Thursday, October 8, 2009

Guest Post - Twin Cities Marathon Race Report

Well, since I was/am all gimped up (and had another horrible run last night) I asked my buddy Nick who ran the Twin Cities Marathon to provide some thoughts on his race. Below is his detailed blow by blow, complete with Caribou references (Did you know that Caribou and Reindeer are the same things?) and not nearly enough areas where I can scream "that's what she said!!". Although, there is at least one public urination story, so that probably makes up for it. Enjoy!


Hello All!

Since Adam was unable to run the Twin Cities Marathon, he’s asked me to post my experiences about the race. Although I can’t promise that I’ll be able to live up to the standards that he’s set, I’ll attempt to fit in as many “business time” references as possible to keep with the dominating theme of the blog. :)

Friday Night:
My wife and I had some difficulty flying into Minneapolis from Chicago on Friday night. I guess they are doing some sort of construction on the runways, and they were down to one runway. 1 Runway + low cloud Ceiling = 4 hour Flight delay. I have to give it to Minneapolis, I thought Chicago had bad construction, but if you guys have construction on your airport runways, you win! Adam came and picked us up late from the airport and took us back to the hotel. Upon arrival we were told we were upgraded to an awesome room. This due entirely to the fact that we booked our room with Adam “Big Pimpin” Marriot rewards account. Thanks Adam!

All 4 of us (Adam, I and our spouses) headed to the packet pickup down in St Paul. Overall I was impressed with the Expo. I was hoping to get a picture taken with the Caribou mascot “Carrie Bou”. I saw her once, by the time I got my gun out and the safety off, I mean the camera ready, she’d run off and couldn’t be found. I did however pick up some useless trivia about caribou (Did you know that both the females and the males have horns?). I picked up a few PowerBar gels for the race and grabbed my race packet. The technical shirts were not given out in the packet as they were handed to the runners as they finished. [soapbox] I personally find this annoying and cheap because not everyone will cross the finish line, but I think that everyone should be given all of the swag! [/soapbox] (I’m a software developer, can’t you tell?). On the way home we stopped at Target and I picked up a SWEET grey sweat suit for after the race. Let me tell you what, If anyone ever looked hot in a $10 matching grey Target sweat suit, it’s not me.

That evening we hit up Vescio's in St. Louis Park for a good Italian dinner. The food was decent, and the atmosphere was inviting. Overall it was a great way to relax before the big race and it was a ton of fun to hang out with some friends. We headed home and packed it in for the night.

Race day:
Woke up and had my banana and half an English muffin w/ PB. Adam dropped me off at the light rail and I rode that in. I was very impressed with it. I wish we had something so up to date in Chicago. The train dropped me and a hundred or so fellow racers off right at the Metrodome. Now THAT’s service. I did the normal pre-race stuff and headed to the start line.
There were two corrals and since I’m slower than molasses in January, I was in the 2nd one. By the time I got out there I could only get as close as the 4:15 pacer. I didn’t want to be “that guy” pushing my way through the crowd at the last minute so I stayed put. I figured I had a good pace plan that I was going to stick to no matter where I started.

The weather was absolutely perfect. Temps somewhere in the low 50’s with hardly any wind. I was wearing my normal running stuff and a pair of $1 pink gloves from target and I felt great.

Mile 1:
The first mile was quicker than I planned, but slower than my body told me to go. I guess it’s good that I was able to slow down, but next time I need to pay even closer attention. What really threw me off is that the 4:15 pacer ran the first mile faster than I did. I figured my GPS was off, but I made myself run slower anyway. Needless to say the 4:15 pacer hit the brakes when at the 1 mile marker and I surged ahead.

Mile 2:
This mile was back at a pace where I wanted to be. Mostly because I took a leak on a wall around the 15 minute mark. Gotta love urinating in public!

Mile 3-6:
These miles went by without much of a problem. I knew that I was running a bit faster than my pace plan, but I tried to hold back as much as possible. I will say this though; this is a truly beautiful course. They are most definitely dead on when they say this is the most beautiful urban marathon in the US.

Mile 7:
At the 7 mile hydration station, I sucked down a gel and grabbed some water. This is also where I ran into my crew for the first time. As all you runners out there know, having people on the sides of the roads cheering is great, but to have great friends and family cheering for you is 10x better. I definitely got a lift when I saw them as I had walked through the water station and still ran faster than my pace.
Note the pink gloves.

Mile 8-15:
I don’t remember much specifically about these miles so they must have gone without much of a hitch. My pace stayed about where I wanted it to be and I tossed back another gel around 14.
Just a few comments though:
  • It can be very annoying running next to someone that has their name printed on their shirt when you do not. All I was hearing was “Hey Go Rachel!” because of the lady running next to me. Yeah, basically me just being jealous. :) I actually think it’s a great idea and I’m going to consider it for the next race
  • You cannot hear the theme song to Rocky too often during the race.
  • People in the Twin Cities love dogs. I bet I saw 100+ dogs on the side of the road watching the race with their owners. I am a huge dog lover, having a yellow lab myself, so I really enjoyed this.
  • You cannot hear the theme song to Rocky too often during the race.
  • When running with a GPS, make sure that when you go over 1 hour, you have at least one view where you can see hh:mm:ss. Over the course of my training, I only cared about mile splits so I didn’t realize my GPS, which I’d upgraded to in the spring, wasn’t configured to show the seconds once I got over an hour. Kind of annoying but far from the end of the world.
  • You cannot hear the theme song to Rocky too often during the race.

