Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Rock'n Roll St. Louis Race Report

DISCLAIMER: This will be the first Race Report I've ever done and I know it won't be the best one you've read. However, I will do my best to make it entertaining and keep you on the edge of your seat. Also this will be a post about my entire weekend in regards to RnRSTL, not just the race itself. So, here goes...

This past weekend was one of the greatest I have had in recent memory. It started Saturday (as most weekends do) at the Rock n Roll STL Expo. For some time now I have bee selling Altra Zero Drop running shoes locally and online. Just a side job to produce some income to support my running habit. So far, so good by the way. Luckily the guys at Altra were in town for the Expo and invited me to work the booth them. For about 8 hours I got to talk running, shoes, and all kinds of other random stuff with complete strangers. I had an incredible time and it only confirms my beleif that these shoes are great. The people behind the product really are awesome.

At the expo of course I did a little shopping. Thankfully I was busy at the Altra booth and didn't leave that vicinity much. When I did get out, I bought some CEP Calf Compression Sleeves. I am surely going to review these and from the little bit I have used them, me likey.

As we get into the race report of this, the packet pickup was at the Expo. Now, I will give credit on this one. Rock n Roll knows how to check people in and keep them moving. Packet took less than 2 minutes to complete. This was achieved by having the Race Numbers, Shirts, and Swag Bags all at separate locations as you walked in. It was efficient as hell. The one thing I will say about the check in was that after you got your packet you were dumped into a wonderland of RnR & Brooks Running products. It was massive. A little too in your face for me as the other vendors were crammed into something the size of my closet at home.

Finally just a quick note before we get to the Race part of this. Auditions for America's Got Talent were also being held in the St. Louis Convention Center. That show is the Walmart of Reality Singing & Dancing shows.

Ok now on to the self promoting part of this blog, the race. the last Half Marathon I completed was back in 2007. I was about 45lbs heavier and I finished with a 2:08. I knew going into this I was going to break 2 hours just on weight alone, but I didn't know how much under I was capable of. My runs range anywhere from 7:30s - 9:30s depending on where and who I am with. Most of my long runs where in the 9 range and I had only had one long run under an average of 9 min/mile. So I set a goal for myself of 1:50 with a stretch goal of 1:45. Anywhere in this range would have been suitable for me.
Start your engines and don't pee on yourself

The morning started off  perfectly a bit of cloud cover and 50s. I woke up early (4:15a) in order to give myself plenty of time to use the bathroom the standard 27 times it takes me to deplete my system. I was feeling good and empty by the time I left the house to pick up a friend to drive downtown. We made it downtown with not too many traffic issues considering an expected field of 22,000 people in a city that doesn't have too many large gatherings. We arrived around 7am (30 min before the start), maybe cutting it a little too close, but luckily my friend had a double secret parking pass to a garage at her husband's work so we were able to get into a virtually empty space. This came in very handy when I changed after the race.

The excitement level was pretty awesome downtown. You could tell this by the lines to the bathrooms. I will never understand how my body can literally be bone dry of urine and then when confronted with a race, needs to pee again. It also likes to take miniscule amounts of urine and exaggerate them to my brain. It is incredible. So we spent about 25 minutes waiting in line to pee 4 ounces. We then had just enough time to get back over to the corrals and hop a fence into a mob of people (think cattle) to start the race.

I knew going into the race the first 5 miles where going to be crazy with turns. They were almost every block it seemed. I just happened to read a blog post by @katieRUNSthis on Running Tangents about 4 days before the race that really saved me from running extra distance when i didn't have to and helped me plan my route instead of just following a bunch of runners.

After the first 5 miles the course straightened out and it was relatively uneventful. The course took us through some parts of the city that typically get overlooked during big events like this. Little areas like The Grove & St. Louis Hills have a ton of beautiful homes and are just great little neighborhoods. I am glad that out of town runners got to see these little areas. The crowd support was spotty but the areas there were people, there were a ton of them. It would be great to get folks line the streets for the whole course but I understand that's kind of a pipe dream unless I go to a Chicago, NYC, or Boston.

Here is my only real criticism of the race itself: The Bands. I think its great that there were bands willing to play at 7:30 am probably the night after they just got finished with a gig but the majority of the ones I heard were ok. Mind you I am only running past them for a brief period of time and could possibly hear 1 whole song. So I didn't get to experience their body of work per se. Here's what gets me the most. The Headliner for the even was Sugar Ray. I will admit 10 years ago they were something. They were relevant (arguably). They at least had a song on the radio.

Ok back to the race. As the race was comnig towards an end I was caught off guard. I checked my watch and I had already gone over 10 miles. I knew how much I had left to go and it was doable. I had stuff in the tank. After the initial shock of this revelation, I just pushed myself repeating how much time I had left to run (rounding to an 8 min mile). Finally I checked my watch and there was about 0.3 miles left and I heard a dude next to me try to rally the those around him to make a break for the finish. I was game. There was the final turn in my sites and up ahead (& a bit uphill) looked to be what I thought was a finish line structure... What I really saw was one of the flags lining the street and it was bent over farther than the others. So while  I am realizing this and pushing it pretty good the hill starts to kick my arse. I check the watch and I am running pretty fast but my heart rate was way up in the upper 170s so I had to ratchet back down. So now I am pissed that not only did i think there was the finish line, now I am out of breath for my final charge. Luckily at the top of the hill, the most glorious sight all day was in front of me. The finish line and its a slight downhill to get there. Renewed with whatever, I again pick up the pace and get my kick in to finish strong. I looked at the time when I crossed and saw 1:42 something. Not only did I PR the half, I made it my rented mule. I was so pumped when I crossed the finish line, I let out a big 'ol WOOOO!

I am still in shock that I could keep it up for that long.... That's what she said.

For you nerds like me out there. Here's a breakdown of stuff I used.
Watch: Garmin 305 & HRM
Nipples: Bodyglide
Manspanx: Sugoi (blk)
Shoes: Altra Instincts
Splits From Garmin:

Avg Pace

Chip time:

There you have it. I don't know if I did this Race Report correctly but damn its fun to write one when you actually do well in a race.


  1. Incredible job, Shep! Every single mile was sub 8. Knew you'd do it, buddy!

  2. You had an awesome race! I'm still impressed with your times. Next time we train, we'll have to actually do some training runs at mp so we're both more prepared with what time to plan for.