A Simple Running Log

October 9, 2012

Twin Cities Marathon weekend recap

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 7:53 pm

So much to say!

Friday morning, Clark and I flew to Minneapolis. When we got to baggage claim, I immediately spotted my first fellow Loopsters of the weekend, Billy and Tom. Tom was easy to pick out because he was wearing florescent Newton running shoes, black wind pants and a Dayglo orange running jacket in the middle of an airport, haha.

It was hard not to notice how damn cold it was outside. It had been closing in on 80 degrees in Baltimore when we flew out. In Minneapolis, it was somewhere in the 40s, and windy too.

Megan and Angie arrived about two seconds later to drive us to our hotel. After checking in, we had a little bit before the happy hour meetup scheduled at the hotel bar, so Clark and I walked to another bar right around the corner for lunch, where we started indulging in some local brews. After lunch, we went over to the hotel bar to hang out with everyone else.

It was a lot of fun catching up with everyone I hadn’t seen since Philly last November, and meeting new people who hadn’t been at Philly. Everyone was in high spirits, looking forward to the weekend ahead. Or we might just have been drunk already. Probably both.

Deirdre, me and Brad at happy hour, and you can see Clark behind us in his O’s hat.

Clark and I went to bed pretty early Friday night. Between the beer and the one-hour time zone difference, we were both out by about 8:30 p.m.

I was awake in plenty of time the next morning for our 9 a.m. group shakeout run. I broke out the full-length tights and a mock neck cold weather top, as well as gloves and an earband. That’s a fleece pullover away from my “dead of winter” running outfit, and it was only Oct. 6.

About a dozen of us met in the hotel lobby and set out for a run across the Stone Arch Bridge and through a park. It was windy and overcast, but really a beautiful run. One of the Garmins in the group showed 2.62 miles when we got back to the hotel, exactly a 10th of the distance we’d be running the next day.

Heading across the Stone Arch Bridge.

At noon, we all met once again to go to the expo together, where we got our race packets. I also picked up a package of Jelly Belly Sport Beans and a $2 pair of throwaway gloves. I figured I’d wear them in the race until I warmed up enough to toss them.

On the way to the expo, we saw a PedalPub, “the bike with the barrel.”

This is a photo I found online, but you get the picture.

Brian, who lives in Minneapolis, said you get fined for stuff like peeing off the side of the PedalPub and throwing beer at cars. I imagine they just got someone like our friend Mike to ride it one time, made a list of everything he did and then made everyone else sign a waiver promising they wouldn’t do it, haha.

After the expo, it was time for our early dinner at The Old Spaghetti Factory. We had bread, salad, pasta and ice cream. There was a lot of talk about what everyone was going to wear the next day, considering the weather. I was sure I’d warm up enough while running a marathon that anything longer than shorts would make me get too warm.

What a fool I was!

At dinner.

After dinner, the group went back to the Stone Arch Bridge so our resident photographer, JB, could take some group shots. I haven’t seen any of them yet, but I did take this picture of the view from the park by the river on the other side of the bridge:

It was clearly a very popular photo op location, as we saw two newly married couples taking wedding pictures while we were there.

We’d eaten so early, Clark was hungry again by 7 p.m., so he found a downtown restaurant he wanted to try, HauteDish, that specialized in “reinvented classic Midwestern cuisine.” Clark said there was a pumpkin stew on the menu, so I was sold.

We sat at the bar and watched the bartender make some rather intricate concoctions. I ordered the pumpkin stew as planned, and this is how it was delivered:

How cool is that?

There were actual chunks of pumpkin, which made me happy, because Clark always says he doesn’t understand why I like “pumpkin stuff” so much, since it’s really just the typical complementary spices I seem to enjoy, like nutmeg and allspice. There were also chunks of tofu, which just tasted like more pumpkin, as well as sauteed spinach and huge prawns.

And curry.

It was the first time I’d ever eaten curry. I knew it was a spice, but I didn’t know it was so hot. My eyes were watering and my nose was running. Clark looked at my bright red face and asked if that was a good thing to eat the night before a marathon. Um, no. Especially considering my history of digestive distress during long runs and races. I’ve narrowed down a short list of acceptable bland foods to eat before one of these races, and curry sure isn’t on it.

But it was in a pumpkin! And it cost $17. So I ate it all.

We walked back to the hotel. In the lobby, we ran into Jen and Megan, who had borrowed the front desk’s scissors so they could make adjustments to the costumes they were wearing in the race:

All you “Saved by the Bell” fans should recognize Screech and his girlfriend Violet.

Before I went to bed, I laid out my outfit for the next day, shorts, a short-sleeved T-shirt, arm warmers, throwaway gloves and a throwaway earband we’d gotten in our race packets. I put five salt caps in the key pocket on the back of the shorts. I also had my favorite Under Armour sweatpants and a sweatshirt for the walk to the start line.

