Twin Cities Marathon Training: Week 13

Friday the 13th on week 13? Spooky!

Monday: 5 mi, treadmill
Tuesday: 6.3 mi, paved trail (7 x 0.5 mi, MRT)
Wednesday: 5.4 mi,
Thursday: rest
Friday: 6.1 mi, paved trail (40 @ tempo, Bruce Vento Regional Trail)
Saturday: 6.1 mi, paved trail (3 @ marathon pace, Battle Creek)
Sunday: 12.1 mi, trail (Afton State Park)
Total: 41 mi

I took Monday off after Superior, knowing I’d need a day to recover from the hectic pace. I thought I’d be able to run somewhere fun since I had all day, but it rained and was cold so I ended up on the treadmill again. That was disappointing, but I did manage to get in a nice groove and only had to pause twice in the beginning (once because getting on the treadmill always makes me have to pee, and once because something fell off the table behind me and I wanted to make sure nothing was broken or in danger of getting stuck behind the treadmill).

Tuesday I meant to do 8 x 0.5 mi repeats, but after 2 repeats I didn’t want to do them anymore, after the third repeat I realized I needed to do them in control rather than as fast as possible (especially since I’d eaten an excess of goldfish crackers prior to the workout), and after the fourth repeat realized I wouldn’t have time to get home by 8 PM if I didn’t skip the last repeat as well as the usual mile cooldown I do afterward. Whoops. So I did seven repeats and a wimpy cooldown and went home to play HQ trivia.

Wednesday’s workout was great! I had thought I was going to be stuck on the treadmill again due to rain, but the rain passed through earlier than anticipated and I was able to get out and run around Crosby Farm and the Mississippi River Trail. It was cool and the last few miles felt effortless in a way running hasn’t felt in a long time for me. I took Thursday off due to the weather, and then did a tempo run on the Bruce Vento trail along Swede Hollow and Phalen Blvd on Friday. There were several, um, events occurring in Swede Hollow Park (especially around Swedehenge); one of which appeared to be something staged by the Life and Death Brigade from Gilmore Girls. I felt like crap during the run and my legs felt like they weight a ton each (do I write this every week? I think I do), but I did manage a decent overall pace and was happy with the results of the run even if it was miserable to do.

Saturday I had a couple things to do in the afternoon (a housewarming party for friends and a visit to see my mom’s new tiny kitten), so I needed to get my run done quickly. I went to Battle Creek because it was easy and did a loop around the dog park area, then a loop around the water park/playground area, and then another dog park loop. I tried to run 3 of those miles at marathon pace, but dialing that in wasn’t easy. It was either too hard of an effort or too easy, I couldn’t ever really settle in to 11:29. So that’s going to be my battle the next few weeks; understanding what marathon pace feels like. I’m paying for the “marathon effort” workouts done in the heat this summer!

Sunday I wanted to do a longish run, but also needed to pick up a state park pass so I can be ready for my volunteering stint next weekend at In Yan Teopa. I decided to go to Afton and did 12 miles, which was fun but also slower than I wanted to be. Afton is hilly and it was hot! I need to go back there once the weather is slightly cooler and see what it’s like to run there when I’m not baking in the sun on the prairie loop. I do love running there, although I hate running along the river when there are so many power boats roaring up and down it. It’s not very peaceful.

I was glad to get over the 40 mile threshold this week, not just because I’m in a hyper-competitive steps challenge at work, but also because I’ve been slacking on my mileage lately. For good reason, of course – spending time with my family over Labor Day weekend and spending time with my friends at Superior was far more important than an extra 5-10 miles of training.

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Twin Cities Marathon Training: Weeks 11 and 12

I had a couple down weeks in training thanks to a fun Labor Day vacation and an amazing weekend volunteering at Superior. Well worth it in both cases!

Monday (8/26): 3.1 mi, road
Tuesday: rest
Wednesday: 6.3 mi, road (7 x Wabasha St Bridge)
Thursday: 6.4 mi, paved trail (50 @ tempo, Mississippi River Trail)
Friday: 3.4 mi, trail (Battle Creek)
Saturday: 6.2 mi, road (Pike Lake loop)
Sunday: rest
Total: 25.3 mi

Monday (9/2): 13 mi, paved trail (MRT and Crosby Farms)
Tuesday: 6.4 mi, paved trail (Big Rivers)
Wednesday: 6.2 mi, paved trail (45 @ tempo, MRT)
Thursday: 3 mi, treadmill
Friday: “rest” (Superior volunteering)
Saturday: “rest” (Superior volunteering)
Sunday: 4 mi, trail (Battle Creek)
Total: 32.7 mi

I’ve felt pretty tired lately, so it was good to have some down time and some extra rest days. Running 6 days a week gets kind of annoying, but I just don’t have the time to get in that mileage over 5 days. #Slowrunnerproblems I guess.

