Wow-Hello October you impatient thing. I barely got to say goodbye to September! I have a lot to talk about you greedy month! Alas, since September has come & gone, I will give you your coveted attention, though it will not be ABOUT you, but mostly about running. Running trumps most every activity in any given month. So here I will focus on the Twin Cities Marathon held on Sunday, October 4, 2015.

The Trip: It is 415 miles from my city of residence to Minneapolis, MN, or roughly 7 hrs with pit stops. Not a bad drive-straight up I-35, just a lot of corn fields. I decided to go on to St Paul to the River Centre to pick up my race packet before checking into hotel in Brooklyn Center, about 20 miles from downtown Minneapolis.

The Expo: Parking was a bit dicey around the area & I ended up paying $10.00 to park at River Centre parking. Entering the building was uneventful as was navigating to the expo. There was a nice area at the front of the expo for race memorabilia & clothing made by Brooks the biggest Sponsor. After that, it was a bit congested as I had to make my way to the back to pick up my packet.

Memorabilia section
Memorabilia section
Expo as a whole
Expo as a wholeG

It was one of those times where one felt like they could have had sex with someone and not even known it, lol! In other words, they tried to cram too much stuff into too little space. I have often wondered why home improvement people set up booths at expos. The next time I go to a Home Improvement Expo, I am going to ask them where the running shoes vendors are! Packet pickup was well organized but the technical shirt was not given out until one finished the race. That concept has always boggled me as I know it is figured into the race fee. To me, the medal is the sign of achievement, not the shirt. I bought a few GUs, something for my dogs (yes a dog product vendor was there) and tried to get out of there unscathed.

The Hotel: Once again I used Expedia for my travel plans (will I never learn)? However, I was pleasantly surprised by the accommodations. The hotel was the Country Inn Hotel & Suites. It was like walking into a modern scene from “Bonanza.” The staff was friendly, the whole place smelled like fresh baked cookies (and did the entire stay), check in was quick & easy and they had carts & elevators to get my gear up to the 2nd floor. The room was clean, bed was comfortable, and everything worked-BOOYAH! The only draw back was the tweenager girls soccer team that were also staying there that night and took over the pool/sauna area. But I will save my thoughts about that for another blog. Let’s just say that it has a LOT to do with the parents more than the kids. Speculate on that one!

I had found a lovely downtown eatery & had a salad after checking in, sat in the sauna, and called it a night. I slept extremely well, and since the race didn’t start until 0800, I set my alarm for 0500 to get up & figure out the logistics for getting to the Ramada Inn downtown to catch bus to start line.

Race Day: I nonchalantly got up, got ready, texted a twitter friend who was also running the race to see if we might be able to meet up sometime before or after the race, put on my running gear, ran downstairs to grab some coffee & headed to downtown Minneapolis.

Transportation: School buses were picking runners up at the Ramada Inn. Since it was 45 degrees, I quickly found a bus to get on. There was also a 10 mile race taking place that day which started at 0700. Apparently, the bus driver didn’t know the area or something and there were a lot of disgruntled people who were yelling at him to turn here or there or to”just let them off.” It was probably 0615 or so, so I don’t quite know why they were getting their panties in a wad. I thanked the poor sap when I got off the bus as I’m sure he felt like total crap by the berating.

Belongings Drop Off & Start Line: I was very impressed by the clarity in which everything was marked and the ease of dropping off my “drop bag.” The UPS trucks were lined up according to one’s bib number. Since they would be transporting the bags to Saint Paul, it was pretty important that one found the right truck!

Very Organized
Very Organized

I have to give the volunteers props at this point. They were ALL friendly, extremely helpful, and excited about the race. They let me keep my jacket & put my bag aside so I could return my jacket right before the start. I am ALWAYS cold. That is why I want to move to a warm climate. I was shivering after I gave up my jacket. I had forgotten to pack a throw away for the start line. As it got closer to the start, the body heat around me made up for it. I was ready to get this show on the road!

