Twin Cities Marathon Race Report


I ran the Twin Cities Marathon this past weekend. I originally signed up for this race back in January. At that time a lot of people I know were signing up to run the Chicago Marathon, which is next weekend. I almost pulled the trigger on Chicago, but didn’t really want to deal with the logistics of being out there with 45,000 other people. I still kind of like the smaller marathons (if Twin Cities counts as smaller, with 8200+ finishers), and am SO glad I chose this race.I flew in on Saturday and stayed at a hotel that was a couple of hundred yards from the finish line in St. Paul. The course is a point to point which starts at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. The buses to the start line conveniently left from my hotel in the morning, so this race could not have been any easier to run. I stayed in the Metrodome (home of the Vikings) until about 10 minutes before the start, which was both a blessing and a curse. Blessing, since the near perfect temperature of 38 degrees made it a little cool to be hanging outside in a singlet and shorts. Curse, since by the time I got outside, it was very hard to get very far in the starting corrals.I lined up somewhere behind the 5 hour pace groups and couldn’t get any further. Since my goal was to come in under 4 hours, this was kind of a drag but I figured I would make it up pretty easily in the first couple of miles. The race was a lot more crowded than I thought it would be however. It was pretty congested for the first several miles, and it wasn’t until around mile 8 that I was able to get past the 4:15 pace group and get into a more aggressive 4hr pace.

I can’t say enough good things about this race. The weather was perfect for running – stayed around the 40’s and not a cloud in the sky. There were people lining the entire course and they were loud and enthusiastic. Alan Page stands atop mile 3 playing his tuba. Somewhere around mile 24 I saw Senator and SNL alum Al Franken on the sidelines cheering people. The course passes many of the MN lakes and provides beautiful scenery, but in honesty I was so dead set on hitting my goal I know I didn’t take advantage of the landscape enough.

I ended up finishing in 3:57:43 which is my first sub-4 after numerous attempts. This is the first marathon that I’ve been able to run negative splits (aided in a big part to being held up in the first half for sure). I heard a lot about this hills going into this race, but I thought it was gently rolling which I think actually helped me. I felt like I still had some left in the tank though and I’m thinking I can do a little better at the Philadelphia Marathon next month. My mile splits are below:

Mile 1 – 9:12

Mile 2 – 9:25
Mile 3 – 9:38 (slowest mile)
Mile 4 – 9:27
Mile 5 – 9:18
Mile 6 – 9:16
Mile 7 – 9:10
Mile 8 – 9:14 (ugh, finally a break in the crowd)
Mile 9 – 9:04
Mile 10 – 8:57
Mile 11 – 8:52
Mile 12 – 9:01
Mile 13 – 8:36 (trying to hit a decent half split)
13.1 split = 2:02 hrs
Mile 14 – 8:56
Mile 15 – 8:47
Mile 16 – 8:56
Mile 17 – 8:44
Mile 18 – 8:47
Mile 19 – 8:37 (lots of people starting to walk)
Mile 20 – 8:45
Mile 21 – 8:49
Mile 22 – 9:01 (the worst of the hills here)
Mile 23 – 8:53
Mile 24 – 8:47
Mile 25 – 8:28 (fastest mile, sweet)
Mile 26 – 8:37
Mile .2 – 7:29

Loving that Finish Line

Capital Complex outside the Finish Line

Cathedral of St. Paul (bad picture but it was beautiful to run by!)

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Self Transcendence Marathon

I ran the Self Transcendence Marathon yesterday. This is a small marathon usually held during the week in Nyack, NY. There is not a lot of info on the web about it so I figured I should do a blog posting. Hopefully anyone considering this race in the future will stumble across this race report – it is a cool, offbeat race which is worth running if you within easy striking distance.

The race is organized by the followers of Sri Chinmoy. The best way to describe the group is that they adopt the philosophies of Sri Chinmoy to unlock spiritual awareness that allows you to achieve tremendous physical accomplishments (hope that does them justice). The bulk of the runners were Europeans as I think that is where Sri Chinmoy hails from, so there was a very eclectic mix of languages on the course. They also turn out in full support, playing music and reading poetry on the course to inspire runners. A little different than any other race I’ve run before. In addition to Sri Chinmoy followers there was a nice contingent of Marathon Maniacs, which is always cool.
 
