Saturday, November 3, 2018

Twin Cities Marathon 2018

I was really really nervous before this race, more than usual. I knew why. I had trained well, and hard. The weather was going to be perfect for marathoning, cloudy and cool, with the high barely inching into the low 50’s. There was only a light breeze and the rain was supposed to hold off until later in the afternoon. There was no reason I couldn’t do really really well in this race, no reason except my brain which often got in the way when it came to running marathons.

I had a plan and I thought it was a good one. I had practiced my average  marathon pace of 12:20 mpm a lot on my long runs. I thought I could maintain that pace through most of the race. I knew that because Twin Cities was a pretty twisty course I was going to run more than 26.2 miles, so if I wanted to run less than 5 hours and 30 minutes I needed to aim for more like 5 hours and 25 minutes, so that was the plan.

Lee was kind enough to drive me to Minneapolis for the start of the race. He and maybe Sarah and Leo would meet me later in St Paul at the end. It was something to look forward to!

I got to the start a little before 7 AM. The 10 mile race was almost about to start. Tom was running the 10 miler so hopefully we would find him and Nicole and Harrison at the end as well.

I found my gear check, my corral, the porta potties with the shortest lines. Basically I stood in the potty line, used the facilities, and turned right around and got back in line. I did that 3 times and then took some Pepto Bismol and hoped for the best. My nervous stomach is always a problem before big races but with a little help it settles down once the race starts.

Back in corral 3 I was surrounded by a lot of people running their first marathon. 8 years ago Twin Cities was my first marathon too! They asked me for advice and I tried to be helpful. I hope they all had a great time!

Our corral got started around 20 minutes after corral 1. I started out at an easy pace, using a 30/30 run/walk interval. But with the weather, and nerves I was running awfully fast. I tried to slow down a little but I wasn’t going to really force myself to slow down a lot, as long as things felt really easy, which they did.

After 2 miles I changed my run/walk interval to 45/30 and that’s what I used for the rest of the race. The first couple of miles winds through downtown Minny and then heads to Uptown and the Lakes. This time I knew where I was more or less for most of the race. 8 years ago I really had no idea most of the time.

Miles 3 through around 13 run through the neighborhoods around Lake of the Isles, Lake Harriet, Lake Nokomis, and Lake Calhoun. Its really really pretty and the crowds are great. Sometime around mile 5 I started talking to a girl named Kim. She was doing a run/walk interval too, but a longer one, 3 min/1 min. She was intrigued by my shorter intervals and we started to run together. We were very closely matched in pace, although her legs were a little longer than mine and I think she was actually faster than me. We ran together for miles, all the way to the river, around mile 18.  When we would get split up, because of the aid stations, or a potty break, we managed to find each other again. It was fun to have someone to talk to and I think running with her made me run a little bit faster. I certainly was killing a lot of those miles! If I hadn’t had to stop a second time to pee who knows, we might have run the entire race together!

The only point in the race where I got a little confused about where I was was when we were getting close to the Mississippi River. I didn’t realize that we were running along it until we crossed the bridge over it into St Paul and started running on the other side! 

Somewhere along in here there were people handing out beer. I felt great so I took a couple of slugs. A guy behind me said “Wow, you are brave! How do you feel?” I laughed and said I’d know in a couple minutes. And then I said, you know if you aren’t going to have fun doing this, what’s the point? And that’s how I felt, for sure.

Even though I had come over and run miles 20-26 of the course a few weeks ago, I was still anxious about approaching mile 20. I knew it was the biggest uphill on the course and in my mind it just grew and grew! Marathons can be such head games! But when I finally got there it just wasn’t that bad. I walked it when I needed to but even walking I kept my pace up.

While trudging up the hill I passed a lot of people because of course 20 miles is where the dreaded wall rears its head for so many. There was a youngish runner that I passed that looked really bad. I told her to hang in there and asked her if she had anything to eat. She said no and I said, find something! There will be people with candy, take some. Voice of experience!

Miles 21-23 are a gradual uphill but I had planned for it, allowing myself to go a little slower as needed. I still kept myself below a 12:40 pace. Around mile 22 I started to realize I was going to do it. Unless something awful happened in the last 4 miles I was finally going to break 5 and a half hours for the marathon. I got a little emotional. Someone had a sign with little smiley faces and it said to touch the one that was how you felt, going from #1 for great to #10 (with a crying frown face) for awful. I punched #2 and startled the sign holder. I knew I was going to finish strong.

My mind was playing tricks on me, as it often does. I was trying to calculate what my finish time was going to be and in my feverish fantasies I had myself finishing in 5:10 or 5:15. That wasn’t happening, but it still was going to be really really good for me.

I saw a girl wearing the 2018 Boston Marathon jacket and holding a glass of champagne, watching the race. I yelled that I loved her jacket and she actually came over and ran with me for a little bit. I told her that I was going to be about a half an hour faster than I was at Boston and she laughed. She definitely understood.

At mile 23 the course gets more rolling, with still a few uphills but some nice downhills too. I ran as much of the uphills as felt comfortable and really flew on the downhills. My quads didn’t hurt so hey, why not, just don’t fall! At mile 25 some serious downhills wind above the capital as you head to the finish. I really booked it that last mile and a half. When my Garmin hit 26 miles I ran the rest of the way as fast as I could, even though I knew I was a quarter mile off. As I approached the finish I heard “Lynn! Lynn!” and there were Nic, Tom and Harrison. I smiled and waved and drove on the the finish. 5:24:37. I finally broke 5:30 after 8 years of trying. I was SO HAPPY!

I blinked back tears. Suddenly that feeling of my throat closing and not being able to breathe started happening, but since going to a speech therapist this summer I knew it was only my vocal cords constricting and I knew what to do. I calmly took a couple deep breaths, filling my chest and belly with air, then slowly exhaled, making a whistling sound through my lips and teeth as I did. After a few breaths the feeling was gone. SCORE!

I got my medal and my mylar blanket. And food! A cup of canned peaches, a bag of chips, power aide, energy bar. By the time I got to the gear check area my hands were full! Good thing for that gear bag, I just plopped all my goodies right in there. I wasn’t ready to eat anything yet anyway.

I exited the runner area and there were Lee, Sarah, and Leo! I told Lee what I had done. Nicole and Tom joined us and Nicole said you have to go ring the PR bell! So that was our next stop. Leo and I rang that bell like crazy. Actually Leo kind of stared at me with alarm. It was pretty loud!

Next up, food. We decided to go to Revival in St. Paul so we all headed there. The babies were both missing their afternoon naps and were pretty tired but they were both very good sports. Suddenly I was starving. I ate most of my snacks in the car on the way to the restaurant and then had some fried chicken, fried green tomatoes, cheese grits, baked beans and sweet potatoes at the restaurant. Oh and an Old Fashioned too! Leo tried the cheese grits. He made a funny face because it was a new food but then opened his mouth readily for more. Harrison was tired of sitting and wanted to try out his walking skills around the restaurant. It reminded me of going out to eat with Gail and Michael and Matthew, many years ago, when Matt was also just learning to walk and couldn’t sit still. I was still childless and I questioned whether I really had enough energy to be a mom!

Well that was a great race. I won’t be surprised if I do Twin Cities again some day. After all its one of the top ten marathons in the US and its right here in my new home town. Right now I’m having delusions of grandeur, fantasizing about just how much faster I can get. A BQ (Boston Qualifying time) is still almost 50 minutes faster than I ran Twin Cities so I’m not entertaining that, but 5:20 or 5:15? Heck, why not!



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