Monday, October 22, 2012

Twin Cities Marathon 2012

Right now I am sitting on a flight from SanJose to Kona for my 6th time to Hawaii (everything in moderation right?).  Now I get the challenge of trying to preserve the memories of another race that came and went so quickly.

Prior to race
I don’t think I’ve had more time to prepare for a race than this one. Having just graduated and not having a job after doing Upward Bound in the summer, I had a little more than 3 months to train for my first time racing the TC Marathon. My goal was to finally get under 3 hours. I was excited to be racing TC on my own for after running it the previous 3 years with Tavis and Brandon.  I was excited that the TC course takes place on which 90% of my runs the last 5 years did. A majority of the marathon training runs were ran on E/W Riveroad so I coulnd’t be much more familiar with the course. Along with this, I would bike the course about once a week just to soak in the sites and become even more familiar with it. I wanted it to be that on race day, it would be automatic to figure out how much effort I needed to exert when. It seems like when I don’t know the course well, I’ll spend surprisingly a lot of effort just deciding when to give what. We learned a concept in one of my KIN classes called teleo-anticipation, which suggests that our bodies adjust levels of exertion/muscle recruitment based on the perceived distance/time the exertion will take place. A good example of this is how it’s not uncommon to feel the same level of fatigue after a 5-mile run compared with a 10-mile run. I guess a less drawn out version would just be saying that we prepare ourselves for what we plan ahead to do. The teleo-anticiaption concept mentioned that people who are doing their first few marathons have a difficult time perceiving the entirety of the race and inevitably slow down because they were unable to dispense limited effort efficiently through the race and save some for the end.  With this thought in my head, and after multiple failed attempts to break 3 hours (Eau Caire, Boston, Honolulu) I was very aware how I would feel after 20-miles at marathon pace and just had to figure out a way to prepare to deal with it mentally and physically.  Thankfully I was able to work with Chris and get a training schedule figured out (talk about a confidence booster knowing my plan was written by 3x Olympic Trial Runner).
            What gave me even more confidence was I would often imagine myself while doing training runs on the course that I was at that respective distance during the actual marathon (long winded, I know) A long-run that really boosted my confidence was ending a 22-miler at the 20-mile mark of the TC marathon route. This semi-simulated being more tired than I actually would be on race day for miles 5-20 of the actual marathon route. Chris had me mix in some strength training on distance-taper weeks which also helped me feel better. So many different factors changed for this race that I can’t really attribute what actually helped take about 7 minutes off my previous PR.  I do know though that it was a combination of different training, completely different diet, being about 5 pounds lighter than running any race before, and being so familiar with the course. What kind of drives me crazy (could also be now from all the coffee on the plane) but not knowing what’s the best way to get a PR for next race. Wish it was easier to have blind confidence in my decisions on why I do something.

As I was going around chalking the course the night before the race, my transmission dropped in my car and I was stuck waiting longer than expected to eat the pre-race dinner (but huge thanks to Kayla/Trisha/Matt for helping me out during it) after getting the car towed back to the apartment, I scrambled to just eat anything. From what I can remember I had an enchildada, white rice with PB, Pizza, Icecream, carrot cake and cookies and downed it down with powerade (everything in moderation right?) I had not been eating much if any sweets before this, but read that more glycogen gets stored when high glycemic index foods are consumed so unlike being careful of eating “bad” foods before a race, I found myself eating a mess of different “bad” foods. What made my weight drop down to 164 was consuming mainly a plant-based diet thanks to Scott Jurek’s Eat & Run book and another book called The China Study. I attempted a slight carb depletion/repletion diet the last week of the race for whatever reason. Think that I spend so much time/effort trying to mess with less significant variables as compared to the actual running component of training for a race.  That’s why I’m excited to get into ultras and do the “JFR” plan “just flippin’ run”. But I guess in order to get fast at ultras it takes the same principles of consistent training and periodization that having quick marathon time does (not that I have one yet). Anyways after eating my mess of a dinner, hung out and relaxed until bedtime. Got to sleep around midnight and woke up a few times during the night. Ate some white bread w/ peanut butter, white rice and drank a little bit of power-ade. Kayla and Kyle then drove Brando and I up to the Metrodome. It was chilly in the AM and we were wearing old clothes that we would be shedding before the race. Gathered in the usual overcrowded Metrodome and waited until about 10 minutes before the race. Headed over to the start line and bid farewell and good luck to Brando. Got near the 3:15 pace group and listened to the national anthem(always love this part). Was standing next to a super fit East African (must have been his first marathon which didn’t help my nerves before we started). Then the gun was off.

