Saturday, May 31, 2014

Med City Marathon Recap

Marathon morning came abruptly at 4:45 AM. With the time change, this felt like 5:45, and I actually sprang out of bed to get ready. Despite feeling blah-ish (technical term) the prior few days about running another marathon, I had a change of heart race morning. I was ready to go.

Michael and I wanted to be at the shuttle pick-up about as early as possible, since we didn't know how crowded the parking would be or how fast the shuttles would run. It turned out there was no reason to worry. We got the second spot in the closest parking garage and got on the second shuttle. We waited about ten minutes before departing for the eight mile journey to Byron and the start line.

Assembling all the shuttles ahead of time was brilliant! Though I do feel bad for the drivers at the end of the line.
The drive wasn't long at all, and we walked right up to the packet pick-up table. We had plenty of time to use the bathroom and eat some of the pre-race food provided. This was our third race as Maniacs but our first pre-race picture. I can't find it was posted anywhere (is there a Maniac secret to this? Fill me in!), but we both felt like cool kids being in the group. The announcers were from a radio station (I'm pretty sure), so they did great at working the crowd and made a big deal of the group photo.

We had a great time chatting in the starting chute. One woman recognized the Fargo jacket I had been wearing pre-race and came to tell us she was using Med City as her second race to qualify. Awesome! I love how people are excited to join. Another guy came to ask how to qualify, and we were able to give him the good news that he already had, which seemed to make his day.

I can't recommend the Marathon Maniacs enough. As a relatively shy person, wearing a yellow jersey to races removes all the awkwardness of meeting people. We snapped our own photo (made easier because we could ask a Half Fanatic!) and were off.


The first eight miles of the race took us from Byron back to Rochester. Quite a few people came out to cheer at this point, which was a nice surprise. The rolling hills, however, were not. We need to learn to not ask locals about hills - they said there were none-, since we have none in Michigan. Flat to pretty much anyone else is mountains to us. 

Despite this, we kept up a sub-12 pace, and the miles seemed to be flying by. The farmland was super scenic, especially in the early morning light.

When we hit Rochester, we were directed onto a series of multi-use paths throughout the city. I'm so jealous of the city's residents. I love the rail trail by my aparyment, but it can get very tiring to see the same stuff every run. I doubt people in Rochester ever get bored, they have so many choices!

Aid stations were spaced every two miles, and just as we were about through the first one in Rochester proper, one of the volunteers mumbled something about donuts. We whipped right back around. After futilely hoping the last two marathons, our donut prayers were finally answered.

And the answer was delicious.
We spent the majority of the race on these paths. Once again, I was a bad blogger and didn't take a ton of pictures. The race was super pretty throughout, but there were no major sites to capture. Just imagine the below picture for about 12 miles, and it's a good approximation of that part of the course.

This was also the point at which we picked up a man we called our BFF. Our BFF wasn't very socially perceptive and would suck us into conversation during our walk breaks and not pick up cues we wanted to start running again. You know, subtle things, like, We're going to start running now. He told us about everything under the sun. At one point he even booked it to catch up with us to tell us a race name he had just remembered.

He seemed like a lonely old guy, and I feel bad for poking fun at him, but it was frustrating that he wouldn't let us stick to our own race plan. We managed to get away from him on a twisty forest path and didn't see him until the finish. At which point we watched him take an empty box and cram it full of food. Got to give him props for that.

Miles 8 through 20
The course did get extremely lonely after the half split off at mile 12. This is also where the heat started to really affect us and slow our pace. The second 13.1 had almost no shade, and I felt like my head was baking in the sun. We had put on sunscreen, and I somehow didn't burn, so I think it was really more a combination of prolonged exposure and increasing dehydration. I'm really surprised (but pleased) neither of us ended up with heat exhaustion.

This was most likely due to the race taking awesome precautions for the heat. Every aid station starting at mile 10 had ice. I noted EMTs specifically posted at all aid stations beginning at mile 14. There were also a few EMTs on bikes and some in a cart to patrol the less accessible parts of the course between stations. The aid volunteers did a great job making sure we got everything we needed and encouraged us to take more. No side-eye for two cups of water here. At some points I was even juggling five cups of fluid.

The last six miles of the marathon were absolutely diabolical. At the 20 mile mark, the 20 milers got to finish. Crossing a line at this point with a 10K to go was pretty demoralizing. To add insult to injury, the course quickly took us within a stone's throw of our finish line before leading us away for a final loop. We were treated to nice views of downtown Rochester at this point, at least.

If I had to guess, this part of the course had the least amount of shade (none), and we were both struggling. Around mile 22 my foot started to ache with what I assumed was a cramp. I tried to stretch it, but it was in such a weird spot, I couldn't turn my foot enough in my shoe to get at it. I managed to get close to relief once, but my quad had no strength to hold the position I needed for more than a second. (I realized after the race it was actually tendonitis, but my magical chiropractor nipped it in the bud, and it now feels 100%!)

I was close to tears at one point and probably would've started just yelling like a caveman as I ran if I had been alone. Instead I just whined to Michael every few steps about how much it hurt. Somehow, this did not help at all.

If it wasn't already obvious, there was a lot of walking involved at this point. We were both so overheated that keeping our heart rates down was essential to remaining somewhat comfortable. This is when we met The Bitch. She was an older, unassuming woman who came trotting up behind us and yelled PICK UP THE PACE, MANIACS! 

I thought this was incredibly rude to say - it definitely was not in an encouraging manner-, especially at mile 24 of a marathon on a very hot day. You have no idea how the other person is feeling, so to belittle them is just about the worst thing to do. Who knows why they are walking? We assumed this would be a one-off comment and tried to ignore her, but after one or two more screeches went unanswered, she pulled up beside us to ask DON'T YOU KNOW HOW TO TALK?

I responded that we were feeling tired. Apparently that was not okay, because EVERYONE'S TIRED. YOU NEED TO HAVE FUN. 

We were blown away by how rude she was, and, if I had any energy to spare, I would've had a few choice words for her. It helped that some finishers cheering us from a spot of shade scoffed and shook their heads at her. I'm glad someone else was just as stunned.

Michael and I did our best to forget about it when Mile 25 finally came up on us.


The torture was not yet over. We once again went within sight of the finish line before having to jog around the Mayo Clinic to come at the line from the other direction. I swear this measured extra long, but we finally crossed! The same announcer was there and told the crowd about us running Fargo two weeks prior. I loved how the race really embraced Maniacs, even though there weren't that many of us. 

Finish Time: 5:55:33

The food at the finish was sponsored by Costco, so we had tons of options to choose from. Chowing down on apples and caramel was definitely a nice treat. They were in the process of condensing the finish chute, so we did have to ask other runners where bag pick-up was, but we managed in the end. They also still had women's small shirts left, even that late. I was pleased as punch to not get a bag to wear.

We did have to ask where the parking garage was. We knew it was close but not which way to go. I guess we looked in pretty bad shape, because the beer tent people we asked basically asked if we needed to go to the med tent. We were fine, just a bit turned around!

Overall, I loved this race! I'm so glad we picked it for Minnesota. If it had been 20 degrees cooler, the course would have been even more amazing, but the organizers did a great job adapting to the heat. People couldn't believe we did something that wasn't Grandma's, but I loved the whole experience.

Even if my hair didn't.

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