My Favorite Quote:

"There is an inner beauty about a woman who believes in herself, who knows she is capable of anything that she puts her mind to. There is a beauty in the strength and determination of a woman who follows her own path, who isn't thrown off by obstacles along the way. There is a beauty about a woman whose confidence comes from experiences; who knows she can fall, pick herself up, and move on."

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Marathon #11: Mankato Marathon (26.2 "Untrained")

Sunday, October 19th, 2014
We woke up bright and early on Sunday at 4:45am.  We loaded the boys up in their PJs and hit the road by 5:30am!  We headed back down to Mankato from our home in Eagan.  It was a bitter cold start to the day, with a low in the upper 30s, but it would warm up to the 60s by the end of the race!  After the long drive in the dark, we got down to the race start on the university campus right around 7:30am.  We headed over to the starting line and I ran a short loop for my warm up!

Freezing at the start line!
My handsome fans that follow me everywhere!
So, I decided to wear my new shoes for the race.  I'm not sure if that was a good idea or not, since I'm fighting a post-race "top of foot" pain (3 days later) that I've never had before in my life.  As I stood in the start corral, I prayed again that I do my best and that the runners would be safe today.  We received an email the day before stating that there was a bomb threat for the race, but that it had been resolved.  I've never run a race with a bomb threat before, but I wasn't too worried about it.  It was Mankato, not Boston.

Dick Beardsley, a popular American long distance runner and motivational speaker from Minnesota, gave a quick motivational speech to the crowd.  Then we were off!  We started at the MSU - Mankato campus and headed out into the Mankato farm country!

Dick Beardsley in the red shirt speaking!

The course was not very exciting for the first 20 miles.  It was mostly run on the shoulder of a country highway.  It was past season for the Fall colors and everything looked brown and grey.  The start of the race included all of the race distances for the 5K, 10K, Half, and Full marathons.  At the mile 3 marker, the marathoners broke off to head out of town!  It's pretty cool when the race splits like this.  It just makes you realize that you are going off to do something that not many people choose to do intentionally.  It separates the runners from the crazy people (marathoners)!

It was a pretty lonely course for awhile.  The first part of the race included an incredible uphill.  I ran the whole thing and learned later on that it was in my best interest to walk the hills in this race.  There were plenty and they were frying my legs.  I wasn't sure how my calf strain would handle that.

I did find comfort in knowing that a group of my clients were also out there and running the marathon relay together!  I was able to see them at each relay exchange point.  Jill ran the first leg and I never saw her until they finished, but I got to see Michelle as I ran through the first exchange point!  It was fun to know someone and to high five and have her cheer for me!  Immediately after I saw her, there was another big hill.  I walked this time!

I was starting to feel my calves and my IT Band frictioning.  I wasn't sure how far I would make it with these injuries, but I was still in it by mile 10.  I ran by a little blonde haired boy about 6 yrs old on the side of the road and he looked me right in the eyes and said "You got this!"  And I believed him!  I think it was right after that experience when I felt some renewed confidence that I would finish this race!  I ended up running side-by-side with a male runner for awhile.  Runners can be funny people during a marathon.  We have the entire road to ourselves, but we end up running an inch apart.  Must be an instinctive thing.  After a mile or so, I decided to look over and see what the guy looked like!  We stuck together and pushed through the rolling hills for 4 miles.  We ended up losing each other a little after the half split when I found that I just needed to run my pace and slow down a bit!  Shortly before the half split, Eric and the boys were waiting for me at a playground at mile 12.

Ethan waiting for mom!
Ryan waiting for mom!

I came up on the half split at a pretty good pace.  I was near my average split, not my fastest, but what I would expect to run without proper training.  It was around 1:52 and that made me happy.  I stopped to fill up my water bottle and eat a Clif bar.  I saw Debra and Lisa at the water stop!  It was so nice to see them!  I was needed some cheering for!  I walked for a couple minutes to give my running muscles a short recovery.  Then I took off again into the lonely farm country!  Little did I know that I was nearing a wide open stretch of road that would blast wind against the entire front of me from miles 16 - 18.  Ugh, that sucks.  Every little pebble on the ground felt like a giant rock I had to step over!  By lower body was starting to fatigue.

Just cross the chip mat at the half!
Posing for a photo!
Filling my water bottle!

I stopped for a pit stop at the mile 17 aid station.  I took off some layers and was finally down to my tshirt as the sun started to come out.  I finally made it to the big downhill that I looked like a jump off a cliff on the elevation chart.  It wasn't much of a downhill.  At least, not after all the other hills I ran so far.  I was expecting something more quad burning, oh well!  I descended down to mile 20 and was happy to be staring my last 10K in the face!

I ran through the final relay exchange and the ladies were still there cheering me on and taking pictures.  Debra got a couple of pics of me as I ran past.  I told Michelle "I'm hurting"as I went by!  It seemed like it had taken forever to get back to town and finally see the scenic part of the race!  As I ran out of the wooded trail to cross a busy street full of fans, a man opened his arms and said "Welcome back to town!  We've been waiting for you!"  I looked at him and said "I've been waiting for you!"

