Twin Cities Marathon 2011 was marathon #8 for me and my 4th time running Twin Cities. I love that I FINALLY don’t have to start a race report off with “Once again, this wasn’t the race that I was hoping for”. This WAS the race that I was hoping for. My performance, both in terms of time and in terms of laying it all out there, left me with a big grin on my face and a very satisfied feeling!
- 3:42:19! (8:30 pace)
- 7 minutes 21 second PR!
- 393 out of 3675 females
- 1674 out of 8530 overall
- 47 of 509 females age 40-44
My training was completely different this time around. For my previous 7 marathons I had followed a plan (low heart rate, Daniels, or Pfitz; with varying peak mileage) and I trained completely on my own – as in 100% of my runs were by myself. This time I trained with a group of fabulous, speedy runners from Chanhassen Life Time Fitness and had an incredibly motivating, inspirational and knowledgeable coach, Coach MB. I am 100% convinced that the training I had for this marathon is why I had such a fabulous race.
My race strategy:
My goal was around a 3:37, which would mean about an 8:11 pace (since TCM always measures long for me, about 26.55). I had planned on about 8:20 pace to 10k, 8:10 pace to the HM point, 8:05 pace til mile 20, hanging on for the hills through 23, then kicking it in sub-8:00 to get me to 3:37. Obviously based on my time, things didn’t go as planned, but ended up good anyway!
Those of you who have been following my blog for awhile know that I have major sleep issues, which usually leave me tossing and turning the night before a race. I get SO excited and/or worked up about the race that my mind won’t shut off. Well, this time I took an epsom bath and started reading a book about 7:30 p.m. and by 8:30 I was SO tired that I decided to try going to sleep. I fell asleep instantly! Woke up every couple of hours, but was able to fall right back asleep. Alarm went off at 4:00 a.m. and was SO happy to feel rested and have had 7 1/2 hours of sleep (which is about 1 1/2 hours more than I normally get a night!). The first words out of my mouth (to Norah, my dog) when the alarm went off were “RACE DAY! Today is the day, Norah!”
From the moment I woke up I really felt like it was my day. I didn’t just hope it was going to be a good day, I knew it would be!
Probably TMI for you, but by race start time I had gone to the bathroom at least a dozen times and made sure that I was completely good to go and wouldn’t need to stop to pee or with GI issues. This was huge for me because in many of my previous marathons I develop GI issues and NEED a porta potty ASAP. I felt like I would have no GI worries.
Although my training group and my Girls 10 group (who were all running the TC 10 Mile) were all meeting beforehand, I decided to just do my own thing, which included hanging out in
the Dome Mall of America Field and relaxing, numerous bathroom breaks and some light stretching. No warm up. I was going out slow enough in my early miles that I didn’t think any sort of warm up was necessary.
I was in corral 2 because I forgot to submit my time for corral 1 in time. I was a little bummed about this, but made my way right up to the front of corral 2, so all was good. The only bummer about it is then when you cross the finish line the time on the clock is way off from your actual time, which screws up photos and just doesn’t look as cool. I did like that for most of the race I was passing people, instead of being passed like I was when I was in corral 1 in previous years.
The weather felt cold, but it was actually on the warmer side for preferred marathon start. It was about 45 and a tiny bit windy. I did opt for arm warmers with my tank, and throw away gloves, so that I’d be more comfortable in the early miles. It was supposed to heat up to about low/mid 60’s by race end (it got hotter, about 71/72 at race end), so I planned on just rolling them down or throwing them to my family.
My Song of the Day: Black Eyed Peas I’ve Got a Feeling. They played it in the corral and I heard it at least 1/2 a dozen times along the course. I would change the words in my mind and sing “Today’s the day. . . I’ve got a feeling today’s gonna be a good good day.” And it WAS! It pumped me up every time I heard this song along the course!
Miles 1-3.1 (25:29 elapsed time) (8:12 pace avg) (8:25, 8:14, 8:21)
Started off a little faster than I wanted to be. I had to make a conscious effort to slow myself down. I felt good. I was taking in the crowd, gave a shout out to Justice Alan Page playing his tuba at mile 2.75, and was high-fiving little kids when I went by.
The miles were measuring a bit long, so when I would hit my lap button at the marker, it would register actual time slower than the pace I was actually going. I figured it would all balance out in the end, so I wasn’t worried.
