Friday, October 12, 2018

Race Report: Twin Cities Marathon

Our alarms went off at 5am which seemed like sleeping in compared to the crazy times I woke up to get my stomach ready to go for long runs all summer long. We got dressed and boarded the buses outside our hotel at 6am after doing some glute work in the lobby. 

We were to the race start in no time, with 75 minutes to spare before our race started. Oops. I wasn't kidding with wanting to get there early I guess! We took a bunch of pictures and I darted to and from the bathroom pretty frequently with a nervous stomach. I was smart and brought my water bottle to continue to hydrate, as sometimes my stomach troubles cause me to dehydrate. YAY JERI! So SMART!.

We were told to be in our corrals 30 minutes before the race start so around 7:30 am I made one last bathroom trip, I did another round of glute drills (since we'd been sitting around waiting, and I wanted to be sure they were AWAKE), dropped our bags and did a quick warm up. Mostly the routine that we do pre-POWER. And then I rolled my ankle like a total ding dong. Oy. We made our way into the corral and the energy was so insane I thought I was going to explode. The announcer mentioned 1000x what a perfect day it was for a run, and he was right. I wore a long sleeve to throw away at the start and wore gloves for the first 2-3 miles before my hands were sweaty and toasty.

We started the race in corral 2 and said approximately 1 million times, "OMG WE'RE RUNNING A MARATHON!!" It was insane. We had some weird GPS blip during a tunnel in the first mile that resulted in both Toni and my watch reading an 8:18 pace. This did wonders for us to make sure we were going out conservatively and I didn't panic at ALL. I knew we weren't running that fast, but it was so hard to tell how fast we were running with all of the crowds and excitement and slight downhill. Our watches beeped early, and the actual mile turned out to be just fine. Phew. 

While we were waiting in our corrals I mentioned that I maybe I should hit the porta potties just one more time. I had done an excellent job of hydrating and couldn't tell if I actually had to pee or if it was just one of those nervous pees that'll go away once you start running. Well not too long into the race I realized it was a real pee, and I told Toni I was going to have to make a pit stop. It should've been a 17 second stop a la Shalane Flanagan, but there was a line and people were just running up and jetting in to a potty, ignoring the line of people completely. In Michelle Tanner's words: how rude.

In a minute or so, we were back in the fold and Toni mentioned that Melissa and Karissa were just ahead. I spotted Melissa's purple shirt and hoped we'd catch up to them to all work together for the run. Spoiler alert: we did not catch them, and when I saw Melissa's splits after, I understand why!

Now that my bladder was empty, we were having a blast. I opted to take my first GU at mile 3 with the expectation that my stomach would be unruly and I'd want fuel sooner rather than later. This was the right call. We danced and sang through so many cheering sections, and we were having a blast.

1. 8:59 (actually closer to 9:50)
2. 10:43 (1 minute bathroom stop)
3. 9:50 (actual running!)

I was a little antsy during the first 5k because I was having a hard time getting a read on our pace and how I was feeling. I tried not to focus too hard on the pace and just take in the miles and the atmosphere. I couldn't believe how much fun we were having. Some may argue too much fun for running 26.2 miles. ha.

We ran through the most beautiful neighborhoods and people were out lining up both sides of the streets with unofficial aid stations with water, and oranges, and bananas, and bottomless mimosas. I missed a water stop at mile 5 with some accidental zigging and zagging and kind of panicked, because I was sweating a lot, plus I know that GU can make my stomach cranky if I'm not hydrating enough. Luckily I was able to get some small shots of water from other tables along the way.

I saw my high school bestie and her fam around mile 4 or 5 and they were all dressed up in GREEN. Our signature color. I realized at that moment I wasn't wearing a stitch of green. No wonder the race wasn't going to plan. LOL jk.

When we hit our next aid station, I took a glass of gatorade and some water, because I thought I could stand a little extra hydration and electrolytes, plus we were getting to about an hour in to the race and that's usually when I start my electrolytes. This might have been my mistake, but I'm not 100% sure.

Within a mile or two I got an excruciating side cramp up really high on the left side in my ribs. I stopped chatting and carrying on with Toni so I could focus on my breath and my stride and just do my best to work it out. In 2 miles or so it dropped down a bit to the regular spot that you'd feel a side ache, in the side of your abdomen. At least here I was able to grab on with my left hand and apply some pressure to see if that would release it. 

