I follow a great blog on Facebook: Run Like a Mother. The 2 women that write the blog and have published 2 books are incredible. Lucky for me, one was running the Twin Cities Marathon and the other was running the 10 miler. I was a little starstruck when I met them at the Expo. Then I went home and read their race goal blog. They recommend having several goals. As for time: have a "everything is perfect" time goal. And have a "everything is normal" time goal. Add a goal unrelated to time: some type of overall race goal. Pretty good advice.
A year ago I was registered for this 10 mile race. I ran a 5K in June 2011 and was slowly building mileage over that summer. I had very little concept of pace or pacing or nutrition or fuel or Bodyglide or lululemon. Someone asked me what my goal was and I said, "80-90 minutes. 80 would be super good for me so I guess I just want under 90." I really had no idea what that meant. When my time was 87:13 (8:44 pace) I was super happy. I had a great run, fell in love with running while training for that race, fell in love with racing that day and even committed to a marathon. Looking back, I can see what a big day it was.
A lot has happened in the past year. Many miles, several races, a marathon. And even with all of that, in September I was getting nervous about my first repeat race. I thought I hadn't gotten any faster. I can run longer distance, but I questioned my speed. I knew with how much work I'd put in, I wanted to see improvement.
All of that to say: my time goal was 85 minutes. That was my "everything is normal" goal. I aimed at 83 for "the perfect" time goal. My first thought for a non-time goal was to have a negative split, something that I didn't know what it was a year ago. (The 2nd half of a run is faster than the first). But wait, that's another time goal!
So, add another goal: soak in the changing leaves, look at the river and take breaths of gratitude that this is my city. TCM advertises itself as "the prettiest urban marathon in the country." I'm lucky to run these streets every week. I reminded myself to high five the kids and to smile.
I am a cold weather runner. But when I woke up Sunday morning and it was 28 degrees, I was a little annoyed at Minnesota. Really, girl? already???! I felt bad for all the people that traveled here for the race. And especially bad for the marathoners that had been training last weekend in 85 degree weather! Oh, MN, how we love you.
The Metrodome was open because it was so cold, which was awesome! I went to the bathroom 3 times. 3! And then ate a GU and got to go wash my hands after. No sticking running fingers. It's the little things:) We walked to the corrals and an announcer said, "4 minutes to start." yes!
I was in Corral 2 of 5 and I assumed that my times had just gotten me into it. Last year I was in 3. I lined up way in the back. whoops. From the very beginning I realized that I may be faster than I thought. I spent the first 3 miles zig zagging around people. Jumping on and off curbs and brushing elbows. This is a packed race. Almost 9,000 athletes.
As we ran up the Franklin Bridge, I took those moments to stare at the Mississippi and pray. Running is spiritual. There was something powerful in those moments for me. I turned my sight back to the 100s of runners ahead of me and had to laugh at all the puffs of breath. It was cold!!
Suddenly we were at mile 5. I had distinct memories of how I felt the previous year at various parts of the race. This was one example. Last year I was tired. I had no concept of how 5 more miles would feel. This year I was like, "crap! I gotta pick it up! We're already half way done!
And pick it up I did. I run Summit every Tuesday with my running group. I was now on incredibly familiar territory. I joined these girls in November so last year I knew the area but my legs didn't have the memories and experience. We got to Lexington and I pushed it. The sun was in my eyes even with my hat on. I had to put my head down, miss the mansions and push it. I saw my sister and stopped to give her a hug. I high fived little kids and pushed it some more. At about 8.5 a friend saw me and jumped in and ran with me for a few blocks. Just the surprise and boost I needed.
And then you see this:
The flag marks the 26th mile for the marathon, so 9.8 for us. The Capitol in the background is a beautiful sight and you finally get a downhill! I ran for it. I'd have smiled if I wasn't trying so hard.
Can I get a woo hoo??!
1st 5 miles: 8:26 pace
2nd 5 miles: 7:58 pace
average pace 8:12
my division: 79/967 (top 8%)
women: 413/4650 (top 9%)
I met each of my 3 time goals and shocked my socks off with those high percentages. This feels good. I am relatively new runner and was happy when I found out that I seemed to have some natural abilities. I'm also obviously happy to see myself improve. I don't run with a Garmin so I'm not always pace aware. Recently one of my running buddies and DH have both said things to me about how much faster I've gotten. I didn't believe it. Here's the thing, I needed this race to prove it to myself. Running is just as much a mental battle as it is a physical one. It doesn't matter what your pace is. Fast runners, slow runners, average runners. We all have mental toughness.
The second I stopped running I started to shiver and teeth chattered. Chicken broth never tasted so good. DH and I had locked our bikes at a park by the Cathedral the night before so we walked back up the hill and cheered for other finishers. We hopped on our bikes and went up a few miles to watch the marathoners start to come in. What an incredible day.
Can you tell I like purple? I swear those tights look silver in person.
Running has changed my life. It has brought me calm & peace, joy & laughter, muscles & heart health, serenity and giddiness. Run run run.