Tag Archives: Lake Harriet

TCM 2009

TCM Expo
TCM Expo

I finished my second marathon. Pretty worse for the wear, but I finished. I had pretty modest expectations going into the race based on my training over the last year. I felt that 3:30 was pretty reasonable since most of my longer runs had been at 8 minute pace.

A friend from college, Pez, was debuting this year and he’s a pretty smart guy and decided to run with me for the first 3 miles around 8 minute pace and slowly build up. He had an excellent race finishing in 3:19. I felt really good during the first 5k, I did stop for a quick bathroom break and had to force myself to not try to catch back up.

I passed fellow classmate Kevin on the north side of Lake of the Isles. Staying pretty consistent at 8 minute pace. The 3:30 pace group was pretty far ahead now, because of my potty break – but they did take it out fairly fast from the start. I passed Deb on the north side of Lake Calhoun and the ran with Anne and her friend for awhile on the south side of the lake. I probably should have stayed with any of them and continued running at an easier pace. But I was hitting my splits pretty accurately.

At some point early on the Minnehaha Parkway part of the course I started catching up to the 3:30 pace group. At which point it got really crowded. Marty was towards the front of the group and we slowly came together as we went through the rolling hills stretch. I was taking it easy and hitting 8 minute pace. Marty and I ran together for a couple of miles. He said he was struggling and right before Cedar he said he would see me at the finish and dropped off.

I maintained my pace through 13 but started to hurt around 12. It started in my hips and throughout the race slowly worked its way down my legs. Mostly on the left side (where I have plantar fasciitis). I got through the half in 1:44 so pretty much right where I wanted to be. I slowed down a bit and I think I stopped to stretch it out before leaving Nokomis. From here my splits slowly slowed down as I struggled with trying to loosen up my legs, staying mentally tough, and not bonking.

As my paces show I quickly deteriorated and never really recovered. Part of me wanted to quit, part of me wanted to walk, part of me knew I had to fight to the finish. I made a mental decision that I would finish, even if I had to walk the rest of the way, but also made the decision that I would run for at least a mile in between walk breaks. I started just trying to walk through water stops, but then gave up on that and just started walking when I didn’t feel like going any farther.

I saw my wife and friend at mile 16 and gave them the thumbs down. I think they knew I was off pace but the thumbs down was a clear sign that I was struggling. I heard a couple of my students cheer for me and a former student gave me a needed/welcome Gu pack around mile 17.

Blood Filled Blister!

Blood Filled Blister!

The rest of the race is a blur of struggle and pain but I finished. And I was running at the finish. I finished in 3:56:00 officially. Deb and I passed each other back and forth throughout the last 8 miles. She served as much needed motivation to keep on pushing. A first time marathoner chatted with me a bit as we were getting ready to go up the St Thomas hill. I told him I was doing terrible but he kept talking. As we started up the hill he asked, “Is this the big hill.” I replied, “One of them.” He was caught of guard by that, and I felt a little bad, but I was out of it and didn’t really want to chit chat about the intricacies of the last 6 miles.

One high point of the final stretch was my wife and friend were just in front of the Target Cheer Zone. Summit Ave is already pretty packed with people and can be very encouraging. So I passed them and they were really cheering and the whole block or two was extremely uplifting, especially as you pass through the Cheer Zone. I got a boost in my step, which didn’t last near as long as I was hoping!

Seeing the cathedral top made me happy because I knew it was almost over. Then slowly making the turn and seeing the capital. I dug deep and found something and pushed hard. The crowd roared and I finished. Then I shuffled through the chute getting water, fruit, chips, a banana, a heat sheet, vegetable broth, and finally a finisher’s shirt. Marty and I hobbled and talked for a bit before I tried to find my wife and friends to go home.

It is amazing how much pain you can be in after running that far. My body hurt during the run, but hurt even worse right after it was over and for the rest of the day! When I peeled off my sock I found a nice blood filled blister pictured above!

Thank you to the thousands of people who cheered!! Those who knew my name, those who cheered for “MDRA” (my jersey), my race number, and even those who yelled for “MORA” (because evidently the D looks like an O). Each and every one of you and all of the volunteers helped make this race successful.













































































































































[tags] Twin Cities Marathon, TCM, Marathon [/tags]

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Twin Cities Marathon Pictoral Preview

The Twin Cities Marathon course has been quite busy this summer, just like every summer (actually year round).  This is because the course takes in some of the coolest recreation spots in the metro – or at least Minneapolis.  Beginning in downtown Minneapolis the 26.2 mile course  makes a big circle before ending up in downtown St Paul.  Leaving the sports capital of Minnesota (the Metrodome) runners take in some amazing views before arriving at the state capital of Minnesota.  What a course.   Here’s last year’s course preview.

Below are 26 pictures from the course itself (though they don’t come from all 26 miles of the course).