The course is a 2.96 mile loop around Rockland lake in NY, so it is a scenic ride. I did this as a training run for my Fall schedule so I was able to take it easy and take in the scenery (and poetry). Since it’s a loop course and they had 3 aid stations out, you had constant access to food/water-sports drink. They do a great job supporting the runners. The entry fee is low, the cotton shirt is nice and the medal is unremarkable. Overall a thumbs up from me – I will probably put it on the calendar for next year as it is within semi reasonable driving distance the morning of the race!
 
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Fargo Marathon 2010

I ran the Fargo Marathon 2 weeks ago. I signed up for this race in the beginning of March, hoping to parlay any fitness I had left from my Fall marathons from last year. I ended up running a 4:18, which I was a little disappointed with, considering I was hoping to come in closer to 4:00. I think the condensed training cycle left me inadequately prepared. Traveling to North Dakota the day before didn’t help me either – two planes, one of which was a missed connection, sucked a little life out of me. Lesson learned: next time plan a day of travel for each plane involved in getting to the destination.

Fargo was a nice race – the entire city gets behind this race. It starts and finishes at the Fargodome, which is a nice touch and provided nice cover, considering it was pouring rain at the start. I didn’t realize until midway through the race that part of the course runs through Minnesota, which was cool and a nice prelude to the Twin Cities Marathon in October. I ended up sharing the last few miles with Janet (pictured below) who had previously run Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Mn. Thanks to Janet’s husband for my only race photo.

So I have 16 weeks until the Twin Cities Marathon on Oct. 2nd. I will likely treat Twin Cities as a training run for the Philadelphia Marathon in November but am still a little on the fence. The only thing I know for sure is I am anxious to run a ton of miles over the summer and to dedicate the bulk of it to training by heart rate. Other than that, I am just looking forward to running a bunch of races in the Fall.
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Going Far on May 22nd

I signed up this week to run the Fargo Marathon on May 22nd. I have wanted to do this race for a while for some reason. Runner’s World recently ranked it in it’s reader’s top 10 favorite marathons, so that helped sway my decision a little. I was originally thinking about running a marathon in March, April & May – I scrapped that idea in favor of putting forth a good training effort and trying to run a decent race in Fargo.
I think this training cycle will be my first foray into a Pfitzinger training plan. I have been wanting to follow a Pfitzinger plan for a while but have always opted for the “easier to follow” nature of a Higdon styled plan. By the time I signed up for Fargo, I had a solid base of 40-50 mpw weeks, so I jumped into the 10th week of his 12/55 plan. If things go well in this training cycle I will probably pick one of his 18 week plans for the Twin Cities Marathon in October.
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Long Overdue Year in Review

Once again life has gotten in the way of blogging. My year 2009 review numbers are as follows:

Races:

New Jersey Marathon
Turkey Swamp 25 k (PR)
Asbury Park Marathon
Philadelphia Marathon (PR)
Thunder Road Marathon

Total Miles Run = 1912

My two main goals for 2009 were to run 2009 miles and to run a sub-4 marathon, so I wound up with a big fat FAIL on both. So my two main goals for 2010? Yeah, at least 2010 miles and a sub-4. So far I am targeting a Fall marathon as my ultimate goal race, since I know I will be able to load up on miles over the summer. I still hope to run at least 2 in the spring though. I am getting ready to sign up for the Ocean Drive Marathon in March, just because it’s so damn close and I’ve never done it before. As far as a Fall marathon I have reserved a room in Minnesota for the Twin Cities Marathon in October. Registration opens February 2nd so I have a few days to decide if I want to change my mind and do something else (it’s supposed to be a great race though so I will probably stick with it). And I’ll probably do the Philadelphia Marathon again, just because that is such a fun local race. So that’s it for me – curious to hear what everyone else is thinking for races.

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Holiday Miles Challenge

Several of the marathoners on the Marathon Race Training forum of Runners World Online have started a Holiday Mileage Challenge. This is actually the 3rd annual Holiday Mileage Challenge, so there is already a loyal group of runners participating (most of whom will smoke me in miles). The challenge this year is from December 24th through January 3rd (last Sunday of the holiday weekend) so there is an 11 day window to try to max out your mileage. I decided to throw my hat in the ring. I should still probably be trying to recover from the Thunder Road Marathon, but I have been eating Christmas cookies like the world is going to end tomorrow, so the challenge sounded like a good idea. Between running in bitter cold weather, and pulling doubles on my treadmill, I’m pretty sure I can start the new year with an overuse injury – woohoo!

