Archives For running

If you’ve never run a marathon before, the pre-race chaos of the starting line area can be pretty intimidating, and it’s easy to get away from your race plan. (You have a race plan, right?) After running three of them myself, I’ve come up with a few tips that might help a Twin Cities Marathon newcomer. Some of these may verge into TMI territory, but, hey, we’re runners. We share.

  • Get to the dome plenty early. Better to have extra time than not enough. The dome will be open so you don’t have to worry about standing out in the cold.
  • The lines for the restrooms will be long. Bring your own toilet paper because they’ll probably run out. Just go ahead and get in line even if you don’t have to go right at the moment.
  • BodyGlide is your friend. Use liberally.
  • Put some fresh clothes in the bag that gets hauled over to St. Paul. It will feel good to change out of your marathon shorts and shirt.
  • Don’t wait too long to get to the starting line because the runners line up in order of projected finish times. If you’re shooting for something in the neighborhood of 4:30 or faster, you’ll have to fight your way through a sardine-packed crowd to move that far up.
  • It might be a bit chilly before the race. You can bring an old sweatshirt and just toss it when you get warm enough. (I think they gather up the discarded clothes and give them away.) I used a garbage bag once to stay warm for the first mile or so. I just tore it off and threw it in a garbage can along the road.
  • Resist the temptation to go out too fast. This is hard. You’ll be amped up on adrenaline, and you’ll feel super fast. Don’t do it! Run your race at your pace. If this is your first marathon you should try to run even splits; let the speedsters try to do negative splits. A bunch of those runners that blow by you at the start will be in your rearview mirror by the end.
  • The race pace wristbands are handy if you don’t have a GPS watch.
  • Don’t overhydrate right before the race. If you do you’ll end up needing to use a porta potty at about mile 2. Don’t be suprised to see a line of dozens of men (and some women) lined up against the Sculpture Garden wall peeing. (I’ve done this myself and was surprised when I looked to my left and saw a woman right next to me. I warned you about the TMI.)
  • Look for Supreme Court justice (and former Viking) Alan Page playing his tuba on the right side of the road at about the 2.5-mile mark.
  • Don’t try to run while you take a drink at the water stops. You’ll probably spill half of it on yourself. Take the opportunity to walk for a few seconds while you keep yourself hydrated. Just move over to the side so you don’t get in anyone’s way. You won’t be the only one walking.
  • The pace groups are great if you get a good pace leader. My experience has been mixed. Last year the pace leader I was running with went out way too fast. I don’t think I’ll run with one of those groups again, but your mileage may vary.
  • Enjoy the crowd and the signs. Some of them are pretty funny.
  • If you want people to cheer for you by name, write your name in big letters on your shirt. (Just don’t forget to write it somewhere that won’t be covered by your race number.)
  • The hill up to the U. of St. Thomas from East River Rd is the famous one, but it still goes gently uphill almost the whole length of Summit Ave. Don’t let your guard down.
  • The last bit to the finish line is downhill. It’s a good way to finish, but don’t try to sprint it out. You might hurt yourself, and you won’t take much off your time anyway. Better to enjoy the crowd.
  • Don’t forget to raise your arms in victory as you cross the finish line. Somebody’s taking your picture.
  • If you’re meeting your family at the Capitol, have them bring you some food. By the way, the meeting areas are marked out alphabetically. It’s pretty easy to find one another.
  • Remember to have fun.
  • You might not end up on the podium, but don’t forget that completing a marathon puts you in pretty elite athletic company. You are a tough athlete.

The Twin Cities Marathon is a beautiful race, and you’ll never forget doing it. Do your best to savor the experience. You won’t regret it.

The Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon was my first try at the 13.1-mile distance, and I was bound and determined not to repeat the rookie mistakes I’ve made in previous races. In last year’s Run For Oromia 10k and Twin Cities Marathon, I felt good at the beginning and started way too fast. With my Timex Bodylink GPS system I knew that I would be able to monitor my pace often, and I hoped that I could stick with my race plan and avoid flaming out.

Conditions were perfect today. It was just under 50°F at the start and almost 60°F by the end. It was just cold enough at the start that everyone kept their outer layers on until the last minute. Since the race goes point-to-point, I appreciated the fact that they transported our warmups to the finish for us. The course ran along Lake Minnetonka (go figure from the name of the race) and was hillier than I’d expected. Nothing too steep or long, but lots of them.

My plan was to do the first couple miles at 9:00 pace, 8:45 pace until 10k, 8:30 pace until 10 miles, and then empty the tank in the final 5k.

Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon 2008 Splits

From the looks of the graph, I’d say my game plan went quite well. The two slower miles at 6 and 11 were due to a combination of slowing for water stops and some hills. I’m definitely happy with the trend line. I’ve never been able to do negative splits before.

The official results haven’t been posted yet, but the time on my watch was 1:53:40. I would have been disappointed if I hadn’t broken two hours, and I was hoping to go under 1:55. According to the Running Times Race Time Equivalent calculator, that puts my projected marathon time at 4:01:34. I’d really like to break four hours at Grandma’s Marathon on June 21, so I guess I’m going to need to get my lazy butt out of bed a little earlier and log some more miles.

Update: The results are in. I finished officially in 1:53:42 placing 472 out of 1449 overall and 103/192 in my age group. (One nice thing about turning 40 later this year is that I get to start competing against guys who are older than I am.) My knees are a bit sore tonight, but it’s a good kind of sore.

Tim 1, Marathon 0

7 Oct 2007

My biggest fansI did it. My finishing time was 4:45 which I’m pretty happy with considering the brutal heat. I’d hoped to finish closer to 4:15, but it was 80°+ with a dew point near 70° and I knew that I’d have no chance of going that fast. What weird weather. It’s not supposed to be like this in Minneapolis in October.

I had planned to run in a pace group that was going to come in at around 4:15, but I got the starting line late and I started quite far back near the 5:30 group. I passed the 4:30 pace group after about three miles, but I never did see the 4:15 group. I was right on pace at mile 15, but the heat started taking a toll soon after. I had to do some walking over the last 10 miles, but I finished strong. Luckily the last mile is pretty much downhill. Feel free to check out my marathon photo set.

My knees are a bit sore, but otherwise I feel good. Tomorrow morning will be the true test. I’m planning to wear my marathon shirt to work tomorrow. I hope it looks OK with khakis.

Top three signs seen along the marathon route today:

  1. Caption on large Homer Simpson cutout: “You paid to do this?”
  2. Donna, don’t die!
  3. You’re a freakin’ springbok, dude!

Some of you probably know that I’ve been training for the Twin Cities Marathon. The big event is on Sunday, and I find myself more curious than anything else about how everything will turn out. I’ve put in my miles: 540 miles of training since May. All that’s left now is to line up and run… and run… and run. I’ll post some after-race thoughts and photos sometime next week.

New gadget

20 Aug 2006

Timex Bodylink system

I’ve been running quite a bit lately in an effort to shed some weight and improve my fitness. My old heart rate monitor just gave out so I picked up a new Timex Bodylink on eBay. It’s got a GPS receiver that straps to your arm and tracks distance and speed as well as heart rate. I also signed up for a trial with a cool fitness tracking Web site called FitnessJournal. One of the features of the site is a map that gets updated with every workout and shows your progress in a mythical cross-country journey. You can see my progress here.

This really doesn’t have anything to do with education technology, of course, but if nothing else the FitnessJournal site is one more example of a Web application that replaces what would have been a normal application just a few years ago.