Monday, October 8, 2012

Jenn's PR TCM race report to the best of my memory:)

So, it's no secret I'm not a race report writer....I don't like to write race reports, I only like to READ them-ha! I do however see the value in writing my race thoughts down almost immediately after a race. When I don't, I end up with memories like my first know the one where I negative split while licking a lollipop all 26 miles and waving at the crowd...Never felt tired and probably could have run 15 more miles.....Hmmm....retrospect is often skewed. SO, here are my more immediate thoughts of THIS marathon!!!!

First of all for those who don't want to read all this hullaballoo, here are my results.

Official time - 3:14:48 / 7:27 pace
Overall place-596 / 8781
Gender Place - 78 / 3687
AG place - 14 / 575

Garmin Results: 3:14:49 / 26.46 miles / 7:22 pace

I posted PICTURES earlier today to make this LESS lengthy.

Pre-race morning festivities

We left our house for Minneapolis on Friday morning. We were experiencing a severe winter storm that left us with 14 inches of snow overnight, shut off our power, and made driving PAINFULLY difficult as the roads were HORRIFIC. Cars in the ditch and we did a COMPLETE 360 and barely avoided the ditch ourselves at one point. I know I'm from Minnesota and should be accustomed to crappy weather but being rural, we have a few more difficulties. My husband was out on an ATV plowing like crazy just so we could get out of our driveway. The bright side-NO snow in the forecast for the Twin Cities, just cold crisp sunny race weather! We arrived around suppertime on Friday and headed to the Expo for our packets!!

Saturday morning we went out to the Medtronic 5K/10K races to spectate and cheer on my daughter Reese as she ran the 5K. She ran super and just a great inspiring way to start a Saturday morning! Ended up meeting my sister and her husband for a pre-race supper at the Cheesecake factory in which case the waiter gave us both a slightly annoyed glance after asking for our third basket of the BROWN bread. I love this stuff!!

Race morning

We were staying in St. Paul near the finish and although a nearby hotel offered a shuttle to the start, my husband opted to drive me as it was FREEZING outside and I did not want to wait outside in line for a shuttle bus. High maintenance.... I went back and forth on what to wear....I sweat A LOT and I HATE to be too hot. The real feel temperature to start was 23 degrees and projected to hit only 42 by the time I finished the race. Shorts? Tights? Shorts? Tights? Eenie meenie, too much bread in taper perhaps, shorts look better on me than tights this morning, eenie meenie... final answer-SHORTS. Shorts, Brooks armwarmers, Brooks vest over Brooks tank, Brooks cap, Brooks earwarmer headband OVER my hat, Brooks Launches and Brooks gloves. I like Brooks:) This turned out to be PERFECT. I didn't shed the gloves until 22 and was never really too cold or too hot.

The race starts at the Mall of America field (formerly the Metrodome) in Minneapolis. This is SUPER because you can stay in the building warm until about 15 minutes before the race when you head out to your corral. I was in Corral 1 and lined myself up right around 3:25 about 30 seconds off the mat. Didn't want to start out too fast although my goal was 3:15. I stood there with a blanket wrapped around me until the 30 second warning and then tossed it off to the side and got ready to RUN!!!

First 5K

I never look at my watch in mile one. My goal was just to run as comfortably as I wanted and not worry at all about pace. I'm generally a slower starter except for last year when I was injured and decided to run a 7:09 in mile one because this made sense....???? Anyway, back to this year where I'm older and wiser. I immediately felt super. I felt like my legs felt fresh, the weather felt GOOD, everything seemed comfortable, I felt confident. My sister was also running and quickly took off ahead of me along with the 3:15 and 3:20 pace groups. No worries. Mile one clocked in at 7:52. OK-a little panic here. I felt very good but very good usually means I feel like I'm running 7:52 and I expect to see 7:30 or better....Had to reassure myself a bit that I had 25 miles left to make this up and I have been starting ALL of my training runs slow and finding it easy to pick up the pace. No need to push in any form yet because for those who have run this marathon, there is a FINE uphill in the first 5K. I went up the hill easy without pushing and shortly thereafter crossed the 5K mat in 22:30ish. Right at about 5K, I caught the 3:15 pacer and huddled in behind his left shoulder.