4. 9:33
5. 9:46
6. 9:43

Eventually that cramp worked itself down to my hip area, almost where you'd get cramping from your menstrual cycle (TMI? meh.) and that really was messing with my stride. I felt like it was connected to the top of my leg and I couldn't run as hard. Toni was a ray of sunshine and during each mile alert on our watch would announce, "that was a great one!" even though I knew we weren't at our goal pace ranges for these early miles, nor were they feeling like I had hoped they would. Easy breezy was the plan for miles 1-10, 9:30-9:40 pace. 

I took my second GU at mile 8, which was a gamble with how my stomach felt, but I knew I didn't want to get behind in my fueling. When we hit mile 9 I said that I'd like to try to pick it up at mile 10 as planned, but I wasn't sure what that pace would look like. Just "let's try something a little faster". I think I was hoping I'd shake out whatever was going on. 

7. 9:44
8. 9:34
9. 9:50

Over the next stretch Toni would start running ahead for a bit, I think in an effort to pull me along with her. And I realized that I felt a little more relaxed, so when she came back to me I told her that she might want to consider leaving me. I felt like I was running about as fast as I could, and was confident that I could keep up the pace for the duration of the marathon, but I knew she wanted to try to break 4 hours or at least be very close to it, and I knew the math on that wasn't checking out. She said no and was fine sticking with me, but before too long she darted off like a Bambi off into the distance. I was surprised and happy to notice that I wasn't feeling defeated or bummed but focused on making the most of the day, however that was going to play out.

10. 9:35
11. 9:30
12. 9:37

I got a water bottle from a friend around mile 12 and put in my nuun to see if some electrolytes would put some pep into my step. I took another GU at mile 13 and noted that my half marathon split was around 2:11, putting me around 4:22 for a finishing time. I could feel the collective cheering group of running friends from home panicking for me, knowing my goal time was closer to that 4:05-4:10 range. I tried to send out a bat signal that I was fine, and was just going to keep plugging along, but I don't know that anyone got it. My husband definitely didn't. Hah.

13. 9:45
14. 9:49
15. 9:58

I saw my race squad again during this stretch and was shocked to see they had an outfit change! Nikki and I were obsessed with tie dye in high school, we'd always have a big tie dye party leading up to the basketball season. Seeing their little faces gave me such a boost! Someday I'm going to convince Nikki to train for all of the races too. :)

As the race tracked on, I was nervous that I'd get to "that point" in the race where the remaining miles just seemed overwhelming for how I felt. like "I can't possibly run X more miles based on how I feel!" But I never did get there. Every time a mile would pass, I'd do the backwards math (like an idiot) and would enthusiastically think, "I can do X more miles!" I don't know where this positive attitude came from, but I suppose the pace was relaxed enough that it started to feel like a long run, and long runs are easy. NBD. 

After a little reprieve from the dreaded side stitch that made it's way down my body, it finally settled into my guts and decided it was ready to be done with me. I started frantically looking for a porta potty and pulled off when I saw two of them with 3 runners in line. As I was looking at my watch to see how much time I was losing, a female spectator announced that her husband had been letting runners ahead of him and he needed to get in there without letting anyone else go ahead. I looked and realized there were two spectators standing way back from the porta potty lines. I was super annoyed but knew I couldn't stand around for 5 people to use the bathroom when 3 seemed like a lot. I jumped back on to the race course and kept my eyes peeled for another bathroom.

I needed to take another GU at mile 18 but was nervous to do so with my stomach acting up. For a few minutes it seemed like my stomach had settled down. What a miraculous happening! And then my eyes spotted a porta potty and my body was like, nope jk. Luckily a super kind spectator insisted I cut in front of him, and the person in the porta potty hustled in and out and I only lost about 1:10 total waiting and bathrooming. I half considered GUing while using the facilities and then realized that was the grossest idea ever.

16. 9:42
17. 9:57 (attempted bathroom stop)
18. 9:43
19. 10:51 (actual bathroom stop)

I felt like a new woman when I stepped out of that porta potty. I took in my GU and vowed to put the hammer down to the best of my abilities for the next 7 miles. I had been doing some mental math based on 10 minute miles and could see I was around 4:20-4:24. I made a new goal of running as close to sub 4:20 as possible. My stomach could explode and my legs could fall off, but with 7 miles to go. It's on. 

Around mile 20 I took a salt pill, without water. I almost met my maker. I choked on the pill so hard that it cut off oxygen and I started to black out. OMG, I can't die in the middle of a marathon. I attempted to swallow, cough, gag, and repeat and nothing worked. I breathed solo out of my nose for part of a mile until I came upon someone handing out orange segments. I was nervous to put something else in my stomach at this point but I felt like choking to death was also a bad idea. Luckily the orange helped it slide down and crisis was averted. Oy.

And just in time for the infamous uphill from 20-23!

