Thursday, May 30, 2013
Med City Marathon 2013 Race Report
I was so happy to have the opportunity to serve as an ambassador for the 2013 Med City Marathon (HERE). I was even more thrilled to have The Fiance joining me for his first 26.2 mile journey. We did a lot of our training runs together my kid-free weekends over the winter and spring months. We had a tough spring in Wisconsin weather-wise - which made it pretty unpredictable with our training. We had everything from frigid cold temps, snow, rain, and intense heat.
We dropped the kids off on Saturday morning, and headed north several hours to the race expo in downtown Rochester, Minnesota. We stopped in the Lacrosse area for lunch on the way. Parking was available for free. We picked up our packets in a breeze and were told that the race shirts were going to be "finishers shirts" and given to us after we crossed the finish line on Sunday. The expo was small and I picked up a few headbands. After the expo, we headed north to our friends' home in Byron. Ironically, one of The Fiance's friends lived just a mile away from the elementary school in Byron, where the startline would be staged. We arrived at their home and they drove much of the country roads and course with us, which really helped us gain perspective of the course, the hills and scenic landmarks. Much of the course is on paved paths in town, so it was helpful to see the various parks and neighborhoods we would be running through. We then dined with their family at a family-friendly pizzeria in town. We headed back home for a relaxing evening of chatting and early to bed.
We woke up to the alarm at 5:30 am. I quickly rolled out of bed and got dressed in my race attire, that I strategically layed out with my bib number and timing chip the night before. I applied my makeup (yes!) and headed downstairs for the first of several potty breaks and then tried to eat some breakfast. I always have difficulty chewing the morning of a big race, and this morning seemed to be even worse. I downed yogurt, but then had trouble chewing my cereal. I tried several bananas, but they also made me gag. I loaded my handheld water bottle with some H20 and stored four gel packets in it (I only ended up using three of them).
At 6:30, our friend and his daughter drove us one mile to the startline. The race was starting at 7:00. It was dark and looked like a storm was brewing. We got out of the minivan and quickly adjusted to the wind and frigid temperatures. We were grateful we brought along some long sleeve options and layered them over our short sleeve technical tops. After a change of clothes, we headed to the startline to a sea of runners. The half marathon, relay marathon and full marathon would run much of the course together. The full marathon would have only 350ish runners - compared the the 45,000 runners I ran with at Chicago Marathon. The size seemed comparable to Madison Marathon, Lakefront Marathon in Milwaukee and Haunted Hustle Marathon in Middleton.
And, soon, we were off!
The 26.2 mile course is available online (HERE).
The marathon course description:
The Marathon starts in Byron, Minnesota; a community of 4500 people 8 miles west of Rochester. After running a couple of miles in Byron, runners proceed on rolling country roads for six miles. The course then traverses about 6 miles along a creek and lake before entering the neighborhood streets and parks of Rochester and finishes in Downtown Rochester. The course is closed to traffic and very scenic. Miles 8 to finish are relatively flat. Course is USATF Certified and a Boston Qualifier.
We headed on a frontage road and then onto sixish miles of rolling hills and country roads. When we drove the course the night before, I feared the hills and the amount of them. However, I didn't struggle with them like I thought I would. We were on pace with about 9:30-9:45/min miles. I had no lofty goals for this race - I was no near my recent 4:02-4:11 finish times. I felt like I was just "shuffling" along. I didn't feel like I had power in me - but I was moving. The Fiance just had a goal of finishing. But, I could tell that he had a lot of energy in him for the first eighteen-or-so miles.
I was struggling with a cold all week and even took a day off of work the week prior. The cold was effecting me and I felt slugglish and tired. I sipped on a gel packet over a four mile stretch (and would consume only two more over the rest of the journey) and continued to take water from my handheld bottle. I grabbed lemon-lime (ew!) Gatorade at almost every water station along the course.
