Twin Cities Marathon Report Race Date October 7, 2012
Before all the hoopla!
Weary of dealing with Chicago heat and crowds, I decided to head further north this year for a fall marathon. I had heard wonderful things about the Twin Cites marathon in Minneapolis-St Paul and I had never been to the Twin Cities before so I decided this would be my marathon! What a great decision! I absolutely loved this marathon from the start to finish of the marathon weekend.
As all marathoners know, getting a hotel early is important for many races. In fact, I was just making some calls about the Illinois Marathon in Champaign this spring and more than half of the hotels on the marathon website were already sold out! Anyway, since Twin Cities is a point to point course I did not know if I should get a hotel at the start or the finish of the race. Not knowing which to choose, I reserved a hotel room at both the start and the finish! In case some of you don’t know, like many marathoners I can be a bit obsessive compulsive. So, I obsessed for several months about which hotel room to keep. I talked to people who had run the marathon, I read comments on marathon guide.com, I posted the big dilemma on running list serves I am on! Everyone had a different opinion! Finally I called Medtronic who puts on the marathon and they said “Well, everything but the start is in St Paul including the Expo so you may want to consider that.” That comment and knowing how nice it would be to be just .2 mile from my hotel when I was done settled it! The hotel at the start was going to be cancelled. It was more expensive and would not guarantee a late check out so there were several other advantages to staying at the finish hotel. Ok, so now I could stop obsessing about that detail!
Below is a photo right outside of my hotel of Saturday's 5K/10K race.
I felt pretty sure that I could find some Heartland Road Runners Club members who would want to go to this marathon as I knew many of them has already run Chicago which was the same weekend. I started to ask around and to my surprise no one was interested in running “The Most Beautiful Urban Marathon in America.” No problem, my husband was happy to go with me and my daughter was not going to pass up a Mall of America trip!
We headed out on Friday morning for the Sunday race. It was going to be a 7 plus hour drive and I am not one to drive all day and then get up the next day to run a marathon. My body does not do well sitting in cars for extended periods of time. The drive to the Twin Cities could hot have been more beautiful! I was so excited to get there! After all, this was the city Mary Tyler Moore lived in! I kept having the theme song go through my head:
“Love is all around, no need to waste it, You can have a town, why don't you take it, You're gonna make it after all , You're gonna make it after all!”
For my daughter’s sake I resisted starting to belt it out on the way there!
And so we arrived and got settled in the hotel. Soon I got a facebook message from a dear fellow Penn State Pi Phi sorority sister letting me know she was living in Minneapolis area and saw that I was coming to town and wondered if we might be able to get together. I was thrilled and we arranged to meet for coffee the next day at Mall of America after I hit the Expo.
The Expo was excellent and just the right size for me. I don’t usually like the big city race Expos. They make me feel like I am in a mall sports store instead of an Expo. At the Expo, I was able to satisfy another one of my obsessions…books signed by authors. I had read ahead of time that the authors of Run Like a Mother and Train Like a Mother -Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea - were going to be speaking at the Expo. After getting my race packet, my next mission was to find them and get them to sign my copy of their second book. It did not take long to find their booth and boy were they a hoot! They are two very down to earth, very warm, very friendly women. Check out their website and podcast.
Here I am with them! Geez some tall women!
I had also arranged to meet up with a couple “friends” from sparkpeople.com since I could not find any local runners to go to the Twin Cites with me. I had arranged to meet with Heidi and Kristen who I knew form the Marathon Team Boards on sparkpeople.com. Kristen got caught up at work but I did get to meet Heidi who had traveled from Wisconsin for the race. It was fun to have someone to connect with since I am accustomed to going to races with many other runners that I know from my local Quincy, IL running club. It made me thankful for the amazing sport of marathoning and what a great way it is to meet so many cool people. Below me with SPARK pal Heidi!
Finally it was time to get out all my race gear and get ready for a good night’s sleep. There had been snow flurries during the day and the race temp at the start was forecasted to be 30 degrees. Since I has my book signed it was time for me to start obsessing about the next issue…what to wear from the mounds of running gear I bought along in order to be prepared for anything. I settled on capri length tights, a long sleeve tech shirt, a new balance jacket and a cotton long sleeve shirt over all of that which I would throw away once warmed up.
I woke up at 5:00 to catch the 5:45 shuttle from the hotel in St Paul to the start in Minneapolis. This went off without a hitch and after my ride on this school bus with a chatty fellow from Minneapolis who was running the 10 mile I headed in to the HHH Metrodome where all runners could wait for the start. I had purposely taken an early shuttle because I wanted to attend a worship service for runners that was taking place at a church by the start from 6:45-7:15 AM. What better way to kick off my marathon start? I scanned the Metrodome to see if I could spot anyone who looked like they might be heading to the worship service. I was not quite sure how I would delineate such a person but I figured I would know when I saw it! Ah, there they were-Two guys wearing Run 26.2 for Africa World Vision shirts. Knowing World Vision is a Christian organization I decided these two were a good bet and sure enough they were headed to the service and I was able to walk with them and sit with them. Turns out the church was also hosting the elites before the race. I have hoped to sneak a peek and maybe see Kara Goucher who was there to run the 10 mile but no luck. With it being so cold, I told my family to sleep in until later in the morning when I would be finishing so it was nice to have some other folks to go to the service with. Soon after it was time to line up for the 8:00 am start. I lined up with the 4:15 pacer and tried to stay warm until the start. The race course was just gorgeous from beginning to end. We headed out of the city to run by multiple lakes and the fall foliage was thick and colorful lining both sides of the course. There were very few points on the course the course that were not just breathtaking. In addition, I do not think I have ever experienced such amazing spectators at any race I have been in. Many sections of the course they were three deep cheering with so many great signs, drums, horns etc! These two cities know how to support a marathon! WOW! I stayed with the 4:15 pacer until we hit the 2 mile stretch of hills around miles 21-23. I tried to pull ahead on the hills to bank some time. The final hills seemed endless and at mile 25 I started to lose my pacer. Ugh, I thought! I am not going to lose this 4:15 time at the 25th mile! I stayed as close to him as I could. I knew that I always have a kick at the end of a race even in a marathon and I decided I would be able to catch him in the final mile or half mile. We climbed our final ascent to St. Paul’s cathedral. The cathedral bells were ringing and the view was spectacular! It was downhill from here! I started to pick up the pace into the finish. I passed my pacer and came across the line in 4:14. This was a personal record for me by 11 minutes after having two years of pretty disappointing marathon finishes. Needless to say, I was ecstatic when I got my medal and found my family.
If you ever get a chance to run this marathon jump on it! I cannot recommend this race highly enough. It was my 6th marathon and my favorite. I definitely plan to return someday.