tc marathon: uggen battles t-paw!
i ran the twin cities marathon today. when i did my first marathon ten years ago (also the tcm), i was just curious. i've probably done 15 since, with my best time coming during a sabbatical year when i "trained." according to the preliminary results, i finished 1,021st, which is just shy of the big prize money. here are a few post-race observations:
- i no longer pay much attention to the clocks and just trust my body. when i get out of breath or when something hurts, i generally slow down. otherwise, i just go as fast as i can. people tell me i smile constantly throughout the race.
- a couple years ago, i spent a week in an exchange program with yuko arimori, a marathon silver medalist for japan. when i sheepishly asked her for training advice, she said "you are a good runner -- just try harder during the race -- not before." i think of this every race. it reminds me that if i want to run faster, i should just run faster. yuko rocks.
- i did notice the clock said 1:42 at the halfway point, but looked down at my little belly bouncing and knew that i was in no shape to sustain that pace. i made a solemn vow to forego all beer and french fries until the next marathon. [of course, 1:42 is only fast for me. the male winner, mbarak hussein, ran the first half in 1:08 and finished the marathon in 2:18. nicole aishe, the women's champ, finished in 2:40 in her first marathon.]
- the vow to forego beer lasted from 9:42 am until about 10:32 am, when i had a frosty cup o' james page around mile marker 18. there is always a contingent of hospitable "hashers" ("a drinking group with a running problem") somewhere on the course -- i think they might have been madison ex-pats. i'd never partaken during a marathon before, but it tasted plenty good on this hot day. i also had some fine peanut m&ms as we crossed over into st. paul.
- the vow to forego french fries lasted a bit longer -- from 9:42 am until 12:45 pm -- when i ate bbq ribs, brisket, chicken, corn muffins, baked apples, baked beans, and several pounds of steak fries. wait, steak fries are ok, right? i said french fries were the problem. oh yeah, and another heineken.
- a sublime power pop band, the hopefuls, played the post-race party. the guitar parts came in both chunky and creamy varieties and the bottom was terrific (here's a short video). i'm always emotional after a race and catch myself weeping at the strangest things (in the manliest possible way, of course. in fact, it looks more like "leaking" than crying. really!). this time it was the harmonies of these twenty-something smart-alecs and a dozen or so pogo-ing teenagers dancing. it was a beautiful thing. great backing vocals are pretty rare in the alt-rock world these days (ok, fountains of wayne is a nice exception). it was an inspired pick for a post-race show -- and not just because of the cheezy track suits (they had been the "olympic hopefuls" but i guess the good folks at the u.s. olympic committee have attorneys who nip such things in the bud).
- as i've noted before, i am now a "masters" runner. today, i wore a little tag on my back that said "male 40-44." this would really bother me in most settings, but such labels might be useful in sorting things out at parties or clubs. unfortunately, 153 males age 40-44 were faster than me today, including the winner, mr. hussein. my only hope of bringing home trophies or other hardware is to show up at small races. maybe during snowstorms. i placed 6th among 53 runners from shoreview (we suburbanites are built for comfort, not for speed) and 11th of 42 christophers (i just love searchable results).
- my training is pretty simple. i run 3-4 miles when i have the time during the week -- mostly to a community center, where i can do a little strength training -- and then i do a longer run of at least 13 miles on the weekends. no hills, no intervals, and i don't even know what "fartlek" is. when i get closer to a marathon, i'll stretch the long run to 20 miles or so.
- only getting a couple hours of sleep the night before or having a little cold has surprisingly little effect on my performance. there were no major injuries this time, but a few minor "issues" arose. in ascending order of importance: right foot, left knee, big toe, small intestine.
- they bill the tcm as the "most beautiful urban marathon" and it might be true. one runner asked me whether all minnesotans lived in leafy lakeshore mansions, and i told him that only the sociology professors did.
- there was some nice music today along the course. it was strange to see a tight but surprisingly funky band of navy personnel in their dress white uniforms playing stevie wonder's (or stevie ray's or the rhcp's) superstition: "when you believe in things that you don't understand, you will suffer..." there was some nice 70s radio-friendly funk (brick house, dancing in september), rockabilly, and hip-hop at house parties and lots of smiling kids. slapping hands with kids along the route is a guaranteed energy boost, so i grabbed every hand like a politician at the state fair.
- alan page (boyhood hero, former viking, and current minnesota supreme court justice) turns out around mile 3 to play his tuba and oom-pah us on every year. paul wellstone was missed again -- i think of him exhorting us to the finish near cathedral hill (and nobody exhorted one on like paul wellstone), but i could be mistaken. his famous green bus showed up at least one year too. jesse ventura sometimes attends, but i haven't seen him lately. minneapolis mayor rt rybak gave me a cup of water today, but it wasn't the same. also, i missed seeing jeylan mortimer's son kent, a monster drummer who kept a monster beat and smiled beatifically every year atop a particularly tough hill (he moved on to the east coast this summer). with the warm weather, there were people along the streets almost the entire route. seeing friends with their kids always gets me moving.
- i don't get very competitive about running (shut up! i said "about running" didn't i?), but i had one goal today: beat tim pawlenty. mr. pawlenty is minnesota's republican governor, a south st. paul native, and my arch-nemesis in the "male 40-44" category. i didn't see him along the course (what, do i have eyes in the back of my head? ok, i'll stop, i'm really not competitive about running). still, i only got him by five minutes today (t-paw ran a respectable 3:43), so i may have to revisit that beer and french fry thing if i want to keep him in the rear-view next year.