This weekend, Jaden and I enjoyed our annual trip to Green Bay for the Bellin Run. This is easily one of my favorite races. Jaden loves doing the kids run. Maybe next year I’ll take Logan too!
The kids’ run is a half mile around Astor Park. This year they hit a new milestone with over 1000 kids running! In the 4 years since he first did this race, Jaden has improved a lot. This year he only slowed down once, and was able to get around the park with only a few walking steps. I try to encourage him (and I talk to him about pacing himself). I really just want him to have a good time. I would love for him to be ready to run a 5K with me and Tim, but right now he is having fun doing his kids’ runs. And that is great!
Jaden and I stayed at a friend’s house on Friday night. She was kind enough to open her basement for us. I got a pretty good night’s sleep. Jaden slept like a rock. We were able to carpool to the race, which makes parking a little easier. Her husband wasn’t racing, so Jaden stayed back at the house. I’m pretty sure he played video games the whole time.
I like to get to races early, and we got to the start line with plenty of time to spare. We actually sat in the car and just chatted for a while. My friend’s daughter (9 years old) and a couple other family members were also doing the race. Eventually, we decided to make our way to the park where the start corrals were. I said good-bye to the rest of the group because we were in different corrals.
I had plenty of time to visit the porta potty. I was also running with my cell phone so I played around on there for a bit too. I don’t usually run with my phone, but I really wanted to be able to connect with my friend after the race. She was my ride, after all.
I wasn’t sure exactly how to dress for the weather. It was going to be in the low 50’s before the race and it wasn’t going to warm up until later in the day. There was also a chance of rain. Bellin doesn’t offer a bag drop, so anything you have is going to have to go on the run with you. I ended up wearing my running jacket before the race to stay warm. Just before the start, I took it off and tied it around my waist. Definitely the right choice. I was plenty warm in just my tank while I was running. And I was very glad to have my jacket after the race when it started sprinkling for a little while.
This was from near the front of Corral Two. It was pretty crowded, but well organized. Somewhere up there is Dave McGillivray, race director for the Boston Marathon. I learned this year that he is also the race director for the Bellin Run. Here is a great clip of a press conference he did before the race. He has some great things to say.
The wheelchair athletes were to first to go, followed by the Captains and Angels of my Team Triumph. Then the rest of the field was off! I think I only waited a couple minutes to get to the starting line after the gun went off.
As soon as I crossed the starting mat, I hit the button on my Garmin. And, (as has happened in the past) nothing happened. No pace. No distance. Just overall time. (And heart rate. I was working hard!) I started to freak out a little bit. I knew that I wanted to PR at this race and I knew that I needed to run faster than an 8:35 pace to do that. I was very concerned that I wouldn’t be able to keep that pace without some feedback from my watch. I decided that I would just run fast and see where I was at when I got to each mile marker.
I made it to the first mile marker at 8:04. Whoops! I may have started out a little fast. But, I felt ok, so I just kept going. I got to mile 2 at 16:12. Still a bit fast. I tried to slow down a little bit because I was afraid that I was going to crash and burn. I got to the 5K mat at 24:33. I couldn’t believe it. That is a 5K PR by almost a minute! That is a 7:54/mile pace. Yikes! Even now, a couple days later, I am still finding it hard to wrap my head around that. In the back of my mind, I still consider myself a 10:00/mile runner.
I reminded myself that the race was only half over and that I still needed to finish. I didn’t figure that there was any way I was going to be able to keep going and I just waited for my inevitable demise. I got to mile 4 and was still sitting around an 8 minute pace. I knew that I had to slow down. I made it my goal to give something back between miles 4 and 5. Otherwise my legs might actually spontaneously combust and leave me stranded on the course. Not that I could ever be stranded with almost 20,000 other people.
I got to mile 5 in something over 40 minutes…maybe 41 and change. I don’t remember exactly, but it suddenly occurred to me that I might be able to finish in under 50 minutes. In my head, only really fast people can do that. Or Kenyans. I am neither of those.
I decided that there was a little over a mile to go and I was going to give it everything I had. I pushed my legs to keep going. They were starting to burn pretty bad at this point. And my lungs were searing. But, when I want something, I will put up with quite a bit of discomfort to get it.
