I had expected the race to be on paved trails just about the whole way, and wasn't too excited about the course going into it - moreso just about seeing and running with Todd. A few days before the event - I realized that the course was 55% on 'real' trails. So much for not training in my trail shoes and doing all those miles on the paved path around Lake Phalen.
Anyway - the trail did become technical the 2nd half and had some good ups/downs. Todd took one spill (behind me, so I missed it), and I had one good rock/root I kicked, but was barely able to keep myself on the trail. (That big toe hurt on and off for a couple of weeks).
One section on a rock wall was interesting, as was going by an empty homeless campsite - but those 83 (or 86, I forget now, but I counted them during the race) stairs were quite difficult at mile 19? or so.
After a steep rocky climb to an aid station at Mile 17.2, as I crossed the walkway over highway 61 - my legs started cramping up. First the left inner thigh, then the right leg, just above the knee. Then the left just above the knee. Then the inner thigh on the right. It alternated between all those places for the next hour and last 8 miles of the race. It was bad enough to stop me in my tracks on two occasions - once as I passed near the finish line after a long downhill (mile ~21.5) prior to going out to Swede Hollow, and another time at mile 24.5 near Heritage Park, before heading back toward the finish. I was hoping to see Todd near that turnaround before getting split off on the opposite Swede Hollow trail. When I did see him just after another cramping episode, he told me as he passed that this was my fault. I completely understood and felt it myself. Just wanted to get thru it and keep moving to fend off more cramps. (The decision to leave my S!Caps at home - it was in the 60's to low 70's, why would I need them? and the fact that there was No Gatorade on course. ok - just water is fine. Duh, no wonder I got cramps the worst I have ever gotten them!).
The last few miles were slightly downhill and I continued to move. Wasn't so worried about time and had very little expectations with not knowing the course AT ALL. As my watch ran though, I had a goal of beating 4:10...and I came in at 4:07:36.
Ended up as my 3rd fastest marathon ever (out of 11 now) and best since my fourth marathon I finished with a 3:53 PR in Dec 2009.
Todd wasn't too far behind me. As a non-trail runner (one other trail event in his history), he did rather well!
We enjoyed a post-race beverage and food before finally ambling to my car and making the short drive to the house. (My family was on their way back from Milwaukee, so missed this one).
We took a little walk to the lake later on to help things get back to normal. After three days of my legs being sore to the touch, they were perfectly fine.