Coming into town!
Taking a much needed walking break to refuel!

I restarted the wheels and headed down the path once again!  As I approached the final 5K, I really began to feel the fatigue in my legs.  I was spent.  I hadn't trained for this race and there it was pointing itself out to me.  The final 5K was one big loop.  As I headed out for the loop, I could see the returning runners finishing the last mile of the race.  I was SO jealous.  That last 5K felt like an eternity.  During that time, I took several walking breaks and even stopped to help motivate a male runner that was doubled over.  I told him "You got this."  Apparently he did "have" this, because he blew by me a mile later and didn't say anything.  As he ran in front of me, he started going the wrong way on the course.  I had no energy to stop him, so I asked a spectator to go after him.  She redirected him, and then he blew past me again!  Maybe next time, I will just stick to motivating myself!

As I approached the finish line, I was very relieved!  I saw Eric, Ethan, and Ryan standing near the finish line and I ran by and gave them the thumbs up!  I finished with a time that I consider "slow" for me, but overall I am thrilled that I even finished!  Sometimes, that is all you can ask for :)  I did my best and I got my completion.  I considered this the "long" run in preparation for NYC.  Hopefully NYC will feel a little better now that this is under the belt!

After I exited the finish area, I met up with my guys and sat down to have my free beer!  The boys got to play in a jumpy house and I got to warm up in the sun before we headed home!  Very happy to be a runner today and very happy that my Beacons were watching out for me!

Event: Mankato Marathon
Place: Mankato, MN
Theme Song:  "Yeah" by Usher
Date: Sunday, October 19, 2014
Time: 8:00am
Overall Place:  184 of 451
Gender Place:  56 of 181
Division Place (F4044):  15 of 38
Half Split:  1:52:27
Final Time:  4:08:49 (9:30 avg. pace)

Marathon #11: Pre-Race Thoughts

Saturday, October 18th, 2014:
Things went drastically wrong during the time leading up to Mankato.  The weeks got away from me as my boys started school and I shifted to a new schedule and routine at the gym.  I failed to get any sort of a long run in other than a half marathon in mid September.  Most weeks, I ran a handful of 3 to 5 milers.  I also decided to run on the trails on a beautiful day in September and developed a calf strain in my left leg.  That made it very difficult to run at all!  I tried one last attempt at a long run the Sunday before the race and my IT Band flared up causing knee pain, so I stopped at mile ten.  And if that wasn't enough, I ended up with strep throat the Monday of race week!  Man!

All I could think of at this point was being able to run NYC in two weeks.  I didn't want my injuries to keep me from running in that one!  That is a once in a lifetime race!  So, I decided to bail on Mankato.  But then, my new running shoes came in the mail the Friday before the race.  I put them on and in my mild depression, I went out for a night run with my dog Indy.  We ran a 5K out and back and it felt great!  So, I decided the race was back on!  Although (given my injuries), I had no idea if I would make it past mile ten.  We would find out!  So the next day, Eric and I packed up the kids and we headed down to Mankato for packet pickup!

Packet pickup at the Minnesota State Univ. - Mankato field house!
I had clients early on Saturday and Ethan had karate, so we all ended up back at home and took off for Mankato around 11:30am.  It was a beautiful day and the drive was fun.  It was 1.5 hours from our house to Minnesota State University - Mankato (where the packet pick up was).  We pulled up to the field house and ended up with front row parking!  We snuck in a side door and went in to the expo.  It was a small expo, since the race only had 451 participants.  There were a TON of kids activities, which was awesome since the boys had been couped up in the car awhile!  

Ethan and Ryan in the jump house!
Ryan bowling!
 We walked around a bit and the boys picked up some free trinkets.  I took my usual picture with the course map.  This course is a one way route!  From the university at the top of the hill, through tons of farms in the country, and then back to downtown!

Course map (pretty much the entire outer edge of this!)
 I bought some GU at the Scheel's booth.  I hadn't been using GU much anymore since I greatly reduced my sugar intake in my daily nutrition.  GU seems extra potent to me now!  I also wandered over the the Under Armour booth and looked at the signatures on the banner.  I realized I was standing here yet again, wondering if I would be able to finish the race.  I prayed to my "Beacons of Light" to send me healing energy for my injuries and to allow me the opportunity to rediscover my passion and competitive self.  Then, I signed the banner and dedicated my race to them.  Eric kept asking me how I thought the race would go and I kept saying "I have no idea, but have your phone ready in case you need to come get me on the course."  I had a feeling I wouldn't make it to the half marathon split.  But I knew I had to try!  All I knew is that I would start the race and run as far as my injuries would allow me to run, without causing lasting pain that would ruin NYC.  It was a mystery how this would go!

Mankato Marathon race banner!
Hoping to be crossing the finish line tomorrow!