I looked at my watch when it said exactly 47:00. I didn’t know exactly where I was on the course, but since I’ve run this race before, I knew that I had a bit to go to get to the end. I saw the banner marking mile 6 up ahead of me. I had to make a left around that corner and then one more right turn to the finish line.
As I was nearing the finish mat, I heard the announcer say my name. I love races that do this. Even though Bellin is huge, and there is no way to announce all the finishers, it is a really nice touch. I wish I could say that hearing my name gave me an extra surge at the end, but I was running on empty by that point. My legs had nothing left and was just hoping for ambition and momentum to carry those last few meters.
When I looked down at my watch after I crossed the finish line, I could hardly believe what I saw. 49:41! What?!?! I did something that I didn’t think was possible. I pushed myself further than I thought I could. When I set my goals for this race, I thought I was really pushing myself to set the goal to PR. I ended up getting that PR by more than 3 1/2 minutes!
I usually don’t feel the need to head to the results tent after a race. But this time I wanted to see what the ‘official’ results said. I guess I needed some sort of reinforcement or validation of my effort. I didn’t want to wait to look online when I got home.
I was glad that I got that little receipt. I had proof right in front of me that I am capable of more than I thought. And, I also got to see Bill Rodgers. He was in line in front of me, getting his own results. The competition at Bellin is so tough that he didn’t even win his age group!
Once I got home, I did look online for the ‘final’ results. They have to wait until everyone finishes to determine all the gender/division places. I couldn’t believe that I finished in the top 4% in my age group and gender. Not bad for a middle-of-the-pack runner.
Since I was so surprised by my finish time, I decided to plug that number into a pace calculator to see how it would correlate to different distances. I don’t put a lot of faith into those calculators, because I don’t think that running a certain pace at a shorter distance will necessarily translate into running a certain time at a longer distance. Obviously, there would have to be some significant training involved. Feeling intense, searing pain for 6.2 miles is a whole lot different that being able to handle intense, searing pain for 26.2 miles!
According to the handy-dandy McMillan Running Calculator, I should be able to run a half marathon in 1:50:46 (highly doubtful) and a full marathon in 3:53:06 (most likely impossible). It also says that I should be able to run a 5K in 23:55 (maybe, on a good day, when the stars align) and a mile in 6:53 (remember that goal I had to run a mile in under 7 minutes? Yeah, me neither!).
I have to say that I really love running this race. It is so awesome that a race that is this huge, can still feel so intimate. The city of Green Bay does a great job and the race organizers obviously know what they are doing. I love that my Team Triumph participates. Every time I passed a team, I cheered on the Captain and the Angels who were running. If you aren’t familiar with who they are and what they do, you need to check it out. I would love to be involved someday.
*PR! Can’t argue with an awesome finish time. Makes any race a little bit better.
*Organization. They have improved their start line corrals in the past couple of year. Everything seems to run very smoothly at the start. Packet pick up is a breeze. Post race food/water/etc. is very well laid out.
*Volunteers. There were plenty of people at the water stops on the course. There were a lot of volunteers to help with water and stuff after the race. There were plenty of medical staff on hand to help with emergencies (I saw at least 2 runners carted off with IVs in them).
*Fan support. The city seems to support this race. The streets were lined with spectators. People were cheering. There was a gym or something along the first mile or so of the course that was holding their aerobics class in the parking lot that morning to cheer on the runners. The best sign of the day: “Run faster, so I can use my driveway!”
*Elite athletes. I think it is great that the organizers have built an event that brings some of these world-class athletes to Wisconsin. They always have an autograph session on Friday night at the expo. And, I get to talk briefly with Bill Rodgers after the race. And tell people that I ran with Joan Samuelson!
*Shirt. The design is fine, actually I kinda like it. But, this is one of the only races I’ve done that still gives cotton T-shirts. Come on Bellin; go tech! And…every year the shirt is white. I have a ton of white T-shirts.
Overall grade: A
I love this race. That is why I’ve done it for the last 4 years. That is why I am 98% positive that I will be back in Green Bay on June 14, 2014 for the 38th annual Bellin Run. I love having this race to look forward to each year. It is such a fun time for me and Jaden. Next year, Logan might be old enough to go.