Frosty finish

It had been 3 years since I raced the Twin Cities Marathon, and it wasn’t quite what I remembered.

It was nearly perfect in some aspects: terrific and educated volunteers, well organized and vibrant fall colors lined the course. And the route hadn’t changed – but my memory had faded a bit.

The Twin Cities course went through some of Minneapolis’ best neighborhoods and along its beautiful lakes. But memory failed me in recalling the little hills in the first 18 miles – none were big but the cumulative effect certainly took its toll. Ironically, the big hills in St. Paul didn’t seem tough, even though they came between miles 21 and 23.

Going into this race, there were certainly some factors that played into my performance, and the weather had me guessing what to wear. On normal long runs, I bundle up and wear lots of layers when it’s cold. Doing that while racing can be a huge mistake.

My solution was wearing a lawn trash bag, and keeping it on as long as needed. It would help keep some of my body heat trapped while blocking the slightest of breezes which dipped wind chills to 25 degrees.

The idea was that I’d ditch the trash bag when I warmed up, and about mile 5, I almost did. But running along the Minneapolis’ lakes, and feeling the breeze off the water, encouraged me to keep it on. At the halfway point, I looked to tear it off but then more and more spectators began cheering on the “garbage bag man.”

Normally not one to write on my bib or wear something to garner comments, the encouragement seemed to keep my mind off the growing blisters in my sock during a run that was significantly longer than my training runs. I kept it on all the way to mile 25. But it also played against me: sweating underneath the bag kept me soaked, and probably colder than I would have been otherwise.

A few other factors, including running a little too fast for several miles in the first half of the race, made for a slower finish time.

Overall, it was a fun and memorable race, made even more fun by grabbing water at mile 19 from my friend Kelly, who was there cheering me one, and catching up with a high school buddy, who crossed the finish line about 5 minutes before me.

To find race results – you can sort by name or city if you like – click here.

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