The week of the 26th, my legs felt heavy and yucky. This is probably in part because on Monday, after my short run around my neighborhood, I went to see Iron Maiden and rocked out super hard. I had to take the next day off because my poor legs had taken such a beating. My bridge repeats were tough on Wednesday were tough, too. I got them done, but it felt like my legs weighed a ton apiece. My tempo run went a little better, though I wasn’t sure at the time (I try not to look at my pace during tempo runs, I run by effort). I don’t usually stack up two speed workouts back to back, but there wasn’t any other way to get them both completed.

On Friday, we decided to head up to Duluth in the evening to avoid the bulk of the Labor Day traffic, so I got in a short run before the drive. I managed to pry myself away from the craziness on Saturday (sailing, jet skis, etc.) to go for a run around Pike Lake, but I couldn’t muster the energy on Sunday so I took that as an extra rest day. We headed home on Sunday afternoon, later than planned, and by the time we got home, I didn’t want to do anything but veg out on the couch.

That rest day on Sunday was helpful because it allowed me to get in a long run (13 mi) on Monday, without having super tired legs. I didn’t realize pretty much everyone in the Twin Cities metro area had decided to descend on Crosby Farms and Hidden Falls, so it took me a really long time to find a place to park. Both of the Crosby lots were full, and there was a huge backup at Hidden Falls but I managed to snag a spot by being in the right place at the right time, when someone else was leaving. I started at Hidden Falls, looped around to Crosby Farms and then came back around Hidden Falls from Mississippi River Blvd, continued to Shadow Falls (running into my husband, who was out for his daily walk, along the way!), and then turned around headed back to my car.  It was a decent long run but I should have started sooner so that I could have gotten a few more miles in. If there’s one thing my marathon training is lacking, it’s long runs.

I had a great run on Tuesday at Big Rivers; my legs felt good for the first time in awhile, and I had a spring in my step. That’s probably because the weather was pretty good, although the wind kicked up at the end. I wanted to add some mileage so I ran across the Mendota Bridge and then came back, and the wind on the return trip was brutal. I was glad it was to my back, because it was blowing sand against my legs hard enough that it stung. I felt sorry for the cyclists headed the other way. The next day I ran a tempo run (only 45 minutes! I’m on the downward slope of my training cycle now!!!) that went pretty well despite being rather hilly. I was pretty pleased with my overall tempo pace, which included just over a minute of waiting for a light, so my actual running pace was even better! I didn’t bother to calculate it because of course a break is a break, it’s part of the run.

Thursday I got in a VERY quick treadmill run before we headed up to Lutsen. I haven’t been on a treadmill in months, which is awesome, but I was too anxious about getting everything packed up and getting on the road with plenty of time to get to the 100 mile packet pickup site in Two Harbors, so I didn’t feel like I had time to get in a road or trail run.

Friday and Saturday I was too busy to get in a run, and I needed to channel all of my physical and mental energy into my volunteer duties. Naturally I’ll be recapping all of that in its own post. I got in a short trail run on Sunday after we got home – it was nice to be out on the trails for myself, instead of just watching others run. I think I ended up with my best time on the Battle Creek ski trails! It’s nice to see my legs come back around and recover from the heaviness and tiredness I’d been experiencing earlier.

There are only 4 more weeks until the marathon! I can’t believe it! I also need to take advantage of this cool weather and get in some runs at marathon pace so I actually know what it feels like. I’m a little nervous about that sub-5 goal. Maybe it’s possible? I ran a half marathon at that pace on minimal training. But that was a half marathon, not a marathon. I do still feel like if I make smart choices on race day, I can get a huge PR, and I’m excited about that!

2018 Goals Revisited

I got my last run of 2018 in this afternoon. It was pretty miserable – 4.9 miles in stinging snow, but it was also kind of lovely. And I was proud of myself for getting out there even though it was already snowing when I left.