The Start of the 26.2
The Start of the 26.2

And We’re Off! One thing that was very impressive was having a doctor give a little speech on health safety and the dangers of under/over hydrating. Much like prayer at my previous race,  I had never experienced that before. Such a GREAT idea whether folks heed the info or not. Horn went off, race began, and I was headed into my 26.2 journey. I guess I didn’t hit the button on my Garmin right because I just so happened to look down about a tenth of a mile in and realized it was not going-dangit!  Oh well, just so I could gauge my splits. Mile one ticked away and I glanced down- a 0:7:56 mile. “Slow it down girl,” I said to myself. I would never last at this speed. I was really just trying to get warm and the excitement well, you know! Good thing because there was a slight hill at mile 2 which slowed me a bit. Somewhere between mile 2-3 we passed Saint Mary’s Basilica where the bells/chimes were ringing beautifully. It felt good to be alive in Minneapolis, MN at that moment. I passed a man with a sign on his back that read “Male 80+.” It so inspired me, and I told him that he was my hero.

To Mile 13.1: To this point, other than mile 2 (at 9:05) I had ran under 9 minute miles. Mile 13 was 8:41. I was feeling good and fueled on by the great crowd support & watching other runners. There were some great signs. One of my favorite: “If Trump can make it to the primaries, you can make it to the capitol.” People really came out in droves.  I was hoping I could keep the momentum going to at least keep my pace under 9 minute miles total to maybe have a shot at another BQ.

Beautiful place
Beautiful place

Mile 14 to 23: My fueling strategy was to take in a GU & Salt Stick capsule every hour, which I did. I did NOT want to experience the calf cramps from previous marathon. Plus I was wearing my Hoka Cliftons, so I was not too worried. I walked through the water stations and maintained a fairly consistent pace. Mile 23 was my slowest mile at 9:35. It was there I took a bit of extra time to stretch and get ready for the last 5k. The 3:45 pace group passed me so I knew I was doing fairly well. I just had to keep going.

Last 3.2 Miles: The crowd was phenomenal and I dare say rivaled that of Boston on a smaller scale. There were a pair of Yetis on my left in the crowd and the encouragement was exhilarating. I kept telling myself to pace it through miles 24 & 25, then give it hell. Mile 25 came & went at an 8:52 pace. My mind was on fire. Knowing that my Garmin would be off, I just prayed for a miracle. Mile 26-8:56 pace & I could see the finish line-two tenths of a mile to go! I gave it everything I had with my piriformis screaming! The finish line never looked so good!

Finish: As always, I was glad to be done. I walked, got my medal, mylar blanket, chocolate milk, water & a banana and found a place to lie down near a tree to get my legs up. After a brief relaxation, I stretched, drank my milk, got some hot veggie broth and found my way to bag pickup. My official time 3:55:20. I had scored another BQ & hoped it would be enough cushion to get me into 2017.

Proud Finisher
Proud Finisher

Takeaway: One great race-well organized, great crowd support, & great course. I would highly recommend this to anyone as it is one of the top ten marathons in America. A great representation of our great country.

Potpourri of Discovery: I do not care for Bacon/Maple Syrup GU…yuck! I like PowerAde better that Gatorade as it was the drink offered at the aid stations & the blue was tasty. Changing tents do not get any more comfortable or bigger, and I will probably never get used to having bare asses & elbows in my face. The walk to the car is never short. Two marathons in 35 days with two BQs is attainable. This was the first marathon completed that I did not have unbearable pain to the point that the walk to the car was miserable. The few hills in this 26.2 were a welcome sight & helped use other muscle groups. A hot tub and pool running is the BEST recovery ever. Scheduling a day off post marathon is the smart thing to do. My love of running grows stronger with each finish line crossed and my confidence soars.

I Just Want More & More
I Just Want More & More

The road to self discovery is a beautiful thing. Until we meet again,

Stephanie

3 thoughts on “Sometimes There Are Surprises At the Finish Line

  1. Congrats on yet another great race.. Super impressive to get 2 back to back BQ’s. I have heard nothing but good things about that race and plan to do it eventually. I like how they didn’t give shirts until finish.. I am one of those who believe you didn’t earn the shirt until you ran the race, I guess that is why I get so pissed when I see runners wearing the shirt they got for the race

    1. Thanks Shaun. I can see your point about the shirt, especially when the shirt says “finisher.” There are definitely certain things that need to be earned. I thought it odd that “anyone” could buy a Boston race jacket. I feel that is a badge of honor & should only be available to finishers as well. I would definitely recommend this as a destination race. I was super impressed by it.

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