#TBT – Mint October, 2007

Mint

Mindi has written 164 posts on Salty Running.

Mint's legs post TCM 2007

For today’s #tbt, we are going to go back to the 2007 Twin Cities Marathon.

Why?

Look at those legs?!  Wouldn’t you post that picture too?  :)

All kidding aside, I was probably in the best shape of my life for that race.  It was supposed to be my last marathon before I hung up my stay at home mom shoes and went back to work full time as a private practice attorney.

But it was a terrible race.

Sort of, anyway.  My race was hard, painful and dejecting, but I do reflect back on it proudly as I learned so much since that time.

TCM 2007 was my 4th marathon.  I ran my first in the Spring of 2006 and was immediately hooked on the distance.  For my second marathon (Fall 2006), I wanted my BQ.  Boston, baby!  I went for it and nailed it.  My running was going great and as a newbie racer, I was PRing all over the place.  It was awesome.

Then I ran Boston 2007.  I had taken my training up a notch and was aiming for a 3:25 race.  It turned out that Mother Nature had other plans, however.  That year the perfect storm hit.  To be precise, a ‘Noreaster descended upon a point to point course that runs to the Northeast.  That meant we faced a crazy headwind the entire 26.2 miles.  It was the first year they almost cancelled the race.  But they didn’t cancel it and I ran – sticking to my plan of 3:25.  By mile 15 the 25-40 mph head winds got the better of me and I hobbled in at 3:43.  It was a painful, miserable experience.  (Why oh why didn’t they just reverse the course and give us a nice tail wind?!)

After Boston, I was determined to get stronger and faster.  So when I started training for TCM 2007, I upped the training ante even more.  I knew it would be the last season I’d have time to log crazy miles as I’d be going back to work full time.  I followed the Pfitzinger 18 week, up to 70 mile per week program.  I followed it religiously, did pilates every day, got extra sleep and ate well.  By the time October rolled around, I was ready to crush it.

Again, unfortunately, Mother Nature thumbed her nose at me on race day.  We arrived in Minneapolis the day before the race and it was 90 degrees.  To add insult to injury, they provided us with winter gloves at packet pick up.  On race morning, it was 70+ degrees with 85% humidity.  It was awful.  Again, I was undeterred (read: dumb) and went out at goal pace.  I knew it was not the wisest choice, and sure enough, I paid for it.  I slowed so much I actually stopped and had a (portion of a) beer at mile 20.  I finished in 3:53:27 – a mere 12 seconds faster than my slowest and first marathon.

I’m not going to lie.  I was pissed off after the race.  I worked so hard and I had nothing to show for it by way of strong race results.  So I asked my husband to snap a photo of my legs.  It was proof that even if race day doesn’t go as planned, I worked hard and was stronger than ever.

Three weeks later, I did something really crazy.  I drove 5 hours – by myself – to Michigan and raced the Grand Rapids Marathon.  I had no idea what to expect racing another marathon 3 weeks after the disaster that was TCM.  I knew it was crazy and I was scared.  What if I totally fall apart?  But I went for it anyway.  And then I freaking nailed it.   I went out at a 3:30 pace, but felt amazing at mile 20 and ended up running a huge negative split.  3:26:12.  Even though it is not my PR, it is definitely my strongest marathon to date.

Grand Rapids Marathon 3 weeks later.

Grand Rapids Marathon 3 weeks later.

So as I reflect on my #tbt, I fondly recall the lessons I learned:

  1. Mother Nature can be cruel.  If she is, slow down.  It’s not worth the hurt locker coming your way if you pretend it’s perfect running weather.
  2. When you run a marathon, you are truly putting all of your eggs in one basket.  You train for 5 months for one day.  Get over it if that day sucks.
  3. Be proud of training even if race day isn’t perfect.  It really is about the process.  One race does not define you.
  4. Put yourself out there, do something crazy, go for it.  Running Grand Rapids was a bit crazy, but a ton awesome.  I doubt anything will ever line up for me like that again.  I am so glad I had the courage to go for it.
  5. Sometimes victory lies where you least expect it.
  6. You can run 70 miles per week even while working.  You just have to get up really early.
  7. Patience is a virtue.  I did not break 3:25 until 4 years and 9 marathons later.
  8. Appreciate those PRs when they come.  Don’t be so serious or hard on  yourself.  One day you’ll look back and wish you could run a race at that pace.

So with that, on this #tbt, I say thanks Mother Nature.  You were cruel, but you have taught me to be more patient, to trust the process and to put myself out there.

I really would like those legs back again, though.

12 Responses to “#TBT – Mint October, 2007”

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  1. Catnip Catnip says:

    Great story! Marathoning is a tough sport! When I got to the end & read your lesson #1, I thought “I need someone to shout that at me repeatedly!” Then I read the rest and they ALL resonated with me. Great story, love that your took that risk. :)

  2. gus says:

    Great story. And legs. ;-) I remember the ’07 TC marathon vividly and you’re right, it was a doozy of a day. It was my 4th as well! By far, my worst marathon experience. On the plus side even a disappointing marathon is pretty decent by comparison.

    I admire your spirit, getting right back out there just a few weeks later and crushing it. That takes grit!

    • Mint says:

      Thanks Gus! The good news for us is we weren’t in Chicago. That was the same day they ran out of water and someone died. TCM was hot, but I recall they had a ton of water.

  3. Garlic says:

    Wonderful, very wise lessons. I love the story, especially since it had a happy (albeit different) ending, and for sure you are a stronger runner for the experience.

  4. I just went through all of this myself. I headed into my second marathon one month ago having done everything right. I was stronger, faster and I was eating better. And at the 8th km it all started to fall apart. I was dizzy, nauseous and just completely miserable. I have never wanted to quit a race so badly. I finished, but there was no rejoicing at the finish line and the days following the race were tough. I forced myself to look back on all of my training runs and be proud of what I had accomplished.
    Just this past Sunday I headed across Canada to do the Vancouver Half. I promised myself that it would purely be for fun. I wanted to cross the finish with a smile on my face having run in a city I had never seen before. And guess what? Despite the time change, the junk food, the lack of a time goal… That marathon training paid off. I took almost 6 minutes off my best time, finishing just over 1:57. Yes, my first sub 2 hour half!
    So, my lesson learned; there is always another race. The training you do for one doesn’t disappear once you’ve done that race. It might be a crappy race day, but that training session will lead to success somewhere down the line.

    • Mint says:

      Yes, tough races can be so brutal mentally. Especially when you fall apart for no apparent reason early on (that’s happened to me too and it’s the worst). But that just makes later victory so much sweeter! Big congrats on your sub-2 half! You are so right – there is always another day.

  5. Salty Salty says:

    Woowoo! Those gams!

    2007 was my jam too! I felt the same way – my last chance to go for it before getting married and having kids. But just like you, I realize I can keep going with the crazy schedule – it just takes a lot more flexibility on my part. I love the lessons – an addendum to #1 – instead of rigid time goals, the key to success when marathoning is to make the goal to do your best with what the day brings. There’s so much we can’t control, but if we do our best with whatever nature, life, etc throws our way it’s a lot harder to be disappointed in ourselves.

    Why didn’t we meet at Boston and how is it that we haven’t been in the same town at the same time since?!

    • Mint says:

      I remember that! I have no idea why we didn’t meet up at Boston. We definitely need to make it happen some time soon though!

  6. CC says:

    wow. this is one of the best posts I have ever read on this site. The lessons learned section is well versed and so true. Thanks for the great, inspirational story and some good reminders :)

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