear me but then I just hung out and tried to figure out my move. He sped up a bit and I kept pace with him. We came out of the woods with less than 800 yds to go and he started to pull away no doubt trying to catch the dude in front of him. I had a small moment of weakness and settled back into a slower pace. After about 10 seconds, I called myself a pansy and picked up the pace to try and pass him at the finish… We both passed the guy in front of him but Matt was able to edge me out in the end by a second or two. Very happy with that finish especially to someone I respect as a runner. And I got that damn buckle.
Side note, I wore my Altra Lone Peak 1.5’s for this race and did a combo Injinji/DryMax sock double up. Worked amazingly well.
So, that’s it. I’ve got nothing on the calendar at all. It’s awesome and I’m not sure what to do with myself.
Final note… you can buy any Merrell, Altra, Injinji, DryMax, UltrAspire, or many other running awesomeness from me. Just contact me and I’ll get you rolling.