Sunday, October 04, 2015

2015 Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon

Full Minnesota
Official Time: 3:42:07
Avg. Pace: 8:29

Previous Best: 3:56:19 (Cleveland 2012)

First of all, everyone loves Captain America.

Nine years ago, in New York, I wrote PENGO on my shirt. It was a great thrill hearing all the spectators cheering me on as "Pengo!" I mean, I could have written David, but then I wouldn't be sure they were talking to me. Lot of Davids in that race.

Today, I wore the Captain America shirt. And everyone loves Captain America. And that was entirely awesome.

Everything went very well, beginning last night when I finally (thanks to my sister-in-law Julie, who has been totally awesome and supportive through all of this) got on the phone with their friend Kelly, who has run the TCM some fifteen times.

"Hey, David," he said, when I got him on the phone, "Why are we doing this?"

"Oh, uh," I said, "I want to ask you about the course."

"No," he said, "I mean ..."

"Oh!" I laughed, "Yeah, no idea."

He told me about the route, many things I already knew from driving it. But he also said he was going to be using thin gloves and keep them on during the race. I'd gotten some beat-up winter gloves, which I assumed I would be dumping at the start. Ditto, the sweats.

But he encouraged gloves to use or not use while running, and I remembered how I lose feeling in my fingers on long runs. Denny was glad to take me to Target last night to get some ($3 for two pair in the dollar section) and also large trash bags so I could wear one after packing my sweats. I had planned to just throw them away, but if I timed it right I could pack them in my bag for UPS to take to the finish, and just wear a bag to hold heat in until the start. I could change into them at the finish.

After two races, I think I know how to time my intake-output cycle. I had the biggest pre-race breakfast yet: two fried eggs, toasted ciabatta, and a banana I pockets for just before the race. Many thanks to Denny for making breakfast and taking me to the light rail stop to catch the train for the starting line.

I arrived an hour before the gun, plenty of time to get oriented, have water, use the facilities, adjust my socks, and generally not stress. It was cold, but not too cold. Forty-five degrees at the start, it would be fifty at the finish.

My one error was entering the corral a bit too late. They are called corrals for a reason, and trying to make your way up to the front is very challenging once it is full. I was stuck behind the well behind the 4:00 team, I was supposed to be up with the 3:45 team. Catching up can be very hard, you're all moving fast in the same direction.

Making my way up to them, I could have missed downtown Minneapolis, in general, at least for the first twenty miles, I did a decent job of taking in the Most Beautiful Urban Marathon in America®.

By the way, it really, really is.

I caught up with the 3:45 team, and passed them. I wanted them behind me. From childhood, I have been very bad at catching up. It brings out a failure anxiety, an ancient reminder that I am never the best player, ever. Always the slowest, the least coordinated.

However, I am apparently very good at running away from things.

The first five miles were amazing, deliriously so. Once I had headed out in front of my goal ... I slowed down. I relaxed into my running. I was like, "Really? This pace? I can make it just running like ... this?" Delusions of grandeur overwhelmed me. Maybe I could do three and a half!

Meanwhile, people kept yelling for Captain America! I passed this one guy who told me, "Oh, it's you! I was wondering why everyone was calling me Captain America, I thought I was just doing really great."

Denny and Julie and my seven year-old niece caught up with me in three locations, Julie took this action photo.

The fact is, the entire thing went by very well. I had an electrolyte drink and a water drink at every stop (except the one at Mile 25.) I had two GU gels with me, which I had at miles five and ten, and they handed out Cliff Shots at mile 17.

Just an endorsement, GU gels taste good. Cliff Shots do not.

I took on banana, an orange slice - but no Twizzlers. Those get stuck in my throat. Basically, I was extremely well-fed and hydrated, when I finished I had not felt and would not feel any cramping or nausea or any of the feels I had during my first marathon. I felt like I needed to pee through pretty much the entire race, but not urgently and so when I thought about it, I gave myself the same response I give the boy, "As soon as we get home, son."

Speaking of waste, however, I would like to mention what I have noticed as the increasing number of spectators signs relating to shitting or pissing yourself. Ha ha, now knock it off.

The signs were by and large very supportive and clever they always are. And some surprisingly topical:

If Trump Can Make It To The Primaries, You Can Run 26.2 Miles
- and -
If Mark Watney Can Grow Potatoes On Mars, You Can Run 26.2 Miles

The most difficult aspects of the race occurred around mile ten, I think, when it felt like both socks slipped, and suddenly I had seams biting painfully into callouses on both feet. The thought of blistering my feet open for the next sixteen plus miles was distressing, but all I managed to convince myself the pain would eventually go away, and it did. The flesh of my feet doesn't actually appear too damaged, actually.

