9th State and 14th Marathon! Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, Oct 6, 2013
Why Twin Cities? I lost count of how many times I was asked this question leading up to the marathon and once we arrived in MSP (Minneapolis-St.Paul). “You came from NC to MN for the marathon? Wow!” Yep,Twin Cities Marathon has been on my list of “must dos” since I decided to conquer all 50 States…before I die, or die trying. Little side note- RIP, Joy Johnson, 86, whom died a day after running her 25th NYC Marathon. What an inspiration! I always tell my family, If I die running, know I died doing what I love.
Back to Twin Cities- Bart Yasso, whom I may be a tiny bit obsessed with, raved about Twin Cities in his book My Life On the Run. If by the way, you have not read this book you are totally missing out. After reading about just a few of Bart’s 1,000+ competitive adventures and being thoroughly entertained, I decided any events he put on a “must dos” list would be added to my bucket list. Thanks BART! Your recommendations have not failed me yet.
Additionally my fav gals, Sarah and Dimity of AnotherMotherRunner.com (whom I am a self proclaimed “SUPER FAN”), raved about their 2012 Twin Cities Marathon Weekend experience. Little did I know, prior to registration and arrival, we would share a very special AMR connection. More on that later I promise…
So, Twin Cities Marathon landed on my 2013 race calendar. Laura (my 50 States partner, BRF, and recent newlywed) was consumed in her hectic personal life and for the first time in three years could not commit to a fall race. The beauty of our running relationship is that when we decide to do a race we don’t deliberate and ponder we “JUST DO IT” often via just text communication.
Luckily, my long time buddy Leigh, intrigued by my 50 states quest, was ready to tackle her second marathon. No convincing needed she signed up, booked her flights and our hotel! MN Bound!
My second recruit,BRF and Raleigh-CrossFit buddy Katherine, begrudgingly agreed to tackle Twin Cities (her 3rd marathon) if I would do Tough Mudder, Charlotte, NC with her in Oct. Being an endorphin junkie, perhaps under the influence of an endorphin high, I did not hesitate and signed up for Tough Mudder. AFTER, signing up I viewed the videos….Artic Enima, electrocution, etc. What had I gotten myself into? Clearly, I had not learned my lesson. (Pine Mountain 40 Beatdown) Oh well, seemed like a great trade off and opportunity for a new adventure. Sadly, Katherine, fell victim to an ITband injury and had to cancel running Twin Cities 😦 On a happier note, we did conquer and survive Tough Mudder- Charlotte on 11/3. Blog post coming soon!
Leigh and I arrived in Minneapolis on Friday afternoon and headed straight to our hotel, Residence Inn at The Depot, walking distance to the start line! We unpacked and laid out all our running gear (a running travel tradition). Nothing was forgotten…always a good sign! Ready for lunch we walked across the street to The Crooked Pint. I promise not to bore you with what we ate all weekend but I have to tell you I had not idea how much Minnesotan’s love their tater tots! Never having a tater tot that did not come out of a freezer bag, I found the Jumbo, house-made tater tots with Serrano peppers, bacon, and cheddar to be a delicious welcome to this first time Minnesota visitor. Hence, thought #1 I could live here! However, a diet of tator tots is likely not in my best interest.
After our late lunch we headed to the expo at the St. Paul River Center. This was Leigh’s biggest marathon and marathon expo so we put a strategy in place to make sure we covered it all. After we got our bibs, we headed to the furthest corner to start our expo journey. We were both really excited to visit the AnotherMotherRunner.com booth. Boom! Right before our eyes it was the first booth we saw! We practically ran into as we rounded the corner.
