Minnesota Marathon: #1
Twin Cities Marathon: #1
I debated about a goal post. As I’ve mentioned a few times recently, I’ve been having mental issues with my knee which kept me from getting into my usual anticipatory race mood. It wasn’t until I got to the expo yesterday that I really started getting into it.
I wasn’t sure what my goal would be for this race. I finally decided on sub 3:45 so I could earn a qualifying time for Chicago and postponing a BQ attempt until Rome in the spring.
Then there’s the weather. I absolutely loved it and am glad I came prepared with a long sleeve shirt and throwaway gloves. I also purchased a hat at the expo which I probably would have been okay without but really appreciated through those early miles.
To the race itself…
I made one pit stop when I first arrived but I should have gone again after I got into the corral. Thankfully, that didn’t end up costing me too much time.
The goal for the first half was a 1:51 aka an 8:28 pace. I tried (and succeeded except for the pit stop near mile 9) to keep as close to this pace as I could.
I’ll say now, this was, hands down, the most gorgeous marathon I have ever run. It might just be the prettiest race, period, that I’ve every run. I loved the sections of downtown Minneapolis that we ran through. Since we stayed in St. Paul, this was my first look.
At this point in the race I felt good physically. Barely 6 miles into the race I started struggling mentally. Thankfully, this didn’t last too long. I wish I could remember what I struggled with but my memory is playing keep-away.
I do know that early on I started repeating the mantra “one step closer.” I don’t know why but this really helped.
When I got to halfway, I checked the Garmin and saw that I was just barely behind that 1:51, almost exactly on target. If I hadn’t had to make a pit stop, I would have hit the nail on the head.
I still struggled mentally. (I’m sure that longing thoughts of half marathons filled my head at this point.) I started thinking about changing my Garmin screen to the time and thus prevent myself from obsessing about my pace. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to do it.
Around mile 14 I switched the screen and started running by perceived effort. This was so freeing. It kept me from obsessing about my pace and also helped this marathon pass faster than any of my previous 5. I gave myself mini goals of getting to the next water stop where I would walk through and guzzle water. I had planned on stopping at every other stop but decided against that. (I did stick with my fueling plan and ate 2 Gatorade chews every 4 miles.)
After that my splits varied widely (from 8:35 to 9:20) but I did not know any of these while I was running. That was both freeing and slightly depressing at the same time. Based solely on how I felt, I thought for sure that walking at each of the water stops was bringing me closer to barely squeaking out a PR or worse.
The things that kept me going were: “one step closer” and “make this a good finish.” In all my previous marathons I’ve felt horrible in the 20+ miles. I didn’t want that again. Today I passed under that 20 mile wall determined with every step to get one step closer to that strong finish.
The only thing standing in my way was the “infamous” Summit Drive hill. Looking back, I have to laugh. Compared to San Francisco or even Greenville, that hill was nothing. Don’t get me wrong. It still does not feel pleasant at all coming after mile 20 of a marathon but I conquered that thing. My legs hated me and marathoning but I conquered it.
After that hill only a 5k remained. I didn’t quite hate the marathon but I wasn’t exactly pleased with it either.
Between miles 23 and 24, I happened to overhear a spectator say something about “quarter after” to a runner ahead of me. I thought that might be either her projected finish time or the approximate actual time. If the latter was the case, I was doing better than I thought.
Then came the mile 24 water stop and the clock. I was doing better than I thought. That was such a motivator. Another motivation? “Shake it Off”. Say what you will about Taylor Swift, the idea of telling yourself to “shake it off” at mile 24 of a marathon is awesome. Shake off all the previous miles. Shake off your soreness and protesting legs. You’ve got this. I did just that. I shook my head and hands a bit, cleared my head and headed for the finish.
I could put one foot in front of the other until I reached the finish. After all, it was only 2.2 miles away.
After mile 25, I finally got excited about this thing. I could do it. I could PR. The only thing left to determine was by how much. With about .4 miles to go my music finished. I had enough for a 3:42 finish. Out came the headphones which got stuffed into my back pocket.
One last turn and I could see the finish, the beautiful downhill finish. Even though it felt great to conquer that insane incline right before the MCM finish, I’ll take an amazing downhill any day.
Would you believe that I somehow had enough for a “sprint” to the finish? I ran the last .5 (yes, I’m terrible at running tangents) at a 7:13 pace. Finally, an awesome finish. I’ve been waiting 6 marathons for this.
It may not be the sub 3:45 I had hoped for but I am more than thrilled with this result for the main reason that this was the best marathon I have run yet.
Since this post is already long enough, I’ll leave further thoughts to my reflection post. I’m off to walk the length of the airport terminal to keep from cramping up. (No more flights out on marathon day.)