Monday, October 14, 2019

Race Report: Twin Cities Marathon 2019

The morning of the race, we woke up at 5:30 a.m. and I started eating my Picky Bar breakfast. I was really thirsty throughout the night, but avoided drinking when I'd wake up because I didn't want to have to pee constantly. I was pleasantly surprised at how well my stomach was. Maybe my focus on my stomach issues the last couple of weeks was paying off!!

We got on the bus to the start line at 6:30 a.m. and it took less than 15 minutes to get there, which led to 75 minutes of waiting around to the race start. I was pretty excited and was okay being there that early, but I think Melissa may have froze to death waiting.

I wore my sweats while we hung out and tossed them in my bag to be dropped after I found one final bathroom and did some glute activation drills. Melissa and I got in our starting corral and were ready to rock! She had planned to stay with me for a mile or so just to make sure she didn't go out too fast. I had gone back and forth about whether I should let my watch auto lap like normal or if I should manually do it at the mile markers. Last year it got pretty messed up within mile one, but I opted to leave it. When it beeped way before the mile marker, I opted to lap it again when I actually hit mile one so it'd beep closer to the mile markers going forward.

I was so hungry early on, while we were waiting to start I actually had hunger pangs. Yikes. I opted to take my first GU at mile 2 because of this, and was nervous if that would make my stomach feel not so great. I skipped the first few water stations since it was pretty cool to start, and found a glass shortly after I took my first GU. And just like last year, I developed a side stitch on my left side. Last year, this side stitch developed into a whole host of digestive issues, so I was hoping for the best, but fearing for the worst.

It was around this time that I ran into a fellow blogger, Heather who ran up to me and asked if I was Jeri and introduced herself on the run. I'd been following her training on Strava, and was really excited to see her out there. Her goal was quite a bit quicker than my A++ goal, so when she was ready to run ahead, I let her.

Melissa had left me shortly after mile 1 as I expected and I was running an easier pace than I had expected. While trying to find a rhythm, I saw my HS BFF Nikki and her family around mile 4 or 5! I knew they were planning to be out spectating, but I wasn't sure where they'd be on the course. At the same time they were cheering for me, Melissa came up behind me. Without thinking I blurted out, "What the hell are you doing behind me?!" She had stopped for a bathroom break and had caught up to me, she quickly went off again ahead.

1. 10:22
2. 10:01
3. 10:20
4. 10:08
5. 10:06

After the first few miles were slower than the 10:00 pace that I had planned for, I tried to speed up a little bit closer to goal pace. And my side stitch was just unrelenting. Usually when I get a side stitch it's because I'm dehydrated, so I decided to take 2 water cups at the next station. When I glanced at my HR at mile 8 I was a little startled at how high it was. I had expected my heart rate to be in the high 130s or low 140s based on the easier pace I was running, but it was 160. Uh.... usually my heart rate doesn't ever get above low 150s, even for a 3 hour run. Maybe it'll get in the high 150s if we're doing a cutdown with the last few in the 9's...... I tried not to panic, but let up off the gas at that point... I still have a long way to run! I decided that going forward, I would walk through the water stations to make sure I was taking in two full cups of water in hopes that would help with both my heart rate and this darn side stitch. I took my second GU and first salt tab at mile 7.

6. 10:11
7. 10:10
8. 10:10
9. 10:29
10. 10:27

I don't remember exactly where I saw Nikki and her family next but I did make a point to joke with them that I was able to pick them out of the spectating crowd by seeing Adam's grey goatee on the course. Hah. It was around this time that I realized that today's race was just going to be a finish 26.2 miles sort of day. I was calculating a finish time but knew if I was feeling this cruddy this early on in the race that it could be a very long day.

I switched my focus for the day to just having fun. Chatting up other runners. Commenting on people's signs. Giving high fives to any and all children along the course that wanted them. I took my third GU and second salt tab at mile 12. I also decided to throw the chance of digestive issues to the wind around this point and took a shot of pickle juice as my calves were starting to feel on the verge of cramps. It tasted heavenly.

11. 10:18
12. 10:48
13. 10:59

Around the halfway mark, I realized that I needed a walk break more regularly than every water stop, as the stations were still every other mile at this point. I gave myself .05 walk break at the top of every mile for quite a while, which led to two walk breaks for the miles that had water stations in them.

14. 11:02
15. 10:55
16. 11:39

This stretch of any marathon is hard. You've already ran for 16 miles and you STILL have another ten to go. I started taking walk breaks whenever my heart rate would feel really high and yucky, which was way too often. In hindsight, I should've brought enough salt tabs to take two every 45 minutes like I typically do for a long run. The cooler temps that were forecasted were basically negated by the intense sun as soon as it was up and in full force. I also should've brought an emergency GU. I usually take a GU about every 45 minutes on a run. I equated that to every 5 miles based on my goal pace for the race, but really ended up taking them every 55-66+ minutes as the race went on and my pace got even slower. But hey! I didn't have any stomach issues AT ALL so I'm going to celebrate that win!

17. 12:14
18. 12:20
19. 12:21

The fun hill started at mile 19 and I made myself run up most of them. Of course that meant I would have to walk when I got to the top so my heart didn't explode, but I could actually hear my running buddy Chris tsk tsk me for walking up the hills, so I tried really hard not to. Around this point I ran back into Heather, and could tell she was having a rougher day than she had hoped. I got a second wind, even though my splits don't really show it, and enjoyed running over the bridge toward St. Paul. Most importantly: THERE WAS A WOMAN WITH A PUG ON THE BRIDGE. I repeat: A WOMAN ON THE BRIDGE WITH A PUG. So obviously I stopped and asked if I could pet her pug. And then there was a whole team of guys cheering people on, so I hammed it up like crazy and let their cheers propel me for quite some time.