At the beginning of 2018, I laid out a couple of goals for the year:

I wanted to take more planned rest breaks. I took one planned rest break after FANS, but the rest were unplanned and due to either illness or my move. I have to stop getting sick, because I love planned rest breaks that are there for no reason but my own sanity!

I wanted to run more miles than I did in 2017. I ran 1689 miles this year, vs. 1706 in 2017. That’s 17 fewer miles, which is both frustrating and fine. I came so close! If not for my illnesses in December, I’d have made it. Just 3 or 4 more days of running! But at the same time, it’s not like I missed it by a lot and I took a huge step back in my running. So that makes it not a huge deal. It’s like a third of a mile per week, so it’s virtually the same outcome. I’m still not going to say I made my goal, but I’m not going to fret too much over it. I will note I took 24 fewer rest days in 2018, so my miles per run went down. That’s probably more concerning – I didn’t do nearly as many long runs as I should have in my various training cycles. Something to fix in ’19.

I wanted to reach the 1000 mile mark sooner than in 2017. I did this on July 20th, which was 11 days sooner than 2017. I achieved this on the treadmill, which is apropos for this year and will need to be addressed in next year’s goals.

I wanted to go outside every day with intention. I did this 284/365 days, for about 78% achievement. So a C+, which is about what I deserve. Some of the days were pretty simple, just stepping outside to look at the stars or let my cat run around on the porch for awhile. Other days were races, or hikes, or long days hanging out on the lake. But this also means that 81 days, I did absolutely nothing outside beyond walking to/from my car to get to work or wherever else I was going. And a few of those days, I likely did not even leave the house! That’s probably bad.

I wanted to turn strength training into a habit and track my spending. I didn’t do either.

I wanted to spend more time with other runners. I think I did ok at this, although I did no group runs. I volunteered a lot more so I made new friends that way, which was perfect. All my running friends are people I’ve met volunteering.

2018 was a pretty darn good year for me! I ran my fastest and slowest marathons. I set a distance personal best at FANS. I ran personal bests in the half marathon and 5K. I finally beat 4 hours in the Superior Spring 25K. I volunteered at both the spring and fall Superior races as well as 3/4 of the Endless Summer Trail Run Series. I made new friends and strengthened my existing friendships. I found a lot of neat new places to run in my new home of St. Paul. I ran in sweltering and frigid temps. I tried and failed at a run streak. I raced the fewest races since 2015, and DNS the most ever (Hot Dash, Women Rock Half, Surf the Murph, is that it?).

The actual running season in 2019 still feels so far off. It’s going to get cold soon (well, tomorrow is going to be awful, but then it’ll warm back up for a bit), just in time for me to start needing lots of mileage in preparation for a big spring season. I’m hoping for a real spring this time, not an extended, snowy winter, spring barely jammed in, and then a short but sweltering summer, leading into a cold autumn. I don’t even know if that’s really what the year was, but it is my perception of it right now.

Happy new year, and best of luck in reaching all of your big and small goals in the coming year!

Post-Mortem: Twin Cities Marathon

Hey! That race was really fun! And I’m already recruiting colleagues to be on a corporate team next year!

tcmfinish

Look how freaking happy I am here! The finish of this race is actually amazing. Round the corner, see the cathedral, and see the gentle downhill to the finish. Maybe it’s too small to see how much I’m enjoying myself but I am! Thank you, magical endocannabinoids! I sure know how to pull it together for the finish of a race.

Thoughts/lessons learned/etc:

Road marathons are so easy! Hahahahah, not really true. They’re hard in a different way. But there’s something to be said for not being on my feet as long, even if I am putting in a faster effort. I didn’t have to plan ahead for something like Moose Mountain. I could mostly get into a rhythm. I never had to worry that I was out in the middle of nowhere and if I did try to push through something, that I would be in an unsafe situation if I got more injured/sick/whatever.

There’s a huge advantage to running on familiar terrain. I’m glad this was my first road marathon, because I’d run or driven on probably 90% of the course. I knew what was coming, or at least had a good general idea where I was. It was also an emotional boost to run through the chain of lakes and think of other fun times I’ve had with my friends, or to cross from Minneapolis into St. Paul, my city of residence. I got chills and thrills when I ran by the Basilica and the church bells were pealing.

It would have totally sucked if it had been sunny. I tried to pare down what I carried, so I didn’t carry any sunscreen. I brought some in my drop bag and applied it while on the light rail, but that didn’t last 7 hours. I was very fortunate I didn’t get sunburned.

