Well the weekend is over and I'm very happy with how it turned out.
Saturday MS came over after work and was in a tizzy. He was running late and so he was a little frantic. It was kind of humorous. Even after I told him we didn't really need to leave until 9 he still was overly energetic. We finished packing up the car and headed out. I was tired and still in planning mode for the race so I wasn't necessarily taking the best routes to get out of town, but we made it. :)
Our ride to the cities was pretty uneventful. MS was studying for his class this week so we were going over stats. It's good that I have no idea what his job really entails because as I asked questions he had to explain it which helped him to study.
We headed straight to the Expo to get my race packet, had a mild argument about the $10 parking fee, and then headed in. Everything was Lime Green. Crazy. I was just in the mood to get my packet and go, but we did look at a few things because MS wanted to check things out. We got free socks this year, so I'm thinking I need to figure out some way to go again next year - maybe we'll get shorts and I'll get a whole outfit. :)
We had extra time so we checked into the hotel, grabbed a sub at Subway and then headed to the Twins game. Debbie and her husband met us there. MS had never been to the Dome before so this was new for him. We had really good seats thanks to the marathon special and the game was really good.
Debbie and John headed home and MS and I headed to the hotel to drop off a couple things and get some dinner. We were going to go to Outback since it was connected to the hotel, but there was a 45 minute wait, so I opted to go somewhere else. Another mild argument as MS kept saying, let's ask the hotel guy for places around here and I was standing there naming places off. We were both very hungry and a little crabby by this point so finally I said let's just go.
We ended up at TGIFriday's, which ironically is normally where I eat before running (or at least did last year), and we got right in and were served almost immediately. During dinner MS said he was getting a tickle in his throat and not feeling 100%. Not good. So we talked about that a little bit, then talked about tights vs running skirt for Sunday, and just talked.
Back at the hotel I set out my stuff for the morning and we set an alarm and were asleep by 9pm. I think we were both quite tired. He had worked the day before, as had I, and then the drive, the game - it just all added up. Of course I still woke up at 1:33 thinking I was late.
Sunday AM - RACE DAY!!!! I was surprisingly calm. It shocked me a little bit. The biggest conflict was trying to decide how I was getting to the train. MS finally decided for me that he would take me. I was hesitant on this since he hasn't driven in the cities before and while it was a direct route he was adamant about using the GPS which I knew would take him a weird route. Oh well.
After MS dropped me at the train it was back to the pre-race routine. I got to the dome, snagged the bathroom early, and then found a corner to focus. I stretched, I prayed, I stretched, I ran the race in my head, and I meditated a bit. At about 7:30 I drank my 5 hour Energy (yes, these work) and finished off my second 12 oz glass of Accelerade. I dumped my trash and headed out to the corrals.
It was chilly out and luckily MS had loaned me his under armour for the start of the race. I knew I wouldn't need it much after 3 miles. And of course, I was right.
I started in the corral by the 5 hour pace team so I could kind of stay with my pace. The national anthem was wonderful and again, I just felt calm. It seemed normal that I would be there to run this race that my longest training run was the half 3 weeks ago. I felt okay, I knew I would hurt at the end, but I felt confident I would do well.
So the race began. I started out at what I thought was a conservative pace. For the first time I actually saw the flag for mile marker 1 and I was at 10:34 - right on my normal training pace. Odd. Mile 2, which includes the nice Hennepin hill was 10:19, 10:36 for mile 3, 10:29 for mile 4. I was feeling good. My thoughts were basically from Joseph (a runner in town here who is on dailymile and had sent me some words of wisdom before I left) "Start conservative and stick to your pace. Save something for St. Paul." I was doing really well.
Debbie and MS met me between 4 and 5 as usual. I think I shocked Debbie. I tossed MS's shirt and my headband and gloves to her but her face was just in amazement. I know this was faster than I have ran the other two marathons and I think it caught her off guard. The next mile was 9:51, but I wonder if they had the mile marker in a wrong place, but I'll take it anyway. I know I had a surge of energy after dropping my extra load and having seen my cheering section.
After that my pace went down, as I expected but I still stayed steady. I won't bore you with those here. MS and Debbie met me at two more stops. Just before 13 I stopped and stretched with them and had a couple bites of PB&J and some Accelerade to keep me going. My 13.1 time was 2:27, which made me very happy and I was on track for my 5 hour time. I actually kept that for quite a ways. It wasn't until after mile 21 or 22 that I really dropped back. At 18 they met me again and I took a bit of a longer break to stretch and have some oranges. I still felt really good and I was excited I was probably going to make my goal.
Overall I pretty much only walked through the water stops I utilized (which weren't many since I knew when I'd see Debbie and MS) and then after mile 20 when I hit a couple hills and needed to stretch as my legs really kept tightening up. I ran a lot more of this race than I ever have, and the few times I walked I didn't walk long, just enough to recoup a bit and then started up again. And when I did start up again it wasn't overly hurtful where I had to force my legs to go, they were just a little heavier than normal and sore, but expected, not too much though.
So I ended up running in strong. I got a little emotional when I realized I could make 5:21 chip time and less than 5:30 gun time. MS had found a spot along the last .2 (the ING Sea of Orange) and was cheering for me. That and my time got me so choked up I stopped breathing for a moment - not a good idea to not be able to catch your breath when you have about 500 feet to go.
So I finished and I am really happy with my time. 5:21:55. I dropped 39 minutes off last year's time. I ran more than I did last year. I felt stronger and more prepared, though there's always room for improvement. I dressed right this year and the weather was great. My support team on the sidelines were awesome. Debbie had a great shirt that I'll post a picture of once I can get a copy from her. MS took pictures along the way and had an obnoxious cowbell that I could hear at least a block away over the crowd. It was all great.
Some thoughts I had :
- "Wow, it really is more crowded the faster you run." (I had told MS that things usually thin out by the time I get to mile 2 - well that's when I used to run slow. It was pretty packed most of the race.)
- "Wow, I'm running and a lot of these people aren't." (I really pushed for me to run more and keep focused - plus when I walked my legs would tighten up more. At one point I passed three guys and one of them said that he found it interesting that he felt the pain more when he walked than when he ran.)
- "There is no hill." (I have to use this when I come up to a hill, and it generally works for me. I can push through the hills and run them. The only one I didn't run was the really steep one at 21. That one is just too much. But I ran once I got to the top.)
So that's the race. MS and I had to head back home afterward, so we went back to the hotel, showered, iced, removed my pace tats, I took a mini nap and he loaded the car up while I was sleeping - darn him, and we headed out. We stopped at Arby's for a quick bite as we were both starving. While we were eating he said, "Okay. I'll make you a deal. You can keep running these as much and as often as you want. But the first knee surgery you have, you're done." Fair enough. My knee was hurting on and off from about 18 on. It was the same pain that made me pull out at 13 at Brookings in May. But I have some exercises and therapy that I can do to help strengthen it and I think I need to incorporate some more weight training (and drop a few more pounds - I'm on the right route for that, but I have a little ways to go).
I'm moving okay today. I'm still sore in the ankles, a little bit in the knee, and in the hips. All in all a great race. I'll post pictures as soon as I can.
Thanks to everyone for your words of encouragement, support, prayers, love. I couldn't have done it without you.