This right here... is a cooked Jerbear. Uff da.

And THEN, possibly the only reason I finished the race, honestly, there was a spectator handing out small gatorade bottles shortly before mile 20. I chugged half of it, and thought about tossing it, but decided carrying it, as annoying as that would be, would probably pay off. I drank the whole thing within a mile's time and that coupled with some shade and the quick math that if I didn't pick up the pace, I'd be looking at a marathon finish time that started with a 5, gave me the kick in the pants I needed.

20. 11:21
21. 12:36
22. 11:50

By kick in the pants, I should clarify that I didn't actually speed up at all, so maybe I should rephrase it to the will to live?? Or maybe I used up that kick in the pants busting out some choreography to N'Sync's Bye Bye Bye, I'M NOT SURE!

Hah, I knew I'd see Nikki around mile 24 so I just put one foot in front of the other to try to get to her. This is the part of the course where there are spectators lining up on both sides of the course, honestly that can be said for almost the entire course from start to finish, and so many people were cheering me on by name, since it was printed on my bib. I tried to thank everyone and I so appreciated the encouragement, because I really needed it.

Finally I saw Nikki, and said something along the lines of "You're coming with me, let's go!" So she joined me for a block or so, and I'm so glad I asked her to jump in. I was struggling so hard and told her that, and she told me I was amazing, and I was going to finish and she was proud of me and it was everything I needed to hear in that moment. I gave her a big hug, knowing that they weren't planning to go to the cluster F that is the finish (I did not blame them, and needed them at mile 24 much more!)  and continued on.

I love that our running form is in step 100%. Before running was my favorite thing ever, Nikki and I lived in our gym playing basketball, practicing so many hours of the off season. <3

23. 12:10
24. 12:13

The final two miles seemed to stretch on forever, and I swear my mental math was telling me I needed to run 10 minute miles to come in under 5 hours. Well apparently my brain was lacking some very important oxygen, because I did not run 10 minute miles to finish yet I came in just over 4:50. And I'm really good at math, not to brag.

Around this point, I saw a spectator holding a sign that said "YOUR MOM CALLED. SHE SAYS SHE'S REALLY PROUD OF YOU!" And I started crying, of course. The amount of voicemails I have saved on my phone from her saying this after races she couldn't attend is kind of obnoxious and I cherish them dearly.

I really tried to pick up the pace during the last 5k, and I probably did, but I kept having to stop to get my heart rate to come down. It was really annoying. I was leap frogging with lots of people and could've swore that they put the finishing stretch much further away than last year. :P Finally we approached the final stretch. The final mile of the race was probably the first full mile I had run with no walk breaks since mile 8 or 9. I didn't have my usual sprinter's kick, but I think I was just enough freaked out about how poorly my body was feeling, I didn't want to be that headline in the next day's paper about a runner collapsing just before the finish line. Is that too dark??

25. 11:27
26. 11:35
.5 4:32 (8:50 pace)

I finished my 9th marathon, 26.5 miles in 4:52:57 for a pace of 10:59.

Once I finished, I could not wait to get my shoes off. My feet hurt so bad. I think they were super swollen from whatever was going on with my hydration/electrolyte situation. I was so incredibly sore. I couldn't find Melissa and almost had a breakdown on the phone because I just wanted to sit down. Luckily I found her, and plopped myself down on the hill I would call home for what felt like hours after.

This little lady almost snagged another PR (just a minute shy) after a major medical set back late this summer. I'm so proud of her and can't wait to be there when she PRs by 20+ minutes next year. For real.

We attempted to recreate the post-Skedaddle race photo once I was back to standing again.

And I made Melissa take a picture of my face so I could see if it was as salty as it felt. The answer: yes.

And eventually meandered over to the beer tent to enjoy our post-race beers. My. mantra for the last 14 miles of the race was essentially, "this is a lot of work for a free beer" so it seemed only fitting to cash in on that hard earned beverage.

And then it was time for our walk back to the hotel. I love staying at the finish line. It's so convenient!

Some reflections:
  • I am so thrilled that my stomach felt good all of race morning and throughout the race. I was diligent about taking my daily probiotic for 10 days leading up to the race, and really cut out foods and beverages that tend to upset it--caffeine and Qdoba's quest, namely. I also cut out my night before beer as I've suspected that may have contributed to issues in the past.
  • I'm not sure if this is why I was so hungry at the start, but I didn't eat a ton the day before the race. Again, I think I was so nervous about upsetting my stomach that I may not have eaten enough to support the energy I needed for 26.2 miles! 
  • I don't think I was hydrated well enough going in to the race. I brought my water bottle to the race start, but barely drank anything. Because I had to use a portapotty at mile 2 in 2018, I think I was afraid that would happen again. I was really amped up on the forecasted cool temps and neglected hydration, especially with how thirsty I was when I woke up. I think next training cycle, I will experiment running with a hydration vest so I can take fluids whenever I need it and can tell how much I'm taking in throughout.
  •  Sometimes you just have a bad day. And that's okay. I really made the most of my experience trying to lift up others and just have fun. When I first started running marathons, if I had a day like this I would've had a 26.2 mile pity party for myself and had been devastated for months after. I'm bummed, but I do know that my training will come together on a most excellent day, and I'll earn a shiny new PR! Hopefully next fall! :)