Marathon #9 – Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon – 10/5/14


Marathon #9 / Overall #11 / State #4 (Minnesota)
Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon
Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN

Earlier this year in May I had a horrible oblique strain on my left side, which literally put me OUT of any training for 2 months straight. In the meantime, I had also been starting on a ketogenic diet. My first long run of the season began in Dallas in July when I ran a 10 miler along the trails of White Rock Lake in one hot day… Subsequently, I had been building up mileage since then, including getting a 14 miler one weekend with Kate (we found this old VCR kart along Lady Bird Johnson Park and I pushed it uphill LOL), and a 19 miler in Chicago when I went to the CAP (College of American Pathologists) meeting.

Vo and I had been talking about doing a marathon together for a while now, because I was not able to do Honolulu the year before. We were planning for Chicago, but because of the nature of the lottery system that was implemented the year before (SMH…), I had to look elsewhere. I noticed that the Twin Cities Marathon was in proximity of Chicago (which occurred the weekend after). And I was like, this is my excuse to go to Minnesota because why else would I ever go up THERE…

So I think I did a decent amount of training for Twin Cities, but Vo… not so much haha. I remember one day in August, I was back in Dallas, and we had a late start on a training run. Having parked our cars at the Spring Valley Station, our goal was to run downtown for about 13-15 miles total. It became so hot that we were only able to do complete 10 and called it quits at Mockingbird…

A few weeks prior to the trip, Robert (one of our mutual friends) told Vo that he’d be joining us on the trip. He went with Vo to Honolulu last year and managed to complete the marathon there (in like over 8 hours ha). So it would be a fun trip. None of us have ever been up to Minnesota before.

The Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon is a point-to-point course that started in Downtown Minneapolis and ended at the state capitol in St. Paul. They called Minnesota the land of 10,000 lakes, and there were like 4 lakes that we would go past during the marathon. Then we would cross the Mississippi River and literally hit a wall around mile 21-22.

00 course.png

The three of us flew from DFW into MSP on that Friday morning. When we landed, it was really chilly outside (in the high 40’s with 20-25 mph winds). I noticed that everyone was wearing his or her winter coat and I thought… this is Minnesota and it’s ONLY 40’s so why isn’t anyone wearing shorts lol?

The expo was pretty decently sized.

So it is now October, which means Halloween is near!! For a costume idea, I thought about getting some Halloween candy in a container strapped onto my belt, but testing of that failed miserably…!! So I thought… I’ve never had anything overhead before, what if I get some Halloween balloons from Party City and have them hang overhead?

I purposefully booked a lodging place along a light rail station to make our morning commute to the race site hassle free. The temperatures were down into the low 30’s.

The Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon had 3 corrals, A, B and C. And there were strict enforcement of the corrals!! When you register for the marathon you can put your estimated finish time, and (knowing that we may need a little extra time), I put down our finish time as a 3:45, which placed us in Corral A along with the fast folks…

And it was about 34 degrees at the start, chilly enough for me to wear a trash bag ha…

The race started at 8:00 AM, and Corral A started first. I was trying to keep up with some of the folk up front and realized that they were running a bit too fast, and managed to slow down a bit. Their pace was about a 8:45 min/mi!! Unfortunately, Vo was running with me, and he started out too fast. At some point he was like, “go ahead” and go for your PR…

The next few miles was pleasantly cool yet chilling. Shortly after we left downtown, the course brought us into the neighborhoods of west Minneapolis and the surrounding lakes (see map above). The Twin Cities Marathon was known for the “most beautiful urban marathon in America” and that is indeed true!! The leaves were changing colors at this time but had not yet fallen, so I vividly remember plenty of green, orange, and yellow alongside where I am running. That, and plenty of bodies of water… haha.

While there weren’t a “bunch” of spectators, there were definitely enough to keep us motivated and going. The sun never came out, which was nice. The overall course was going downhill. My pace was pretty consistent around a 9:45 to 10 minute/mile range for the first half of the race into the second half.

At around mile 18-19, we made a turn east and crossed the Mississippi River. This was the lowest point (elevation wise) of the race. Right after crossing the Mississippi River, there was a dreaded wall uphill. People were starting to walk, and to them it probably felt like a mountain… haha. I could definitely feel it, but yet I pushed on until the top of the hill.

The wall lasted for 3 miles before we got to mile 23, and from then it would be all downhill…

Spectators were becoming denser and denser as we got closer to the finish line. As we were approaching the finish line, the clouds were beginning to clear up, and I saw the Minnesota State Capitol right in front with the finish line in sight. My pace had been fairly consistent (although a little slower) in the second half of the race, as I sprinted towards the finish line.

This ended up being my PR to date!! A finish time of a little over 4h 36 min!! I think the keto training helped, but as well as incorporating more strength training. I immediately called Alex and Kate and told them that I PR’d, and Kate even said my splits were pretty even!! Thank God for another great race. I thought I would never come back to Minnesota after this but now I’m having second thoughts… haha.

The overhead “costume” held pretty well except for when I got into St. Paul. The winds were coming from the west, and I was running east. So that meant – balloons in my face constantly :O I can’t count how many times I said “Happy Halloween” during the race LOL… sorry kids no candy for you ha

So now, I’m just waiting around for Vo and wondered how he’s doing. When Robert called me to pick me up, it turned out that he actually dropped out around mile 22… Apparently he had been struggling big time after mile 10, but he was able to man it out for a while, until he fell behind the sag wagon (the vehicle that sweeps people off course if they fall behind, injured, or drop out). But he was so close!! Man… had the time limit be 7 hours he would’ve made it…

Of note, I ran into a lady at the finish line and was able to share a little bit of my testimony… and I ran into an old classmate of mine from med school!! She was doing her residency in Pathology in Rochester, MN, and her boyfriend ran the marathon. That was a pleasant surprise!!

Overall, my 9th marathon had been an awesome experience, and who knew I’d like Minnesota!! Granted, I was there in October, but it was a lot prettier than I had thought!! Walking home with a PR always feels great, but I know I could work my time even more for next time… And yes I’d definitely do this again in the far future. Well supported race both by spectators and the community.

I loved the medal as well, for it was simple but it stood out amongst my other marathon medals.

After the race, Robert drove us to Chicago, stopping in Madison, WI. We spent a few days in Chi-town and did a good amount of sightseeing, and met up with one of my friends from college as well.




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