 As always, there was so much excitement with the start. I was feeling nervous about how I would feel later on in the race, although I also felt relaxed at how well I knew the course and excited to see family and friends at mile 20, along with other friends watching. It was suprising to finally be running in the race that consumed so much of my thinking for the last three months. I’m thinking to myself “this is actually happening now!”. Within the first mile, I was greeted by passing TCRC runner Tony K. who said he was shooting for a 2:45 I believe (he had an awesome race. At mile 2-3  I was then greeted by passing Steve who often runs at Hyland on Fridays and also had an awesome race.  The temperature had a nice chill to it and all things seemed within normal limits. I was beginning to heat up passing by lake Calhoun at mile 5 so through my long-sleeve under my TCRC shirt to my dad and continued on. Gada whom I met in the Upward Bound program and also wanted to hit 3 hours passed me after we exchanged words for a bit. The splits at this point were just a few seconds shy of being on at a 3 hour marathon pace so I was happy to not have went out to fast, and also not be too far behind. Passed Lake Harriet and hopped onto Minnehaha Pkwy.  A band at one of the bridges we ran under was playing The Final Countdown and was stimulating to hear that. I was getting very excited to hit W River Road because of how familiar it was to me. I was happy I could shut off mentally and just let my legs and the course bring me closer to the finish. Took a Ralph onto Cedar Ave and saw the usual Scottish Club playing their bagpipes as the planes flew over not too high above us. After turning onto W River Road, CA Caitlyn was there cheering me on and followed me almost until the Franklin Bridge. Saw Brian Peterson on this stretch and Kurt for maybe the 4th time already during the race cheering.  On the Franlkin ave Bridge I passed Gada and told him that he had it in him, but knew he was struggling. As I was turning onto E River Road, heard some people screaming my name but didn’t find out who it was until after the race. Popped another Gu with some water and proceeded to the 20 mile mark. Saw Uncle GG and his friend biking along the path right before reaching “the wall”. Right past the Alarc Wall the whole immediate family was there along with some friends cheering on. Kayla and Kyle ran up to either side of me with Kyle playing Gangnam Style and Kayla handing me a GU and a cold wash cloth. Talk about first-class service! After running with them for a few seconds and getting the goods, I was own my own with the last 6 miles were ahead to run. Was almost exactly on pace at the 20-mile mark and kind of sped up during the excitement of the Franklin Bridge, and passing the family and friends. Heading up the hill leading to the Lake Street Bridge was a little worrisome for me because I knew this was the tougher part of the course. Surprisingly my legs were not as tired as they typically were at this point in a marathon, however I knew things could change in a hurry with a.) the last 6 miles of a race being the toughest and b.) the last 6 miles of TC are by no means relatively flat. I tried to conserve as much energy going up the couple hills before getting onto Summit Ave. Once getting onto Summit Ave, I was starting to feel more and more confident that I could pull off a sub 3 hour marathon. I remember a quote from the intro of the movie Unbreakable  (3:54) where I think Tony K. says something like “you start to get goosebumps on your arms, if I can execute for just the next 15 miles, it could mine” referencing a win in the Western States, but I slightly modified it to my situation saying to myself, “if I can hold onto this pace for the next 3 miles, I will finish under 3 hours. It still felt like there was some energy in my legs but I could tell they were starting to get on the verge of cramping in my hamstrings.  I got to the TCRC spectator section and it was crazy. Both of the RVs were out and there were so many people cheering. I lifted up my shirt and gestured over to the crowd as the DJ shouted out something that made the crowd go even crazier. It was such an adrenaline rush to run through all of that excitement and it was just the pick-me-up I needed at that stage in the race. I got a little emotional right after passing them because I was starting to realize that I only had to run 2 more miles to get this done. Despite thinking I had it in the bag for a few minutes, I realized that I needed to pick it up or it would be close and might miss it by a few seconds. I began to get really nervous thinking of something such as a cramp stopping me. I was trying to pick up the pace more and more to ensure of making it on time.  After struggling through the last bit and feeling my legs dangerously close to cramping, made it to the top of the hill where we can see the capitol. Tried to speed up as much as possible until I realized that I was going to make it. After knowing I was going to get it for sure, I laid off a bit to make sure I wouldn’t hurt something in my legs. Did the usual jump at the end and was pretty excited to have finally achieved something I failed out so many times before.

After finishing, drank a few chocolate milks and met my Dad and Suzy. They drove me back to the 20-mile mark where the marathon party was going on and was greeted with an excited group of family and friends. I was happy to not have had to go back to everyone not meeting my goal like has happened in the past.  It was such a nice feeling accomplishing that and then spending time with so many people that came out to support the runners. Snacked on a few donuts as we watched more runners go by. Saw Gigi run by and was surprised at how strong she looked at mile 20 for her first marathon! Congrats to her!  Also Congrats to Tim for completing his first marathon! Had a couple drinks and after saying goodbye to the family, we passed out alcoholic beverages to some of the last runners advertising them as “carbohydrates” and “flavored water” although they knew what we were passing out. After watching the DNF bus roll throw, we packed up all the party paraphernalia and walked back up to the apartment where I got to having a feeding frenzy. It was such a nice feeling to have finally got sub 3, right at the end of the time staying at Kayla’s apartment, end of the time living on campus, and end of the time before leaving MN for Hawaii. I went on a walk with Jigon on the riverroad after and it was crazy to think about how after all that preparation and buildup of excitement, that it was all over. Kind of am getting used to that feeling but also am trying to figure out how to preserve all those good feelings. I guess that’s why I blog. Am in Oahu with Uncle Paul now doing a lot of physical work so am finding it difficult to run on a usual basis but I think that was a good thing for recovery right after. Am currently signed up for Honolulu marathon and am thinking about running it with a costume and just enjoying the atmosphere, rather than get worked up about meeting a time goal. Last year I was disappointed when I didn’t get sub 3 out here and wish I would have just absorbed the fun atmosphere more.  Well I guess until next time!