Monday, February 11, 2013

2012 Twin Cities Marathon Race Recap

Whoops... it's been 4 months since I ran the Twin Cities Marathon.  I guess it's about time I work on a Recap.  This recap won't be as detailed as some of my previous Race Recaps (like my Lincoln Half Recap, and especially not like my Disney Half Race Recap) because I just don't remember all the details.  But I'll do my best.

Pre-Race
I had everything laid out for this race the night before.  Unfortunately, I got sucked in to the Nebraska vs. Ohio State football game the night before (a humiliating defeat by the Huskers) and got to be a tad later than I had planned (although not much).  I woke up somewhere around 5:30, got dressed, had a pre-race meal (probably something light like a small bowl of cereal).  I then drove to St. Paul and parked near the finish line.  As you can see from this course map, the race actually starts at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, weaves its way through Minneapolis, and then makes its way to the State Capitol in St. Paul.

The race organizers had shuttle buses from a spot near the finish to the start.  Thankfully, I got to the shuttle pick up point by about 6:30 because there was a HUGE line of people and the buses seemed to take forever to fill up.  There is also a 10 mile race at the same time as the Marathon (which also starts at the Metrodome and Finishes at the Capitol), and that race is much more popular than the Marathon.  The 10 mile race also started at 7, so there were a lot of nervous 10-mile racers in that line.

I eventually got on the bus and it made it's way along I-94 between downtown St. Paul and downtown Minneapolis.  I think we pulled into the Metrodome area at about 6:55 (or maybe even right at 7:00), so all my new 10-mile friends had to basically sprint to the 10-mile start line (a few blocks away).  Me, I casually walked over to the Metrodome where you could go inside the stadium to stay warm (the temperature at the start of the race was around 38 degrees).  I waited in line for a restroom for about 15 minutes until I decided to go outside and use the Port-O-Potties.

After my pit stop, I was texting my friend Phil (not his real name)... the same Phil that I ran the Disney Half Marathon with back in January, and we eventually met up near the stadium.  We checked our bags and headed to the corrals.

Start Line
There definitely isn't as much fanfare for the Twin Cities Marathon as there is for Disney.  No pre-race announcers.  No interviews with celebrities (or running celebrities) running the race.  No fireworks.  Just a bunch of nervous runners pack into a small space waiting to start the race.  The only thing I really remember about the starting area was Phil kind of freaking out (his training was more sporadic than mine) and me saying "You'll be fine" (for those of you not familiar with the better storytelling techniques... this is called "foreshadowing").

Anyway, then it was time to start (more after the jump)


Miles 1-3
I had intended on going out relatively easy (my goal for the race was 4 hours, which meant about a 9:05/mi average pace, and I was shooting for around 10 min/mile for the first mile and a half, with the intent of making that time up later).  The TC race starts out going down 6th street, so I got to say "Hi" in the middle-finger way to my former employer (who laid me off back in 2009).  After that, it was down Hennepin Avenue.  My wife and sisters-in-law were cheering for me just in front of the Walker Art Center on Hennepin, so that was pretty cool.

The coolest part about the early few miles of the race was the bells tolling at the Basilica of St. Mary.  Since the race starts at 8:00 AM on Sunday, there must have been a mass going on... but it just felt really cool to be running while the bells were ringing.

Miles 4-10
As I said before, I don't remember too much about the race, so it is kind of a blur.  I know that miles 4-8 includes the Minneapolis City Lakes (Lake of the Isles, Lake Calhoun, and Lake Harriet), and I know I picked up the pace a bit right at mile 3 and left Phil behind (temporarily, it would seem... foreshadowing!).

The lakes were very cool to run around, and the crowd support was amazing (especially considering it was VERY cold at the start... in the upper 30s).  The only real complaint I have here is that the field is incredibly crowded (there are a lot of one and two lane stretches, and it gets very tight).

Miles 11-15
Right around mile 11, I saw my parents for the first time.  I am kind of amazed how just the small act of seeing someone you know cheering can make a big difference.