In my gear check bag, I packed a complete change of dry clothes for after the race, as well as my good gloves and good earband… in case I got chilly afterwards.

I was up before my 6:15 a.m. alarm the next day. I got dressed and went to the hotel breakfast buffet, where I had two pancakes with peanut butter and syrup. I haven’t eaten that since basic training, which I’m sure contributed to the weight I gained there, haha.

On the walk from my hotel lobby to the other one, where we were all meeting, I noticed frost on the cars in the parking lot. Frost. It was just at or below freezing outside, and I had plans to take off my pants and run in shorts.

A little after 7 a.m., we all walked over to the Metrodome. We got to see the start of the 10-mile race, where I noticed the vast majority of the runners were in at least capri-length tights, and most were wearing long-sleeved tops. I tried to tell myself it would be warmer in an hour, when our race started, and besides, I was running 26.2 miles, so I’d get hotter anyway.

The bottom level of the Metrodome was open for the runners to hang out while we waited for the race to start. People were lounging around in groups. It looked like some kind of weird emergency shelter, as everyone was wearing running gear.

I stripped down to my race outfit, put my ChapStick in the key pocket with the salt caps, pulled out my Sport Beans, which I planned to carry in my hand to keep them warm, and put everything else in my gear check bag. We went back outside to check our stuff, about 15 minutes before the race was to start.

It was bitterly cold. At least the sun was out and the wind had died to a breeze, but I was freezing.

Brad and I started together in the first corral, between the 3:25 and 3:35 pace groups. We couldn’t see anyone else we knew who was supposed to be in that corral. Soon, a guy sang the national anthem. It was a pretty rough rendition — I think he started higher than he intended, and he kept changing octaves mid-phrase.

And then we were off! We crossed the line less than 90 seconds after the gun.

The first miles of the race were through downtown Minneapolis. Brad got out ahead of me and disappeared for a while. I was just trying to get warmed up, and saw the first mile marker when my watch was at 7:57, right around goal.

Not long after that, I spotted Brad again, who had caught up and was running with Brian. I picked it up for a minute and ran with them for a stretch. It was here we passed what I think was the Basilica of St. Mary, which was ringing its bells for all they were worth. The sound was enormous. It was beautiful.

When we hit the first uphill of the course I eased up on the pace. Brad and Brian disappeared again, and that was the last I saw of any of my running friends until after the race.

The plan was to stick to an 8:00 mile, or 3:30 pace, for most of the race, and then crank it up in the closing miles if possible. I had a 3:30 pace band I’d gotten at the expo the day before, and through the entire first half of the race, I was a little under goal pace. The pace felt pretty good, but the hills didn’t. For someone who trains on completely flat routes like myself, those uphills were more of a chore than I liked.

The hills were not my main concern, however. I was expecting them to hurt. What I was not expecting was to still be so damn cold, eight miles and just over an hour into the race. My legs were freezing. My face was numb. And so were my fingers, inside my “throwaway” gloves.

That became a real problem right around mile 8, when I wanted to eat my Sport Beans. I had planned to eat them at mile 8, eat a Clif Shot they were handing out around mile 17 and take my salt caps with water every 45 minutes. I managed to get my frozen fingers to pull out the salt caps without dropping them, but I could not get into those Sport Beans.

There’s a tab you tear across, and then a resealable Ziploc-type closure you have to open. I ripped off most of the tab with my teeth, but that resealable closure wouldn’t budge. I fiddled with that bag the entire ninth mile. Then I tried ripping open the bag with my teeth below the closure. I probably gnawed on the bag for the entire 10th mile. I’m sure I looked like a moron, but I didn’t care. I wanted those beans! I knew I needed to eat something.

I will end the suspense here — I never got that bag open. I carried it through the entire race. Every now and then I would try to open it again, but I never did it. And I couldn’t get it open when I was done running either. Clark wound up eating them after the race.

Anyway, I hit the halfway point in 1:44, right on target. But I wasn’t feeling that hot. My legs were already suffering after the hills, and my feet were surprisingly unhappy in the 1600s. They were sore and it felt like blisters were in the very beginning stages all over both feet. (It turned out I didn’t get a single blister though, so that was good. I guess it was just where the shoes were rubbing hard.) And I was still freezing cold. The wind wasn’t much of a factor, but every now and then a gust would kick up and cut right through my flimsy T-shirt and shorts.

I figured I wasn’t going to be able to pick it up in the second half, but I hoped to stay on 3:30 pace at least.

At mile 14, I smelled donuts, and looked to my right to see the Melo-Glaze Bakery. If I wasn’t hungry before, that did it!