Speaking of carrying stuff, my problems started once I tossed my water bottle. I know snobby runners like to make fun of marathoners who wear hydration vests or carry water bottles, but those people can go to hell. When I was able to sip water, I was in much better shape. Once I had to drink at aid stations, I was overdoing it. I should have either refilled that bottle, or I should have brought the small flask that came with my vest. Then I wouldn’t have gotten that stupid side stitch issue.

Maybe next time, I’ll try to pace it more evenly. I mean, duh. I had a 30 minute positive split. But I also didn’t have much of a race plan, and I sort of enjoyed going out too hard, even though I knew that I was screwing over my second half self. I wanted to see what I could do. I wonder how things would have gone if I hadn’t consumed too much water. I’d probably have shaved maybe 5 minutes off my time. Nothing drastic – I’m sure I’d still have been reduced to a walk.

I am terrible at following a training plan, but I still liked having one. The first month or so, I was kicking butt. However, the heat made the marathon pace workouts hard to do — I had to resort to marathon “effort.” And even then I was just guessing at what pace should be marathon pace, anyway. Then work, travel, and illness started to chip away at the training plan, and I was running whatever I could muster the strength and mental energy to run. Still, I liked having various planned workouts, like hill repeats or tempos.

I’m used to being self-sufficient at races, but it was nice to have the logistics taken care of. Free light rail right to the start! Extremely efficient drop bag check-in! Never a doubt whether I was on course. Water and Gatorade every mile (or so). EMTs everywhere. Entertainment and crowd support through almost every yard of the course. Someone to literally wrap me in the space blanket at the end! Immediate results, and a quick turnaround on videos and pictures. It was all very luxurious, and I was glad I was able to relinquish control and take advantage of some of the services and logistics support the race offers. I still threw my cups in the garbage, even if there were plenty of volunteers raking them up.

It was too crowded for my taste. I run alone almost all the time. I run alone at trail races, too. I went through periods where I was tired of seeing people, and hearing them. The expo and the start were both overwhelmingly crowded to me. I’m not agoraphobic by any means, but when I’m running, I feel uncomfortable around so many people, especially if I’m standing around alone. I hate accidentally being in the background of people’s selfies. And I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate hearing people chatter on in conversation during races.

Trail running is better, but I’m absolutely going to run more road marathons! I want to chase down a sub-5 marathon. I want to keep participating in this race, since it’s so convenient. I’m hoping to incorporate road marathons (and half marathons) into ultra training blocks as supported long runs. And maybe… maybe someday I’ll do Grandma’s.

Race Report: Twin Cities Marathon

I made every first time marathoner “mistake” possible, and it all turned out great in the end.

Official Results:
Time: 5:32:55
Pace: 12:43
Placing:
Overall: 6635/7161
Gender: 2882/3188
AG (F 35-39): 438/492

Watch Results:
Time: 5:33:02
Pace: 12:26
Distance: 26.77 mi (the start in downtown Minneapolis really messed things up)
Heart Rate: N/A

Goals:
A: 4:59:59
B: 5:15
C: 5:30

Food:
What I ate the night before: salmon, baked potato, broccoli, roll, birthday cake (BAD IDEA) for dinner, bagel and cream cheese before bed
What I ate on race morning: 1.5 bagels with cream cheese
What I carried with me: 6 gel packets (I ate 4), water bottle that I threw away

Gear:
What I wore: t-shirt, shorts, ball cap, arm warmers
Gadgets: GPS watch, fitness tracker, hydration vest without the bladder

Discussion:
The splits kind of tell the story. But they also really don’t.
5K: 35:22, section pace 11:23, overall pace 11:23
10K: 1:11:11 (!!), section pace 11:32, overall pace 11:29
Half: 2:32:08, section pace 11:46, overall pace 11:37
30K: 3:47:06, section pace 13:32, overall pace 12:13
21 mi: 4:21:09, section pace 14:26, overall pace 12:26
24 mi: 5:03:12, section pace 14:02, overall pace 12:38
Finish: 5:32:55, section pace 13:31, overall pace 12:43

This reads like a textbook rookie marathon, doesn’t it? And ultimately, it is. But I don’t really mind.

Let’s go back to the night before the race. I went up to Duluth for the day, to celebrate my Gramps’s 92nd birthday and to see the men’s hockey team raise their championship banner. I figure I never sleep before races anyway, so what’s the difference if I get home at 12:30 am or if I’m in bed by 9 pm? I was correct, btw. And at least I had some fun.

