This is my second time running the Twin Cities Marathon. It is a very beautiful course - and that is important when you are staring at the scenery for 26.2 miles or in this case, just under 6 hours! The only reason I signed up for this race was to run it with a wonderful client and very good friend of mine, Sonya Rippe (aka "Junior"). I was really looking forward to this day and was especially excited for Sonya. I was thrilled to be on this journey with her from start to finish. She first approached me almost a year and a half ago with her aspirations. I had no doubt in my mind that she would succeed with completing the 2013 TC Marathon. It took some very creative training, but it all executed wonderfully and the final strides to the capital were inspirational. When I was at the expo to pick up my packet the night before, I bought Sonya a car magnet with "26.2" on it and I was very excited to see her put it on her car!
Sonya was fundraising for the MS Society for this event and therefore we stopped into the Minnepolis MS office for her to take a team photo with her fellow fundraisers! A mutual friend of ours, Erin Colosimo, joined us for the ride to the start and for the first half of the race. We were very lucky that we got to use the warm and clean restrooms at the MS office prior to the race!
|Me, Sonya, and Erin C. at the MS office|
We headed over to the Metrodome (aka Mall of America Field - I just can't seem to want to call it such a ridiculous name) and found the start corrals. I was assigned to corral 2 and Sonya and Erin were assigned to corral 3, but it didn't really seem to matter since no one was checking the bibs anyways! We dropped our gear at the bag check areas and headed one more time to the restrooms. By this time, we met up with another client of mine and first timer marathoner Debra Malmgren. Debra had been training with me for the entire event as well. Debra emailed me her "resignation" from marathon training a month before. I told her to pull herself together and get back to training. Luckily she listened to me and got back to training. She finished her first marathon at TCM with a time of 5:27!
|Erin C., Me, Sonya, and Debra in the start corral!|
|Fully loaded corral! Waiting for the anthem!|
I discussed Sonya's race strategy with her before the gun went off. The plan was to run steady through the first 20 minutes and then start in with 8 mins run and 2 mins walk intervals. We waited for our corral to move up to the starting line. It took about ten minutes after the wheeler start. Our corral started to move up and we waited excitedly for the "Ready, Go!" command! It was a matter of seconds and we were on our way! There is no sound more awesome than the beeps of the garmins as the marathoners cross the chip mat at the start :) I love that sound!
We proceeded down Hennipen Avenue and tradition held as the marathoners all cheered under the buildings and bridges that we ran under for the first mile! It didn't take long to get to the 20 minute mark and we began our first walk interval as we entered the neighborhoods on our way to Lake of the Isles. It was a flawless system of me timing our intervals, until I got distracted by a few "That what she said" signs! It cracked me up because it made me think of my client Jill who is ALWAYS saying that in group sessions! There were also multiple signs that read "Go Erin" along the way as well! I took a few moments to take some pictures and text them to Jill during our walk intervals!
And finally, the best sign EVER:
As we circled Lake Calhoun, we ran up to our friend Maria. She was the first person assigned to support Sonya! I dumped my long sleeve shirt, arm sleeves, and gloves with her. It was starting to warm up pretty nicely. We started with beautiful sun, but chilly temps in the 50s. We could see some heavy gray clouds off to the west and I was wondering if rain was in the plan for today! We headed over to Lake Harriet and met up with Sonya's sister and her family. They gave us our first helping of Nilla Wafers and oranges! Nilla Wafers never tasted so good. Man, did they taste good :) I made the call to skip the gels and run solely on Nilla Wafers and oranges that day. It was a good call and certainly not one I could repeat at race pace for myself. So the opportunity to enjoy eating while running a marathon was present and I took it!
After the lakes, we started the long haul down Minnehaha Pkwy en route to Lake Nokomis. This is still a pretty part of the course and is populated with plenty of fans. We kept tackling the miles one at a time until we finally made it over to Nokomis! Just before the half marathon split, Erin C. decided to take off and finish her race on her own. I was secretly excited for Sonya to have her own race at this point. As a coach, I just wanted to see her be able to not stress about people around her and just let her run her own race. I just wanted to be there in the shadows of her big day, gently nudging her along and encouraging her through her pain and fatigue (which we both were feeling :)!
After Nokomis, we started what I like to call the "guts" of the marathon. It is usually the most unpopulated part of the race and is generally slow, boring, and just plain hard to push yourself through. I was happy to be there for the nudging during that portion! We kept seeing Sonya's support people all along the way! We continued to feed on Nilla Wafers and oranges!
|Mile 16 - Coming up to our personal pit stop!|
Along the way, I was waiting for text alerts to come in from the Athlete Tracker system for my girls Debra and Jackie. Debra has been dealing with some incredible tightness in her entire body that we had been working on for months with the help of a PT and his strain-counter strain technique. Jackie was my only runner going for a performance goal of sub-4 hours that day. Jackie was precisely at her peak performance, strong, and absolutely ready to kill this race. I was pretty dang excited to see what she could pull off for a PR. I had a gut feeling it would be way under 4 hours :) I waited for the texts to come in, but they were very slow and behind. After the half split, I never received another text for Jackie and I started to stress about her race. Her half split was a little slower than I wanted to see and I assumed something was wrong. Then by the end of the race, I knew she never finished. I came to learn later that evening that she had over caffinated herself that morning and violently vomited after her second gel (caffinated as well). She got so dehydrated from the vomiting that she started getting delirious on the course and was pulled by an EMT and then her bib was confiscated. This was a pretty big upset. I called her later that afternoon when I got home and we talked about her joining me down at Des Moines. We can't waste the masterpiece that we created! She is stepping back two weeks on her plan and I'm adding some strength work as well.
