Twin Cities Marathon - Race Review

Long before the race - I started to raise money for Bolder Options - one of my favorite programs in town.  There's still time to donate, all the way to the end of 2012.  Bolder Options is a mentoring program that uses biking and running to help kids learn about healthy lifestyles, fitness, and setting realistic goals.  

Packet Pick up - smooth as always.  I got to watch part of the press conference for the elite athletes, poked around some of the stores, bought a new pair of tights and a new spi-belt and had a good time.  I saw my friends from Cincinnati there and almost wound up registered for yet another marathon.  Thank god I didn't.

Race day - thank you for having the starting line so close to a light rail stop.  It makes my life so much easier.  Although totally jealous of all the runners signed up for the 10-miler who will endure less than half of what I'm in for.  Now, let's go do this thing:
The race-staging area is at the Metrodome which is awesome because they have the building open for the runners before the race.  By a small miracle I ran into some running buddies inside and chilled with them for a while.  You may remember said running people from this cautionary tale

Weather and wardrobe or: In which I take off all my clothes.  In fairness, I know the race directors can't control the weather, but they should try to take credit this year.  When I got up to leave, there was frost on my car.  It was projected to be about 30* at the start line and warm up to around 50* for the finish.  Basically perfect running weather.  I was freezing for a large part of this race, overheated at the end and then rapidly returned to freezing after the finish line.  Here's what I wore:
  • Starting outfit - tights, sweat pants, wool socks, lucky marathon tank (it has my name on it, I always wear it), removable sleeves, long sleeve technical tee, gloves, bandana, hat.
  • Sweat pants - removed at the gun.  They will be collected and given to charity.
  • Gloves - probably removed at the top of the hill around mile 2.5
  • Sweat shirt - removed around mile 3.5 and man did I ever get cold after that.
  • Hat - can't remember.  I think it was around mile 7.
  • Long sleeve technical tee - somewhere around mile 16.
  • Removable sleeves - at mile 19 and hoping that himself picked them up, although I can't be sure.
  • Finishing outfit - wool socks (because those were the ones I always practiced long runs in), tights, tank shirt, bandana.

Route The route really is spectacular.  It shows off the best of both cities.  I ran with a group that had tons of out of town folks including the pacer and they all thought it was gorgeous, from running downtown to the lakes to the parkway with it's wild cheer zones to the river and then up Summit Ave to the Cathedral and the finish.  The fall colors were out in full blast and surprisingly in a few places made it difficult to see the mile marker plumes (which are also red/orange).

Pace Team  The ClifBar Pace Team paces this race.  We had Pacer Sharon who is every bit as great as she looks on the site.  She writes special songs for every event, including this one.  It's good for me to know that all marathon pacers who pace a 5:30:00 group will use run/walk intervals.  After Sharon and the other lady in 2010 I think I can generalize.  To Cliff I would say - write that on your website so those of us planning to use the pacers train with a run/walk interval the whole time.

Nutrition and hydration I had my lucky race breakfast, chia seeds included this year.  On the course I had two packets of Gu Chomps taken at miles 4, 8 and 12 (and I could still eat solids at mile 12!) and Gu gels taken at miles 16 and 19.  I took some salt sticks in the beginning of the race and then got a little lax until I cramped up at mile 20.  Oh, hello calves.  I took two salt tabs immediately, and about four more along the course before the end.  The biggest win of this year was having a small water bottle, starting around mile 15 that I could carry with me.  It's not that I get so thirsty, more just a dry mouth and it's nice to take little sips from it.  I put one bottle down around mile 21 and picked up my second bottle just after mile 23.

Fan support This year was much better for me in terms of people that I knew being out to cheer.  It really helps.  My Pooky Bear, Pooky's husband, and the Qat Lady were my first sighted cheerers around mile 11.  At mile 14 I met my neighbor who was the most excited for me that I've ever seen.  (Seriously, my heart is so big right now.)  And she was all "I love the vibe out here, I've really gotta try this".  Heck yes you do.  I saw the Pooky/Hubby/Qat Lady trio again around mile 16 where I was given my first bottle.  At mile 17 I saw some of my Bolder Options people handing out gels.  At mile 19 I saw himself who took lots of pictures and gave me a big sweaty hug.  At mile 23 I saw the trio one last time at Qat Lady's normal cheering post.  At the finish I had Richard and Lindsay waiting for me.  I thanked them profusely saying they were runners and so they probably did understand how much it meant to have someone at the finish to look forward to.  After the race I got a lot of texts from co-workers and himself, and got to talk to Dad, Grandma, and my clinical supervisor (how thoughtful) and also some Facebook friends.

Finish Line Thank god it's down hill to the finish.  The finishers area is super well done.  They called my name as I finished.  Just over the line are one million medics whom I did not need this year (although it was a close call).  Just past the medics are the medals.  I'm torn here because I think it's good the race has so many medics and a great focus on runner safety, but if I'd had my medal when all those medics were asking how I was, I probably would've asked to go in the tent and put my feet up for a while.  Just past the medals are the mylar blanket people.  I forgot about those since it was so hot at last year's finish.  Then there's the bottled water ladies and the fruit cup people, also the potato chip people and then the chicken broth and veggie broth people,  My personal favorite.  After food land there's official race finisher photos.  I opted to lay down and put my feet up for a while instead.  The bag pickup was super efficient, and even more impressive considering it was manned almost completely by some pretty young teens.  Then there were the shirt people who were super friendly.  Outside the official race finishers area were the things you can pay for including medal engraving and the alphabet signs, designed for family reunification, or in my case, Richard and Lindsay reunification.

Race shirt - This is one of the only marathons I know that gives out the race shirt in the finishers area after the race instead of with the packets.  I think it keeps the racers a little more honest, but it's good to know that you don't get to see the shirt until you're all done.  Last year was black.  This year was white.  I threw it on the moment I got it because I was freezing.

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