Still Jumping in at Master's Swim

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So what's next for me? The Twin Cities Marathon is usually my last big event for the year, and it's always a bit of a letdown when it's over. Suddenly the nights are getting shorter and the days are getting cooler. I don't love fall. I never have. I'm a summer girl for sure. Fall just means winter's coming. Last year after the marathon, I signed up for Surf the Murph 50K. I had felt pretty good during my marathon training and waited to see how my legs healed after the race. They gave me the green light, so I signed up.

I knew going into the marathon a couple of weeks ago that I had done training just to get by. I was trained for a half iron distance tri and had squeezed a little marathon training into that schedule. At around mile 20 of the marathon, I knew that I wouldn't be doing a trail run this year. It's SO much fun, and it's a great community that I can't wait to explore further, but I'd be kidding myself if I thought my body was ready. I briefly toyed with doing the 25K instead but have decided to forgo it. Maybe next year. Essentially this means that I don't have any big events on my schedule yet, which always freaks me out a little. Over the next couple of weeks/months, I'll come up with my 2011 race schedule. Right now, the only race there is the Lifetime Fitness Triathlon that my Evotri buds will be joining me for.

In the meantime, I'm enjoying the unseasonably warm weather we've been having here in Minnesota. Anytime we can hit 75-80 degrees in October we celebrate! I've been on a couple of beautiful fall bike rides, gotten in some long runs with my brother and friends, and am still going to Master's swimming. It's no less embarrassing. We worked on the butterfly this past Thursday, and I'm closer to drowning than swimming when I attempt that stroke. I have nearly given up on the whip kick. I may never be able to do the breaststroke properly. I always thought that I as a runner had bypassed "inflexible ankles" that is commonly the complaint when runners take up swimming. Beth, our instructor, has informed me that this is likely my problem. On the positive side, I did flip turns for all but one of my turns during intervals last Thursday. I am making progress, people! Slowly but surely, I know that aspects of my stroke are improving. At the very least, not taking a 5 month holiday from swimming this winter should really help my speed next summer.

Happy off season, everybody!


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The short version: I ran my twelfth marathon today. It wasn't my fastest, it wasn't my slowest. I was aiming for around 4:15 which I figured was a reasonable goal for me. I finished in 4: 23:03 with a smile on my face.

The long version: We had a crazy huge clan doing this race last year. Borsch and I did the marathon and 10 of my siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins did the 10 miler. This year I was flying solo in the marathon while Steve, my brother Matt, my aunt Nancy, and my cousin Megan did the 10 mile. My mom and sister Annie came up to sherpa. We comfortably fed 7 of us last night and hit the hay for an early alarm clock. Since the 10 miler starts just after 7, we were leaving my house a few minutes past 6 so we could get the 10 mile runners there in time. Mom dropped us off and then stopped back to my place to pick up Annie so they could beat Steve to the finish line. While Steve did his warm-up, Megan, Nancy, Matt, and I tried to stay warm in the dome before making our way to the 10 mile start. Steve was in the first wave. I wished him luck, gave him a smooch, and watched the race commence. After the first wave left, I got to see Matt and Nancy line up in wave 2 (Megan was in the last wave) and then made my way back to the dome. It was really cold this morning – around 40 degrees, our coldest day since last spring. Since I had sent my sweats with my mom, I was rocking two pretty sweet garbage bags – one on top and one as a skirt. I indulged in a couple of potty breaks and then made my way to my own start line. I had told a coworker and another friend that I would meet them near the 4:15 pace group, but I didn’t see anybody. They played “Everybody Looks Good at the Starting Line” just like they always do; then we were off!

My goal was to hit an average of 9:45.

Mile 1: We ran through downtown and all hooted under one of the buildings – 9:41. Good. Right on track

Mile 2: We ran past the Basilica with the bells ringing just as they always are. I was warming up and had to shed my long sleeves - 9:30. I had to ask myself if I was running too fast. Nope, feeling comfortable.

Mile 3: decided against the water stop. I still had a nervous bladder and didn’t think I needed it yet. We ran past the guy who’s always playing the tuba. I heard someone call him Mike - 9:54. My average was till fine so I just made a note to pick it up a little.

Mile 4: 9:32 – still feeling good

Mile 5: Running past the lakes is truly beautiful on a sunny fall day - 9:14

Mile 6: I stopped to walk through the water station but was really surprised when I saw my split of 10:27. Maybe the markers were a little off?

Mile 7: I finally decided to take advantage of a short porta potty line. I was in and out in a minute, and my split didn’t suffer too much -10:28

Mile 8: Time to get back into my groove -9:52 – a little slower than I was looking for.

Mile 9: Up and down those little hills you forget about every year -9:33. Better

Mile 10: Feeling fairly comfortable pace-wise, legs getting a little achy - 9:30 - Solid.

Mile 11: Time to turn off the parkway and head onto Cedar - 9:35

Mile 12: I seem to forget about the bridge on Cedar every year. It’s a descent climb. I waved and smiled when I passed the bagpiper band - 9:31- doing a good job at making up for lost time on miles 6 and 7 and still feeling steady.

