State #17 has been a long time coming but now it is finally in the books. Just as this blog has fallen into disrepair it seemed my training was pretty hit and miss this year as well. My work and personal travel schedule has wreaked havoc on my training, but none the less last Sunday morning I lined up outside the Hubert H Humphrey Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis to run the Twin Cities Marathon. Twin Cities is a point-to-point course ending at the steps of the state capitol in neighboring St. Paul. Twin Cities is billed as "The Most Beautiful Urban Marathon in America" and it certainly lives up to its reputation. The marathon was helped immensely by nearly perfect running conditions - 40 degrees at the start, mid 50's by noon, a sunny day with a very light breeze. We couldn't have asked for more.
I flew into town on Friday evening and stayed downtown within walking distance of the start. After having done a few of these I think it is the only way to go. It is so nice to just walk a to the start and not have to hassle with parking and traffic. Twin Cities had a very efficient bus service to get us back from the capital finish line to the start.
The expo was in St. Paul, not too far from the finish, so having transportation was helpful. I'd rented a car. The expo was well stocked with vendors. At the expo we got a pair of Fitsoks with the marathon logo. Shirts come later. I had lunch with some friends that used to work in SoCal but have since transferred back to the mother ship in St. Paul. Then dinner was with a friend from St. Paul that had worked for our division but now works in the corporate labs. I'd talked him into coming out of retirement to run Twin Cities together. My haphazard training and his youth (he's got a 15 year advantage on me) led to us running our own races so dinner was the only time we got to spend together. It was a fun evening with he, his wife and their two year old son. Baby #2 is on the way soon, so the poor guy won't have much time in the future to train properly so this may have been his last hurrah for a while.
Twin Cities has a pretty robust Corporate Challenge going with over 35 teams competing. I signed up for our corporate team and even bought the jersey to run in. The team jersey was a racing singlet. I was a bit concerned about being too cool in sub-40 temps so I'd bought a pair of Moeben sleeves to help keep warm. I was perfectly comfortable the entire day with the sleeveless singlet and the Moeben sleeves. My friend was trying to break 3:40. I set my own goal at a more conservative 4:15. My half marathon PR back in February would have predicted a 3:42 marathon, but nothing in my training pointed to that possibility. The real plan was to run comfortably and hopefully pain free.
I started off the race pretty far back in the pack in Corral #2, well behind the 5:30 pace group. The corral was pretty crowded and I couldn't work my way further up. Once the race got under way I passed the 5:30 and 5:00 pace groups with a couple of miles. By mile 4 or so I caught the 4:30 pace group and by mile 6 I'd caught and passed the 4:15 pace group. At the 5K mark my pace was 9:20, at 10K I'd fallen off to 9:38 but at the half I'd picked it back up to 9:27 pace overall.
Somewhere around mile 14 I had to take a bathroom break and lost my lead on the 4:15 pace group. I'd regained it by mile 16 and steadily built on that lead until Mile 20. My pace at the 30K was 9:30 and at Mile 20 was still right on 9:30 overall. Things take a change for the worse in Twin Cities at Mile 20. Up to that point the course is gently rolling up and down. Mile 20 marks the lowest point in the race and begins a steady climb over the next 3.5 miles. This is probably the worst point in any race for this to happen. To help ease the pain the view along Summit Avenue is spectacular with old homes and great crowd support. My mile splits took a dive at this point into the 10:00's and then into the 11:00 at Mile 25 and 26. The last half mile is a beautiful down hill finish but the previous 25.7 miles had just sapped any kind of umpff that was needed to bring it home. There was just no way to make up that extra 66 seconds over 4:15. Pretty darn close to my estimate and all the bettter with no major injury other than normal 26.2 stiff and sore legs. My friend didn't meet his sub 3:40 goal but he did PR with a 3:43:48 finish.
All said and done - the Twin Cities Marathon was an awesome experience. The people of the Twin Cities area come out big time to support the runners. The views along the lakes and the neighborhoods of the area were perfect. And as I said earlier the weather cooperated in a big way. The finish line food was more than adequate and at Twin Cities the finisher's shirt is exactly that. You have to finish the race to get the shirt. It is handed out at the finish line after you've even gotten your medal. Being part of the corporate team had its perks as well. It was fun to meet up with some other runners from my team and the food in the Corporate Team tent was even better. Massages were available although I didn't take part.
If you can fit it into your race schedule and travel budget or if you live in the area, I'd highly recommend the Twin Cities Marathon.
So the blog title ratchets up one notch for a week or two. I'm off to the Duke City Marathon on October 17. Fall IS marathon season, after all.