Twin Cities Marathon 2014 (Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN)

· Date: 10/05/2014
· Goal: 3:14:19 
· Time: 3:12:59
· Overall Place: 507/8848
· Age Group Place: 101/797 

This race was a long time coming… This was the first marathon I’d ever watched, when my sister ran it in 2008. I wasn’t even a runner then. There was also the challenge of beating my father-in-law’s time from 1984, when he ran it at age 30 (same as me now). One of the first things I did when we decided to move back to Minnesota was sign up for this race.

My training leading up to the race was far from ideal; a 3-week period of no running and fairly low mileage when I was running (moving, changing jobs…life). I did manage two tough long runs of 19 and 20 miles along with a more recent 14 and 15. The odd training schedule left me going back and forth on my goal leading up to race day. I decided on trying to PR, but pulled back from my original goal of 3:05 (BQ). My plan was to tuck in behind the 3:15 pacer until mile 20, then pull away to make up the time I needed.

The first 3 miles went as planned, but a bathroom break was needed (yes, 3 miles in)! I quickly caught back up to the pace group, which was led by Harvey Lewis. Yes, the Harvey Lewis that won the Badwater 135 this year. That was awesome! I stuck with the group for another couple miles until we hit a couple of small downhills. After getting stuck behind the mass of people running at a slower downhill pace than I wanted to run, I got around them for the next one, picked up my pace and was on my own from there. Shortly after here I saw both groups of people I was lucky enough to have cheering for me, back to back. I had a ton of support along the course which was awesome. Two different groups of family and friends essentially playing leap frog down the course.

As I picked my pace up into the 7:10-7:15 range, I knew it was going to be tough to hold and knew the end of the race would be a challenge. I kept the pace up anyway as I’m not nearly disciplined enough to slow down. With the Minneapolis lakes behind me, I was running along Minnehaha Falls when things started to feel a bit more challenging. Around mile 16, I could feel it. I did my best to ignore the thoughts that things are getting tougher and continued to focus on getting through mile 20, as I had been since the halfway point. After seeing Terese and our friend Jen one last time at mile 19 as I headed into St. Paul, I had only a mile to cover until I hit mile 21.

Anybody who has run this race knows that mile 21 is where things getting interesting. 3 miles of incline up Summit Ave. The 1st mile was the flattest of the 3 and my pace stayed the same. The next two were the tough ones. While the inclines didn’t look too steep, I definitely felt the impact on my body. As I pushed through this part of the race, my pace dropped. First by 20 seconds, then another 10. While that amount of time isn’t even significant in some situations, it certainly was here. I was up against the clock without really knowing how much time I had, but knowing it was close, and my energy was running out.

As I finished the famous stretch of hills on Summit and things flattened out, I literally focused on putting one foot in front of the other and could only muster a 7:35 pace. The sweet view of the finish line finally presented itself and after one final push, I was done. 3:12:59. An awesome race and an awesome day. It feels so good to be home. Thanks to all my family friends for the support!

An update on my 50 states challenge (color key below). It’s been a wild couple of years and the color I put on this map will definitely be decreasing now that we’re moving. These last 31 states will take a while, but I’m looking forward to knocking each one off the list. Next race I’m eyeing after the TC Marathon… Black Hills 50 Miler. Hopefully the dream beomes a reality.

RED = Marathon
BLUE = Half Marathon

Hell Hath No Hurry 30K

Mid-80’s and not a cloud in the sky. Ran the Hell Hath No Hurry 30K last weekend. The heat was a killer. I went out a little fast and suffered quite a bit on the final two 10K laps. It was a beautiful course, 99% single track, about 85% of it runnable. It was that other 15% that got me. The climbs were tough, especially the two that left us fully exposed to the sun. I finished in 3:20:33, good for 2nd place (only 23 runners). After the race, we hit up Pittsburgh’s famous Primanti Bros. After a much needed nights sleep, we explored a few more places in Pittsburgh and took off for home.