A picture of the map…
The Hurbert H Humphrey Metrodome – aka staging area and starting line.
A random wall downtown along Hennepin Ave.  I know some of the symbols are Adrinka symbols of West Africa, but I don’t know their history here.
The Basillica of St Mary is on Hennepin as well. Don’t let the old architecture fool you, they are on Twitter.
This is WAC, the Walker Art Center.  On the right is the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.  I’ve heard tell that some people use it as a quick potty stop. (I don’t recommend it) Watch this hill.  If we ran on the sidewalks we’d actually get to run under the Walker.
TCM isn’t called “The Most Beautiful Urban Marathon in American” for nothing.  This is Lake of the Isles, the first among several lakes we’ll travel around.  We won’t run by the most expensive house in Minneapolis, but it is located on the Isles.
Here’s another shot of the Isles.
Dean Parkway going underneath the Midtown Greenway.
Lake #2 Lake Calhoun.  On the south end there will be a cool view of the downtown skyline with the lake in the foreground.
The third lake is Lake Harriet which has a cool band shell and yacht club.
Running under the Niollet Ave bridge (I think).   A local marching band stands under one of these bridges and plays.
The 7ft bronze rabbit at the intersection of Portland and Minnehaha Parkway.  I can’t figure out where it came from.
We run a long ways on this parkway. Here is wikipedia’s take on who Minnehaha was…
The Grand Rounds is a great way to see the major sites in the city. A road, trail system, and scenic destination itself, much of the marathon is actually run along the Grand Rounds.
West River Parkway has been under construction all summer, but it won’t affect the race.  This is where I started to fall apart during the 2008 marathon.
The Mississippi River is a national park.  This is crossing the Franklin Ave bridge.
A bad shot of the river!
This is now on East River Road getting ready to go under a rail bridge which will one day connect to the Greenway.
University of St Thomas sits atop a nice hill and is around the 21 mile mark!
A nice long look up Summit Ave. A nice long uphill. And is the longest remaining stretch of residential Victorian architecture in the United States.
Bridge crossing Ayd Mill Rd.
A cool church on the corner of Lexington Parkway and Summit Ave.
One of many cool houses. If you aren’t in complete agony, be sure to check them out! They are on both sides.
This is a great sign!! You are atop the hill and getting ready to turn left into the final stretch.  I always felt a little let down that we turn here instead of just going down the hill!
The Cathedral of St Paul. When you see the steeple it is almost over!
The Minnesota State Capital building and the finish line!!!  Congratulations you’ve finished.

[tags] Twin Cities Marathon, TCM, Marathon, Twin Cities [/tags]

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Week in Review

Where does time go? It seems like time flies by.  It is almost Christmas and almost a new year. 2008 has flown by with lots of great stuff happening.  This week was no exception.  It is a busy time at work as we prepare for “winter break” and the students start getting antsy.

Monday was my requisite day off of running.  I sadly failed part way through my Week 5 Day 1 of the hunderd push-up challenge. I got 82 of 145 done before I couldn’t squeeze out another one and collapsed to the ground. After recovering a little I did my Prehab: Core, Hip, and Elasticity workouts. I also biked to work in the snowy slush.  It was fine except that the bike I planned to use for the winter didn’t workout too well because the suspension system on it made the bike too small for me.

On Tuesday I did 5 miles along the Greenway doing an out and back heading west.  It was pretty uneventful but it is interesting to point out that the Greenway was plowed better than the road next to my house! I did it 38:41. It was about 16 with a wind chill of 0.

Wednesday I took my new video camera along for a 3.5 mile run at Powderhorn Park.  I took some video of the snowy park which helped make the run longer! The snow also made the run a little more difficult because only some of the sidewalks around the park had actually been plowed.  I’m still trying to edit the video to make it right but you can see a rough edit here.  It was about 2 degrees without a significant wind chill. Since I failed on the push ups I went back to Week 4 Day 2 and did the 3rd column (last week I did the 2nd) which is a little harder as a result I did 140 push ups.   I also worked out on the Physioball.

Thursday I did a newer 3 mile loop which goes along the Greenway heading East and then takes the Hiawatha LRT trail north to the 24th St bridge and then head home.  It is a nice change of pace that I did in 24:00. It was about 9 and sunny which felt nice. I did my Prehab Core, Hip and Elasticity.

I had planned to run on Friday but woke up pretty tired and unmotivated. So I decided not to.  I then looked at the weather and realized it was -1 outside (air temp) and was glad of my decision.  So I did my push ups getting most of the way through Day 3 of Week 4. I didn’t finish but I didn’t write down how many I got. I think I was a little frustrated at myself. I was so wrapped up in editing that stupid video that I forgot to post a Foto Friday!