Starting to warm up here. The course heads down to the lakes here and it is truly beautiful. This marathon is taunted as the "Most Beautiful Urban Marathon in America" and I truly think it deserves this. Besides the over 300,000 spectators which FLOOD the course, the fall colors and the lakes are just beautiful. Constant red and yellow leaves on the road, constant cheering and support. Just a JOY to be out there! I stuck right on the shoulder of the 3:15 pacer as I figured he would run good tangents through this part of the course. I also thought maybe it would be wise for me just to run the whole race right like this. The pace seemed very comfortable, slow even and although I generally do NOT like running with groups, I decided at about mile 4 that this was what I was going to do. Well, then came the mile 5 water stop.... The pacer slowed down considerably and I got ahead of him. I contemplated stopping or slowing and waiting and then thought that this was just not a risk I wanted to take. I would go ahead and perhaps he would pass me back. I took my first gel at mile 5. I haven't taken one single Powerbar gel in all of training this time(I like Cliff Shot) but I decided I wanted the runnier consistency so I bought Vanilla Powerbar gels at the Expo. Crossed the 10K in about 45:10 or something like that feeling very very strong. My pace was faster than planned by this point but I felt so good and just decided to keep trying to run steady without pushing.


I was VERY excited that I would be seeing my family at mile 7. Always exciting for me to see my kids on the course and it gives me something to look forward to. They were on the side of the road cheering and shouting and offering Gels, water, gum! Big smiles and Reese hopped along side me for a couple of seconds! Kept moving on and hit miles 8-11 which are the most sparsely spectated of the marathon but also my favorite in terms of elevation. Short rollers. I wish I could find a whole course like this. Such a mental break for me to go up and down these small hills. I read an article on this marathon and it mentioned that many people ruin their Twin Cities Marathon in this portion of the course however as they tire out their legs while feeling good and push too hard through these little hills. I tried to remember that! I took my second gel around mile 10.5. I was not paying much attention to my Garmin or my pace band but I knew I was running significantly under 3:15 pace by this point. Some battle as to what I wanted to do but I've run this course before and knew what I was in for after mile 20. Banking time while feeling good seemed like the right approach for today. Not sure if it was, but that was my decision at this point. I crossed the HM in 1:35:11. I felt GREAT. I loved crossing the mats because I felt like I had so many personal spectators cheering for me! Some very dear friends that I knew were tracking me!!


As I said, I crossed the half feeling GREAT. I was beginning to do the math and knew I just needed a 1:40 to run my 3:15. 7:35ish pace and I would have my 3:15. I had only 3 miles until I would see my family again which was an easy mental breakdown for me! I noticed somewhere around 15 that I was still feeling pretty good but my pace for same effort was getting a little slower. I had my Garmin set to average lap pace and I had been seeing MANY sub 7:15's and now it was creeping a little higher. Not panicked as I wasn't struggling yet but I knew things were going to get a little tougher. Mile 16, I once again saw my screaming adoring fans-ha! Reese hopped on the course and zipped a gel into my vest pocket which I immediately decided to take and handed me some Powerade zero which I took a sip of. I came to a very short walk here to do so-my first stop of the race as I'm generally quite efficient at running through water stops and drinking on the go. I started running again and broke the race down into another 2.5 mile segment until I would cross the 30K mat. Keep going strong Jenn, your virtual cheerleaders will be waiting for you to cross;)

30K-mile 20

OK-pace slipping a bit now and although my lungs felt really really good, my legs were starting to feel the race. Memories of the hill up to Summit Ave. and then the merciless miles of gradual uphill to follow were beginning to flood my mind. I started to mentally fold a tiny bit here as my body began to feel the affects of running 20 miles at race pace. I started doing math and obsessing over 3:15. 3:15, 3:15, 3:15 even though I was still WELL ahead of this pace. Instead of thinking how FAST I could finish this race, I was thinking of how SLOW I could go to still run 3:15....

Miles 20-23

This is by far the toughest section of the course. The placement of this uphill, although not terribly steep, is very tough in a marathon. I've run Boston and I've run this course 3 times so although I'm from the flat prairie, I'm familiar with hills. This is NOT a fun one. Summit Avenue is gorgeous. The beautiful houses and the spectators are insane but nothing really makes running uphill fun. I broke the course down into .5 mile segments. Run .5 and then I could take a short walk break. I ended up walking 4 times in the next 2 miles while looking at my watch and making sure I would still run 3:15. I was tired for SURE but I was also losing a bit of a mental battle here and letting myself walk.... I passed my family again at 22 and finally shed my gloves and headband. I considered trying another gel since I hadn't had one since 16 but decided against it. At the mile 23 flag, I knew I was going to have to keep it up as 3:15 was no longer banked time. I was right on pace and I would LOSE it if I didn't keep going.