Mile 16-17
There is something about this section of the race that really messed with my mind. These two miles felt like they were all on a gradual incline that made me think they were harder than they really were. While I was running this section, I kept thinking “I don’t remember THIS on the elevation Map”. After the race I checked it again and I didn’t see it. Even on my elevation map on my GPS it doesn’t register any sort of real incline. Very screwy. I met my crew around 17.5 and got a definite lift again.

Mile 18-20:
I think that Dogs Eye view said it best when they wrote “Everything falls apart”. The mind warp continues with these miles. I still felt like I was running mostly uphill, although there is hardly any real uphill at all. Honestly I’d have to say that I was probably just worrying about the big hill at 21.5 and just couldn’t get past it. At any rate, my pace starts to slow down and over the course of these 3 miles, I lose all of the 1:24 buffer I’d built up. I can feel my goal of 3:50 slipping away…*sigh*

Mile 21:
Dread. This is the word I’d use to describe this mile for me. By now my legs are starting to go and I know the “Big Khauna” is approaching. The Gel I took at 20 starts kicking in a little, but I think it’s too little too late. I’m just holding on. On a positive note, I meet my crew again. I wish I had 10% of the energy that I have, but they do their job again and I kick it in gear and keep moving.

Mile 22-23:
There it is, the hill in all of its glory. Once I get to the hill I realize that it is in fact a large hill, and yes it’s going to suck. However it’s not unlike any other hill in that all you have to do is keep putting one foot in front of the other. I believe I took at least one walking break (the first of a few to come), but I did make it to the top. Even though I’ve taken a gel at 21, I pound my last one at about 23. I figured it can’t hurt. I’ve also resigned myself to the fact that I’m not going to be hitting the 3:50 mark anymore. I’m over 3 minutes behind the pace and I’m doing nothing but fading. My thoughts now change to running a PR.
This raises a question: What do people use to get through things like this? Personally I keep telling myself that I only have a few grueling minutes of this left then I can sleep all afternoon. I also start doing things like forcing myself to concentrate on the pavement right ahead of me and counting my paces. I set a goal like “Ok Nick. 300 paces and then you can look up and see where you are.” Suggestions?

Mile 24-26:
Whew! Made it! That wasn’t so bad was it? The combination of the two gels kicks in and I have a small spurt of energy. Oddly enough I quickened my pace through these last few miles. The mindset of having less than 30 minutes to the end helped.

Mile 26-Finish:
What a great finish for this race. It was an amazing feeling to come over the crest of the hill and see the capital, and more importantly, one last HUGE downhill. I basically let it all hang out and tear down the hill. At about 25.8 both of my calves and my quads seize up but I keep moving and they slowly comply until I reach the finish line. Whew! 3:56:52. A new PR!

Post Race:
Overall I consider the race a definite success, even though I wasn’t able to accomplish my goal of 3:50. I will never complain about a PR. Outside of my own race, the race as a whole was awesome. I’ve run marathons in Milwaukee, Kansas City, and Chicago before and the Twin Cities is my favorite. There were people along every block of the entire race cheering all of the runners on. Everyone was incredibly friendly and the course really was beautiful.

Lastly, I’d like to give a shout out to my crew of my wife, Adam and his wife. They did an amazing job of zipping around the cities and seeing me at 5 places during the race and then being there at the finish. I’m truly lucky to have such great friends come out and support me. Thanks guys!

Below are my splits. You can see that I had a decent buffer and a good pace before miles 18/19. Mile 22, in the middle of the big hill was the worst.


Pat said...

great report. under 4 hours is way fast. I had a 3 hour flight delay from AZ on friday nite. I think I saw some pink gloves in the gutter, did you drop yours?

Barry said...

Way to go Nick. You guys write way better than me. This is the first time I've looked at Adam's blog in a while, but in my defense I am "working from home" for the very first time. NOW I GET IT!!!

Always wondered how you all had time for "blogs" and things of that nature. I barely have time to play 10 minutes of mafia wars on facebook. NOW I understand. It is all clear to me.

The next thing I have to figure out is how to get a sabbitical.

Nick said...

Wait Barry... Aren't you a pilot? Does WFH mean you're playing that old flight simulator game that they used to have on the macs? Sounds tough...

sRod said...

Nice work Nick! I never understand why race directors like to put big hills at the end of races? At that point in the race the pay off is never worth the uphill.

OhMyLaughter said...

I really enjoyed this race report. I spent 4 months in Minnesota for work in 2008 and found a lot of your descriptions of the area to be extremely accurate. Good to hear the twin cities haven't changed much since I was there.

Side note--in addition to a T-shirt with your name on it. Wearing a MINNESOTA T-shirt in east coast races seems to get an unusually high amount of cheers from strangers. (I've tried this in Washington DC and VA.) If I put my name on the back of it God only knows how many more people would yell for me over the next guy ;)