"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." Aristotle

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Cold, sleet, snow, heavy winds, and deer hits runner … what a race!

This morning I ran the Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon, and it was a race to remember. I never thought I would be running in my full winter gear on May 1st, but this morning the temperature was 33F and the strong winds made it fell like mid winter. There were even a few snow flakes and/or sleet falling, but I was dressed with the right gear and was very comfortable. About three miles into the race I saw some deer run through the line of runners just ahead of me. I heard from bystanders that one of the runners was hit by a deer. My wife saw a runner just ahead of me at the finish line with a bloody mouth; maybe there was some deer fur in his teeth. You’ve got to love the tenacity of long distance runners.

My goal was to finish just under 2 hours. I didn’t care how much less than 2 hours, even one second under was good for me. My training this spring has been sporadic, and I didn’t have a lot of long runs under my belt. But I did run my last 10 mile training run at a pace close to what I needed to do at the 13.1 mile race. So I had confidence that 2 hours was possible, but wouldn’t be easy. I did something I’ve never done before in a race, follow a pacer.

A pacer is an experienced long distance runner who volunteers to run at a specified pace so others can follow. The pacer also provides words of encouragement and motivation. There are many pacers in a race, each running at a different pace. They carry a sign showing the pace they plan to run so you can easily spot them in the race. I picked the 8:47 min/mile pacer, which was a little faster than I planned to run. I needed to run at a 9:09 pace to finish under 2 hours. Through the entire race I made sure the pacer was just ahead of me at all times. I felt challenged, but never over my head. Then somewhere in the last mile I pushed it hard and passed him up. It worked, and I finished in 1:53:52.

Sometimes when we are going through a challenge in our life, we need a pacer to follow and motivate us to keep going. The trick is to find the right pacer, one who is not way beyond our abilities, but challenges us to go beyond our expectations.

A cold start at the starting line.

My pacer holding up his sign, he plans to finish in 1 hour and 55 minutues, a few minutes before my goal.

Several yards from the finish line.

Feeling pretty good after running 13.1 miles.


  1. Great job! in some coooold weather.

  2. Correction: I’ve read a Facebook post from the race director that the man hit by the deer was actually taken to a hospital by ambulance. I wish him well and a speedy recovery back to running.

  3. so inspirational! thanks for sharing!

  4. I'm so glad I found your blog by googling Minnetonka Half Deer. I heard that someone was hit and wanted to find out what happened. Luckily for me, I found your blog. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 9/10 and am now done with my surgical treatment. Maybe I'll see you at some races this summer!

  5. Nice blog! It was a pleasure being your 1:55 pacer. Come run with the MN Pacers Pace Team again...