I am making peace with it, although it will always rankle. One thing though--I still haven't gone over five hours. I say that with great caution, because I have the Honolulu Marathon coming up in December, and if I don't improve somehow by then, and you throw in the heat and humidity of Hawaii...who knows what will happen.
There were some good things about Twin Cities Marathon. Actually, almost everything was good. The problem was me.
The weather--just about perfect. After four days of crazy wind which made the cold temps feel even colder (and would certainly be a problem for running), the wind was practically non-existent. The overall temperatures warmed a bit, starting at 30 but into the 50s by midday. It was sunny enough for sunglasses after we left the buildings of downtown Minneapolis, and that combined with very light wind, made it a great atmosphere for running. It was cool enough that I kept my throwaway jacket on to mile 13, though.
I started out well. I think the first eleven miles went pretty much as I wanted (could have been a bit faster, of course). I was running from 10:05 to about 10:30, though my bathroom stop at around mile 8 slowed me to an average of around 10:30.
A word about early bathroom issues. I easily got in my three times before the race, first in a portapotty then twice inside the Mall of America Field stadium (yes, we got to wait inside!). But I drank a whole grande Americano that morning, and the cold works voodoo on your kidneys, so....I already felt like peeing in the first few miles. All the potties on the course had lines, though, and I couldn't bear waiting, so I plugged on for a while. Luckily around mile 8 I saw a single PP off course, and the non-running lady there let me go ahead of her, so I had a quick (and very satisfying) stop. Maybe two minutes, maybe a bit more running off and on the course. My next stop would not be so easy.
At the start I was pretty near the back of my corral, but although it was really crowded I didn't really have a problem...as I said, my first miles were my best.
The course itself was great. It wasn't just pancake flat (which I don't love). There were periodic small hills and a couple pretty long ones, but all the uphills came with downhills so that was fine. We ran through downtown Minneapolis, through some nice residential areas (beautiful, big, expensive older homes), and alongside four lakes and the Mississippi River. I probably didn't take in the scenery as much as I should have--I was too wrapped up in running. But luckily we had driven twice around Lake of the Isles on Friday, so I got some lake scenery and fall foliage in already. Also, it made that part of the course feel very familiar to me!
Above--three views of Lake of the Isles, not necessarily where we ran though. We definitely didn't go past the Lutheran Church, above.
After about eleven miles I slowed down a bit, as I mentioned. I was running a little under eleven-minute pace through mile 15, and about 11:23 in mile 16. The reason it was over was because I was contemplating another bathroom stop. I tried another single off-course PP, but after waiting a bit for someone to come out, with no result, I moved on. I thought I blew a minute there, but if so, I was going faster in that mile than I thought.
The bathroom was a pretty strong need, though, and after the mile 16 marker I made the bad (in retrospect) decision to wait in a line. During that wait I sent a text to my mother and took a picture to commemorate my bad judgment. (Not a picture of the potties.) That mile was a horrifying 17:46. I only knew that when I checked my splits afterward. I had not been looking at my watch much because I thought it would just make me feel bad. The really unfortunate thing was that there didn't seem to be lines anymore after mile 18. I probably could have held out that long. In hindsight.
I was kind of in the slow mode by then and was running 11:30s through mile 20. But it got worse. Miles 21-23 - over 12. I picked it up (ha) in miles 24-26 back to the 11s, and I will say on my behalf that each successive mile was faster (11:48, 11:18, 11:01). Of course this was mostly downhill. And my last half mile to the finish was at 9:48 pace (which was an all out effort).
So I was super slow. I never felt especially tired (except mental fatigue with running), my legs never hurt (they just felt leaden), and I had none of the achy back and hips that sometimes develop after mile 18 or so. I assume my extra gentle pace minimized pounding.
I guess there are a few factors that could have played in.
For one, I am just four weeks after the 50K. I feel pretty recovered, but at the very least my long, slow 50K training has really had a dampening effect on my pace.
Two, I am a lot slower these days in general.
Three, I have had a cold for the last week. I am definitely on the almost-recovered side of it, but it is possible that my body is a little weakened. Also, I have been blowing my nose a lot, and probably not rehydrating well. Despite my multiple pee stops, my body may have been a little dehydrated.
Four, my weight. I'm not going to dwell on this (right now), but I know that the 5-10 extra pounds I'm carrying (and maybe more, who knows? I seem to be gaining on a daily basis) are not doing me any favors with running. I hesitate to blame this alone, though, because I think it's possible to be at least moderately fast at a less than ideal weight. Plus, the "2 seconds per pound per mile" does not begin to cover the slowness of my pace.
Finally five, fueling. Maybe I didn't do a good job of it? I don't know, I am sort of lax with fueling and I've still had plenty of good races. I had a pretty good breakfast, so I didn't take a Gu until mile 9 (which is about right for me anyway). Then I started feeling a little nauseous around the halfway mark, and Gu didn't appeal. I accepted a piece of banana around mile 15. Then I managed another Gu around mile 18 or 19.
Soon after I took a Jolly Rancher from someone, and that bit of genius got me through the race. Spectators were handing them out along the way, and I grabbed enough to suck on one every mile (they lasted about a mile). It was a little bit of sugar and something to make the miles go by. I ended up with three leftover, which I ate later in the day.
I really pounded hard down the hill at the finish (though my pace barely reflects it) in order to finish under five hours. My total distance was 26.58 miles, thanks in part to my veering to bathrooms. That extra .38 mile made all the difference, I am sure! Ha.
After the finish I was less happy than I usually am, and felt almost teary as I made my way to pick up my finisher shirt and drop bag. Then I met my dad at the "T" meeting point. He took a picture to commemorate my finish, but unfortunately couldn't manage to include the dome! (He did get plenty of sidewalk, though.)
Well, this one has the dome, but a lot of strangers as well.
After that we hobbled back to the hotel, where I collapsed on my bed and ate salty potato chips. After a while I took a shower and ordered some nachos for a late lunch/snack.
And so ended marathon #10.
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