Debra texted me around mile 18. We thought we were coming up on the bridge to cross over into St. Paul, but we were actually 1.5 miles away from it still. Debra was at the bridge and was feeling the hurt. I texted her "You got this Debra" and tried to encourage her to move forward with walk/run intervals. I didn't hear back from her for a couple miles, so I called her when we got to the bridge to check in. She said she is pushing through!
For myself, right around mile 18 I started to feel some pain in my knee. It wasn't my IT Band. I knew it was my biceps femoris and possibly my popliteus. This bothered me because the word "popliteus" was a word I used to like to joke about. Now it just hurt. I also have been trying with great effort to rehab my own injuries, but I am not a doctor and I only can do so much. I Rock Taped my hamstrings and groin for this race and something told me that I may have screwed the tape job up :( It is what it is. I suffered through to mile 23 and then I got to the point of wondering if I would have to walk it in and let Sonya go on her own. It hurt to come out of the walk intervals. Sonya made the comment "I don't know if it hurts more to walk or to run!" and I couldn't have agreed more!
We made our way across the bridge to the ALARC "Wall", which is the start of the gradual incline up to Summit Avenue. This was still a very boring and unpopulated part of the race and still the "guts". We switched to a 6 minute run and 2 minute walk interval plan at mile 20. It was helpful to our situation!
After passing through the wall, we slowly inclined up to Summit, again one mile at a time. Once we got up to Summit Ave. I think we both let out a huge sigh of relief. Summit Ave. is like a whole different race all together. You feel like you can do it at this point. You are almost there! Sonya and I just let out a release and I think we both teared up a bit :) Man, we had worked hard to get there and the crowds were huge again and exciting. There were bands again and fresh people cheering at the aid stations! It was fun to be there! Even though we were both in pain, we were very happy to have survived the "guts" and could now enjoy the final miles!
We took on Summit Ave. slowly, but consistently. I ran with a pretty big smile on my face knowing that the end was near! We switched to 4 minute run and 2 minute walk intervals by mile 23. I was having trouble doing math and had asked Sonya to help me remember the number that we start running on. By mile 23, she wasn't remembering any better than I was!
As we ran through the intersection of Summit and the hill that goes down towards 7th St., I knew we were very close, but I didn't say anything. I could see the Cathedral ahead and when we got right up to it, I said to Sonya "see that flag?" She said "yes". I said "That's the finish. Should we run this in?" So, we did. We pick up our pace and ran to the finish line. It was one of the most awesome marathon finishes I've ever had. I personally got to watch one of my very hard working clients realize her dream. I had the front row seat and I couldn't have been more proud of her! I started to choke up. We just kept silent and soaked it in!
We crossed the finish line at 5:44:14. It was almost 2pm in the afternoon. We had been on our feet since we were dropped off at the MS office at 6:40am that day. We were tired, exhausted, and extremely happy. Immediately after crossing the finish line, we grabbed each other for a hug! Best race ever!!! I had one of those moments that coaches only dream of :) I will forever be thankful to Sonya for including me in on her journey :)
|We did it!|
|Marathon #9 in the books!|
|In our finisher shirts!!!|
After the race, and the luke warm chicken soup at the finish...I headed home and threw myself in the hot tub. I ended up limping the rest of the night as I entertained my clients at my house for a post-race party! I was very happy about the day, but a little sad too. The big day that we worked for and talked about for well over a year had finally come and gone. I received a text from Sonya later on. It was a picture of her 26.2 magnet on her car. Very cool!
On to my next adventure...Des Moines. I decided that I can no longer run with people in a marathon! I change my gait too much and actually injure myself when it is not my pace. I don't know what I will do at Des Moines. Maybe I will run with Eric, maybe I will run as fast as I can...I have no idea. Part of me wants a race just for me again. It's been a long year of "other people's" races. My therapist tells me to find and do something for myself now. Running used to be for me, but now it is my job and it is for others. I went out and bought a beautiful guitar the day before this race. I am excited to get back to learning and playing it. I secretly dream of playing and singing at a coffee shop one day :) Until then, I still want my BQ and the competitive athlete in me wants it now. I think I might be headed to Vegas in 6 weeks to run as fast as I can ;)
Event: Twin Cities Marathon
Place: Minneapolis, MN
Theme Song: N/A
Date: Sunday, October 6th, 2013
Final Time: 5:44:14