I wish I could say the same for my toenails. For some reason training alone has been very hard on those and I believe I may actually lose a half dozen. Seriously. They're are all chalky and bruised. Weird.

One other thing, and this may have had something to do with my gloves (which I chose to wear for the entire race) or my awesome Captain America shirt, I don't know ... but my arms hurt more than they ever have. I mean, they started hurting halfway through the race, I have never felt so weak in my arms before.

The dreaded Mile 21, however, was not a problem for me at all. Thank you, Little Italy for all of those training runs, the miles up to Summit was no big deal at all. My brother's family had planned to catch me one more time, at Fairview and Summit, where we had watched the marathon four years ago. But I was too fast for them and they could not bicycle their way there in time.

However, by Mile 23 things had gone the way of all marathons and I was ready to be done. Just tired, stiff, looking forward to the state capitol building and the finish line.

Family at the finish line.
But what a sight it was. There are a few dips in the road but mostly downhill the last couple miles, where I could see the finish line dead ahead for the last point-two miles, and ran flat out towards the end.

I hadn't beaten my personal best - I had crushed it, shaving fourteen minutes from what I thought I was best capable of.

Maybe Amy is right. Maybe I can make 3:30. And where might that happen?

(Many thanks to the organizers and volunteers of the Twin Cities Marathon, which is an extremely fun and pleasant event all the way around. Extremely well-organized and truly the most beautiful urban marathon in America.)

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Get out of the way.

Spoonbridge and Cherry
Yesterday was one, big, successful check list. It began by sleeping in, at least for as long as possible. I get up at 5 AM on a normal day, that's 4 AM here. I did manage to wake and then go back to sleep long enough to achieve some semblance of rest. It's just how my brain works.

My brother and I headed out in late morning to drive the entire route of the marathon. This was good, as I am now aware of certain long inclines, and generally know what I have to look forward to. For example, when I pass Spoonbridge and Cherry there is a long steady incline past the Walker Arts Center.

Footnote: Spoonbridge and Cherry at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, the team who (figuratively) gave Cleveland The Free Stamp.

We got turned around a lot around the many lakes, and I carped that my brother was making the race seem a lot longer than it actually is. But we got straight by the second half, which is pretty much north to the East Franklin Avenue Bridge and then East to the State House.

But there is Mile 21. It is a steady incline, for an entire mile. We are not safe until we have passed the 22 mile marker and are heading due east on Summit Avenue. And that is the distance at which I began to cash out last time. It is good to know.

Then we proceeded to the Expo at the Saint Paul RiverCentre, which for those who have never attended one is like a runner's mall. There are kiosks of product for runners and its very crowded and busy and you always have to pick up your bib number in the back to make sure everyone buys something. I told my brother it would be quick, that I wasn't there to do any shopping, and yet I found myself lingering over the displays, hoping to find a new glasses strap. I did pick up a few gel packs and we headed back onto the street.

Big river.
Interesting ... unlike any other of the races (Kids' race, 5K, 10K) the marathon runners don't receive their shirt until the finish line.  This was new to me, I wonder the logic behind it. Why would organizers want to handle the additional headache of bringing thousands of shirts to the race on Sunday? Has there been a rash of individuals registering for the race, getting their shirt, not running it and then fraudulently claiming that they had?

It's always an exciting vibe, though. Seeing all the different kinds of people who run races like these. And today was Friday, tomorrow the joint is going to be packed.

After we met up with my sister-in-law for lunch, and then a trip to Goodwill for a cheap set of sweats. I got an awesome hooded MINNESOTA shirt I wish I could keep and some boss pants to keep me warm until the race starts Sunday morning.

Distance: 3 miles
Duration: 25:30
Avg Pace: 8:28
Route: Summit Avenue

Brisk morning run, low sun and somewhat blinding. It will be very cool tomorrow when we set out, I may begin the run in this sweatshirt, I do not know, it will collect a lot of sweat and losing it will make me cold. But I do not want to wear shirtsleeves.

I will run with the 8:35 group. I have been able to maintain eight and a half minutes very well throughout my training. And that will help me break my previous time. Because that's the plan.

Temperature: 43°
Climate: sunny & cool
Intake: none
Hydration: yes

What's That Lyric?
Houses In Motion - Talking Heads

Friday, October 02, 2015

The fear is falling away.

