I started stalking the weather as soon as I had the 10 day forecast. It started out with 30% chance of rain until on race day with a 10% chance of rain with 53 degrees and cloudy. We landed in
MN and as I walked off the plane it was FREEZING! I couldn’t believe the temperature change. We flew in on Saturday with plenty of time to check in to the hotel and go to the expo. The logistics for this race are pretty awesome. We
stayed in St Paul and walked across the street to the expo.
This expo was pretty small, there were vendors but not a lot of race related. We headed down to the Brooks booth because Kim won the sneakers last year and
they emailed him that he had a present waiting for him. He ended getting a small running bag that read “I conquered the infinite mile”. He immediately put his on his back with pride! We walked around and got our samples
of Larabars, cliff bars and granola, but that was pretty much it for free samples of new products. I typically walk away from the expo with new products to try and a bunch of samples of lotions, cow bells, chips, etc. I was a bit disappointed that
the photo booth wasn’t there this year where Kim and I had the BEST pre-race photos last year and there was no free caribou coffee! They did have Cost Cutters giving haircuts for a donation to Girls on the Run. This marathon you don’t
get your shirts until after the race. We did get some throw away gloves in our gear bag this time. Last year, instead of the gloves, they gave you really nice socks.
Morning before the start:
We woke up at 4:30 with plenty of
time to eat and “do our business” so we would be race ready. I was looking at emails and noticed I received one from Rebecca, the mom who lost her son Chase in the horrible Sandy Hook tragedy. I have been fundraising for the CMAK Sandy
Hood foundation by coaching new runners to do their first 5K at the Hartford marathon 5K for charity. Last week, I was reading her newsletter and she shared how she was struggling with her training for her first Hartford half marathon. She had a difficult
time training. She was dedicating this race to her son Chase who would have been 13 this year. My heart just went out to her. I emailed the contact that I had for the fundraising and asked him if he could relay a message to her. I gave
her some advice about mental toughness that I had written to our marathon training peeps and some suggestions on including some run/walks during the race. She thanked me for the advice. I also mentioned to her how I lost my sister when I was a
teenager and that I feel that my sister “Karen ” is with me when I run marathons because I always get a sign at the races. I always meet someone named Karen. I told her that we all have our inspiration for running. I said
“you have Chase that will pull you through, and today when I run the Twin Cities marathon, I will have you to inspire me.
Transportation to the start:
We picked up the bus around the block from our hotel. We met my MN friend
Dave Shannon and his friend Anna SantaMaria that was running her 2nd marathon at the hotel lobby at 6:15. When we arrived to get on the bus there were no lines! We got on the bus and we were off to Minneapolis. We arrived where
we were dumped off at the MN Viking arena. We waited at this location for an hour. One thing I can say about this marathon is there were more port-o-lets than people! This was great! No lines! NICE! They had UPS trucks on each
of the streets according to the corrals for gear check. Did I mention I was freezing? It was 43 degrees at the start. There was a little wind but it was not unbearable. I had on my sweat pants and a throw away sweatshirt. I also
had hand warmers that definitely did the trick with keeping me warm. I put my pants in the gear check bag but kept on the sweatshirt. When I put the packing tape on my gear check bag, I must have been pretty nervous because when I got to the UPS
gear check line, I looked down and I had the tape dispenser in my hand. There was a women standing in front of Kim at the gear check line that smiled at me in the when I realized what I had done. She looked a lot like my friend Marissa that ran with
us last year that was getting married on the same day of the race.
We got to our corral and found the 3:35 pacer. Kim needed 3:35 to BQ and I wanted to stick with the pacer to keep us from going out too fast. The
horn went off at the start and we were off. It was pretty congested and luckily the people in this wave were all running the same pace so there was not a lot of maneuvering to get around slower runners. I heard Kim say to some tall dude “WOAH,
I was just being cautious trying to avoid your elbows hitting me in the face”, He responded “did I hit you?” Kim said no, was looking down at the ground to watch my footing and then I looked up and saw your elbows.
The guy was pretty tall! I’m pretty sure if he hit Kim he would have taken him out! The guy apologized and we continued on. I like to listen to all the conversations around me. It helps distract me from running. I remember hearing
someone yell “Hey you just ran .2 miles, you only have 26 more to go. I said out loud “Jerk”, and someone else said “Must not be a runner!” The first mile my watch chimed 7:42 – “Kim, we are going
out to fast”, He said “I’ll all balance out”, then mile 2, 3, 4, 6 same pace. Again, “Kim, we are going too fast!”. Kim said “Do you feel okay? I said yes”, so he said “just go with
it”. So we did.
The woman that looked like Marissa was running the same pace as us. She came up next to me and said “do you mind if I hang with you two”? I smiled and thought to myself, this is cool, Marissa
can’t be here today but her twin can still run with us. We started chatting a bit, typical marathon questions, is this your first, what is your goal, and then I said “What’s your name? She said “My name is Karen”.