Mile 4 – 6.2 (51:09 elapsed time) (8:14 pace avg) (8:10; 8:12; 8:10)
Even though my plan had been to hold an 8:20 pace through 10k, I decided to alter my strategy and pick it up. My rationale: I was feeling good and it was going to rapidly warm up so I wanted to bang out some faster miles than planned because I figured the hills and heat would slow me down and my original strategy to go faster in the later miles wouldn’t work. Good call, I think.
I was still loving the crowd, smiling, enjoying the day. I was very relaxed and just going with the flow.
Mile 7 – 13.1 (1:48:17 elapsed time) (8:16 avg pace) (7:59; 8:17; 8:15; 8:26; 8:16; 8:18; 8:22)
More of the same. Relaxed. Enjoying the crowd. Loving some of the signs (“If Bachman can run, so can you”; “Behind every great runner is an even better family!” “26.2 because 26.3 is crazy”). Having fun with the little kids. Fueling according to plan.
About mile 12 I started to feel like my breathing was harder than it should be. I started wondering whether I should back off the pace a bit. I did decide to back off a bit and then almost immediately saw Kelli H., one of the girls I was training with who had a very similar time goal as mine, but she started in corral 1. I ran with her for a minute, but she was picking up the speed because she was off pace a bit, so I decided just to keep her in sight for awhile (which made me maintain pace/speed up, instead of backing off like I thought I would). It was VERY motivational to see a familiar face while running. It made me reflect on just how awesome my training group was, how I wanted to hang in there so I could make them proud, and how lucky I was to have found such a great group of runners and friends.
Mile 14-15 (8:46; 8:09)
Miles 14 and 15 were hard for me. I was starting to get tired and lose concentration. I worried a bit that it was feeling harder than it should and that I had SO far to go still. I tried not to think of the miles I had in front of me, but it was hard. I thought of my friend Jen, who hasn’t been able to run in 5 1/2 months and how is recovering from a painful hip surgery. I thought about running for her, because she would give anything to be out there racing hard. I tried to mentally focus because I know Jen is able to do that in tough conditions.
I knew that my mom was planning on coming to mile 15, so I kept concentrating on that. I told myself to stay strong til I saw her at mile 15, then reassess. It was GREAT to see her and a bright pink runnin-from-the-law sign at about mile 15.25. After I saw her I got a new little burst of energy/motivation! Thanks mom!
Mile 16 – 20 (2:46:57 elapsed time) (8:20 pace) (8:30; 8:31; 8:40; 8:42)
I knew I was slower than my original plan on these miles, and they felt harder than I wanted them to, but I wasn’t worried. I wasn’t thinking ahead to needing to make up time or anything like that. I was just taking each mile as they came and working hard at staying focused, relaxed and just moving forward. Usually this part of the marathon is the slowest for me and it seems like it takes FOREVER. This time it went by fairly fast. Thanks, in part, due to the entertainment of Rupert, the Dude In The Suit.
Did anyone see him? HILARIOUS! Dude wore a black business suit and tie, a sweatband in his hair, and his running shoes. He had “Rupert. Dudeinthesuit” in white lettering on his back. The crowd LOVED him and he loved the crowd. He hammed it up every step of the way, pumping up the crowd, responding to their comments, stopping and dancing when we would go by bands, etc. He took my mind off of the work I was putting in. Eventually I went ahead of him (he finished 4:30:xx, so he must have totally hammed it up on Summit).
Somewhere along here was the only time I got really irritated during the whole marathon (though I didn’t let out an F bomb!). There was a lady with a sign that said, “1 in every 100 runners poops their pants. R U that 1?” Now I’m sure she just thought she was funny, but it pissed me off because it made me think about the GI issues that I normally have in marathons. And I worried, for a second, that thinking about the issues would make them come true. So I quickly pushed it out of my mind, but was briefly irritated. (I saw her again at mile 22 and was briefly irritated again). Dumb sign!
Just before the 20 mile timing mat (actually before every timing mat), I gave it a little burst of speed because I thought of all my blog readers, friends and family who were tracking me and I wanted to have my time be better for them! So thank you for tracking me!
Right at mile 20 I saw one of my Girls 10 friends, Sue, who had run the 10 mile. She ran with me for about 1/10th of a mile and encouraged me to stay strong. SO great to see her. Right after that I saw my aunt/godmother Kate. Again, a much needed boost at a time when I needed it. I do remember crossing the 20 mile mat and thinking “Wow. I’m not exhausted. I haven’t hit a wall. I’m ok. I can do this.”