Saturday was a very nice morning. It was sunny and 28 without any major wind.  The Polar Bear group met at Lake Harriet Bandshell and we ran around Lake Calhoun, Cedar Lake, and Lake of the Isles.  It was about 9.4 miles and as usually happens with this group we went out pretty fast.  A small group of us settled into a comfortable pace and let the rest of them go out.  We never got too far behind but just enough that it was impossible to catch back up easily.  It was a gorgeous day to be running and a good workout.

Sunday on the other hand wasn’t too pleasant.  It was 36 with freezing rain when I woke up. I almost didn’t go but decided I couldn’t take another day off this week and the weather was only going to be getting worse. Our group met at Minnehaha Falls and ran to Fort Snelling over the 5 bridge backup the East River Parkway crossing the Ford Bridge.  It was just under 6 miles.  I was wearing shorts and felt fairly comfortable for most of the run.  The rain wasn’t too hard but was noticable throughout the run.

Weekly Mileage:

Running – 26.3 miles

Biking – 3.5 miles


I ran 5 miles, biked 16.5 indoors, swam 400 yards, and did the elliptical, stair climber, and rower! I posted a guest review of the St Jude Marathon and shared about a 12 Days of Christmas give-a-way program which ended up being a huge marketing gimmick. I also posted 9 winter running tips and of course a hilarious Foto Friday.

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Grading the Race Plan

Feeling good at 2.5

Feeling good at 2.5

Plans are made to be followed, reviewed, analyzed, and improved for next time.  So how did I do on Sunday compared to the Race Plan I published for you on Saturday?  Did I pass or fail?

Obviously, I passed because I finished the race, although there were definitely points in the later stages where I wanted to stop, sit on the curb and wait for medical to come get me.  I looked in the medical tents (they were pretty empty) and they had those pool chairs with the multiple settings to lay back on… you know the ones with plastic webbing?  Yea, those… they seemed a lot more comfortable than the pain I was in at the time, but failure didn’t seem like a good idea either!

A Look at the Goals

1) To qualify for Boston with a 3:10 (7:15 pace),

2) To break 3:30, or

3) To have fun and finish.

I hit my 2nd and 3rd Goals pretty well.  I was told several times that as a first-timer my only goal should have been to finish and then place other goals below that.  My MDRA Coach said that my A goal should have been to finish and my A+ goal the 3:10 and B goal be to break 3:30.  So I’ll do the average of an A-.

This quote may have been a little too arrogant:

The others are plans B and C in case I fall apart out there – but I don’t foresee that happening at all.

Umm, hello the marathon is a beast and I wasn’t treating it with the complete and utter respect it deserves.  TCM humbled me in that regard! As solid as my training had been I shouldn’t have taken for granted how I would respond.

Simply put, my race plan is to go out easy and finish hard.

Well, simply, I didn’t go out easy enough and the finish was hard, but it wasn’t the good kind of hard! On the simple race plan I’ll take a C.

For the more detailed plan I’ll put Saturday’s post in italics and my thoughts in regular font:

In the early miles “Take it easy—take it too easy.” I should have taken it much easier. I was 22:48 through the first 5K which is 7:20 pace. And that includes a sub-7 3rd mile.  Ooops!! I should have been at least a 7:30 pace or slower. I did take it slow up the hill on Hennepin and right after the turn.  I also let the 3:10 pace group pull way ahead of me from the starting line. D

Stay well-hydrated. We got some help on this one with the early middle miles being rain-soaked.  I still took fluid at every water stop.  I was going to take water at every one and Powerade at every other, but often got confused on whether I had just taken a Powerade or not at the last one! I usually compensated by taking the Powerade just to be sure! I had a slight urge to pee at some point but never enough to have to stop and it went away.  A+

Take a Shot Blok every 5k – this worked well in training and past races. This was easier said than done! I did take one every 5K and after the half-marathon switched to every 3 miles (basically the same thing but easier to think about). The hardest part about this was trying to get the shot blok out of the package! Before the start I opened both packs, but my fingers were so cold during the race that I basically had no manual dexterity to manipulate the packages.  It took a lot of focus and determination to make sure I got them out without dropping any.  I don’t think I calorically bonked during the race – compared to previous experiences, so I think this plan worked pretty well.  I took 8 total Bloks and there are 8.4 5K’s in the race so I was right on! A+

“Cruise” around the lakes and enjoying the “Most Beautiful Urban Marathon in America.” I guess I should have defined cruise… My splits around the lakes were pretty much all below marathon goal pace, which really isn’t cruising! I probably should have been just over goal pace during this section.  I actually caught back up to the 3:10 pace group around mile 7. I did try to enjoy running the lakes, but I threw my gloves off at 2.5 and the wind and cold started hitting around the Lakes again. It was very pretty along here, until the rain started.  Just as we got to Lake Harriet I saw lightening and heard thunder… shortly after the water stop the deluge began and probably the most scenic part of the course was run while getting drenched by buckets of rain! Sad, but there were still tons of cheering spectators along the course so props to them! B- (I’ll curve up for the weather!)