Over the last 2 years, Terese and I have gone on a ton of short trips like this to run races and explore new places. Living away from friends and family and close to new states, it was easy to justify. Heading back to MN soon, we won’t exactly have these trips anymore. We’ll still travel and I’ll still run races, but it will be a little different. We’ll have more going on at home (which is not a bad thing) and we won’t have new states so close to where we live. The last two years have been awesome, not just running all these races but exploring the country with my wife. We got pretty good at last-minute hotel deals, local coffee shops, local IPA’s, and everything else. Thanks to my beautiful wife for the adventures over the last two years. 19 states down, 31 to go.

Shaping up to be a warm race on Saturday… And the race starts at 2 PM!

Ran the Inaugural Bourbon Derby Half Marathon yesterday about a half hour outside of Lexington, KY. The race took us up and down the area’s rolling hills for about 1.000 ft. of elevation change and through 3 different horse farms. My approach was to ease off the pace a little on the ups but increase overall effort. On the downs, I increased my turnover, shortened my stride, and tried to pick up any time lost on the ups. When there were flat sections, I ran them at race pace, usually between 6:45-7:00 pace. I came in at 1:26:56, which is a 2-minute PR. However, My watch had the course at nearly a half mile short. It was a sanctioned race so it’s official. But is it really a PR? Who knows. I was 5th overall and 2nd in my division. It was a small race with only 324 finishers in the half.

Terese’s parents came down with us so I had a bigger cheering crowd than normal! They were only able to stay for part of the day, so we left the race and explored the area. We drove along the KY scenic byway past massive, beautiful farm after farm, each with miles of handmade fence that distinguishes the area. We hit up the oldest bourbon distillery in the state and then toured another. Terese and I have been pleasantly surprised with almost every area I’ve raced, but Kentucky is on another level. It’s beautiful. It feels like it’s out of a movie with the rolling hills and big farms which are somehow perfectly maintained. Kentucky, check.

Just signed up for the Hell Hath No Hurry 30K in Pittsburgh in June!

My next race. The inaugural running if the Bourbon Derby half marathon in Kentucky. Afterward? Hitting up the Bourbon trail.

Dexter to Ann Arbor Half in Michigan today. Got in last night with just enough time for pizza with the fam before bed. Got up and ran the race! Before leaving the hotel, I had no idea what my race plan was having raced hard last weekend. As we drove to the start, I thought I’d do it as a training run at 8:00 min pace. As I stood at the start, I decided to start with the 1:35 pacer. 2 miles in, I was running with the 1:30 pacer (who was wearing a running skirt I might add…he was a dude). He was a really good pacer, tons of tips along the way. Anyway, so much for a training run… I have no self-control!

The race was tough. I was running a bit out of my comfort zone in terms of pace and a couple of tough hills hit me hard. I didn’t quite keep up with the 1:30 pace group but finished at 1:30:57. I was definitely happy with that. With Michigan in the books, that’s 17 states. I’m officially over 1/3 of the way to my 50 states challenge.

I’m signed up for the Twin Cities Marathon in October! I’ve wanted to run this for years, since I first saw my sister run it in 2008 or so. Can’t wait for this one!

An awesome weekend in Niagara Falls and Buffalo for the Buffalo Half. Spent a lot of time exploring the falls, which was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen. My mom met Terese, Norah, and I up in Niagara Falls (the power of grandchildren!). I went into the race without a specific goal and completely surprised myself with a new PR of 1:28:57. Another awesome weekend exploring a new place. New York, check.

Ran the 500 Festival Mini-Marathon (half marathon) in Indianapolis today. The course was packed with 35K people. It was a great race and we were super impressed with downtown Indianapolis. An awesome city. This was the first race trip with Norah and first race after few months off. I ran a 1:34:19, which was better than expected, so I’m definitely happy with that. I found myself a local IPA to enjoy after the race and spent the day exploring the city with my two favorite people. State # 15, check.

After NY comes MI. A week after the Buffalo half, we’re headed up to Ann Arbor for the Dexter-Ann Arbor Half Marathon. I haven’t had 3 races on the calendar for a while. I’m actually working on a 4th. I’m waiting to hear back from the Pittsburgh Marathon on whether they’ll let me into the half next weekend even though it’s full. I’m loving life.