At mile 17, I came upon the volunteers handing out Clif Shots. I was saved! I took a chocolate one, and ripped off the tab. But the thing tore off just above the opening. I squeezed the package, trying to force it out from the inside, but instead all I got was a smearing of it on my hand, where some leaked out of a side seam. I chucked the thing in the trash in frustration, and then noticed it looked like I had poop on my hand. Perfect. I licked it off and put the glove back on.

I was still checking my watch time against the pace band at every mile marker, and until mile 18, I was still on it, or just a few seconds behind it. That’s when things started going downhill.

I pictured my 8.2-mile loop, the last long run I’d done before the marathon, and reminded myself how easy it felt. How many times did I run 8 miles or longer in training? A ton. I could do this, I could do this.

That kept me going another couple of miles or so, but somewhere past mile 19, after we’d crossed the Mississippi River into St. Paul, I had to take my first walking break. My legs were toast, my feet were pissed, I was practically shivering — still! — and I was starving.

Not even Bobby Labonte’s autographs could fix this mess. There’s not a lot to say about the final 10K of this marathon. I ran (OK, shuffled) when I could and walked when I had to. There was a lot of uphill in this section too, which was only making it worse. I remember hitting mile 24 and thinking, “OK, 2.2 more miles and then you can stuff your face and put on pants again.”

There were some run-walkers like myself, but a lot of people were streaming by me. Many of the women were wearing capri tights. I thought about mine, sitting at home in my closet. I thought about my full-length tights, sitting in my hotel room. What I wouldn’t give for those stupid tights.

I kept checking my pace band, just to see how far off I was getting. Sub-3:30 was long gone. Soon enough, I was off sub-3:35 and a Boston qualifying time, but that was fine with me. I didn’t want to qualify for Boston like this. And then my PR was out of reach, but again, I didn’t want to limp home to a PR anyway.

Finally, I spotted the state capitol building in the distance, which meant we were getting close to the finish line. And then a downhill all the way to the finish line appeared. All I could think was “The faster you finish this thing the sooner you can put on pants! Run, idiot!

So I did. I pounded down that downhill, and finished officially in 3:44:47.

I was really happy it was over. I got my finisher’s medal and a space blanket and then made my way down the food line. Most people were gathering stuff to take with them, but I was eating everything the second they handed it to me. I ate an entire banana in three bites. I guzzled a cup of chicken broth and inhaled a couple chunks of bread. I drank a small jug of chocolate milk in about five seconds. I couldn’t get it in my stomach fast enough. Usually I can only drink chocolate milk after a long run, and it takes at least an hour for my appetite to appear, but that was not the case this time.

After I got done destroying the food line, I got my gear check bag. I sat down in the grass to try to open it, but once again, my stupid frozen fingers were foiling all my attempts. There was an EMS volunteer patrolling the finishing area for runners in distress, and she recognized I was one of them, so she came to my rescue and opened my bag for me. I will be forever grateful.

Because that meant I got to put on pants!

I went to the women’s changing tent, where I pulled on my compression socks, and then took off everything else. My shorts were bone dry. In fact, only my sports bra had even a little sweat. I put on clean, dry stuff, including my good gloves and earband. I put the throwaway stuff in my bag. Maybe I’ll get to actually throw them away one day.

While I was in that tent, a woman asked me if Bart Yasso had signed my shoes. I said no, those were Bobby Labonte’s autographs. She gave me a blank look.

I made my way to the designated meeting area with everyone else. It was mixed reactions. There were some big PRs, but some of my friends had races more like mine. We all agreed it was a lot colder than we’d expected.

The irony is not lost on me. All summer, all I wanted was a nice, cool day to run my marathon. I ran my marathon wishing it would warm the hell up.

But on the bright side, I didn’t have any digestive issues. Maybe I should eat curry before every run. Or maybe my digestive system was just frozen in place like everything else on me.

After thinking about it for two days, I’m OK with this race. The final 10K was ugly; in fact, it was as bad as the final 10K of my first marathon two years ago. But I finished it an hour faster than that first marathon.

Also, until I ran Steamtown last year, a sub-4 marathon sounded like a nearly impossible goal. Today, I’m disappointed with a 3:44. That’s good.

And I’ve thought about everything I did wrong. I was way underdressed. I wasn’t prepared for the hills. I didn’t eat a calorie between those pancakes at 6:30 a.m. and all the post-race food around noon.

I also decided I’m running my next marathon in my Zeroes. Well, a new pair by then, but not anything else. The last race I ran in them was the Virginia Beach half marathon, and my feet weren’t at all sore after that race. By the halfway point of this marathon, they hurt pretty bad in the 1600s. I’ll work my way up to that mileage in the Zeroes by March. In fact, maybe I was already there and I should have worn them this weekend.

Here are my finishing stats, compared to the rest of the field:

I find it interesting there were about the same number of runners in my age group as the Virginia Beach race, but I finished 175th on this cold day, while I finished in the top 10 in Virginia Beach, which was on a really hot day. I guess I just run better relative to other people when it’s stinking hot instead of freezing cold.