Mile 23-26.46

Ughh-OK-I'm going to run 3:15, this is not in question but I would really rather just walk off the course....I'm just tired of running. I do NOT want to run up the mile 25 hill. Uhh-ohh! My math is based on 26.2. This course will be longer. Will I be happy with 3:15:XX or do I need to break it?? Up up up the hill at 25 which is a nasty nasty little hiccup and then finally finally at about 25.6 or something the downhill to the cathedral, the HUGE American Flag and the turn to the amazing finish line with the Capital behind it in focus. RUN JENN RUN. I managed the last .46 miles in 6:40 pace as I realized I was not going to break 3:15 if I didn't bust my ass. I could hear a few voices yelling in my ear at this point;)

I am so thrilled about his race! I have absolutely NO regrets. Are there things I would do differently? Sure! This is reflection but not regret. I'm happy with the decisions I made this time and I will take them into consideration the next! I am happy to have run a 4 minute PR and I finished feeling confident that I have even more in there for the future. This is not my last marathon PR!!

We had to rush back immediately after the race yesterday as my husband got a work call that sent him traveling for the week so 7 hours in a car right after a marathon....Ughh! The bonus is that now I have a free day to relax at home. My legs feel remarkably good! This is the best I've ever felt physically I think!

Life is GOOD. So many blessings, this PR just being a teeny tiny one... I move over to a new territory with my job tomorrow and head to Coca Cola Grand Forks! I turn 37 this week as my daughter turns 12 and my husband 41. I have a winter ahead of enjoying my family and a spring ahead of finally tackling that HM as a goal! I'm excited. I'm thankful. I'm TRULY TRULY blessed.


Denae Coates said...

WOW! Great Job on your PR!!!! I enjoyed reading the RR. You are so inspirational to me!

TX Runner Mom said...

Great job!!!! I loved reading your race report, so thank you for doing it even though you hate'em! :-) Congrats on the PR!

Ana-Maria RunTriLive said...

Lots to say here...
I think it is very hard to stay mentally strong and consistent for 26.2 miles. This has always been my challenge in a marathon. I can't imagine running 3 miles uphill at the end of a race. That has to be mentally draining, no matter how much you prepare for the hills (which you did!). I don't believe in negative splitting the marathon. It does not work for me. I tend to do what you did, bank a bit of time, 5 secs/mile, knowing that I will slow down at the end for a bit. A 4 min PR in a marathon is HUGE at your level, Jenn. I think for both of us PRs are going to be very hard earned and much smaller from now on, bc we are much faster than we used to. Every race is a lesson and I love it when the lessons come with PRs:) You did a super job in spite of many prerace challenges that would have thrown off many. And dang, we have the same PR!!!! Now rest up so you can go crush it at some short distance races this winter!
P.S. And I forgot to say - I love Reese's form in her 5K. Beautiful open stride!

Ana-Maria RunTriLive said...

Oh, and yes, there was a lot of yelling from your 3 biggest virtual cheerers:)

Gracie said...

Great job, great race, and great pacing. Four minutes is a big PR! Congratulations and thanks for recapping even though you hate doing it ;)

Bill Fine said...

WOW....and WOW!!!! Great race, Jenn....great pace....great PR.....and a great recap! Well done!!!

XLMIC said...

For someone who doesn't like to write race reports you sure did a GREAT job with this one! I love your telling of the mental game (how slow can I go and still...? instead of how fast can i...?) So glad you had such a solid race! Yay!!!! Congrats on the PR :)

robinbb said...

This was such a good race report. I didn't want to stop reading.

That hill on Summit is my enemy. I fear it and have bonked on it both times I have run that race. I want to run TCM again just so I can prove to myself that I can make it up it. I love that you took walk breaks and still made your goal. You may have seen this as giving in, but I see it as being smart. Your head was in the race the whole time and this helped you.

You definitely have more PR's in your future. You are such a fun runner to follow and I was waiting to see your results on Sunday. Congrats!!

And congrats to Reese on another PR and Laurie. You girls are so awesome!!!