One of my “rookie mistakes” was eating something “new” the night before a race. That “new” thing was very rich birthday cake, which ended up going right through me. The problem was corrected with a couple doses of Pepto, but it made me really nervous for the next day. One of my goals was to not become a meme, and this was threatening that goal.

We got home from Duluth at about 12:15, and then I ate a bagel and went to bed. I’d already set out all my stuff before we headed up north, so I didn’t have to do much. I still tossed and turned and barely slept, and of course considered not starting, considered changing up my plan and driving to the start… all kinds of things. Then I reminded myself that I want to run 100 miles someday and running tired now is going to help me out then. So I got up at 5:30 and got ready.

I headed out the door at about 6:20 and realized I wasn’t 100% sure where I was going. I was planning to park at the Union Depot and take the light rail, since it was free and parking was cheap. I knew where I was going but not the best route to get there. I realized I’d forgotten my personal phone and only had my work phone with me (an iPhone), and neither of my navigation apps were working. I made it nonetheless, but the streets of St. Paul can be a bit confusing at times so I always worry I’m going to end up at a dead end or blocked from where I need to go or something. I walked up with two other women from a nearby suburb, which was good because I didn’t realize the light rail station wasn’t actually where I thought it was.

Taking the light rail was really slick! I’ll definitely do this in the future. It dropped me off basically at the start. When I got off the light rail, I was shivering for some reason. I mean, it was a bit cold, in the 40s, but I hadn’t been shivering when I was walking to the station. I guess it was excitement? I was wearing a jacket to keep me a bit warmer, and was sad to put it in my drop bag. I guess I could have worn clothes to donate, but it wasn’t cold enough for that. I put my Body Glide stick, sunscreen, gloves (2018 TCM giveaway), and jacket in the drop bag and dropped it off at about 7:40. Then I went over to my corral and ate as much of the bagel I could stand, and took sips of water from the disposable bottle I’d brought with. I looked around for my colleague, who was running this as his first marathon, but I didn’t find him. I did find a couple of trail runners I know, Anthony and Jacqueline, and talking to them helped pass the time and helped me feel less alone. They had done the race before and helped explain how things would go – how they spaced out the corrals and such.

When the race started, I ended up crossing the starting line just ahead of the 5:30 pacer. I wanted to get away from him and keep him behind me the whole time (spoiler: I did not), and in fact I was hoping to start farther ahead of him so I could have a little buffer, but things got jumbled up. Also I should have started behind him if I wanted a buffer, but I guess I didn’t think about that. I was still holding my bagel and water bottle when the race started, and there weren’t any garbage cans along the route, so I had to hang on to them (I stuffed the bagel in my vest). It ended up being nice to have a handheld throwaway water bottle, but I ditched the bagel as soon as I hit the first aid station. Er, water stop. Whatever they call them in road running.

I ran probably faster than I should have in the first half, which is obvious from the splits, but I didn’t really know how much I should have slowed down. I know that I put my A goal as sub-5, but I promise I wasn’t gunning for that from the start. I knew it wasn’t likely, but it was the goal I was looking for when I started training, so I put it down for transparency. I thought 5:15-5:20 was a nice stretch goal if everything went well and that 5:30 was probably pretty achievable. I wasn’t really sure about my splits because my GPS was off from the start. My watch had me hit 5K at about 34 minutes, so it had my pace below 11 minutes. I knew that wasn’t right, but I didn’t know how far off it was and how much to slow down.

Also, I kind of wanted to see what it feels like to push the pace. I didn’t know if I was running too hard or not. The first few miles felt maybe a little bit labored, but that was likely because I hadn’t done a warm-up. Maybe I should have? People were doing all kinds of stretches and drills and whatever to warm up. Maybe I’d have benefited from a half mile or so to get my legs warm. But then there’s so much standing around in the corrals anyway so who knows?

One of the greatest things about the course was that I had unknowingly run probably 90% of it at some point this year. The beginning portion, I hadn’t run, but had actually walked part of during a march against family separation earlier this year. We ran down Hennepin, past my former school (MCTC), and past the Basilica, where the church bells were pealing. That was so freaking cool. What was less cool was the hill that accompanied it once we were past Loring Park. I ran it because it wasn’t that bad, but it was longer than I expected. The course wraps around the west sides of Lake of the Isles and Bde Maka Ska, and then there’s another small but annoying hill to climb just after the 10K mark before heading around the east side of Lake Harriet. I’m familiar with that section due to the Be the Match 5K, although this race runs in the opposite direction.