The minute we reached the booth,it was an instantaneous party and the beginning of our AMR CONNECTION! I can only imagine how loud we were or how this looked to the other expo visitors. JoAnn and I quickly made the connection that we had exchanged tweets days prior to the expo. Got to love social networking! We shopped, shared stories of our AMR connections to Sarah and Dimity, took pictures, got restaurant referrals, exchanged contact info etc. It was like we knew these ladies all our lives! Amy ZP floored us when she extended Leigh and I an invite to her pre-marathon dinner at her house. Despite only knowing these ladies for 15 minutes, they were no longer strangers, they were Another Mother Runners so we we said YES! We agreed we would firm up details Saturday via text. JoAnn passed along some restaurant referrals for dinner and we reluctantly pulled ourselves away from the booth to explore the rest of the expo! We hopped in a cab to the Happy Gnome for dinner. The Gnome, was packed,so we headed to the bar in hopes of scoring a table. As we waited, we were so surprised when a cute Minnesotan couple tapped us on the shoulder and offered us their table. Why such kindness? They insisted we have the table so we took it. Thought #2- I could live here people are so nice. Leigh and I were both blown away with the hospitality we had encountered over the past few hours. I had no idea how friendly Minnesotans were. Honestly, really never had a reason to think about it. So being the good southern gals that we are we had the waiter deliver drinks to the nice couple ( who ended up sitting beside of us) to thank them. Only to have them send a round back to us 🙂 Crazy! Full from lunch, we decided to share bacon wrapped Elk loin. Yum! The Happy Gnome was awesome its a don’t miss if you are in St. Paul.
Saturday arrived and we had no plans other than dinner with our new St. Paul friends. We shared text throughout the day and firmed up our dinner plans. Leigh and I worried what if they got caught up in the moment and invited us to dinner and now regretted it. Little did we know the St. Paul gals were having similar conversations wondering if the Carolina girls(Leigh&I) would really show up.
JoAnn texted Sara(AMR.com) and told her Leigh and I were coming over for dinner. Sara’s comment,that I found highly flattering and funny was “Jenn is AWESOME-SAUCE” Not sure what awesome-sauce is but this SUPER-FAN will take it! Leigh and I were so excited to have dinner with the gals and their families. Whenever one of us would get a text we would say “Is it from our new friends” Just too funny!
We had time to kill before dinner so we decided to explore Minneapolis, by foot, since we did not rent a car. Typically, I rent a car, for some reason we opted out on this trip. If I were to do it again, I would likely get a car. First stop was Marshalls, which was the best Marshall’s I have ever been to. We loaded up on awesome workout gear, which we have not been able to find in our local Marshall’s. The best find of the day was a Life is Good Social Networking shirt for Leigh whom is an avid around town cyclist at home and whom does NO SOCIAL MEDIA. There was no passing up this shirt. SCORE!
One of my favorite all time comments from Leigh is ” Talk to MY FACE, not my FACEBOOK” That so needs to be a bumper sticker! Me on the other hand loves all forms of social media! Leigh is a master shopper, so I found a nice leather chair in Marshall’s and took a social media break. I had to rest my legs…after all we were running 26.2 miles in less than 24 hours.
Next stop was the two story Target for provisions and more shopping for Leigh, I forgot shopping was one of her skills:) I got my traditional “big gulp” of water. For some reason, part of the tradition, is I drink it straight from the bottle. I see no reason to break tradition at this point. After shopping we headed back to the hotel rested up and got ready for dinner with our St. Paul Friends.
We were greeted by Amy who said “Can you believe you are at a strangers house for dinner?” I stated that Leigh and I laughed about it being the setting for an Another Mother Runner murder plot. 🙂 We all laughed at the re-telling of how Leigh and I came to be dinner guest. Everyone was so welcoming. We shared great food, drinks, stories, and laughs! It was like we had known everyone for a lifetime. Thought #3- I could live here. These people are so awesome!
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end we had a big day ahead of us. We said our goodbyes and planned to hook up after the marathon for the post party at JoAnn’s. Wow! The most hospitable people I have ever met. Thought #4- I could live here! This neighborhood is precious and my neighbors would be great!
JoAnn, insisted on taking Leigh and I back to our hotel in Minneapolis (30 miles round trip). There was no arguing this with her as she wanted to drive us along the marathon course route. BONUS! I always drive the route and due to lack of car I had not seen any of the course. Despite the darkness, we got a great personalized breakdown of a good portion of the course and the area. What a great night! JoAnn shared she had given AMR Sara the same course preview last year.
6:00am came to fast! Fortunately, we were only several blocks from the Metrodome. The sun was shinning (rain was in the forecast) and temps were in the 40’s. Perfect day for running. Finding our way to the bag check and starting coral was painless due to awesome volunteers. I did spot coffee, water, and pre-race snacks for the runners but we did not partake.
The course is just as described America’s Most Beautiful Urban Marathon! The course completely lived up to the description via TCMevents.org.
With mile after mile of parkways, lakes, rivers and tree-lined boulevards, the scenery can’t be beat. Add 300,000 screaming fans, 10 Cheer Zones, over a dozen course entertainment acts, and you’ve got an experience that you’ll never forget.
