A Crazy, Emotional, Roller Coaster Run!

A Crazy, Emotional, Roller Coaster Run!

susan TC 4by Susan G.

After having no desire to race during the 2015 triathlon season, I entered the lottery for the Twin City 10 Mile “Shortcut to the Capitol” on a whim. The lottery entry got me very excited and as luck would have it, I got in!   Finally, I was excited about a race and eager to begin training.

Of course, training took place during the hot months of July and August. I struggled through the heat and sometimes felt defeated and didn’t think I could make it through the 10 mile race. But I was determined and the lottery entry was proof that I was going to run this race.   I made it through some crazy training runs, including one where I ran out of water, another where I struggled through the hills of northern Wisconsin and several that had me avoiding skunks.

As the race got closer and closer, I began getting very emotional about the race. A postcard came in the mail and I began to tear up, my friend texted me that she would be at the race – I cried – and of course when I learned that this year would be the 30th anniversary of my dad running the marathon on the same course I cried like a little girl. I remembered watching him and thinking that what he was doing was so impossible. But I still wanted to try.

Race week came and my emotions were boiling at the surface but I contained them as people wished me luck and I ran my last runs. I was excited to board the plane and head to Minneapolis and probably skipped down the jet bridge to my plane. I was happy and everyone around me noticed it; I don’t think TSA has ever treated me nicer. I got to Minneapolis and my mom picked me up. She took me home to meet up with the rest of my family for breakfast. When we arrived home she opened the trunk for me to gather my luggage, the trunk lid didn’t lock and it bit me in the head. Thankfully my Experience Triathlon hat would cover the bump on race day. But icing my forehead was not the way race weekend was supposed to start.

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Breakfast was had and we headed off to the expo. It was super crowded but the lines moved fast. I enjoyed my time there and especially liked all the marathoners that kept telling me to “quit saying you’re JUST doing 10 miles.” The rest of the time leading to race start was pretty uneventful. My mom hosted an open house for my brother and his new baby on Saturday. I was proud that I didn’t indulge in all the cakes and junk food. Once the party was over my nerves started setting in and I got a little eager to ensure that we had dinner and I got the food I needed. Thankfully my family understood and obliged.

Like most people, I slept only so-so the night before the race but woke up ready to go. I was still in a fog which I think helped me to not be so nervous.

My mom and Jack drove me to the start, and it was great to have such door to door service. They were so kind to deal with me wanting to be there super early but it helped them to get down the course and see me later in the race.

Walking towards to the start corrals was dark and disorienting. Nothing looked like the maps I had studied. Thankfully, I found my area to do “sweat check” and check my clothes, which was nicely divided by bib numbers. It was very cold that morning and I found a parking garage entrance where other runners were huddled. I found a ledge to sit on and quietly ate my breakfast. The man sitting next to me started up a conversation which eased my nerves. It turned out that he worked for the main sponsor, Medtronic, and made devices that my cardiologist used to diagnose my heart condition. When I told him what I had, he looked at me and said he was shocked I was running and that I encouraged him to have a great race and continue doing his work. That made me cry again. We parted ways and I headed to the porta potties. While in line at the porta potties I noticed I was missing one of my bottles in my fuel belt! EEEK! It was almost three miles to the first aid station! What was I going to do? I retraced my steps and never found it. I had brought a small pint size bottle of water with me for my breakfast, and it just so happened it fit in my fuel belt. Thank heavens for small miracles! It may have looked funny but I would be hydrated!

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I made it into my corral just as they were singing the national anthem. One advantage to being slow, you have more time to get into your corral. I made my way to the middle and met a really nice girl who warned me of a hill that was coming up due to the reroute of the course. I didn’t know where it was until I hit it. Finally it was my corral’s turn to go and we were off!   The race started out downhill so of course I ran like a bat out of hell. Whoops! Thankfully around the corner was a hill just after my first interval and I slowed down. At this point of the race, I knew where I was. I had trained in this area before along the river and knew what to expect and then we turned onto the University of Minnesota campus. As we entered the campus, we had to pass under a bridge which caused major congestion and everyone stopped and walked. Oh well. We went uphill after that so it was a nice break before working hard again. It was just before a bridge so I thought that was the hill the girl in the corral told me about – it wasn’t. As we proceeded to run through the campus it just became hill after hill after hill. Until we finally got to the big one. We had done some significant downhill running before the big one but there was too much of a break before to get good momentum. I did what Coach Suzy told me, I shortened my strides and pumped my arms. I passed people and then when I hit the glorious walk interval I got passed. As we crested the hill I could see our first aid station and just after that I saw my mom and Jack for the first time. I came faster than they expected! I gave my mom a running hug and off I went. I felt great especially with that horrible hill behind me. The roads kept rolling as we left the campus and headed into the residential area. We crossed the bridge into St. Paul just before mile 4 and the “wall.” The ALARC running group inflated a big wall at this area as it was mile 20 of the marathon. I got super emotional as my dad had trained with ALARC to do his marathons and now I was on the same course he had run with them. The music was pumping and I started fist pumping which got a roar out of all the volunteers and cheer squads.

About a mile down the way I got a surprise – It was my dad on the course! It was not an area that I had expected him in but I was so happy to see him. He was so excited and yelled, “You’re hitting your numbers, you’re doing so well.” Hearing that made me so happy and pushed me as we headed into the dreaded uphill climb to mile 7.

At the top of hill when we reached mile 7 were my friends. The most welcome site ever! The major hills were over, I had only 3 miles to go and my besties were cheering me on! They all got hugs and I gave them a smile for the signs they had.

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Even though the big hills were over the course continued to roll slightly up and down. We were on a beautiful parkway with gorgeous historical homes lining it. Crowds were everywhere so it was easy to stay motivated. There were also aid stations every mile starting at mile 6 so there was tons of positive support.

At mile 8 they had a medical drop off point and there were large signs. I looked at the volunteers and said, “Not this time, boys!” It got a laugh and I pushed on.

Just before mile 9 my family was waiting to cheer me on again. This time my brother, sister in-law and four month old nephew joined. They also had a sign that made me smile. I kissed my nephew and got high fives as I ran past them.   I felt good and realized I was doing it.

For some reason mile 9 got quiet on the course and it was hilly again. I had to walk a little more than normal but I was ok with that. I found some good music on my iPod to motivate myself and I said let’s do this!  The hills make us stronger and faster, right Coach Suzy?   We had one last little climb and then I realized this was it – it was the peak of the race and it was all downhill from that point. Literally it was. There were signs that said final kick and that’s what it was. One half of a mile left with two thirds of it being straight downhill. I could see the finish line and I was psyched! I fist pumped my whole way through the crowd with a huge smile on my face. Tears welled up but I was smiling and enjoying! I did it! I finished!

The lady that finished right behind me came up and gave me a hug. She said she loved my spirit and it pumped her up to finish.

I got my medal and as per tradition I hugged the volunteer who gave it to me. She was so excited to do so! I made my way through the finish area, got my checked bag, my shirt and easily met my family. Just outside the finish line they had letters set up on a hill so your family could meet you based on your last name – so slick.

Everyone I talked to do during the expo said that this is a race that they would do over and over and I can see why. The marathon is dubbed the Most Beautiful Urban Marathon in the US. The course proved that with the hint of color, gorgeous tree lined roads and magnificent homes and buildings lining the course. The spectators were great and so were all of the volunteers. Minnesotans feel that this race is fairly flat but for a Chicagoan it isn’t. But that doesn’t matter. I will continue to enter the lottery for this race.

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