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 marathon.....you 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!!
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!!!
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;)
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....
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.
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.