On Thursday I decided I had to go for the Loony as my legs seemed good enough and my injuries seemed manageable and it's what I signed up to do. With the decisions made I needed to figure out my approach and since I just wanted to finish the marathon, my plan was to run it between 12 1/2 and 13 minute miles for as long as I could and hopefully beat the time limit. I knew I would be doing a Galloway run-walk of 45 seconds running, 45 seconds walking and that this pace should be doable. So with that in mind I figured I would run the 10k at around 13 1/2 to 14 minute miles and then do the same for the 5k.
On Friday, Karyn and I went to packet pick-up and she decided to sign-up for the 5k. It felt good to walk around the TCM expo again, quite a few vendors and I even won a coffee mug at the Caribou challenge so it had to be my weekend, right :-), thank you Caribou and all other sponsors of the events.
On Saturday, Karyn and I decided to drive separately since the 10k started an hour and a half ahead of the 5k so I got to the capital with about a 1/2 hour to get to the start line. The one thing I liked about doing this event is that it got me oriented to the capital, where to park, how things were set-up and so on. For the 10k, I figured I would do the Galloway run-walk but slow things down to not let me push myself too hard. Well that lasted about a 1/10th of a mile when I looked at my watch and saw that my pace was sub 11, so I chose to walk a bit longer than planned with the hope that I get things back on track. Once I resumed the run-walk it became apparent that I was going faster then I wanted so I said to myself, whatever, take what you got just don't push it. Even though I stopped twice to talk to some friends along the course, my average mile pace was 11:39. Oops.
I had planned on running the 5k with Karyn and figured that I would be able to hold her pace, Not sure where I got that idea as she went faster than I thought, our average mile pace was 11:16. Oops, again. So I knew that I had blown it a little bit and might pay a price in the marathon but everything felt good so, what was I to do? I didn't push the pace in any of the events it's just where things seemed to go.
On Sunday, Karyn dropped me at the light rail in Bloomington and I was off to the marathon start. We thought it would work logistically to take the light rail and it did, there were a handful of runners on the train. There was a beautiful orange glow across the horizon as the sun was coming up, it was shaping up to be a great day for running. As the train arrived it was almost surreal to see the Metrodome gone and the emerging skeleton of the new stadium starting to form. I wasn't sure how the logistics would work without the dome so after I found the porta pots, I started trying to figure out where the start was. The temp was in the low 30's and I had decided to forego a drop bag and put the extra top I had into my Nathan. It seemed like a good plan as it allowed me to carry everything I would need. As I was heading to find corral 3, a friend found me and we walked over together. She is the girl (women) who I finished Grandmas with and had come into Twin Cities with minimal training mileage as well. We talked about starting together but after she went to drop her bag and find a porta pot we never saw each other again. I chatted with some runners as I stood beside a building to block the wind and started to think through how I would approach the day. I had my run-walk app on my phone ready to go and was going use my bluetooth headphones for the first time in a long distance event. I had decided that at the start I would use my Garmin to figure out the run-walk sequence as I wasn't sure I would hear the app.
Before I knew it, we were off, again my plan was to run 12 1/2 to 13 minute miles and I knew it was critical to do so early in the race. My first mile was 11:43, mile 2 - 11:52, mile 3 - 11:23, mile 4 - 11:48, I think you get the drift. I was running totally within myself and thought I can maintain this, the run-walk was working great up to Lake Harriet. As I came through the water stop my headphones started beeping and I thought what's going on? So I pulled them off and looked at my phone, my battery was being drained fast. So I shutoff the Bluetooth and figured I would just carry the phone and keep looking at the timer. That worked well and I felt great until I got near Nokomis and saw my phone flashing a low battery warning. I knew I might need to call Karyn when I got done so we could figure out where to meet, so with that in mind I shut off the phone but more importantly my run-walk app.
Now I had to use my Garmin as I had no other watch and the way my Garmin has always been set I can't see seconds once the time is over an hour which wasn't good for a 45 second interval. So I decided to use distance which effectively meant run for .1 mile, walk for .06 mile (I had figured out this ratio during my training). It was working ok except it meant every 30 seconds I was looking at my distance which meant I was also observing where I was on the course. It went something like this, 15.1, oh I still have 11 miles to go, 15.16, still 11 miles, 15.26, still 11 miles. I think you get how this wasn't really a good thing.
So I ignored my watch and went by feel, that was ok but not good, then I tried light poles, same thing, ok but not good, it all kind of worked but I was slowing down. Part of the issue was the mental energy I was expending but I was also having pain. My knee had twinged a couple of times but the foot was going from feeling every step to hurting on every step.
So I continued to lose time but I kept moving forward. I was smiling and chatting with people and just happy to be out there, I had seen this picture before and the thought of it kept coming into my head. I was doing TCM, I was out here, I was enjoying myself, I was feeling like a runner. I was enjoying every moment of my day. I continued my journey down Summit and was just soaking it in. I saw Karyn at mile 24 and we chatted a bit and then I continued on to the finish. My thanks to TCM, all the volunteers and spectators for making my 10th TCM a great memory.
One thing that I ended up liking about the Ultra Loony Challenge was the bling you get, I had tpo pay an extra $95 and this is what I got for it, 2 additional races, 3 additional shirts (I really like the Brooks pullover), 3 additional medals and a pair of TCM socks from FitSok plus of course my TCM finishers shirt, medal and another pair of socks. So is it worth the extra money? For me, yes but more for the extra fun it allowed me to have. I really enjoyed running the 10k and 5k and yes I enjoyed chatting with a few folks about doing the Ultra Loony Challenge during the marathon, they were like you are one of them, of course I told them, yes but probably the slowest of them.