For the third year in a row I spent the early part of October in the Twin Cities, and once again it was a fantastic experience. Twin Cities in Motion and Medtronic are known to put on a great event, and they did not disappoint. The event staff is exceedingly professional and give it the best experience for all racers. They get so much community involvement as seen by the over 17,000 runners and many times the spectators. Fall is a great time to be in Minneapolis as the weather is nearly always great for racing, and the trees are just beginning to turn.
Race morning was a chilly one, around 35º at the start, and not much warmer at the finish, but it made for great racing weather. After a warm up in the dark, we made our way to the start and before I knew it, the gun fired. The early pace was slow, 4:52 for the mile, and I heard rumors after the race that there was a 5:0X third mile. That made sure that the finish would be fast. Through four miles there was still a large pack, but I knew that would change as we headed up the hills to Summit Ave. Slowly over the next two mile the pack dwindled, but it was a move my Tim Riche around mile 6 that broke open the race. I instinctively went with the move, but after a few minutes I was falling off the back. The six in front of me eventually split into two groups of three, with me still trying to stick with the chase pack.
Eventually I fell off the train, but just before eight miles Andrew Bumbalough pulled up on my shoulder. I do not know if it was a bit of a wake up or that I finally started to fell better, but I received a second wind and began to run down the second group. Over the next mile I ate into the gap, but was unable to gain much more than a few seconds on them. Every time I would pick up the pace, I would be unable to hold it and drop back to the more comfortable rhythm of around 4:45’s. Passing the Basilica of St. Mary, I let gravity carry down the hill and through the finish.
Coming into this race, I knew that I was not as sharp as last year. Being in the midst of marathon training, my legs were not as fresh as I would have liked. When Tim made that big move, I was not able to respond with the same aggressiveness, but knew that I could make a slighter surge and maintain it to the finish. I even think that I could have run a couple of more miles at 4:45 pace, but anything faster seemed to put me over the edge. It is good to know that I am aerobically fit and that I still have four weeks of training to get my legs caught up.
Another positive is that around mile 8 my legs began to feel better. Around 30-35 min into my workouts I start to actually feel better, and I figured that it would be the same here. I just needed to remain contact with the group until then. Even though I was not able to do that, a marathon much more of a grind. Over the course of 26.2 miles, there will be patches where I do not feel great followed by ones where I do.
From here I have just under a month of critical training to get in before NYC. Unlike my other two marathon build ups, I feel that I have quite a bit more fitness to gain. I feel that in my last two build ups, I would have run a similar marathon both four weeks out and on marathon day. While there are not too many workouts left, this weekend I head up to NUC for a course preview with a workout on the hills of Central Park, and then I have one more marathon specific long run two weeks out. After that is taper mode!
Before signing off, I would like to have a few congrats. First is to Sam for winning his third national title, and second in the Twin Cities. I wanted to make it another exciting race this year, but it just was not in the cards. Another is to my two teammates who joined me on the streets of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Both Matt and Johnny ran great races. At 14th place, Johnny had his highest finish at a US Championship, and Matt had an amazing ZAP debut with a 5th place finish. Expect big things from both of these guys in the future.