Part of my support crew!

Part of my support crew!

Relax through the middle hills, feel good, and smile for the camera at the half. I consciously slowed down through the rolling hills on Minnehaha Parkway, even though my splits don’t really show it. I would watch the pace group pull away over the hilly sections and then catch back up again before the next set.  The rain started to slow down and I tried smiling for the cameras but was starting to feel a little fatigued as well.  After each hilly section it became a little harder to pick the pace back up.  I was right on goal pace at 13 miles, with little aches and pains that came and went. B+

Soak in the spectators and stay focused on the West River Parkway. There were a decent number of spectators on the course along the Parkway. I was impressed with the crowd support along the entire course, especially during the deluge.  West River Parkway was one of the thinner spots, but one of my visiting college teammates came from the crowd and ran with me for a few strides to check-in, offer a dry shirt, etc around 17. For the record, I didn’t take the cotton shirt, even though my number was on my shorts so I could have easily done it. My hip was starting to hurt, but I lied and said I was fine, which he relayed to my other friends and wife who were cheering wildly for me! I stayed focused and tried to relax.  A

Cross Franklin Ave bridge feeling good and don’t bust up the hills – stay even and consistent. Well good wouldn’t be the word I would choose to describe my feeling crossing Franklin.  The slight incline of the bridge, which hadn’t bothered me in training, seemed steep enough.  Not a good sign. I was starting to feel the exhaustion and pain set in.  I stopped at mile 20 which has the ALARC Wall to try and stretch my IT Band/hip – to no real avail.  And walked for the first time later that mile on the hill up to Lake Street, but was able to run/jog up the St Thomas hill before trying to finish up Summit.  D

Run the tangents, unless it is really sunny – then run the shade. I felt like I ran the tangents pretty well throughout the first half. I can’t really remember as well about the second half but almost half of that is straight up Summit – so I’ll say it went pretty well.  As a group we tacked on some extra mileage evading huge water puddles.  I’m not sure if it really mattered or not, but seemed like the right thing to do.  My overall Garmin distance ranged from 26.4 – 26.68 (depending on the program) so that wasn’t toooo bad.  There was no sun!  I’ll go with a B.

Stay consistent but start reeling in the runners while cruising up Summit. Hmm consistent is not quite my middle name! In this last section, when I was running my pace was fairly consistent.  The key word being “when.” I walked a total of 4 times during the last 10K and 3 times in the last 4 miles. I took the extreme opposite meaning of “cruise” for this part of the course!! I walked for right about 3 minutes during each of the breaks but only stopped once more to stretch.  That was a mistake – it was really hard to start walking again! Each time I picked a mark on the course and said I have to run when I hit that spot.  I think if I had maintained a slower pace during the running portions I could have cut out a walk break.  I actually did pass people while I was running again each time.  One of my training partners passed me with about 3 to go or so and encouraged me.  This section really really hurt! D+

Kickin to the end!

Kickin to the end!

When you see the Cathedral – bust a move and kick it on the downhill finish. Well I busted something…  Comparatively I was busting a move – even though it didn’t feel like it! Mile 21 included my first walk break and was my first mile over 8 (and actually 9) minute pace.  The last 1.2 miles were all under 9 minute pace, so in comparison that was a kick!!! A group of MDRA runners/friends were at mile 24-25 somewhere in there and I like this quote from their blog, “Nick Cross who did his best to block us out, but couldn’t resist the cowbell.” I was so out of it, that it took me a while to realize someone was cheering me on by name, then I looked and recognized the faces… but had no energy to really acknowledge them.  Did I gesture in your direction??  After seeing them and being so close, I knew I couldn’t walk any more.  The downhill was pounding.  The last 0.2 miles hurt a lot, my muscles were seizing up on me and saying NO MORE, PLEASE STOP NOW.  Eugene, my college buddy from mile 17, yelled “get the girl in yellow”…  so I did, but that was all the energy I had.  Raise my arms for the finish picture and shuffle, shiver, and ache through the finish area! B

And for the record, Halie Gebrselassie’s quote from his recent WR two Sunday‘s ago did not come out of my lips:

“Today, I’m so, so, so happy. Everything was perfect today”

My overall score… Let’s call it a B or B-.  Ok, I know I am being a little hard on myself – this is the first marathon, its a learning game.  Take it and learn…  I will, but I have to be hard on myself to make sure I learn from it.  Yes, I’m disappointed I missed my 3:10 goal.  Yes I’m excited about finishing.  Yes, I’ll take a 3:25 marathon debut.  And… Yes I’ll probably do another one!

[tags] Marathon, Twin Cities Marathon, Twin Cities, Race Review[/tags]

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