Miles 12 and 13 run around Lake Nokomis (the other like in Minneapolis), and right about at the halfway point, I started to realize that my goal pace was unsustainable.  So, I started to readjust my pace accordingly.  Even though most of the course in the early part of the race is very flat, I was starting to hurt by the end of mile 15.  Uh oh.

I also saw my parents again around mile 14.  Again, personal crowd support is awesome.

Miles 16-20
A bit after the mile 15 marker, the course turns along the Mississippi River on the Minneapolis side.  It is really quite lovely.  However, I was starting to feel it at this point, and somewhere in mile 16 I walked for the first time.  It was also at about this point that Phil caught up to me and passed me.  I know at some point toward the end of mile 17, I tried to just keep Phil in my view in the hopes that I could catch up toward the end, but it wasn't meant to be.  I didn't see him again until the finish.

At mile 19, we turned onto Franklin Avenue and crossed the Mississippi into Saint Paul.  Somewhere just before mile 20, the local running group ALARC (I can't find what it stands for) put up the "ALARC Wall," a giant inflatable castle wall to symbolize... you know, "The Wall."  This was also the point where my father-in-law was working as a volunteer at one of the water stations.  I was still feeling pretty bad, but I was able to run/walk mostly running (probably running 3/4 to 7/8 of every mile).

Miles 21-24
This is by far the toughest part of the TC course.  Just after mile 21, you turn up off River Road to make your way out of the "well" and onto Summit Avenue.  This wouldn't be that bad of a hill if you weren't trying to climb it after having just ran 21 miles.

I remember very distinctly walking a lot, particularly up the well, but also up the hill that rises gradually from mile 22 to about mile 23.5.  My quads were really tight by this point (which was a completely new thing for me... usually I get tight calves, not quads).

The crowd support on Hennepin was fantastic!  There were so many people on such a cold day (although it seemed much nicer by this time, which was around noon).

Here's my one rant for this whole Recap, so if you don't want to hear complaining... skip this paragraph.  If you've done a marathon before, you might relate to the following story.  Right around mile 22 I heard someone shout "ONLY 4 miles to go!"  Now, I know this person meant well... and she was just trying to be encouraging.  BUT, when someone has just run 22 miles and is walking up a pretty big hill and must clearly be in pain, there is no such thing as JUST 4 miles!  The LAST thing I want to hear is that I STILL have about 40 minutes more running to do (and since I'm walking at that moment, probably longer).  OK!  As far as I'm concerned... that ONLY time it is OK to say a runner "JUST HAS ___ distance to go!" is at the mile 26 marker, e.g., "YOU JUST HAVE 0.2 MILES TO GO!"  And even then you might want to look at the person and see how much pain they seem to be in, and if it looks like "A LOT," you might just want to say "KEEP GOING!  GREAT JOB!"  OK, rant over.

I saw my parents for the last time right around mile 24.  I stopped for a bit to tell them I was hurting, but that I was going to finish.  They said just keep going, and it was really nice to have them there.

Mile 25 to Finish
The last mile and change of the TC race is generally down hill (with one tiny rise that felt like a mountain as you're passing the St. Paul Cathedral).  So I was able to run this entire way, even though my quads and my feet were killing me by this point.

The very finish (e.g., the last half mile or so) is a big downhill, so it is very easy to finish strong.... which I did.  I still had enough in the tank to pass a few people (not many, but a few) and get my hands up at the finish.  I collected my medal, drank my chocolate milk, and changed into some warmer clothes.

I had done it... I finished my first marathon.

Final Time: 4:20:48 (9:58/mile).

Overall, I was happy with my time.  I clearly went out too fast (my half split was 1:59:30), and I think if I would have had a more realistic time goal, I probably could have hit 4:10 instead of 4:20.  I definitely will try it again... just not for several years.  I still had the Goofy Challenge to train for (which I will hopefully write about soon).

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