Here is my 10 second race recap: On Sunday I “ran” the Twin Cities marathon. The gun went off at 8. I dropped out at 9:23, just beyond halfway. The pace felt easy. My ribs felt terrible. I cut my losses early to prevent further damage.
This was my 7th trip to Minneapolis with the previous six occurring in July for the Lifetime Fitness triathlon. What a difference a few months make. July: hot and steamy. October: crisp and beautiful. Fall in the mid-West is a colorful spectacle replete with cool mornings and warm, sunny afternoons -- perfect weather for running a marathon.
I was granted elite status for this race which was a huge coup. Twin Cities in Motion, the organizers of the marathon, really know how to treat their elite athletes; they provided airport transportation, hotel rooms, a fully stocked hospitality suite, massage, a race morning staging area, a beautiful course jammed with spectators and a general conviviality rarely seen in triathlon. I felt welcome, that my presence at the race was meaningful. I felt guilty about dropping out after their wonderful kindness and it unquestionably made me want to return next year to finish my unfinished business.
Most of the marathon athletes stayed at the host hotel. As a newbie to the running scene, this offered me the opportunity to take a peek into a world that is utterly unfamiliar. I felt like an interloper, although I found most people gracious. I even made a new friend.
The morning before the race, I set out for a run with Jim, an athlete I coach who was also running the race. Two African runners headed out with us. I figured they would pass us quickly and leave us in the dust. Nope. They stayed behind us, which was incredibly disconcerting. Was I running too fast? Surely they should have been in front of us. One of the guys turned back quickly, but the other stuck with us. I had a few pick-ups to do. I sped up, he sped up; I slowed down, he slowed down. My new friend told me that he is from Ethiopia.
Upon arriving back at the hotel, New Friend asked if we were going to stretch. All three of us traipsed upstairs to the fitness room and went through our individual routines. When New Friend decided to weigh himself, Jim became very interested and asked me to take a peek. I felt uncomfortable, like a Peeping Tom. When New Friend had trouble working the ancient doctor’s office style scale, Jim readily helped him out. New Friend’s weight? A mere 126 pounds. In his sweats and shoes. Jim stepped on the scale for comparison and it topped out at 186 pounds. I pointed out that Jim was a half a person heavier than New Friend (and almost a foot taller)! We have been laughing about it ever since. (New Friend, Berhanu Girma, ran 2:19.45).
So now what? I let myself mope about yesterday, but today I feel rejuvenated and ready to tackle this injury anew. I am starting a strength program from scratch to help rebuild the muscles that have atrophied due to the injury. I am going to continue to run, but back off the intensity for a short while. I have been in contact with a surgeon in Canada who is familiar with this injury and may be able to provide insight on how to progress.
My marathon future is somewhat uncertain, but I am going to everything I can to get to the start line of a race before the December 16th deadline for Olympic trials qualifying.