The point to point course course winds around four beautiful lakes and along both sides of the Mississippi River. The course contains a few rolling hills; but with a starting and finishing elevation of approximately 840 feet and no climbs over 100 feet long, it’s nothing you can’t handle.
The final stretch races past the clanging bells of the Saint Paul Cathedral and downhill onto the spectacular view of the State Capitol and the finish line!
The course will not disappoint! Crowd support was HUGE! If you desire lots of support this is the marathon for you. I would argue the crowds are bigger or equal to the Marine Corps Marathon. There were VERY few spots without spectators. As a serenity runner, I found the crowds to be overwhelming at times. I learned to really appreciate the crowd free zones. Certainly, not meant to be a negative comment it is just based on personal preference. The course is flat. Much flatter than I expected. I would not classify this course as rolling hills( based on what I train on). My hips reminded me most of the 26.2 miles I was running flat. The occasional incline was a welcome relief. I do love to run some hills!
I spotted Eric and Thad ( Amy and Shannon’s husbands) very early whom were spectating and cheering from their bikes. They yelled encouragement every time they saw us. It was so great. Around mile 5 we found Amy and Shannon on the course. We pinged back and fourth and finally joined running forces somewhere in the second half. Somewhere before the half we saw JoAnn, Holi,and Jess. Perfect timing as I was in need of a pick me up. As wonderful as the course , weather , and general surroundings were I was not feeling my best. Surprisingly, Leigh and I ran the majority of the race in silence (anyone who knows us finds this SHOCKING!). We were both silently struggling but doing our best to take it all in and enjoy the experience. We agreed early on we came too far to impose ourselves with time goals. Our #1 goals was to finish and enjoy! That we did! I have to thank our St. Paul friends for their on course support. They were the ENJOYMENT factor! Every time we turned around they were there! 1,215 miles from home and we have our own pack of roving fans! “Go Carolina Girls!” I can still hear Jess ” GET DOWN!”
I cannot say enough about this course. The locals embrace every aspect of the marathon weekend. They have huge parties in their front yards with inflatables for the children. One house had several large tents, picnic tables and were having a huge pancake breakfast! Too bad we could not stop in for some additional carbs. The mid race drizzle did not negatively impact the spirit of this event. Rain or shine…twin Cities Marathon is a celebration!
We happily crossed the finish line! Marathon #14 (Me) and #2 (Leigh) were done! Fantastic race!
I can honestly say what started out as an Another Mother Runner CONNECTION through the miles transitioned to an Another Mother Runner BOND! These ladies(and gents), all of them, got me through! I am forever grateful for the memories and new friendships!
JoAnn braved the traffic and picked us up and transported us to her house for the after party celebration. We enjoyed awesome BBQ beef, chips, sweets, etc! It was a great way to top off an awesome day!
After a great celebration, JoAnn once again insisted on taking us back to Minneapolis. But oh no we could not go empty handed..she send us with a bottle of wine. Simply amazing! Never ending hospitality! Thought #5- I could live here. I am nice and cozy. I don’t want to leave, or for this weekend to be over.
Leigh and I were so grateful as we reflected on our Twin cities experience. I told Leigh this was a once in a life time marathon weekend experience that would be hard to top!
As I said earlier, what started as an Another Mother Connection quickly transitioned to an Another Mother Runner BOND! The connection of runners, especially mother runners, is something very special. Its hard to put to words…..its an experience!
“Its that bond of female runners that makes me want to be a better runner-to push a little harder”
~Cheri hill Lombardo
Thanks for the memories St. Paul friends. We are looking forward to our 2014 running reunion weekend!
Thought #6- I could live here!…. Reality, I would miss my family, and truth be told this SOUTHERN BORN and raised North Carolinian who does not even own anything close to a winter coat or snow gear would not survive the first day of fall…much less winter. I now have some great friends in St. Paul and have a reason to visit!
As a thank you for the fabulous hospitality, Leigh and I sent our St. Paul gals personalized water bottles from aquavation.org. Aquavation, a personal favorite, is a gift that keeps giving! Aquavation donates 20% of each bottle to a designated charity partner. I designated Blue Ridge Boxer Rescue as the beneficiary. Fitting since we are all dog lovers! Check out aquavation.org!