Mile 21-24 (3:22:46 elapsed time) (8:41; 9:06; 8:46; 8:40)
This is the hilly part of the course. What a horrible time for it to come. It’s not terribly steep, but it hurts because of the time it comes in the race and because it is so long and gradual. I literally took each step and each mile at a time. Just kept telling myself to move forward, stay strong and relaxed, shorten my step, etc. I reminded myself that we had trained on these very hills in much hotter conditions and that I could do it. I was pleased with my results!
It was getting much warmer and the sun was getting to me(full sun all day, unless we ran in the shaded spots, which I tried to do and which might account for the course measuring long). After the race when I changed I noticed sun burn in the pattern of my tank!
LOVE rounding the St. Thomas corner and turning on to Summit. So beautiful, so filled with fall colors and so full of wonderful, enthusiastic spectators!
Around mile 23 I was looking for Shep’s parents, but never saw them. I did think about Shep and it DID power me through some parts of the marathon. I thought about his mom and how she would probably give anything to be in my position, where her greatest challenge was feeling tired and sore and having to run 26.2 miles. I thought about what a cute face and positive/innocent attitude Shep has with his cancer and treatment. And I told myself that if Shep and his family can deal with the things they are dealing with, that I could certainly bust out a few more miles.
Right around mile 23 I also saw my training buddy, Kelly H. again. I saw her stop and walk and stretch. I shouted out to her “C’mon Kelly, you’ve got this” as I went by her. I SO wanted her to catch up to me and run with me, because I didn’t want her to be struggling, which I knew she must be. Part of me thought I should stop and run with her and encourage her, because that’s what we all did in training runs. But, coach had also talked with us about the race being individual and I knew that if I slowed I might not ever speed back up, so I just went ahead. Even though she was off the time that she wanted, she ended up with an 8 minute PR!
Mile 24 felt SO hard. I wanted to be going sub-8 but just didn’t have it in me. I was hot and ready to be done. I didn’t look at my overall running time, so didn’t know what I was on pace for. I just gave it everything I had and told myself that was all I could do. People were seeing my name on my bib (in stickers) and shouting “go cindi” and it really really helped me move forward!
Mile 25 – finish (9:03; 8:38; 2:01 – 8:55 pace at end)
This is always my hardest, and best, part of Twin Cities. I’m tired. And emotional. My parents have a condo at about mile 25.25 of the course, on the right hand side of Summit just before the big obnoxious Vikings blow up thing.
Vikings blow up – my parents condo is right before this at mile 25
Passing the mile 25 marker is always THE BEST because I know that my cheering section will be there and that then it is (literally) all downhill from there. They put up AN OBNOXIOUS (in a good way!) amount of signs for me, starting about 1 block from their actual condo.
So I see the bright pink signs and start waving from a distance. And I see my dad with his camera taking pictures.
And I see my mom waving and Meghan and her friend with their hands out ready for me to slap them, and my sister and niece cheering.
I love it! So motivating and encouraging! And it gives me the energy I need to get that last mile done!
I saw the Cathedral and wanted to give it a final speedy burst of energy.
I have to say that the one thing that disappointed me during the race itself was that I wasn’t able to give it the finishing kick that I wanted to. My last .2 miles was at 8:55 pace. I noticeably slowed down. Something felt off on my right thigh on the downhill, like it was going to buckle. So I slowed. I think me and downhills do NOT mix, this is how I felt the entire Evil Mile 17 Downhill at Little Rock Marathon in March. But, I did look at garmin and knew I’d have a monster PR and a BQ that would all but guarantee me a spot for 2013, so I was happy even without a fast finishing kick.
And what a great ending to a perfect race when I saw two of my training buddies (who are running races later this month) volunteering at the finish, so I got to be congratulated by them and wrapped in blankets and handed powerade from them. So fun!
My fueling was perfect. Gu 15 minutes before race and at miles 4.5, 9, 13 (shot blocks), 17.5 and 22. I carried my handheld and filled it up at 3 or 4 water stops, with a Nuun tablet 3 times. Took powerade at about every other stop and drank a few sips of it. I felt like I was properly fueled and had enough energy throughout.
Now, for the part you’ve all been waiting for:
I really really loved this whole training cycle and this whole race!
SO happy that I finally had a race that I was happy with, a PR and a BQ. Very worth all the hard work, sacrifices and effort. And, yes, I’m already looking for a spring marathon!