I was able to bypass the water stops for the first several miles since I was carrying my bottle. I almost wonder if it would have been better for me to stop and refill it at a few select aid stations so that I could have balanced my water intake a little better. I can’t remember when I ditched my water bottle, probably around mile 7 or 8? I had my first gel at mile 4, and it was much easier to eat a gel with sips of water than to eat it right before the water stop and then chug down some water, or to grab some water and walk through the aid station trying to finish before I passed the final garbage can. I know that they have volunteers to rake up cups and stuff, but I just can’t bring myself to throw stuff on the ground. I did ONCE, when I tried eating a gel while walking through a water stop, and I felt so guilty. The phalanx of volunteers at each aid station was so uplifting and enthusiastic – how could I not use the garbage cans? (I know this is STANDARD for marathons, throwing cups on the ground, but it feels weird to me.)

I started to slow down once I ditched the water bottle, to try to reel myself in. I was determined to run (besides quick walk breaks at the water stops) until the half marathon mark. Miles 8-11 were new territory to me, but they went by rather quickly, and then I was at Lake Nokomis, which I vaguely understood to be the halfway point (and the last lake). There was a cold headwind along Lake Nokomis that made it sort of unpleasant, but I chugged along. I was pretty excited to reach the half in 2:32 – that makes me want to race a half marathon! That pace was faster than my “first” 5K back in 2015! So that’s something small to be proud of.

It was shortly after this point that I started to feel really full. I was drinking way too much at water stops, I realized, and not sweating enough of it out. I mean, I was sweating, but since it was cool and windy, my body was cooling itself efficiently enough without profusely sweating. I wished I had had some mints or something to stave off the feeling of thirst, because I wasn’t really thirsty. This full stomach situation led to the threat of side stitches, and that really slowed me down. It really sucked. I’m not used to running without water readily available, and obviously overdid it. (I will say it felt so good to be running without a hydration pack!) I was really frustrated, but the walking also felt soooo goooood. I probably walked too much, but I also know that preventing an actual side stitch from occurring was key.

The one thing that kept me from losing my mind during those middle miles was knowing my friend and role model Stephanie was at the mile 17 water stop. I was actually counting down the miles! “Okay, 4 miles to Steph… 3 miles…” It was a nice way to break down this long section, when half the race is gone but there’s still soooo much left… including a hill. I had run the Minnehaha Parkway path before, but not the road, so it didn’t feel quite the same. I don’t really remember much from this section. I saw Stephanie right away at the stop, and we hugged and took a pic together before I moved along.

I was trying to space out my walk breaks so that I wasn’t walking right before a hill or something. I wanted to be sure I could walk the hills and run as much of the flats as I could. My plan from about mile 15 to mile 25 was to run until my side started hurting again, and then walk. Sometimes that plan didn’t work out and I would walk before I needed to (which in the case of a hill, was okay, but in the case of just me being lazy, wasn’t okay), but it was good enough to keep me going in the final miles.

Crossing the river kind of sucked, but I ran the bridge as well as I could, even though there was a cold cold wind blowing and I was really exposed up there. The two water stops right after the bridge (Medtronic and ALARC) are two of the liveliest, I’d say — especially the ALARC section, since they’re all runners, too. I was anxious because I knew the hills were coming, and I couldn’t remember how steep they were. It’s kind of silly I worried about the hills because my pace from mi 21-24 was actually faster than my pace over the previous section! So I guess the hills weren’t that bad. And really, they weren’t. I mean, I’ve climbed Moose Mountain. This was nothing, though it sucked in the moment. The most annoying thing about the hill was the little child that stood directly in my path while I was trying to go up it. I yelled “EXCUSE ME” really loud when it was clear that he wouldn’t be moving out of the way before I got there, and his father finally moved him out of the way. I do not need to be dodging little kids when I’ve been running for 3+ hours. Then at the turn onto Summit, three people passed me – two were spectators running alongside a marathoner – and the two spectators basically cut me off after running around me. I snapped “please don’t cut me off” at them and they didn’t apologize, just made a stupid joke about how one of them had actually run the whole way in jeans. GET OUT OF MY WAY.

