Now, I’ll have to admit that at a certain point in the race I really don’t remember much of what was happening. I was just in pure survival mode with the rain to make it to the finish line no matter what. But here’s what I remember of the 2017 Twin Cities Marathon.
I woke up at 4:15 and started my breakfast of coffee (finally!!!) and oatmeal. Mike had dropped off Vinnie at boarding the night before so we wouldn’t have to worry about him. Which was good because I was worried about the race enough. Mike got up at about 5:30 and we were out the door right about 6. I almost forgot my tank top since I didn’t put it on with the rest of my running clothes since I had pinned my bib on the night before. Good thing I had hung it in the closet right by the outside door and spotted it as we headed out!
Mike and I dropped off his car down by the start in St. Paul (not realizing it was $20 cash only, luckily Mike had enough cash and I could stop my car in what was technically a no parking area). It was a little bit of extra hassle but well worth it in the end. Then, we were off to Minneapolis which only took us fifteen minutes. I ended up jumping out of the car at a red light since we weren’t sure where/if Mike could park anywhere close by.
I was on the side of U.S. Bank stadium where the marathon starts at about 6:30, which was good because the 10 mile started at 7 and it was already crazy over there. I was right by the first section of port-a-potties so I jumped in one and then stood nearby until about 7, where I jumped back in and then headed towards the corrals.
I was looking to see if I could find some water to take a couple sips of (because my throat was pretty dry) but I ended up running into another first timer I knew from the group (and from the Lake Minnetonka half)! We talked until right before we had to corral up (he was in corral 3 too but was going to be running with a faster pacer) which helped pass the time. Especially when it started down pouring at about 7:10 and we had to run for cover to try and stay dry.
I got into the corral and tried to move to about the middle, looking for the 4:45 pacer. I didn’t see her but I ran into a couple of other first timers who wanted to be by the 4:45 pacer! We eventually found her and started off to the side of her.
At about 8:16 (according to my chip start), we were off! It had stopped raining when we corralled up and I took off my throwaway fleece as soon as I got into the corral. I felt great starting out, going through downtown Minneapolis, and just let the pacer go ahead of me so I could keep her in my sights. My first mile was slow, 11:06, but I was warming up. I eventually sped up too much (but it still felt comfortable) and my first 13 miles were all below 11 minute miles. I’m pretty sure the pacer was doing faster than an even 10:53-ish pace because she was ahead of me for a good while even when I had around 10:20-10:30 minute miles.
The first spot I would see Mike, his dad and sister Amy was going to be between miles 6 and 7. I knew that I wanted to get over to the left side of the race (from where I started on right) because when I’d see them around mile 20 and 22 they’d be on the left side (the easiest to get to) and I didn’t want to be moving over that late into the race. It’s a good thing I did because that was the side I was on when I saw them first! I spotted his sister Amy and her bright pink Zag On ‘Em sign (a My Brother, My Brother and Me reference) and then I saw Mike and his dad. They didn’t see me until I started waving my arms as I went by. Amy ran along the course for a little bit and let me know they’d see me at mile 10 (Amy and Mike’s dad were biking along the course, Mike was driving and I thought I’d be seeing him next at mile 20).
Mile 10 came and I went by grinning again. I was having such a great time soaking in the crowd, giving kids high fives and enjoying myself. I was also super excited to see Mike there since I wasn’t expecting to see him until mile 20! It started raining sometime between mile 10 and 13, stopping right before 13. I was wiping off my glasses on my tank and apparently someone was cheering for me! I don’t know who it was because I didn’t get my glasses on until I passed by the first timers I was with got my attention so I could wave to whoever it was!
Mile 16 and it was raining pretty constantly by then. Not super hard but enough that it was making it tough. But I was still doing strong, my pace was between 11-11:45 minute miles at this point and I was still running. Except for the water stops, I walked briskly walked through all of those. Once again I saw Mike, Amy and their dad and got a little pep talk from Amy as she ran along with me. I was getting close to crossing over to St. Paul and the next place I would see them was at mile 20, right during the slow incline up to Summit Avenue. But I was on a route I had run a lot during my training and I knew what was coming up.
