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.)

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