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Marathon Maniac #2050

The Thunder Road Marathon was my third marathon in 3 months which makes me Marathon Maniac eligible, so I am now officially Maniac #2050 (how’s that for a nice round number?). I qualified for Bronze, their lowest level. Their are 8 levels above Bronze, topping out at the Titanium level. To qualify for Titanium are you have to do one of the following:

1. 52 marathons or more in 365 days

2. 30 marathons in 30 US states, countries or Canadian provinces in 365 days

3. 20 countries in 365 days

How’s that for crazy? Don’t think I am qualifying for Titanium any time soon. I may have a shot at Silver next year though, if I run 6 marathons in 6 consecutive months or do at least 8 within 365 days. I have already come to the conclusion that speed is not my thing, so I don’t know if qualifying for Boston is in the cards any time soon. I think running a whole bunch of marathons is a whole lot more realistic of a goal for me, and will hopefully provide an eventual path to Boston.
I’m very curious to know what races other people are looking at for 2010. I’ve got a rough idea but would like to know what other people are thinking…
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Thunder Road 2009

I ran the Thunder Road Marathon in Charlotte, NC Saturday. I was on the fence about doing this marathon but jumped at the chance once the airfare dropped a couple of weeks ago. I’m glad I did – I thought it was a well done race and I had a great time. I flew down on Friday and got to met up with NJShoreRun (aka Steve) .
My main goal for this race was just to run it easy since I ran Philly 3 weeks ago. That’s a little hard to do in a race that has roaring engines at the start when the guns go off. I ran the first half a little faster than I should have but still had a decent race. I managed to meet up with Steve a couple of times during the race which was cool. We actually ended up running it in together at the end.

I really liked this race. I stayed at a hotel that was six blocks from the expo and start/finish line so it was super easy to get in and out (and never saw the inside of a Charlotte porta pottie), plus the airport was only about 15 minutes away. I’m always amazed at some of the criticisms people write on MarathonGuide.com (too hilly, too cold, a waitress was mean to me, blah blah blah). I thought this was a great race and would definitely do it again.

Finish time = 4:13:36

At the expo

Start Line

Somewhere around mile 14? (thanks to P Kay)
with NJShoreRun at the Finish

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Post & Pre Marathon Wrap Up

The Philadelphia Marathon uses EnduraFit for their marathon shirts. EnduraFit apparently designs their shirts based on stick figures wearing them. I have a shirt from the half marathon last year and the marathon this year and both shirts are very tight in the shoulders & arms. I have seen this talked about on the Philly forum of RunnersWorld online so I know I am not alone with this complaint. So in a shameless act of capitalism I put both shirts on eBay this week. I will never wear either shirt since they fit so crappy so I figured I would use them to fund upcoming race registrations. So check out my booty from two race shirts:

Not bad considering I started the auction at $20. I checked the Marathon race results this year for the name of the person who won the auction and didn’t see them on there. I thought that was interesting, not sure what it means, but I hope someone ends up being happy with these shirts. I really hope EnduraFit steers clear of any of my future marathons – it really sucks to get a shirt from a race that you can’t even wear.

So what should I do with that hard earned thirty six bucks? Not sure if there are any good marathons coming up – surely it would be stupid for me to run one so close to running Philadelphia.

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2009 Philadelphia Marathon

Today broke the streak of crappy weather marathons for me. The weather couldn’t have been better for this year’s Philadelphia Marathon. Last year the weather was 22 degrees at the start. This year it was a balmy 44 degrees and would rise to at least 50+ by the end of the race.

This is a great race. I was signed up for the marathon last year but had to run the half marathon due to an injury, so I was already familiar with the center city portion of the race. The second half runs along the Schuylkill River and up to the town of Manayunk before it turns around to return to the art museum. I loved the second half – the crowds in Manayunk lived up to their reputation. Also being able to see the lead runners on their return leg was very cool.

The gorilla in the room for me right now is a sub-4 hour marathon. I didn’t feel 100% confident going in to this race that I had it me but I planned my race around it anway. I purposely took the first half of the race very easy and crossed the half at 2:03:17, hoping that would leave me enough gas in the tank to negative split the second half of the race. Today wasn’t the day however; the hills in Manayunk took their toll and I had a hard time once I hit 21 miles. All things considered, I am still happy with the race I ran and will take the 2 minute PR. My chip time was 4:09:16.

Mrs. Progman came out with me for this race and was awesome in the role of crowd support. An added bonus to this race was being able to hang out with Mr & Mrs Flyers26 on race eve. Flyers ran a solid race and shaved close to 10 minutes off his PR. Some pics from Mrs. P:

Finish Line

Art Museum

Coming into the finish

The most awesome spectator on the course

Post race under the shade of the ugly yellow hat

With Flyers post race

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