It was raining pretty good by the time I got to mile 20 but I was going strong. I saw Amy’s pink sign first and then realized my parents were there too! They had gotten in early enough to make it to mile 20 when I thought I wouldn’t see them until mile 22! Mike’s mom and other sister Katie were there too! My mom had also made a sign (which I didn’t know what it said until I saw a picture after the race since it blew away at the end) and she had her cowbell. I ran up to Mike (scaring him because he was taking photos and it was like I came up to him out of his camera, gave him a good hug and continued on. Amy continued running with me again, asking how I was. Apparently she found it funny I asked her how she was doing in reply. I told her too about the puppy I had missed out on petting. Seriously, a fluffy golden retriever puppy was on the opposite side of the race with a sign that said “Pet me for power” and I couldn’t get over to it! When Amy was running with me, I did happen to see a pony in someone’s yard which made up for it).
From there, it was up the hill at mile 21 (which I’m very proud of running all the way up to the top. I couldn’t believe I was still running at 22, it was the furthest I had ever run and I was still feeling pretty good. The rain was coming down harder now. I spotted Amy and her dad again, this time minus the pink sign. They let me know that there’d been a lot of traffic and my parents and Mike would see me at the finish. Amy ran with me for a little bit and then Katie did too, both of them making sure I was doing good and didn’t need anything.
From then on, things got tough. I was getting worn down from the running and rain. I wasn’t cold since I kept on moving but it wasn’t ideal conditions. It was about mile 24 when I started walking a lot more. I kept on running for little bursts at the time because I knew I wanted to run in the last 0.20 miles and if I didn’t keep doing little running intervals I wouldn’t be able to get my legs running again. There was a lot more people out on Summit than I expected and I don’t know if I would have made it through as strong without the volunteers and crowd support. People were still out there for the runners even in a pretty good rain! When I ran past one of the aid stations, I got double high fives from the two paramedics in the course that were giving them out to every single runner they could. It really made a huge difference in this rough race.
I made it to the top of the hill, right at the Cathedral of St. Paul and looking straight down to the State Capitol. Everything was downhill from here. I’m pretty sure I ran down the hill a little bit but I can’t remember. I was in full on make it to the finish line mode. I could see mile 26 easily ahead of me. There’s always a St. Paul and MInneapolis fire truck, with a huge American flag hanging between them over the course. The flag was soaking wet and wrapped around itself from the wind but I knew I was almost done. I hit mile 26 and I started running. I wasn't going fast but I was running. Then I could see the finish line in sight and hear Carrie Tollefson announcing finishers as they went across (which was amazing and comforting since I hear her voice every week on her podcast). Two guys went sprinting past me to the finish line and I followed along. I was going to give everything I had and cross the finish line!
I made it across and paused my Polar as I made my way to the medals. As I got there, I was greeted by Vanessa, the Twin CIties in Motion employee in charge of the first timers group. She congratulated me on finishing my first marathon and wrapped a space towel around me to warm me up and pointed me towards the food and finishers shirt. It was so awesome to be greeted like that at a race, an unforgettable moment and why I love Twin Cities in Motion races.
One thing I didn’t know is where Mike and my parents were. I was trying to hold onto my food, phone and finishers shirt (why don’t get give you a bag?!) and wandering over to the Caribou stand where we were going to meet. I hadn’t seen them along the course at the finish but that’s because they were at the top of stands (which is where my mom’s sign flew away!). We finally met up and they took the stuff from me and my parents gave me flowers and hugs (Mike gave me lots of hugs too) and we headed back to the car.
In the car, I got to read through a huge comment thread in one a running Facebook group I’m in! One of the members started it and was posting updates as I got to the different tracking spots. It was amazing to read through the thread and all the encouragement. I almost started crying again (there was a lot of tears). Plus, I got to see the updates Mike posted on Facebook too! We got back to Mike’s parents house finally and I showered, ate most of the my baked potato pizza and drank my sour watermelon beer. Best end to a race ever!
Twin Cities Marathon Stats
Average pace: 11:34 per mile