Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon Weekend

What a weekend!  My coach and I made the tough decision not to race the USA 10 Mile Championship even though it was practically right in our backyard, but I was still active all weekend making appearances and volunteering with Team USA Minnesota.

It all kicked off on Friday morning with a hard hill workout down by the Mississippi River.  I was on my own for this one as most of my teammates were running the Medtronic TC 10 Mile, but I’ve grown to embrace solo workouts so I didn’t mind.  There’s something about being out there by yourself with nothing in front of you but an open road…and maybe the occasional car that drives by to taunt you.  Just kidding – that doesn’t actually happen here.  On the contrary, the people in Minneapolis are extremely supportive and health-conscious, and as such the Twin Cities were recently named the healthiest and fittest cities in America!  I’m glad to be a part of that statistic.  Getting back to the point, the workout went well and I’m happy to report that my fitness is coming back around.  Our patience since the accident seems to be paying off, and now I just can’t wait to get back into racing!

After the workout and a quick shower back home, I headed over to the St. Paul side of the river to man the LifeTime Fitness/LifeTime Run Club Booth at the Race Expo.  While I was there, I signed autographs and chatted with passers-by who really impressed me with their stories and varied backgrounds that led them to run the marathon, 10 mile, 10k, or 5k.  To see such unique people all united by their love of running was truly inspiring – more on this in a minute.

From the LifeTime Booth, I went straight to the elite athlete panel discussion, where I joined three of my teammates, Antonio Vega, Jon Grey, and Megan Hogan, to field a variety of questions from the public about running, training, life as a professional runner, etc.  It took us a few minutes to get warmed up to the crowd and vice versa, but once we got going the time flew by!  We started to get into a groove and I, for one, did not want it to come to an end, but alas, we had another event to get to – the VIP Reception hosted by Twin Cities in Motion.

I was excited at the chance to be able to attend such an event for the 30th running of the Medtronic TC Marathon, where my teammates and I would be mingling with sponsors, community partners, Charter Club Members (those who’d run all 29 previous marathons), elite athletes, and race officials.  There aren’t very many races that put on something like this, but others should take notice of how exceptionally well-organized all of the events were this weekend, and it should be their goal to emulate that success.

Sheesh – and to think that was all on Friday!  On Saturday morning, I was up bright and early to help with the 10k, 5k, and family events that encompassed a mile, half-mile, and diaper dash.  Several of us were running back and forth between the start line, where we led warm-ups for the little ones, and the finish line, where we placed medals around the necks of anyone under 18 years old who finished one of the races.  This was by far the most profound part of the weekend for me and was one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever seen.  Aside from watching kids as young as three years old finishing a 5k with their parents, I also watched people from all walks of life cross the finish line and burst into tears at their accomplishment.  Parents and their children embraced, siblings celebrated, friends exclaimed their support for one another, and the general atmosphere was beyond incredible.  Whether it was their first race or their 50th, these people were rightfully proud of what they’d done for themselves or for the organizations they were running to support.  In fact, I’m almost moved to tears as I sit here writing about it (I’ve got that feeling in the back of my throat – you know the one I’m talking about).  Whatever their reasons for running may have been, I feel honored to have been able to witness their experience with them.

Next up, the elite technical meeting for the USA 10 Mile Championship.  Though I wasn’t competing, I went for the experience and also to meet with a potential sponsor, who will remain nameless for the time being (but I will say that our meeting went very well!).  I have been to a couple of technical meetings in the past for the USA Cross Country Championship in San Diego, CA and the USA 15K Championship in Jacksonville, FL, so I knew what to expect.  It lasted about a half-hour, during which the race director mainly discussed logistics of the race and details pertaining to the elite athletes.  It may seem strange, but considering I have such a detail-oriented, Type-A personality, I rather enjoyed learning about all of the specific components behind-the-scenes that would enable a smooth execution on race morning.

Then, finally, as if it would never come, Sunday was race morning.  I was up at 4 and out of the house by 5:30 to go to the elite athlete gathering area with my teammates to run with them and wish them luck before their race.  After joining them for a few miles on the warm-up, I went to the 8-mile mark to watch and cheer them on.  Why the 8-mile mark?  No, it had nothing to do with the Eminem song or movie by the same name, but it coincides with the 24-mile mark of the marathon, so it’s a great spot to watch both races without exhausting yourself to get from point to point.  It also happens to be where the Twin Cities Running Company, affectionately known as TCRC, parks their RV for the annual race day festivities.  They occupy the same cheering zone every year to … well … cheer and also to serve breakfast (waffles, fruit, a variety of baked goods, etc.) throughout the morning for runners and spectators.  Could there be a better spot to hang out for 6 or 7 hours on a Sunday morning?  I think not.  Spending time at this particular spot was reminiscent of my college days when I would spend hours in the dining hall on Sunday mornings as my teammates trickled in from finishing their long runs.  Oh geez, now I’ve got myself feeling nostalgic.

After supporting the 4-hour plus marathoners as they stampeded through the streets of St. Paul, I called it a day and went back to the house for a long run of my own – not quite a marathon that day for me, but don’t worry, I’ll get around to that soon.

You might think that I would follow up such an eventful weekend with a laid-back, nothing-planned kind of weekend, but that’s not really my style.  My parents are flying out here to Minnesota from Annapolis – their first visit to the Twin Cities – so I have to be sure to show them a good time!  We’ll be going to see my new apartment that I will hopefully be in by the end of this month (it’s right on Lake Harriet), we’ll be going car shopping, and who knows what else we’ll get into.  I hear the apple picking is pretty sweet this time of year :-)

Until next time,

ML

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