Many years ago I asked for something, a solo trip to Chicago. The wife was pursing her Masters at Goddard College, and I had had a few solo weeks with the children (aged 4 and 2) and wanted some time on my own in the summer, before residency rehearsals began.
The Lakeview Cemetery
Photographs from Cleveland's Historic Landmark
By Barney Taxel

I took one bag and caught a bus to the rapid to work, and then the rapid to the airport. I took a plane to my destination, and another train to the neighborhood where I would be staying. Never drove, never took a taxi. I was proud of that. It's not like me to be out there without a car, not alone.

Today I walked my son to the bus, and walked from there to the Little Italy RTA stop. Perhaps more of a walk than I was prepared for, it really did take about an hour, which surprised me. Then the train downtown.

Throughout the day my right thigh, which had been a little pained that morning, started feeling more and more uncomfortable. That has since died down. The only thing I can compare it to is the meralgia parasthetica I occasionally suffer from, though it feels quite different.

End of the day I took the rapid to the airport, It is at times like these that I notice the solitude, even in crowded settings. How long I go without speaking to anyone, or communicating in any fashion. It can feel calming, not to have anyone to speak to. It can be melancholy.

Trying to find a place to be, or at least a satisfying place to wander before my flight, I came across an exhibit of beautiful photographs of Lakeview Cemetery, taken by Barney Taxel. You can find them between concourse A & B at Cleveland Hokpins. I have spent many runs this year, since the summer, training for this race by taking turns through the cemetery. It felt auspicious to linger over these images on my way to the starting line.

My loving wife with a great deal of forethought had gotten us rewards credit cards, and so I was able to make the trip with frequent flyer miles. And as long as these are imaginary dollars we don't really have that we are playing with, why not go first class? This was new to me. Having so much leg room will be particularly helpful on the way home, when who knows what shape I will be in.

However, what truly got me was the convenience of not having to pay for drinks, of receiving drinks on the ground before we took off - and another in the air - and that these drinks were served in glass.

Not just the alcohol. Water ... in a glass. I felt like a person.

Brothers at O'Gara's
The book I have brought with me is Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. Within the first few pages I feared I had made a terrible mistake, due to the subject matter. Adolescence has swept through on our home, sweeping personal items clear of every surface and crashing furniture through walls and I could go on with Hulk Smash devastation metaphor point being this tale of tragedy that befalls a suburban family might not be a good fit for someone in my mental state at the moment.

By the time I had finally arrived in Saint Paul, I'd read half of it. It's really good.

Distance: 5 miles
Duration: 40:43
Avg Pace: 8:11
Route: Summit Avenue to the Mississippi

Temperature: 63°
Climate: idyllic
Hydration: yes
Water Stop: yes

Beautiful fall day in St. Paul, clear and cool and bright. Took a run down the wide, grassy median of Summit Avenue, because people do that. It's a path, and an uneven one, but it's more fun than the sidewalks. Also more dangerous, wen it comes time to cross side streets and not at the crosswalk. But people do. I did.

Today we went to the Expo. More on today tomorrow.

What's That Lyric?
Jump In The Pool - Friendly Fires

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

I’m in my September.

Monday, Twin Cities In Motion tweeted this:
Yesterday, Nina forwarded an article from Runner's World,
Black Lives Matter Says It Plans to Disrupt Twin Cities Marathon

"Our plan is just to disrupt business as usual and try to create as much awareness as possible," [organizer Rashad Turner of Black Lives Matter St. Paul] told Runner's World.

"Our hopes are that when the marathon runners reach us at the finish line, instead of being more concerned with finishing the marathon, that they’ve been able to do some critical thinking throughout this week and understand how powerful it would be if we all stood together in solidarity against the injustices that are plaguing our society and plaguing the community right here in St. Paul, Minnesota.”

- Runner's World, 9/29/2015 
Runners World states the activists intend to "stop runners from finishing the marathon."

Distance: 3 miles
Duration: 23:22
Avg Pace: 7:46
Route: Forest Hills Loop

I approve of civil disobedience, and am a supporter of the Black Lives Matter campaign. As has been pointed out, time and again, the only appropriate time for BLM to have their voices heard is at a specific time in a specific place of someone else's choosing where no one can hear them except those who already agree.

Having openly criticized those supporters of Bernie Sanders who got the vapors over BLM disrupting one of his events (wrong time, they said, wrong place) I do not feel it is my place to criticize the proposed Oct. 4 protest at the marathon. Why is our event sacrosanct?