At mile 22 (I think), I saw my friends John, Cheri, Chrissy, and Lyric, and it totally perked me up, just like Stephanie had at mile 17, and my friends Dan and Samantha, who I saw three times, although I don’t recall when (well, once was at the finish). It was exactly what I needed for the final 4.2 miles, especially because shortly after that, I had a bit of a deflating moment when the 5:30 pacer passed me and I knew that it was out of reach. I think he passed me somewhere around mile 23, and I thought about latching on to him and following, but I knew with the looming side stitch, I couldn’t keep a steady pace. So I continued my plan of running when I could and walking when I couldn’t. There was at least one more little hill on Summit, which sucked, but I just kept going. I think at mile 23 I finally drank a cup of Gatorade. I hadn’t been sure of what it would do to my stomach, but I had decided not to have my final gel because I felt decently fueled, and I had bypassed a few water stops to try to lessen the pressure on my stomach (it worked). The Gatorade went down fine, so that was a bit of a missed opportunity for some extra fuel and some electrolytes, which would have helped prevent me from getting so full. My fingers were puffy, another indication my fluids were out of balance. Whoops.

I thought maybe I could run from mile 24 to the finish, but I did have to mix in a few walking breaks, especially because of that little hill, but I did manage to run at least… I don’t know, the last half mile or so, maybe more. My watch seems to indicate my last walking break was about 0.78 miles from the finish, and I think most of the GPS errors had been worked out by that point. When I came around the corner by the cathedral, I was grinning. I’d been smiling for most of the race, because I find it helps my mental attitude, and also because smiling supposedly suppresses the gag reflex (according to Sara on CSI), but I was beaming as I ran down to the finish. My legs felt pretty darn good, and I felt super strong. And also high on endorphins, I’m sure. At that point, I knew I was going to finish under the goal I’d set for myself in the last couple miles – I’d decided 5:30 was out of reach but I knew 5:35 was possible. And I was right, as I came in 2 minutes ahead of it!

I got my medal, foil blanket, drinks, potato chips, and finishers’ shirt, then wound my way through the maze at the finish to get my drop bag. I wanted to take off my arm warmers, wet with sweat and snot, and put on my jacket. I attempted to sit on the curb and realized that my legs weren’t interested in doing that, so I stayed standing while I swapped out my gear. I also put on the gloves I’d gotten from the expo, glad I’d thrown them in there at the last minute. Then I realized I didn’t have a plan to get back to my car. I called my husband and asked him to pick me up, but said I’d call him back once I found a good spot. I started walking toward the Depot, and realized I would rather walk all the way back to my car than think about where to go to get picked up. My brain was a little foggy. I also didn’t really know where I could go and sit down, and I wasn’t sure how cold I’d get if I did sit down to wait. So I walked the mile and a half to my car. I think that ended up being a good idea, because I feel great today. My back hurts more than anything else, and of course my knees and hips are a bit creaky, but I can navigate the stairs fine and I have a normal stride. Probably because I’m used to marathons taking 2-3 hours longer and being hillier.

I thought this race was fun, but I don’t know if I like road marathons that much. It did feel neat to be done in 5.5 hours instead of 8.5, but there were so many people! And so many of them were annoying! Okay not that many, but one guy was riding around blowing a plastic whistle, and that was obnoxious. And other people were having conversations I wasn’t interested in. And two other women were doing a run/walk strategy, which is FINE, except that one of them kept announcing out loud when they would walk and when they would run, and that got old. And of course there was That One Person who was cajoling a couple of other participants who were walking — “Come on, let’s finish this! Let’s do this! Let’s run!” — why do people do this? Ugh. And just a lot of other little things. I didn’t want to give high fives (and I don’t know why anyone would want one, I’d blown my nose on my hand like 5000000000000 times). Sometimes I just wanted to be alone, and I wanted it to be quiet (although I did enjoy the live music along the way! and the speakers blasting fun songs, too). It did get much, much quieter toward the end. Fewer people were out along the streets to watch the stragglers, and runners had withdrawn into themselves, trying to find the mental and physical strength to finish. Those were almost my favorite miles – hushed and determined.

I’m still probably going to sign up for this race next year, although I don’t think I’ll make it a goal race with a specific training plan. Or maybe I will, just to see what I can do with a real marathon training cycle, since this one went off the rails. Now I’ve got a baseline result and something to beat, instead of stabbing in the dark at a goal based on “pace predictors” online and just winging it. It is a joy to run through so many familiar places – the chain of lakes, Summit Ave, downtown Minneapolis, the Basilica and the Cathedral. When I crossed the border from Minneapolis to St. Paul, I felt a little thrill inside.

