Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Twin Cities Terrific! Embracing the Suck

Time for another Loopfest. Being a Loopfest veteran, I wasn't so anxious this time about what would happen. I knew how it would go. The agenda was identical to Philly. The race was one I have done twice already. The city is one I grew up in, and the weather - well, I have faint memories of cold weather.
So I was comfortable. There were 32 Loopsters and I had already met about half of them. It was wonderful to see the old friends, and it was great to meet some new ones. It was fun to see the loopfest virgins go through the same responses to how amazing it was that we all get along so well. Yes, loopfests are special and not like anything else!

Friday I arrived at the airport, and through the miracle of smart phones and facebook, hooked up with DReyna and her  brother at Chili's in the airport. We downed a beer before we even got to baggage claim where TO was waiting to bring us to the hotel. Then it was right to the lobby bar where 3 or 4 loopsters awaited. Gradually more and more filtered in. Good times ensued.

The helpful bartender told us of some bars we could walk to later, only mentioning at the end that they were topless. We managed to find a PG rated bar and about 20 of us headed there for dinner and more drinking.
Saturday started with a fun little 2.6 mile run. Our whole group stayed together at about 9:45 pace. It was fun to actually do the thing that we all love together.

Later we all went to the expo, which was mostly like every other expo, with a few exceptions. There was a booth for a beef council frying up hamburgers and offering free samples of the meat on toothpicks.

The Green Bay Marathon was cooking bratwursts and also offering samples. It smelled like a tailgater in there.

There were free bags of chips, and free mac n cheese. Healthy fare, this was not!

Later was the Carbo-loading dinner with the whole group, and then we took a beautiful group picture at his location that should surface at some point.

Sleep. I didn't sleep a whole lot this weekend. First night I had to deal with a roommate that snored like a chainsaw! Managed about 5 hours. The night before the race I had the usual nerves, and woke up at 2:15 after about 3 hours sleep. And then couldn't get back to sleep. Tossing, turning...Finally got up at 4:30 and just started getting ready. And the night after the race...well, not a lot of sleep then for another reason.

Race day! My goals were simple - I didn't really care. After getting into Boston, this one was for fun. I haven't had the miles to really go after a PR, and was worried about bonking hard in the last 6 miles. But I thought I could maintain about an 8 minute pace, and see how it went, and then not worry if I died at the end. Still, I needed to go under 4 and I figured I had a decent shot at under 3:40, and I thought just maybe I could surprise myself and beat 3:30 and BQ for 2014. Given the fast course and the cool weather, I was optimistic.

Kara Goucher cruised by us in the lobby as we waited to go. Then we walked the 6 blocks to the Metrodome in the cold. We got separated in the madness, but eventually I made it to the corral with ASchmid3 and I saw BSquared nearby. Sadly I couldn't find TOSuperstar as we were going to run together, but at least I avoided having to listen to three more hours of his "jokes". HA! Those three were all shooting for roughly the same time as me, so my competitive side wanted to beat them, and that helped keep me going later.

It was cold, but I went with shorts, a long sleeve tech shirt, calf sleeves and a thin headband that they gave away. My throw away sweatshirt got tossed right before the start as it didn't seem too bad without any wind. And I had gloves for about 4 miles before I tossed them. I was comfortable the whole time, hardly sweated, and didn't need to take many fluids.

Miles 1-5: Nice smooth start, running with the pack through downtown. I ran with Abby and B2 and the pace got a little too fast as I was hyped up. Tried to relax and bring it down, and a nice little hill helped with that. I was already tired and feeling like I was on half marathon pace. Backed it off a little and B2 caught back up with me. We started running together and found a good rhythm and ended up staying together for 18 miles. By mile 4 I was running comfortably hard. It wasn't just a long run - it was racing, and even though I thought it was too fast, I liked it and I was going to see how far I could ride it.

7:32, 7:57, 7:58, 7:43, 7:45

Miles 6-10: The course was great. Residential with lots of trees with colored leaves, many lakes to go by, people everywhere cheering. I was having so much fun I got choked up a few times at just how great it was. Maybe it was nostalgia or loopfest or the fans or everything, but I was really enjoying myself. B2 and I were mostly side by side and it was nice to share the sights and sounds with a friend. Went by Lake of the Isles, site of my very first cross country time trial in 1977 where I found out I could hang with the varsity. Later we would pass Lake Nokomis, site of many high school cross country races. Lots of memories.
Saw JB at mile 6!
B2 and I found a pace and stuck on it, effortlessly.