This last screen shot shows how I crumbled in the last several miles of the race:

Ouch. I was more than two minutes off goal pace there near the end.

Enough about the race. On to the fun stuff.

Five of us took the runners’ shuttle back to the starting line in Minneapolis. We were dropped off right by a parking lot full of people tailgating before the Vikings game. Jen half-jokingly suggested we try to crash it. Then the first guy she asked handed us all Grain Belt beers and invited us to hop the fence and eat their food, so we hung out there for a while.

I’m not sure I’d try that in Baltimore at a Ravens tailgate, but the people in Minneapolis were very inviting. They even gave us each a cup of vodka-soaked gummy bears.

Megan, Brian, me, Jen and Angie with our free beers.

I met this colorful Vikings fan too.

The tailgaters started packing up before heading into the stadium for the game, so we all went back to the hotel for hot showers.

Clark really wanted to go to Wisconsin, as Minneapolis was only 20 minutes from the state line, and he’d never been to that state. He wanted me to ask to borrow someone’s car. I wasn’t too excited about that, as there aren’t many people I’d lend my car to, and none who I’ve only met twice in real life, but he really wanted to check that state off his list. I called Megan, and she very graciously allowed us to take her Chevy Malibu to Wisconsin.

We took the first exit in Wisconsin, which took us to Hudson.

A park on the St. Croix River in Hudson, Wisc.

We had dinner at a restaurant near that park. We got an order of cheese curds, a local favorite. I thought they tasted like mozzarella sticks, but they were pretty tasty. Clark got a cheddar cheeseburger, and I got one with peanut butter, bacon and pickles. It was the second time I’d seen that burger on a menu that weekend, so I figured it must be another local thing. It was really good too.

Clark trying the cheese curds.

We got to the last event of the weekend a little late, the “victory party” that started at Rock Bottom Brewery. Everyone else had a few beers on us, so I started trying to catch up. Clark wasn’t in a mood to drink or listen to more running talk, so he headed back to the hotel to watch the O’s game.

We stayed at Rock Bottom until it closed. I can’t tell you what the heck we were all talking about, but we were having a pretty awesome time. At one point, Greg said he’d pace me to my sub-3:30 for the second half of the Shamrock Marathon in March. This is the guy who ran a 2:46 marathon the week before. A half marathon at a sub-8 pace will be a shakeout run for him.

The ladies of the Loop put on a gun show for everyone.

And Brad, in the center, gave Tom and me a hard time for kicking our butts in the marathon. He ran a 3:32 while Tom and I both crashed and burned and ran a 3:43 and a 3:44.

When that placed closed down, we took a cab to Otter’s Saloon for karaoke. Thanks to the pictures Brad took, I can no longer claim I don’t sing karaoke!

Jen, Deirdre, Megan and I singing “Love Shack.” Greg, on the left, just looks pleased with the whole thing, while Mike, on the right, is getting outta there.

And Brian and I led a group singing of “Hey Jude,” which included everyone but that unenthused guy at the bar behind me. Try to tell me the Beatles aren’t a good pick for karaoke!

We walked back to the hotel when Otter’s closed. We wanted to get cabs again and go find an all-night diner so we could finish off the night the right way, with breakfast at 3 a.m., but the cabs were all tied up at the strip club down the street. So we called it a night.

My flight Monday was at 10:15 a.m. Clark was going on to Canada for work, and his flight wasn’t until 1:30 p.m., but he went to the airport with me. On the flight home, we hit some pretty rough turbulence, and I either got extremely nervous or motion sickness kicked in, because I really thought I was going to puke for a second there. I was very happy to get back on the ground and off that plane.

I got my checked bag, took the shuttle back to my parked car and headed home. I don’t know who was happier to see the other one, me or Pepper. I missed that silly dog!

Maybe Pepper was just happy to get back his spot on the couch.

On the way home, I talked to my brother, who had heard from our parents how I’d frozen my butt off in the marathon. He was pretty supportive.

“Hey moron, ever look at a map of the United States and notice how far north Minnesota is?”

Thanks, Dave.

I really didn’t feel sore yesterday for having run a marathon the day before, and today I can barely feel any residual tightness anywhere.

I got up way too late this morning to do anything other than feed the dog and take a quick shower before work though. I don’t have a plan for the rest of the week; I’ll just run what I want when I want. But next week I’m going to try to get in some good miles to get ready for the 50K in less than five weeks.


  1. Awesome job Abby!! I looked at the weather for Sunday and wondered how cold you’d be!

    Comment by Laura A — October 9, 2012 @ 8:46 pm | Reply

    • Ha! The answer to that question was VERY!

      Comment by aschmid3 — October 9, 2012 @ 9:18 pm | Reply

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