Jenn said...

@AM-I'm not sure about negative splitting either. My two most consistently paced marathons (TCM '09 and Boston) were run with 2 pretty even halves. I'm not sure if running 2 more evenly paced halves would have yielded the same result or perhaps a better finish this time or not. Something to ponder;) And yes, I do think the PR's will become smaller but I do think there are many more to come for BOTH of us!

@Robin-Thank you! You need to come back to TCM and get your revenge! Other than Summit, it truly is such an awesome race!! I would say I would pace you but at the rate you are going I will need to ask you to pace ME!!! Constantly inspired and amazed by your progress!! YOU are the fun runner to follow!!

Amanda@runninghood said...

Yay for this! What a wonderful race report to read. I feel like I'm in your head here...running with you. And I learned so much from this too. So interesting to see how you did this Jenn...I will read this again and again. The gels, the walk breaks, the mental game...that you were visualizing your special cheerleaders...did you hear me?? :) Ah, such a great race. You did it! So strong. I can only imagine the joy that you felt when you saw that you had met your goal with time to spare.

HOly smokes it was COLD...shorts? Ha! I would have been in fleece pants, ear muffs, a turtle neck and leg warmers. :)

So much more to say but fighting kids calling my name and the house is falling apart...gee, what it takes for me to just type a comment. Grr. I love you!

ajh said...

I would have been cold. How smart you are to figure out the perfect outfit. I tend to over dress a little.

Excellent PR! Great job.

Sounds like good winter ahead for you.

Raina said...

Your first marathon and mine sound exactly the same :)

Man, I am SO excited to read this MUCH deserved PR marathon race report!!! Where do I start?

It is so KEY that even from the first mile you had a positive outlook on the race, great perspective on the bigger picture. You studied this course and KNEW that it would measure long- and just what it would take to get to the end in sub 3:15!
And- so smart to tuck in with that pacer- and to keep going when his plan did not fit yours.
The three mile uphill finish would have done me in. I admire that you could take a walk and get right back to running the race, finishing WELL faster than 7 MM?!
You betcha. There are more PRs in this girl. I am certain of it! Love that last paragraph. You are blessed, indeed !
Can't wait to see what is up ahead for you. :)

Jenn said...

Thank you!

@Amanda. I have a little extra padding to keep me warm right now. A light layer of "warmth" under my skin if you will. Glad I wore shorts-ha! Yes, I heard you. I saw you too:) Weird but I thought of you in the final miles and saw you sitting across from me in a Thai Restaurant....

@Raina-Yes, finishing under 7 was not easy. It was essential to get that goal. My legs did not want to run that. Kept swearing under my breath that I had wasted time walking and now had to run so fast to finish! Yes, there is NO better feeling in a marathon than when you cross that finish line and get to STOP running, especially with a PR:)

Katie said...

Wooooo hooooooo! Awesome race! Awesome PR! I'll be thinking of you in two weeks when I run my race! So glad you had a great experience. :)

Gracie said...

BTW - don't read this wrong, I do NOT mean you are old lol - but running a 4 min PR and breaking 3:15 at 37 is incredibly impressive! I know a ton of 23 year olds who would be dying for that kind of race!

Jill said...

I could write a novel here as I have so many thoughts in my head...but they can stay there because really, all this boils down to is your incredible strength and willpower. I have been inspired by you for 3+ years now and continue to be each time I open up your posts or FB and see your amazing drive. And previous smile. No matter where you go in life, I will forever be touched by your gift to run...and your warm, warm heart! Congratulations to you, my dear - you are AWESOME and deserve this so much!

The Hungry Runner Girl said...

WOWOWOWO!! Congratulations on such an incredible marathon PR!!!

Anonymous said...

Jenn - Thanks for popping over to my recap! I absolutely love this. You rocked this course and I loved hearing from the perspective of someone whose cheerleaders were those little nuggets with signs I kept getting weepy over! Also, ladies like me aspire to be hot runner mamas like you :)
-- Hillary

middleagedrunner said...

AWESOME! Congrats- you are amazingly FAST!! :-)

Happy Feet 26.2 said...

happy, happy for you! Congrats - great race on a tough course. I'm always amazed with people who PR big on a tough course. (i'm determined to become a better hill racer - before Boston 2013 - teach me? )

great report!
Happy Fall !

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