7:45, 7:44, 7:48, 7:53, 7:39

Miles 11-15: Maybe effortlessly is too strong a word. It felt good, but the whole time I was thinking "What am I doing? I am going to crash bad at some point." It felt fast. But my gut said go with it. I told B2 I would get him to halfway at least. We went through half at 1:42:52. Over two minutes under 3:30 pace, or "in the bank". I was almost running my LA splits. Yet I was still OK so we just kept running together. Somewhere here I saw a sign that said "Embrace the Suck". Loved it. I vowed I would do that when the time came.

7:43, 7:42, 7:43, 7:46, 7:40

Miles 16-20: Made it to the river. The effort was starting to hit now. I told B2 I may slip back soon, so "Good Luck". In mile 17 he did slip ahead on an uphill but I stayed close. I got maybe 20 yards back. But then a little later I felt better and he was still close so I went ahead and caught back up to him. I was going to hang on as long as I could. I'm sure I could not have kept up the same effort from 13-18 without him, so thanks B! We stayed together for about another mile but then my fatigue really started to get to me. My legs had been sore for miles and I was feeling beat. B2 slipped away just before the bridge at 19. But I was still feeling OK and maintaining a decent pace, considering. I was embracing the suck. Soon I could see the giant inflatable wall at mile 20 and I was through it under 2:37 with over 3 minutes still in the bank. Maybe I could hold on?

7:48, 7:41, 7:48, 8:05, 8:02

Miles 21-26: Or maybe not. It was getting to be quite the effort to maintain the pace, and the hills were ahead. There is a short steep hill in 21 that really knocked me down to a slow pace and another one in 22 that convinced me to walk for about 20 seconds. My legs were REALLY sore, and walking didn't really feel any better than jogging, so I soon got back to it. I had passed TO in mile 21 and knew he was hurting with cramps. But I thought Abby might be coming up behind me at any time, so I didn't want to let her catch me. That helped keep me going. As did the inspiration of so many Loopsters. I thought about Ms Ritz's Berlin race, and the ultra runners and so many others that ran through new levels of exhaustion and pain to do amazing things. i was going to embrace the suck and keep going. It gave me enough positive momentum to push the pain back in my mind and just go one block at a time.

The fans were fantastic too. Screaming fans virtually the whole way really helped keep the energy up. I wordlessly hooked up with one runner for at least a mile here and we ran side by side and some back and forth, helping each other keep going. My pace stabilized in the high 8's and I was able to keep it going all the way in. Every block was tough, resisting the urge to stop, but soon it was only 2 miles to go, and then 1 mile to go, and then one last hill and I would see the finish. There was the cathedral. Momentum returned. And there was the Capitol and the finish line with a big downhill ahead. The pain stepped aside as we all hurried down to the noise and the cameras and the finish. My hams and calves cramped a little in the last 1/4 mile as I was trying to push it in, so I had to waddle it in a little, but I was victorious! Ecstatic!

8:30, 9:06, 8:48, 8:41, 8:57, 9:02 and 7:54 pace for the last 0.48 miles.

Finish time: 3:32:31
We'll call it a 50-54 AGPR. I beat the time I ran here in 2001 at age 39 by a minute.

The pain was great, and it was tough to walk. And cold all of a sudden with some wind, so I needed to find my sweatshirt. I finally got to crash on the capitol lawn and wait for the rest of the loopsters. We shared stories of success and failure, pain and cold and suffering and joy.

Later we watched football in the lobby bar, and then made our way to the Post-race party. Much fun was had by all until they turned the lights up at 12. So about 15 of us made our way to a dumpy little karaoke bar and closed the night with singing, drinking and revelry. Only the lack of a 24-hour diner made us shut the night down at 3AM and finally hit the sack.

So it was another fabulous weekend. A race I was very happy with. A chance to get to know many more new loopsters and hang with some of the best people around.
Now I am taking some time off to rest my knee (which was no problem at all in the race). And then it will be time to do it all again in Marshall. Life is good.


  1. Awe, it makes me choke up reading about your incredible weekend with all the Loopsters. I still remember all the wonderful details when I did the first Loopfest in 2009 in Portland (there were only 5 of us, but we didn't "plan" the event, we just all happened to be running it :)). TO talked highly about you and the wonderful weekend (well, aside from his cramps - bleh!). Glad it all panned out so well for you...onward to Boston - you're going to have an absolute blast!

    Oh, and I think I need to add TC to my bucket list, looks like a gorgeous course!


  2. Looks like a crazy good race on very little sleep and too much social activity :D

    Glad your knee behaved for the marathon! Hope it stays that way for the next race.