Kim – I yelled, do you know what her name is? Kim said “It’s not Karen is it? I said to her “OMG, you have to hear my story”. I told her about the email that I sent Rebecca and about my sister. She was
immediately touched to be part of my spiritual experience and was honored to be the sign from my sister. Kim at this point set the pace running ahead of us and let us bond together. He kept us on track for quite a few miles.
We stuck together till around
mile 16 where I started to get horrible stomach cramps. I told her that it was okay to go on ahead so she could get her 3:30 time that she needed to BQ. Kim noticed I was struggling and gave me salt and more fuel. Then I had to start
digging deep and doing my marathon “tricks”, counting steps, thinking of my friends that I dedicated miles, thinking of Rebecca, but it was not helping. I kept reminding myself not to let the negative thoughts take over and to keep going.
Around mile 18, out of nowhere Karen appeared! She had to use the bathroom and caught back up to us. It gave me a jolt of energy to keep going. She started to slip away from us around mile 19. There was a band playing “She was
just 17” by the Beatles that gave me another burst of energy. Finally around mile 23 Kim said “Jeanne, I love you but I want to go to Boston” as he handed me off a couple of Honey Stingers and took off. I slowed my pace trying
to find a comfortable pace where my stomach wouldn’t hurt. I started to walk and this guy said “Hey – you can’t walk, you have to keep going! Start running! So I started to run, and the guy said “See, I knew
you could run!” I can’t say enough about spectators and their words of encouragement. Mile 20-25 is all uphill. I put my head down and chugged along. I heard someone yell “Go 3:35 pacers”! I thought “Oh
shit, he caught up to me” I was hoping to finish around 3:30 and lost a lot of time when I slowed down. I ended up running with the group again and then they slipped by me. I could see the pacer up in front of me. I thought to myself,
hell no, I am not letting him pass me. I got a burst of energy and took off with all the strength I had left inside me. I slowly approached him and then I blew by him. I saw the giant American flag above mile 26. Then, I looked up again
and there it was, the finish line. I kicked up my pace and with the biggest smile knowing I was going to finish! I crossed the finish line with a 3:34:05. I was disappointed because I knew Kim tried so hard to push me to get that 3:30 that I wanted
so badly. I have to admit 3:34 is still not too shabby for a woman my age!
Kim was waiting for me at the finish. We walked through together and got our medals. I don’t think I have ever been so happy and relieved
to get this medal that I hugged the man after he put it on my neck and thanked him. He seemed pretty happy and hugged me back. Kim did the same when he got his. But he hugged a woman. We slowly walked through the finishing area and got our heat
shield blankets and then water. They had chocolate milk, bananas, potato chips and hot chicken broth and bread. I turned back to see where Kim was and there I looked over across the crowd and I spotted Karen. Our eyes met and we hugged
each other. I asked her how she did and she said she ran 3:31 and Boston Qualified. We took a photo with her and made Facebook friends immediately. I’m pretty sure we’ll be in touch for Boston 2020! We parted ways and headed to
get our gear check.
It was FREEZING so when we got to the baggage pick up we were pleased to see how organized it was. All the bags were lined up and we got our bags in no time. I tried to open my carefully sealed duct tape bag and struggled.
The gear bag check guy came over and helped me open it. MN people were so nice! I put on my jacket and it was just wonderful! Nice and warm. Kim and I headed to get a massage but we missed the turn to get one and the volunteer told
us it was too late and they wouldn’t let us back in the finish area. So, we did the next best thing, we got a beer.
We were so cold at this point that Kim and I decided to put on our sweats that we wore to the start. Putting on our
pants was pretty funny. I helped Kim with his and then when he tried to help me I couldn’t lift my legs. We were laughing so hard! Kim’s pulled his throw away pants up to his chest. We laughed so hard until I realized I
dumped my entire beer on the ground. I almost started crying. I went back to the beer table and told the volunteer what happened. She was so nice and gave me one more. We tried to drink our beers but they weren’t the best and the fact
that we were freezing, we decided to head back to the hotel. I dumped out the rest of my beer and this guy was watching me with disbelief. He mentioned something about “alcohol abuse” and I cracked up. We headed back to the hotel
that was about a mile away.
I have to say that this marathon has some of the friendliest volunteers and spectators. There were areas with minimal support and then there were very congested sections with great music and crowd
support. I loved all the Beatles music that I heard throughout the course. I loved the little kids that were eagerly waiting for runners to high five them. The neighbor hoods were absolutely beautiful! They had tables set up with snacks,
tissues, beer tables, bananas, oranges and even grapes! I loved some of the signs that I saw “Give it 100% except when you are giving blood”, “My arms are tired holding up this sign”, “Find a cute butt and follow it”.
The course is rolling hills that feel like more downhill than uphill. The uphill from 20-25 kicked my ass this year the same as last year. Would I run it again? Hell yes! Great people, beautiful course and the best part, I got to run