I can say with 100% confidence that I trained well for these hills. I felt like I was flying up them. I felt so strong and light in my feet and just zoom zoomed up. I also didn't think they were nearly as hard as I was anticipating. I'd done the 10 mile twice, the first time I did it the hills chewed me up and spit me out. Last year they felt fine. I assumed they would feel like a mountain after running 20 miles, but nope! Thanks for all the Monday night hill routes Chris! I think they paid off.

20. 9:58
21. 9:51

I started doing finishing math based on 9 minute miles for the remainder of the race. That kept me on for that low 4:20 finish, but I was having a heckuva time figuring out the extra race distance. With the extra bathroom non-tangents, I was a full half mile over. So I was having to count an extra 4 minutes on to anything I was calculating. Good thing I enjoy mental math! We got up the hills and it was go time. Let's go legs, you got to take it nice and easy for 18 miles, it's time to fly.

22. 9:38
23. 9:35

I knew I'd get to see my HS bestie Nikki one last time around mile 24. When she had asked where she should spectate, I told her she could probably get from 5 to 15 to the end. She had mentioned that getting to the actual end last year was almost impossible and wanted to know if it'd be ok if they weren't there this time. I told her that I would love to see her at the end but I knew I'd need to see her face around mile 24 and that would give me the mental boost I needed to run hard. When I saw her, she sprinted to the other side of the road to be on my side and forgetting about my goal time for a second, gave her the biggest sweatiest hug. She ran along side me for a few seconds and then I sprinted away saying, "ok I gotta go run fast now. LOVE YOU!" It was such a boost to see her.

I saw a fellow SFWR gal, Kristie, and seeing her unexpectedly gave me such a boost of confidence and another jolt of speed. She also snagged some sweet pics. Thanks Kristie! Shortly there after, I saw another fellow runner SFWR Joy who used to kick my butt in her sculpt classes, and seeing her gave me another jolt of energy. In my head, I was thinking the last 3 miles were downhill, so I would get slightly annoyed when there was another little uphill. I was ready for my finishing sprint. Finally the finish line was in sight and I was ready to give it everything I had.

As I was passing the capitol building I saw a huge group of SFWR--Kelly, Kate, and Emily and Kate screamed at me to "over take him"! (If you haven't seen the video floating around facebook, find it, it's amazing.) Aye aye captain! And I took off like a bat out of hell. I was already running to my maximum ability as I had done the math and realized I needed to basically sprint the final half mile to come in under 4:20. And the guy took off too!!! Oh no you don't, buddy. I ran like I was sprinting a 200 m dash, and spent some significant time the last 20-40 seconds trying to control my breath so I didn't toss my cookies. Woof.

24. 9:42
25. 9:08
26. 9:24
.77 6:21 (8:16 pace)

I ran 26.77 miles in 4:19:58 for a pace of 9:43.
Average HR 157 Max HR 171

I crossed the finish line, threw my hands in the air and stopped my watch. Within a few seconds my watch cycled through some screens and showed me my "marathon PR" of 4:15. Knowing that wasn't my official time, I was still pretty pleased that I ran that time over the course of 26.2 miles including 3 bathroom stops.

More than anything I was proud of my mental game for the race. When my stomach cramp didn't subside FOR-EV-ERRRRRR I knew my PR wasn't in the cards anymore, but I knew I could still fight hard and have a day where I ran as strong as I could. And I'm so incredibly proud of my finishing time. I ran my second fastest half marathon ever, I negative split by almost 2 full minutes (and I've never negative split a marathon, only positively split in a COMMANDING way :P), and felt so strong at the finish. I never doubted my body's ability to finish and my mind was strong.

On the drive home from the cities, I got to thinking that two years ago, Kyle and I came up to the cities for the Monster Dash half. I had been just getting back into training hard, and had shocked myself with one of my best half marathon times in years. I ran a 2:09. Two years later, I ran that same pace (actually faster based on my monster tangential fail) for twice as far. Progress means everything, and I'm super proud. But man am I itching for more!

After the finish, I caught up with Toni and Melissa and got to hear about their finishes. I never caught up to Melissa because she ran a 4:12! And Toni basically sprinted the second half of the race to run a 4:05. 


I have the best running buddies, and I could never have dreamed that running could be this fun again. Running buddies make the world go round, man.


Laura Tisdell said...

AWESOME JOB:) Congrats on a great race!

rrc said...

Holy smokes, I am SO glad you didn't meet your maker with that salt tablet! That would have been a total bummer ending to this amazing story! Running buddies DO make the world go 'round! =) Your race execution was freaking AMAZING--congratulations and WELL DONE! Now how 'bout some Jeri-yoga?!?!