Mile 13: I saw Tiffany near the halfway point and flashed her a smile -9:35. I hit 13.1 in just over 2:08. I was still feeling strong and knew that if I kept a consistent pace, I’d make up that minute.

Mile 14: 9:53

Mile 15: 9:27

Mile 16: 9:51

Mile 17: 9:27 – Still feeling OK, but my stomach was a little queasy. I had been eating and drinking and decided that I was short on something.

Mile 18: I stopped to get in some Nuun in. I knew it would help my stomach and that even though it was cool, I was probably still sweating - 10:57. Yikes. Going to be hard to make this up…

Mile 19: I felt better immediately after the Nuun and energized knowing I was crossing the Franklin Bridge and inching closer to St. Paul- 10:01, need to pick it up a little

Mile 20: I felt like I was back to my earlier pace and was surprised to see a 10:14 split.

Mile 21: Starting to cramp up a little - 10:30. 4:15 is going out the window

Mile 22: Still cramping. I decided I needed more Nuun and stopped to dissolve some. I need to figure out a better system for this process - 11:57.

Mile 23: I looked back to see the 4:30 pace group right behind me. I did some quick math in my head and determined that I wasn’t doing that bad - 10:16

Mile 24: I tried to pick it up and couldn’t I really wanted to get ahead of the VERY peppy 4:30 pacers. I am absolutely for getting people excited out there, but every 10 seconds is a little excessive in my opinion. I slowed to grab one last big drink of Nuun -10:58

Mile 25: Time to rock and roll. I knew it wouldn’t be long before I would get to see my family - 10:40. Still holding off the 4:30 peeps

Mile 26: I high-fived all of my family just before the Cathedral. The Chicken Dance came on Steve’s old-school boom box - 10:18

Mile 26.2: I was determined not to let the peppy 4:30 pacers pass me. I pushed it in as hard as I could, even though I was cramped in places I haven’t cramped in years -2:01

Total time: 4:23:03

That was probably more detail than anyone cared for. Before more reading, here are the pics Steve took as I was passing them:

Coming up to my family, ready to finally get rid of that shirt!

Smiling even though my legs were KILLING me

High-fiving my AMAZING family - thanks for sticking around everybody!

Final Thoughts:
I really did have a great race, even though it may not sound that way. In the first 18 miles, I would catch myself smiling for the sheer reason that I am blessed to be able to do this. I knew that I would be running this marathon, not racing it. I have really only “raced” two marathons. In one of them, I PR’d big time. In the other, I fell flat on my face. Both required very dedicated training and hurt the ENTIRE time. All marathons hurt, but racing one brings on a whole different level of hurt. I knew going into this one that I wasn’t trained to race it, so I set out to have fun instead. I high-fived kids, I talked to a couple of first-timers, and I enjoyed the beautiful weather.
I didn’t drink enough. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that until I was home later. I let the cool weather and the absence of copious sweat cloud my judgment on how much fluid I really needed out there. I drank at many of the water stops, but they only fill those tiny cups half full. I really should have been more aware of what was going on. At the time, it just felt like someone flipped a switch and added 1-2 minutes to each mile. I LOVE Nuun and generally train with a Fuel Belt. I either need to start wearing it for races or get a small hand-held bottle to dissolve the tablets in as I’m running. Waiting for them to dissolve in a cup or half chewing them to speed up the process aren’t quick means of getting the stuff in me.

Sorry if you’re an i pod lover, but I am really saddened to see what MP3 players have done to the marathon scene. I would estimate that 30-50% of the runners around me were wearing them. When I did my first marathon in 2000 and even as recent as a few years ago, there was more happy chatter, joking around, and interacting with the crowd. I can’t believe how much it has decreased. All day long I found myself going to crack a quick joke with the person next to me only to realize that they had earbuds stuffed in their head. In every case I decided against saying anything. People put huge sound systems on their front lawns to blast music. Bands come to play for us. The tuba guy and the bagpipers make the trip for us. Two hundred fifty thousand people come out to cheer for this race, and there is only one lonely mile where the crowd is thin. My family rents costumes at $80 each to cheer out there. Steve and I spent part of our Friday night coming up with this year’s soundtrack to blast for people a half mile from the finish line. I may make a lot of enemies with this rant. I know that many people aren’t truly tuned out, and there’s a good chance that the issue is actually with my unwillingness to talk to people with headphones on. However, it did seem much lonelier out there than during the half marathon portion of my last 70.3, where headphones are still banned.

The 4:30 pacers finished literally just behind me. Since they started behind me in the corral, that puts their total finishing times somewhere between 4:22 and 4:23. I'm not so sure that's successful pacing. I'm not trying to totally bash them. I LOVE using pacers when I can. However, If I had been running hoping to keep up with this group and they were running 15-20 seconds/mile faster than I was expecting, I'm not sure I could have done it.

I LOVE my family. I was looking forward to seeing them all day. They took some hilarious photos while they were cheering in their costumes. After the race, we all came back to our place and had a grill out and birthday cake! I feel really blessed tonight.

Next year will be the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon’s 30th anniversary. If you’re looking for a well-organized race on beautiful course with top notch crowd support, consider this one. It’s worth the trip.