Thursday, October 8, 2015

Better than Meth

Marathon day has arrived! Sunday morning felt like I was sleeping in late for marathon morning. But that's the joy of being on central time. Breakfast, coffee, but I couldn't make the morning constitutions. Now it's time to walk out to the staring line!

The new Vikings stadium! It looks like a pirate ship.
The starting line was only about half a mile away so that was a perfect warm up. We got to walk around the starting area for a while, and I saw Thad, a friend of mine and local (to NC) running coach! Very cool, I knew he was going to be there, but to actually find the RunnerDude himself among almost 9000 people was unexpected.

Lisa and I before getting everything lined up

the "sweat drop" bags were loaded into UPS trucks by bib number

They had a line of port-a-lets that spanned an entire city block!

Lisa, me, and Megan her running club buddy
Eventually Megan found us, they dropped off the "sweat drop" bags that would be waiting at the finish, and we made our way to Corral 2 for the start. Once in there I got recognized! Thanks Jim, it was great to meet you. That never happens to me, so very cool!

TC is billed as the most scenic urban marathon in the US, and I was seeing why. There were almost 9000 runners lining up there. Split into 4 corrals, we ended up in Corral 2. To give you an idea of how many people that is on one city block, here's the amount of people in front of me, then the amount of people behind me.

Towards the starting line

Away from the starting line
You can see in the first picture a skywalk bridge between the buildings. This is an incredibly cool feature of the city, as it gets so cold in the winters residents can still walk downtown without having to actually be outside. There are miles of these things. Beyond that is the actual starting line. Our plan was to line up in front of the 4 hour pace group, then stay in front of the 4 hour pacer. The balloons behind me are from the 4 hour pacer.

Before you know it, the race was starting! Apparently it took 6:50 for Corral 1 to clear out and then we were off on the course. It started out weaving through downtown Minneapolis before getting out to some of the lakes. There was a ton of water (lakes and river time) on the course.

The first lake

"letting" Megan and Lisa lead (they schooled me the entire time)

Still smiling!
Pretty sure these were taken around mile 3. The crowd support out there was amazing! The only noteworthy thing about these pictures are that there are no people on the side of the roads. Some of the stats said there was 300,000 spectators. Some set up impromptu aide stations, like the dixie cups of beer in mile 24. Some were just holding out boxes of Kleenex, which I thought was hilarious since runners were using them then throwing them on the side of the road. So suddenly all of these well meaning friendly people suddenly had a front yard full of snot rags.

Near the 10k mark?

I'm still smiling. Them? yea, not so much
They had live tracking with timing mats around 5k, 10k, half marathon, etc points. Near the 10k mat was a giant balloon arch, big banner hanging, and maybe 200 people hanging around with a radio playing music. Again, the crowd support was like nothing else I've ever seen.

I love that bottom picture too because Lisa and Megan are obviously talking about something but it looks like they are in agony and I'm still trying to smile. Candid shots are the best. Really, we all still felt great at that point.

Crowds are starting to thin a bit

Not smiling anymore
It was only 48* at the start, so I layered up appropriately. In mile 10, I took off the blue shirt, then took off the gloves in mile 23. Around mile 21 I let Lisa and Megan go on ahead of me, after talking smack and keeping my heart rate low for 3 hours my quads were finally too fatigued to keep going at that flat 9 minute pace. Turns out, Lisa held on until mile 22. Megan made it and finished her first marathon in 3:59, Lisa pulled a 4:02 right behind her. I went into death march mode at that point.

Actually somewhere in the second half I came up with a mantra that got on repeat in my head:

This is our gift
We have been given a gift from God of strength and endurance
When the miles get tough, we show others our gift
We can always go farther
We can always be stronger
This is our gift

Repeat that to yourself for a couple of hours and you start to believe it. You also might go crazy. But then, you'd have to be crazy to start one of these things.

Then in mile 25 I got my second wind and ran into this guy! Steve in a Speedo was totally cool and I wish I had more time to hang out with him. He finished 3rd in the loony challenge and ran the 10 miler that morning in 1:03 (that's really fast). He was out waiting on his wife who was also running the marathon. Steve was one of the first people to ever comment on my blog and I've been looking forward to meeting him for years.

The mile 26 marker was a giant American flag hung between two cranes. Quite the spectacle. Make no mistake about it, there are hills in Minnesota. it's not all lakes and rivers. The last 5 miles of this marathon are no joke. My quads fatigued around mile 20 and became unbearable on some of those hills. When I saw this, I knew it was all downhill and around one more curve to get to the finish line. You can see the Capital building back there, and that's the end of the course.

Right before the finish

and right after
I got an "in front" and "behind" pictures from the starting line, then grabbed before and after shots of the finish line too. So glad to see that finish line. Marathon #16 and state #8 is in the books. 4:08:03 was my finish time. I left the Garmin in NC so I don't have mile splits or any of the data that I love. But just going on feel, with Lisa's pacing, and coming in strong to the finish after such a tough last few miles made this one really great.

Got a nice free local recovery beer

Lisa and I with our finishers medals

Me in front of the Capital building in St Paul
The finish line area was a massive throng of people. We found the beer garden, then got our finishers shirts and made our way down to the light rail to get back across the river to Minneapolis. The finishers area is the only thing I didn't really like about this race. It was so large and unorganized. with a point to point race like that there is no way I would have been able to find my way back home without Lisa. If I was by myself and drove to the start, it would have been incredibly difficult to get back to the start where my car was.

The other thing that I didn't like was that I made plans to meet up with Carly at the finish line, another blogger I've known for years but never met in person. She was apparently there, close to the same time I was, and I couldn't find her anywhere. That's just my own disappointment and doesn't have anything to do with the race organization.

Overall this was an amazing marathon. Beautiful course, well organized, incredible crowd support, Twin Cities has it all. If you're doing the 50 state thing too, or just want a destination marathon, I can highly recommend this one.

Once we did make it back to Lisa's apartment, we got cleaned up and she gave me a ride to the airport. The flights were uneventful, thankfully, but my legs did not recover well by sitting for that long. Finally by Thursday they weren't sore anymore. Lisa and Megan are real champions of consistency - they kept those 9 minute miles coming. I usually go more with the flow of the course, hammer sometimes and walk when I need to. This recovery time is no joke. On the plane, I was talking to a West Point grad who said my addiction to marathons was "better than Meth" - hence the title. When you're in that much pain you find humor anywhere you can.

and to think, I'm only 9 days away from my first 50 mile trail ultra.


Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

Actually, we were lined up with 11,500 people! That's how many started the race that day, although only 8,500 finished which I thought was interesting! I am glad that you had a great race experience. I agree that the finish area was chaotic and could be improved - especially that area where it got jammed up with people and we couldn't move. No bueno.

I am glad I did Twin Cities again but I don't think I will do it again. I love the course as it's beautiful but it's so darn hard with all of those stupid hills at the end! I think next year I will try to get into the 10 miler as that is really fun! The hills don't feel nearly as hard when you are only running 10 miles. ;)

Thanks again for coming to visit! I'm glad we got to run more of the race together and that you had a positive experience in Minneapolis!!

Kyria @ Travel Spot said...

Great job on the marathon! You are a rock star, especially after your 12 mile swim the week before. And did you say....50 mile trail run? Which one are you doing? The good thing about trail runs is that you really just hike the ups and jog the downs; you don't have to put in the speed of a road race. Plus the terrain is so much smoother on your feet/body! I can't wait to hear all about it!

Al's CL Reviews said...

Cool you got to meet so many blogging people. And an awesome time.

I love that you took pics while running.