I went into this year's Ultra Loony Weekend about like last years. Somewhat injured which made me think, why I am doing this. That's easy, because I enjoy it. Yes I would enjoy it a whole lot more if I had no injuries but I still enjoy myself.
Turned out, I took a bit longer to recover from Walker then I had planned, my legs felt great but my PTT had my foot/ankle hurting. My post Walker runs were not good but I was able to get through them and I figured I should still go for it as I made it last year and I was no worse than then.
I met Karyn at the expo again this year, she had decided to run the 10k which meant we could drive up together and run the 10k together. At the expo, I ran into quite a few people I know. I talked with Dane L. who was running backwards from the finish to the start and then back to the finish as training for Javelina, oh to be an ultrarunner again. I then ran into John Storkamp and to my surprise he knew my name, pretty much made my day. I suffer what many back of the packers probably do, I know about all of the runners by name but figure that they don't know who I am as why should they. I had a similar experience a few years back when Helen L. (now S.) knew my name when I weighed in at FANs. Anyway, it was nice, I also ran into a neighbor who was running the 10 miler and a former co-worker who was also doing the 10 miler. My other highlight of the expo was when I stopped by the Twin Cities in Motion booth and when they heard I was doing the Ultra Loony Challenge again, one of them said so that makes you a charter member which means I will be doing it again next year and the year after and so on, well you get the idea. I picked up my numbers and shirts and Karyn got hers and we were out of there. When we got home though I noticed that Karyn had a 5k chip and shirt, oops back to the expo to get the right chip and shirt.
We got to the 10k in plenty of time, parking again at the same garage as last year which was free and close to the festivities, sure beats paying the $20 for the Sears lot. We ran the 10k together with no issues, I did my run-walk after the first mile and it went pretty well. A little slower (about a minute and a 1/2) than last year but the foot didn't bother me too much. For the 5k, it was chaos, as some walkers got too close to the start so runners were going around, add in all the young kids and I saw 4 or 5 runners get tripped up and hit the pavement. Once we got up the hill, things spaced out a bit and I was able to get into my run-walk routine, for the 5k my time was about a minute faster than the year before but the pace seemed fine and although the foot was sore I was still optimistic about the marathon.
The race started and my plan was to use the run-walk approach and if it went well, to finish in 5 1/2 hrs if the foot worked ok, maybe faster. It's funny for me to say that I use the run-walk approach as I can't run longer than a few minutes at a time.
Things got off a bit rocky when I looked at my Garmin after a few minutes of running and it showed a 15 minute/mile pace which caused instant stress. I was running and expected to see 10 min/mile pace. It turned out ok as I hit the 1 mile marker at just under 12 minutes with my Garmin showing the distance at .85 miles which explained the slower early pace. After that it was accurate and I stayed focused and relaxed. I saw a co-worker at mile 4, ran into Scott Huston around mile 8 or so, we chatted briefly and then I continued.
It was shortly after that when my foot/ankle started causing me more issues. I tried to focus on my form which can help me ignore the pain but by mile 12 I knew the day might go longer than I hoped. I held things together until around mile 15 when I almost had to sit down as the pain was so intense. I hopped on it a bit and walked through it and then walked a bit more and it calmed down but the problem with the foot/ankle is that when it gets intense I walk slower and run slower as I can't push off and I lose time which causes stress. I accepted that my time goal might be lost and hobbled my way forward.
I just wanted to get to the Franklin bridge, and then the Medtronic water stop, Alarc wall, St. Thomas hill, have a beer somewhere on Summit and eventually get to the cathedral one more time. One thing that kept going through my head when I debated dropping before the bridge was that I can't as I am a charter member of the Ultra Loony so I had to keep going. I had my beer around mile 23 (thank you Growler) and then just kept going and although it seemed like forever it was over with before I knew it. My slowest Twin Cities ever (5:49:06) but it was a marathon and an Ultra Loony finish so I was happy to have it over.
This year everything worked out, the volunteers were fabulous, the weather was the best ever and the course is gorgeous. My thanks to the organization, sponsors and volunteers, great event. Can't wait until next year to do it all again.