At about mile 8, we were welcomed to Rochester by spectators and headed out on a nice flat path that wound us all through town. The path was beautiful and reminded me of the Pheasant Branch Conservancy in Middleton, WI. Much of the rest of the course continued to be flat, which was appreciated. However, I felt really, really deflated by my cold. I didn't say much to The Fiance about it until the nine mile mark. Knowing that I still had seventeen miles ahead of me -and I wasn't even to the half marathon mark - I wasn't sure I would be able to finish. I felt paralyzed inside, but kept moving.
We passed some over a bridge and a pretty stream with waterfall, followed by more path. I kept trudging along and picking up Gatorade, hoping I would catch a burst of energy from it.
There was a marathon relay and we quickly realized that they were all wearing white bibs on the back of their shirts. They were passing us left and right with their speed - because they were only running a fraction of course. It as completely deflating. I hated it.
Around mile 11-12, the half marathon runners headed in toward the finish line and we split off to the left. It was very isolated and quiet. At one point we laughed and commented how we felt like we were out together on a training run.
We saw our friends sometime after mile ten. It was uplifting to see them. The volunteers and spectators were super motivating and supportive. But, the clusters of spectators were at the suggested spectating spots or at the exchange points. The rest of the course was pretty quiet. Volunteers and police officers are always super, super encouraging!
We headed into the beautiful Nature Conservancy and it was beautiful under the tree cover. I enjoyed those couple of miles, even though I felt like quitting. I asked The Fiance if he wanted to go ahead, but also said that I didn't think I could finish if I were alone. Of course he stayed with me, as I cranked my tunes and we left the Nature Conservancy and out onto a busy highway for the next mile. As we turned the mile 15 marker, we ran into our friends with these cute signs. It was right when we needed them.
And, then the rain came. It rained ... and it rained. I was so grateful that we put on that extra layer of long sleeves. I could not have continued otherwise. My hair was wet and my clothes were dripping. We dodged puddles and I thought our shoes stayed relatively dry ... though I found out later that they weren't!
At mile 20 I felt better - much better. I got a surge of energy. The Fiance said he needed to use the bathroom and would catch up to me. I knew that if I stopped, that I would not be able to get started again. I zig-zagged the next few miles along the river and through a park. I kept looking back through the rain, and eventually saw The Fiance behind me in the horizon. I was feeling good, and he was slowly catching up. We ran into our friends, who were seeking cover in their minivan, around mile 23. The Fiance was not far behind me at this point, with just over three miles to go. I kept telling myself - only a 5K to go ... !
We headed back along the river and I was trying to calculate times in my head. I had no clue where I was at with pace, but I knew from the beginning that I wasn't going for a PR - or anywhere close. As he still hadn't caught up to me, I ran a couple minutes back to him. It was a great moment, when we caught up again. We zigzagged all over the place together. If I had to retrace my steps of this full marathon course - I wouldn't be able to. I don't recall looping so much in one course. The last two miles seemed the longest ever - even if we were going the slowest ever. Some people were walking - some were passing us. I could tell he wanted to quit the last few miles and I stuck with him. Afterall, he had stuck with me for the first twenty miles, while I felt like absolutely no energy.
We never walked - the entire 26.2 miles!!!
We just ran together - slowly towards the end - and approach that Mile 26 sign! What a sight! I said, "You are a marathoner, Babe!". And he got very emotional and teared up. He got some energy and sped up. I said, "Now, don't go passing me to the finish line!".
We smiled as we approached the wet finish line (maybe me more than him!), with our friends cheering to the left, cameras in hand - barriers lined with sparse spectators, umbrellas and empty bleachers. Not quite the overwhelming noise at the finishline with cheers and cowbell like those I had in Chicago - but quite memorable nonetheless.
We finished together and continue to be a great team - even in an individual sport.
144 female marathon finishers
355 marathon finishers
796 half marathon finishers
100 relay finishers
Thank you to the Med City Marathon for allowing me to participate in this event and write about our journey. I enjoyed experiencing the Rochester-area on foot (the BEST way to explore a new city!).
And, thank you to our wonderful hosts and support crew in Byron - Mike, Jenny, Kyla and Ryan. You were the most thoughtful, coordinated and supportive crew we could ask for!!