Time to stop daydreaming about crushing next year’s TCM, and worry about finishing Surf the Murph. Gulp.

Twin Cities Marathon Goals

Arrrrrrgh. Still sick. I hate everything. I ran to the race expo and back today, and it was basically a terrifying experience. Not the run, the run was fine. The expo was a nightmare. First, I actually took the long way around the Xcel Energy Center to get to the expo because when I was crossing Kellogg after going over the Wabasha Street Bridge, I saw a group of runners making their way over to the expo, looking official and even being videotaped by a guy. NO THANK YOU, I do not want to run by fast-looking people, I will take the long way around.

To get in to the expo, I had to go through a metal detector. Since I ran there, I had nothing on me but my phone, ID, and a credit card, so I went through easily, but ugh. I was feeling sweaty and a little fatigued thanks to my semi-stuffy head, and was quickly overwhelmed by the crowd. And I also felt like a total loser. Everyone there was thin! I mean, duh, this is a marathon. But I felt like a total outsider. Everyone there was also white, so I can imagine a person of color would feel even more like an outsider. I mean, I felt like I didn’t belong simply because I had curly hair. Also I had cat hair on my running tights and I had wiped my nose on the sleeve of my jacket about 7500 times on the run to the expo, so I was pretty much a complete goober. A water buffalo in a room of gazelles.

I picked up my bib and then I wandered around a little bit. I thought there might be cool stuff to look at but then realized I didn’t want to talk to anyone. It was really crowded and people were exhibiting an astounding lack of awareness of their surroundings, so I was ready to leave. This is NOT a good omen for the race. Sometimes in a trail race over an hour will pass without me seeing another person. I LOVE THAT. But I am here to try something new.

I am glad I picked up my packet today, rather than waiting until tomorrow. While it was a disaster zone already due to the expo AND the Lynyrd Skynyrd concert, tomorrow is the Wild’s home opener and there will be some kind of fan thing going on all afternoon in addition to the expo. The Skynyrd folks seemed a little puzzled about what was going on. I had a chat with one of the guys directing traffic and wished him well through the crazy weekend.

So, goals. I don’t really know what to do here. I have been all over the map with training. I didn’t do any “marathon pace” workouts successfully, thanks to the hot weather. I have cold-like stuff that may or may not be gone by race day. I’m going to Duluth and back on Saturday. I’m not exactly setting myself up for success. And I’ve never done this before. I’ve never run a race this long that is runnable the whole way. What is my body going to think about a marathon with no hiking? It’s gonna be so confused. And maybe it’s gonna be like “no.” I don’t know.

Even with all these unknowns, I’m sticking with my same A goal of sub-5. Now, that doesn’t mean that, come race day, I’m going to hold that pace even if it feels like misery from the get-go. I will do what I’m capable of on Sunday, not shoot for something I want regardless of ability. I decided months ago that I wanted to run a sub-5 marathon, and so I’m not going to back away from saying it out loud. If I don’t make it, I don’t. It’s okay to not make every running goal you set, and it’s okay to publicly fail. Or maybe it isn’t, for the gazelles of the world, what do I know?

A Standard: 4:59:59
B Standard: 5:15
C Standard: 5:30

Non-time related goals: stay out of the med tent, finish the race, walk as little as possible, and don’t become a meme.

Twin Cities Marathon Training: Week 12

Where did the time go?

Monday: 6.2 mi, treadmill (50 @ tempo)
Tuesday: 3.5 mi, treadmill
Wednesday: 3.3 mi, road
Thursday: rest
Friday: rest (volunteering)
Saturday: 26.2 mi, trail, Moose Mountain Marathon
Sunday: rest
Total: 39.2 mi

Huh, apparently it’s already Friday. I didn’t even notice, I’ve been fairly busy at work, which is great!

I took it easy last week after that last tempo run, but it wasn’t enough, as I started coming down with cold/allergy symptoms that ended up affecting my race. Massive bummer. I had originally been planning to do a final short run on Thursday, and possibly even a run on Sunday morning, but it wasn’t meant to be.

It seems like from here on out, I’ll be deviating significantly from the training plan I devised, as my next couple of weekends are kind of full, and I’m trying to avoid getting worn down. I’m not sure what my training will entail, but it’s unlikely to include any more long runs due to time constraints. I figure I can do more to harm my race than help it at this point!