Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Bangle Chronicles - Episode 3: The Return of the Runner (1995)

After a frustrating 2nd marathon in 1991, I cut the running way back for about a year, but eventually I got the competitive itch again and started running more and doing more races in '92 and '93. Then in November '93 I became a Dad.

Ever since the first Baby Jogger was invented in the mid 80's, I thought, "that is gonna be me someday." I think I bought one before my son was even born. Our local race has a "baby jogger" division with a separate start time, and I was already planning for it. He would be 2.5 months - plenty old for a 10K!
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For the next four years, more than half of my mileage was pushing this little guy around. We did a few races and a lot of training. He either slept or enjoyed the view - it was great bonding time as he got older.
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Insert gratuitous cute kid shot here.

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So 1995 rolls around and I decide to give the marathon another try at age 33. I signed up for the Twin Cities Marathon in October ($30), back home in Minnesota. It would be a chance to visit family and friends and run a beautiful course. Training went well. Pushing an extra 40 pounds helped get me into better shape! I was running my best race times since my PR days: 19:13 5K, 40:10 10K and 1:33 half 4 weeks before the race. Plus I got two 18 milers and a 20 miler in. So I was better prepared.

Race day was cold but clear. Probably about 40 degrees at the start. I had my wife and kid and my parents driving around the course and they got to cheer for me three times during the race. Twin Cities is a fabulous race. The leaves are turning, and the race runs around three lakes and along the Mississippi and through some parkland, finishing up in historic St. Paul on a beautiful street filled with old mansions, and a finish line at the State Capitol. So there was lots of beauty, and the people are amazing! Lots and lots of cheering.

I started conservatively and felt really good. Started passing people and was cruising along loving it. Seeing the family, especially my little 2 year old, was a special, but fleeting moment. I had to keep moving! One time he was standing there waiting for me with a power bar in his little hand, and I didn't see him until too late. But my wife yelled for me and I saw him and turned back to get it. So cute. But chewing a power bar while running, without water, was pretty hard! Thank God Gu was invented later.

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So I was feeling good to about 20. Fatigue was hitting, but it was manageable. I took a few walk breaks in the last 5 miles, but was able to get up and going again after maybe 30 seconds. When I got to 25 I knew I was going to make it, and I got all emotional, sobbing while running. The training and effort it took to get there this time was a lot more meaningful. And I had done it! The last half mile is downhill to the finish with thousands of people screaming, so that was easy. It was the most wonderful feeling - one of the highlights of my life. The kind of thing that makes us keep coming back for this torture.

I met up with my family and tried to share the joy, but it is pretty hard to translate to words. But here are some pics.
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Oh yes, my time was 3:26:28. Still 16 minutes off of Boston, but that wasn't really in my sights at the time. I was happy to break 3:30 and finish strong. So much better than the last one!

Next: Episode 4 - The Phantom Marriage (2001)

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