Tuesday, October 9, 2018

2018 (37th) Twin Cities Marathon Race Report

Known as the ‘Most Beautiful Urban Marathon in Amerca’ as it goes point-to-point from downtown Minneapolis to the state capitol in St. Paul, MN, it lived up to its reputation. I did not realize the amount of community/crowd support though, and that is what I will remember about this event. Weather was just about perfect - ~44° at the start, only rising a few degrees, and clouds all day. 2 friends from South Carolina came up to run it with me and we got the start in time to hit the port-a-johns and drop off our drop bags (longer lines for those actually!). 
Expo photo op

I got situated in Corral 2 and they started us off about 8:07am. It was quite crowded to start, then it narrowed a little and I was able to actually walk a few times to keep up. Finally we spread out and I settled into a comfortable pace. Having missed mile marker 1 (and not knowing what they looked like), just continued on that pace.


Legs felt fine-more fresh than not. Guess taper worked as I had ramped down after three 19.6 mile runs in 5 weeks to 16.5 and 7.2. I traveled to Massachusetts the week before the race, so only ran 2 on Wednesday and 4 after I returned on Friday morning.

By mile 2, I had removed my buff (kept hat on) and thin gloves - both going into my jacket pocket, then my light jacket got tied around my waist, and left me running in my favorite Harbison 50k shirt (One guy actually called it out during the race!), compression shorts under my Brooks shorts, fitsok socks, and CEF calf sleeves. My newer (~27miles on them) Asics 2000-5 were broken in just enough. I was comfortable the whole way.

Hit 5k in 28:16 (9:06 pace) so was right where I wanted to be (right at 9:00 was my goal-pace to see how long I could maintain that).

I came across one of my SC friends (the other was way ahead as expected) soon after that – just happened to see her directly in front of me! We spoke for a minute, then I guess I just continued on. I looked around quite a bit and enjoyed the scenery as we made our way to the lakes: Lake of the Isles at mile 3, Bde Maka Ska at mile 5, and Lake Harriet at mile 7. Saw some school friends cheering around Lake Harriet, so that was a very nice surprise. Had come thru 10k in 56:00, so sped up a bit that second 5k and was closer to my 9:00 goal pace.

Stopped to refill my water bottle with lemon-lime Gatorade near here too…took about 5+ cups to fill it up as I walked through the aid area. Course was pretty constantly turning left and right, and I always took the tangents. Course was plenty wide enough so there was room to move around.

I was taking a split every mile marker (missed a few early ones) and they were inconsistent the first 8 miles (8:55,8:51,9:15,8:34,7:56). Had taken my vanilla Gu at 45min and took an s-Cap! somewhere after mile 8. My pace evened out from then on and I just plugged away.

Crowds were really incredible! I hadn’t thought about it, but people were everywhere. People out on their lawns having parties, lining the streets practically the whole way. Many people on bikes (rollerblades, etc) following their people. I stayed occupied looking at the signs (‘You run better than the government’, ‘Your pace or mine’, ‘531 miles to Wall Drug’, ‘Tap to Power up’, to name a few). They were so encouraging and I gave many little kids high 5’s that each gave me a boost.

Miles 9-16: pace was somewhat steady: 8:55, 9:05, 8:48, 8:53, 9:04, 9:01, 8:44, 9:02. There were a few slight inclines and gentle downhills, but nothing worth noting – head down and plod along; It did make for a good change of pace. Looking at the elevation chart, it was overall downhill thru here (a net drop of ~100ft). Had another Gu at about mile 10, probably refilled my Gatorade again around (maybe?) mile 13 and hit halfway in 1:57:47 – exactly my goal pace.

Took a Clif Shot (vanilla) at mile 17 (and another s-Cap! and more Gatorade somewhere!) and then started mentally running marker to marker. Wasn’t a struggle, but that’s just where I was – I knew it would at some point be more difficult to manage this pace. We crossed the bridge over the Mississippi into St. Paul and the crowds were still going strong! I forgot to mention the music…aside from stereos blasting tunes (the Macarena, AC/DC, Tom Petty, Runaround Sue, etc), there were people out with their horns (theme from ‘Rocky’, Eye of the Tiger, etc), steel drums, a guy with bagpipes, and more. Then there were the churches and their loud bells tolling as we went past. Loved them all, and what extra motivation they gave. I always make it a point to thank the volunteers, even if I don’t take aid, even those shoveling up the empty cups, and also the policewomen and men. A few others did, but never as many as I expect should.

I knew the road generally rose as we went from 20-23, and none were too steep. My miles from 17-21 were all around 9:15, and finally, at Mile 21, I stopped running and walked some, but for no more than 30 seconds. I had come thru 20 miles in 3:00:37. Assumed at that point that I’d slow down, because I Always have, and 4 hours would not happen (not that I ever really considered it). I took a nature break around mile 22 (I had considered one from the very beginning, and even ran off course to some toilets early in the race but they were occupied, so kept on). Mile 22 was 10:19. Around this time I was also starting to get twinges of a cramp coming on, but they stayed away. I had no physical discomfort at all until my right shoe felt a bit tight at the top of my ankle around Mile 23, but it was not worth stopping for.  Mile 23: 9:42 and overall 3:29:54. Hmm, 3.2 miles in 30 minutes?…if I push, maybe I could break 4? Took a short walk break and pushed on. Started to really focus on the area right ahead of me – the ground, people’s feet, a point in the distance – but every now and then, gave another high five out and got a boost.

Around Mile 24, having been running down Summit Ave for 2 miles already, and having had an eye open for my wife since the halfway point, I finally saw her and my daughter (with another class family)! Ran by and said hello, gave some high 5’s, and pushed. I had decided at mile 24 (9:20 / 3:39:14) I hadn’t had this opportunity in a Long time, and may not again. I was going to go for it. People were cheering, I gave more high 5’s, there were more church bells. Even grabbed a donut hole (cinnamon powder covered, but the powder was not ideal!). Mile 25 in 9:32 / 3:48:47. Kept telling myself that 10 minute miles wouldn’t do it, so maybe it wouldn’t happen, but I had to try.   

Looked for the cathedral, where I knew the downhill began to the finish line. That was my goal. There was another man playing bagpipes, and then the St. Paul Cathedral bells were going off. I rounded the bend at the top and I could see the finish. I had 2:30 to get there to break 4. Thought I could do it (visually, seemed possible), so pushed a little more, hoping cramps would stay away.

Checked my watch one more time with 45 secs left and knew I had it! Started to finally smile. I had only broken 4 hours one time (3:53), Charlotte in Dec 2009 in my 4th marathon. I was faster then, doing speedwork, but was putting in more miles now, 9 years later and 9 years older.
finishing chute

I finished in 3:59:40 and was absolutely thrilled!!

Walked thru the finishing chute, collected my finisher medal and shirt, grabbed a space blanket, and then chocolate milk and vegetable broth, and for later, protein bar, chips, Gatorade. Got my checked bag and found my wife/daughter and texted with my brother.

Still walking on air as we watched our other friends who had yet to finish (our one SC friend finished in 2:58!). We all did better than expected and had nothing but good things to say about the course and people on the course. It will go down as one of my best races, and one of my favorite (maybe just behind NYC, but it did feel more personal here).

This was my 134th race, 13th Marathon (12th in 10 years), and 37th marathon/ultra distance (36th in 10 years). Still on pace for 50 marathons/ultras before I’m 50.


 (Very happy with the 'Passed' stats, and this was my fastest last 10k and 2nd half of my marathons)

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