I had no appetite (I rallied and ate, but everything tasted the exact same) and I slept abysmally on Saturday night. This is unusual for me before ANY race, much less one I have run before. But as much as the Medtronic Twin Cities 10 Mile was a way for me to give it a rest and heal, it was also my first chance in two years to Race Intentionally.
For context: When I ran the race in 2010, I had yet to try fueling while running. We have come a long way, people. We have come a long way.
S0 I didn’t feel that there were any acceptable reasons not to post a Big Number. I had already determined that if I had an average run I would end up pulling 3-5 minutes off of my time. I knew that if I had an Exceptional run, if I could just have one of Those Days where the pavement becomes liquid beneath your feet and you feel as though you have wings, I would be able to hit somewhere near 1:30:00.
And so I flew. Finishing in 1:30:10 with a 8:26 PR.
Pre-race was The Usual.
Marcus was more than a little bit curious about why I had to draw A Wing on my foot. Wings are a bit of A Motif lately, and like most anything else that goes on my body pre-run, it was The Right Idea.
Also, if anyone knows how to properly end a wing (or has an artistically inclined child who is willing to contribute), please let me know.
I put on the one race outfit I’ve found to be a keeper over the past God only knows how many half-marathons and marathons.
It matches nothing but it is deeply effective. Doesn’t rub. Is appropriately warm. Easy to spot.
Ate some oatmeal. Drank some coffee.
You know. The routine.
Since Dannon lives out near us, we headed down together and set-up camp at the Metrodome. We had similar race goals and were in the same corral, so we agreed to stick together until one of us had to drop the other.
At some point in the last 24 hours, Shauncey and I managed to put 2 and 2 together and established that we were both running, so we made plans to catch-up pre-race as well.
Her arm warmers are knee socks from Target with the toes clipped, FYI. I feel like this will drastically improve my toss-arm warmers game in future years.
6:35 AM – We begin our escape of the Metrodome so that Dannon and Shauncey can hit the bag drop and we can get corralled.
I notice that if you are running the 10 Mile and have finished a marathon, you are supposed to wear that shirt. My bad.
I think we can all agree that the reflective strips on this jacket are RIDICULOUS. My arm doesn’t even look like it is attached to my body.
6:45 AM – Dannon and I make our way up to the front of Corral 2 because traffic in this race is seriously the worst and we want nothing to do with it.
7:01 AM – Corral 1 has been released. We get lead into the starting chute. The 100 or so people in front of us step on the timing mat even though we will not be released for another minute or two.
Mile 1 – The strategy works. There is no traffic, which is victory all its own. We hit the first marker in 8:47 which is…fast. But it feels good.
Mile 2 – We pass this marker in 8:54. Better. As we continue to run along the Mississippi river, steam rises off of the water. The rising sun’s reflection on the Weisman Museum reminds me of my early morning run past the Guggenheim in Bilbao. Brighter Than The Sun starts playing on my iPod. It is a perfect moment.
As we make the curling climb up to the Franklin Avenue Bridge, Angie and Amy are shaking their girl thang with festive chant and dance. It is hardcore inspiring, as these two will be headed off to Chicago in less than a week!
Mile 3 – We hit the 3 mile mark at 26:something. Mile 3 is traditionally the place during a run where I finally find my legs. Today is no different. Whatever this mystery-pace is seems manageable.
I see Marcus along with Tom, Katie and Sara on the outside edge of the turn and blow some kisses.
Mile 4 – Dannon and I separate as we really start to climb.
I unwrap a Honey Stinger Waffle after the first climb and pray that I don’t choke on the thing, I usually try to accomplish this at least once during a run. I don’t really have a stomach for the thing (like everything else I’ve eaten in the last 24 hours) so I choke it down over the next half-mile and put that tally in the Personal Victories column.
Mile 5 – I knew that at this point I would know if I was on-track for the finish time I was hoping for – I hit the 5 Mile mats at 44:44. I haven’t done a pace run over this distance, so I really have no clue if my legs will hold out for the rest of the race.
Mile 6 – I start to notice that some of the manhole covers on Summit Avenue actually have runners stamped on them which is apparently evoking wildly sentimental feelings. There are runners! On manhole covers! On Summit Avenue! And it’s the TCM course!
GET A GRIP. This will continue to remain as a point of fixation until I cross the finish line.
I also start to notice that despite the weather forecast, I am WARM. Goodbye, sleeves.
Mile 7 – 5K left to go. The 5K mark in any race is always do-or-die time for me because I remember just How Hard finishing my first 5K was. Knowing that I could finish that rainy, horrible race is simply…Enough.
Best news: For all practical purposes, climbing is essentially over.
Mile 8 – I think about what, exactly this mile would look like if it were Mile 24 and then I take a moment to snap out of it and appreciate the architecture that otherwise largely gets blacked out. Summit Avenue is completely swathed in a sunny, hazy fog and the bright fall leaves popping out against the mist is to put it plainly: surreal.
Mile 9 – The last mile of the Twin Cities course, be it the 10 Mile or the Marathon, will always be where all of The Big Things happen. It is the last mile. It is everything I run towards.
At 9.5 I see my family.
See also: This is not the worst spot to watch from on the course.
And no sooner have I left them than the cathedral comes out of the trees and the finish line and the Capitol building appear at the bottom of the hill.
My Happiest, Almost Too Painfully Beautiful To Look At, Only Happens Once A Year-sight.
What else is there to do but run?
As I race towards the finish line, I can’t help but to think, I Am Doing This. I Am Flying.
I throw my hands into the air and cross the mats.
There are medals and heat sheets and loosely organized chaos as the herd of runners continues to press forward, albeit more slowly now.
Also, filed under: Life-Giving.
I never ever thought that chicken broth would be such A Thing, but my word. If you haven’t tried it after a long run, put it on your to-do list ASAP. It puts sports drinks to shame.
Hands full of food, wrapped in a heat sheet with a finisher’s shirt tucked under my arm, I make my exit.
Armed with the powerful knowledge that this is a race I will be able to walk after, we make our way back up to Summit Avenue.
It is time.
Until next year. 365 sleeps.