However, I will say it makes me uneasy because it is a marathon, and we have had a big city marathon "disrupted" quite recently and I regret the comparison this action will create. I have assumed that security at the finish line of any large scale marathon would be higher since Boston, and I do not want anyone to get hurt.

Having said that, I wish them luck in stopping me, because I do intend to finish and as you know, I am fast. However, after I cross that finish line I'd be happy to listen to anyone who cares to have a conversation.

Temperature: 59°
Climate: misty, light rain
Weight: 157 lbs.
Intake: bagel w/cream cheese & preserves
Hydration: yes

What's That Lyric?
No Sympathy From the Devil - Public Enemy

Monday, September 28, 2015

Don't need to walk around in circles.

This morning the girl asked if I would ride bikes to school with her. Last week we did this, I borrowed her brother's bike because I thought, you know -- fun. I almost got a hernia.

So I swiftly dove into the basement and brought out my own bike. I pumped the tires and sprayed WD-40 into the gears and off we went. The gears kept slipping and there was nothing I could do about it, this poor, twenty year old machine was kept in a leaky garage for most of that time, neglected and dirty.

I'd like to take it in but I am afraid the bicycle guy will inform me that fixing it will be more expensive than buying a new one. Of course, I could always repair it myself ...

One thing I did realize on my way home after dropping the girl off at school is that cycling isn't a real sport. How can it be when you can just stop moving when you come to a decline? When I am running and I stop ... I have stopped.

Distance: 3 miles
Duration: 23:08
Avg Pace: 7:42
Route: Boulevard Loop

This morning we learned one of the girl's schoolmates had a migraine yesterday, and during our walk to catch the bus I explained to the boy what a migraine is, how to treat one, and what it feels like. Since then, I have had a headache.

The run was good. Strong, fast. But I do not believe I can run 8 minutes for the entire race. Not sure I should run any of the race at that speed. However, 8:30 would be good. I think. Maybe I can do that. So much depends on how my body feels on the day. Not much I can do about that except eat well and rest.

Temperature: 75°
Climate: okay
Weight: 157 lbs.
Intake: flavored almonds
Hydration: yes

What's That Lyric?
Circles - Soul Coughing

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Just let us through.

Rubber duck factory fire on East 120th.
Trying to think of something to say before an eight mile run. I got nothing. Oh, wait. I finished a revision and plan to have a reading. There's that. Also, the city was having their irregular shredding day and as I searched through the attic I was once again overwhelmed by time. Not as in, I forgot what time it was, I mean stepping into the attic is like being subsumed by every moment of my previous existence all at once. A great cloud of all memory. It's had not to get taken in.

Distance: 8 miles
Duration: 1:03.30
Avg Pace: 7:56
Route: Lakeview to Little Italy Loop

Great clouds of smoke drifting through the Euclid Road entrance to the cemetery. Lots of fire engines. Not sure if I would be able to follow my rout, but they had only closed street traffic. Wicked big abandoned factory fire on East 120th Street.

Again, thinking of all the paper in our attic. I removed two boxes today. Hmn. That's not enough.

Temperature: 73°
Climate: coolish
Weight: 156 lbs.
Intake: tater tots & banana
Hydration: yes
Water Stop: no
Stretches: no

Eight miles, Feeling good. I think I'm ready.

Week Fifteen Total: 24 miles
Training To Date: 460 miles

What's That Lyric?
We Exist - Arcade Fire

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Go, go, go.

Last night the girl and I caught
The Secret Garden at Great Lakes Theater
One week from today I will be in St. Paul.

Our actors are in schools.

Writing is being written.

The sidewalks are slowly being repaved.

Tomatoes are coming to fruition.

Plays are opening, and we are seeing them.

Games are played, homework is completed.

Meals are crafted and produced by each and every one.

Our home is an active, circulating mess of works-in-progress.

A week from tomorrow I will attempt a third marathon.

To life.

Distance: 4 miles
Duration: 29:35
Avg Pace: 7:23
Route: Cain Park Loop

Some Spotify radio channels based on a single artist will only provide you with songs of a certain genre, or worse yet, songs from a certain genre from a limited time period, or worse yet the same ten goddamn songs.

The Cars station provides a magical nexus that cuts across genre, time and space, a vast array of seeming unlimited tunes of great interest and providing great enjoyment to anyone who is white, male and in their mid-to-late-forties.

I forgot what an awesome song Dirty Laundry is.

Temperature: 72°
Climate: perfect
Weight: 157 lbs.
Intake: a little pita and hummus
Hydration: yes
Water Stop: yes
Stretches: no

What's That Lyric?
Shake It Up - The Cars