It started out easy enough – I arrived yesterday at 10ish and had plenty of time to kill since I didn’t have to be at the expo to sucker, I mean, bribe, I mean CONVINCE people that a pace team is a great idea. So I decided to do a little touring around. After all, I wasn’t really supposed to run and the weather was fabulous so I thought I should come back with *some* knowledge about this city other than it has a nice marathon course. I hopped on the light rail and decided to ride it to the Mall of America. Until I realized that it was a mall. Granted it’s a large mall, but it’s a mall. And really, no offense to Minneapolis but who cares? I hate malls.
I then decided to stay in the city and turned back around on the rail. On the way back, I found the metrodome (hard to miss), Minnehaha park (which I just like because it’s funny to say), a sex shop named “Lickety Split” (which still makes me giggle like a 5 year old boy) and this gem:
The expo was fairly interesting as I met several women who were doing one of the following:
- Running their first marathon with a longest long run of 10 miles
- Running their first marathon with the goal of qualifying for Boston but having never even tried the pace out (“I’ve saving it for race day!”)
- Running the pace that the “cute guy next to you, Emily” is running (Eric, 3:30, and I highly doubt that, ladies..)
My group of about 20 or so found me at the start, shivering, wearing dark bottoms and the UA pace hot pink tops (essentially making me look like a dark chocolate dipped strawberry) and the gun and start went off as uneventfully as one could hope for for a first time race. I was slow out of the gate which isn’t unusual for a group of 4k runners and by mile 3 we were right on pace. A few decided that they could surge ahead and a few strayed behind early but most stuck by me and asked a lot of questions, as they had read my bio on the site and instantly became intrigued with the notion that, as an ultra-runner, a marathon is really a taper run. This is especially true as I have a 40 miler in 3 weeks. I talked, they listened and I had a sweet rotating audience – they would shift in and out and as soon as one stopped talking, another would start. It was like having 4 boot camp days in a row – I could give advice, be charming, laugh, enjoy the day and continually shift that annoying sign from hand-to-hand. Normally it wouldn’t have been that bothersome but there was a good wind blowing and if you’ve ever tried running holding a sign for 4 hours in a head wind (because, really, who hasn’t, right?!?!) you know it’s a rather difficult task. I even tried pawning it off – “Dan! Hey, I think there’s a camera ahead – wanna take the sign and get a running shot with it?” “Uh, no, not really.” “Hey, Gary, this would make a great holiday card photo for this winter!” “Nah, I’m good – don’t need any race photos anyway…” Pawning off sign carrying duty FAIL.
Since I was so chatty and had to stay on pace, nothing overly exciting happened. And for once, that was a very good thing. I had nightmares of people falling, me cramping, HEED sports drink which I’ve never had wreaking havoc on my intestines (that one DID come true, dammit…) so to not have anything major go wrong was great. Except that last mile. I had done a little calculating and knew the very last mile was uphill – the entire thing. I banked a little time at 24 in order to pad that uphill – you just never know until you run it, how hard it will be. And true to form, my eyes were bigger than my legs and I came up too fast. Suddenly they’re announcing names and I see that I’m right at the mat and I am 39 seconds under. DAMN. Jim will NOT be happy. But I can’t walk over the line and I’ve got no room to slow for the last few feet so I hit it. 4:14:21 for a 4:15 pace. And for once, that end just came up too fast. Then I realized I had an hour to get back to the hotel and showered and checked out. Solution? Running a mile and a half is faster than walking one. So I officially turned my marathon into an “ultra” by running another 1.5 miles, WITH THE SIGN IN HAND since no one would take it to get ready to leave. I’m sure I looked as ridiculous as the BOOGR-mobile.
At any rate, the race was outstanding, the medal and finisher jacket was pretty sweet and the big surprise was that they picked up all the throw away clothes and the ratty long sleeve shirt that I agreed to toss but really didn’t want to, laid on the top of the Lost and Found pile, ready to make a repeat appearance at the next cold race. Let’s just hope it’s not next to an angry bum.