Running on gluten-free carbs…

Minneapolis Half Marathon – Minneapolis, MN (June 3, 2012)

Me crossing the finish line of the Minneapolis Half Marathon – Minneapolis, Minnesota

Me crossing the finish line of the Minneapolis Half Marathon – Minneapolis, Minnesota

Race: Minneapolis Half Marathon

Place: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Date: June 3, 2012

Time: 1:58:28

Oh yes…you read that right. My first ever sub-2 hour half marathon. It was my goal to do that once this year in the four half marathon’s I am signed up to run in (with a possible 5th one in the works). And then I go and do it on my second one for the year. This has been a fantastic running season. And I couldn’t be more proud of this finish.

If something was going to go wrong leading into this race…it was bound to happen. I’m not being dramatic. Bear with me.

On Monday, after I went for a run, my roommate and I went into work (yes…on Memorial Day when everyone else had the day off) and put in six long, hard hours to get into a good spot as we were only working a half day on Thursday before taking off to Minnesota. For lunch, we got Chick-Fil-A. Don’t get on my case yet. As a vegetarian, I got a large fruit cup and a medium order of waffle fries. I’ve done that before, and been fine. But something (we’re guessing some accidental gluten contamination in what is usually gluten-free fries) made me feel under the weather for five days…including travel days. I worked through it and no one was the wiser, but I felt awful. And now…Chick-Fil-A makes me more than a little nervous when it comes to eating on the go. Ugh. Gluten intolerance sucks.

Add on top of that the flight delays from hell. We got to the airport in Louisville in good time, thanks to my co-worker and teammate, Kayla, who was kind enough to take us there. After breezing through security and getting to our gate…our flight is delayed? Why? Because we are flying through O’Hare in Chicago…and all flights were grounded due to very bad weather. AH!

Then, the second leg of our flights from Chicago to Minneapolis gets cancelled!! Good thing my roommate checked our flight status while we were waiting and went to get it sorted if possible. Yep. Flight was cancelled and we were now given two of the remaining three seats on the flight out of O’Hare to Minneapolis…at 8:15 p.m. Better than nothing. I text my Aunt Jan to let her know of our change in arrival time. And the long wait begins. Then, we board and fly to Chicago. Upon arrival we now have a five hour layover. So we walk around the terminals for a bit. Then get some dinner (I grabbed a salad and a gluten-free peanut butter cookie from CIBO and my roomie got a delicious sandwich from Frontera). We eat. We get some caffeine into our system. We buy some Garrett Popcorn. We munch. We wander. We get to our gate. We are moved to another gate. We finally board and we are off to Minneapolis. Arrival time…10:00 p.m. And Jan is there to pick us up.

Friday rolls around and we’re off hanging with Jan and my cousin Natalie. We hit up the Mall of America. It’s a good time. Except Grandpa, my road hero himself, is starting to feel under the weather. So, now we’re doing what we can to ensure that he gets to feeling better.

Saturday rolls in and I head to the race expo that morning to grab my packet and see what all is going on at the expo. This is a very small expo. Tiny. So, it takes a grand total of 15 minutes to do everything, and that included waiting in line at The Depot Hotel in downtown Minneapolis to get the packet. I go through the lines, get my bib, timing chip, t-shirt, and check out the few vendors that are there. And then…we leave to hit up a record store and grab some lunch. That afternoon…the rest of the family arrives (my mom, dad, sister, brother-in-law, and two little nephews). All the cousins come over for dinner and we aim for an early bed time…which doesn’t exactly happen…but we tried.

Now, all afternoon I had been trying to get out of my family who might be coming out for the race. I knew my roommate and my aunt were a lock. But no one else for sure. And I was really bummed out about that. So, when Sunday morning rolled around and I hauled myself off my air mattress to get changed and ready for the race, I was still bummed. I headed upstairs to eat some cereal and get a banana to go. And up the stairs comes…my dad!! I ran over and hugged him. I was so happy to have him coming out to the race. Especially since my reason for running a half marathon in Minneapolis, my grandpa, was sick and couldn’t make it out to the event.

We headed into downtown Minneapolis and attempted to find the lot we had pre-paid for parking at. We managed, but all the gates were still down. Yes…on an event morning. We used the call box to get this information, but some marathon runners (the marathon started an hour before the half marathon) were in a hurry to get to the start and swiped their credit card so we went and parked on their dime. We ambled out of the car and toward the starting point. The are had the pace markers up and we walked by, seeing a lot of marathon runners stretching and getting ready to start. Since we still had a good amount of time…we headed to Caribou Coffee for…coffee and some breakfast. I got a Vanilla Northern Lite Cooler and ate my banana. Then made use of their indoor plumbing by using the bathroom. And while we were taking turns, I answered their chalkboard question…Who Do You Run For? My answer – “My Running Hero – My Grandpa!”

The marathon was getting ready to kick off, so we all headed out to the starting line to cheer them on. The National Anthem was sung and soon, they were off. This was the first time I got to be a spectator at a race. So it was a lot of fun shouting at the runners and getting them off to a good start. Once they passed, we crossed the street and I started to stretch out.

Heather, Me, and Cathy after the Minneapolis Half Marathon - Minneapolis, Minnesota

Heather, Me, and Cathy after the Minneapolis Half Marathon – Minneapolis, Minnesota

And that is when Heather, my bestie since third grade, showed up. Now, Heather is becoming a pro at being at my important races. She was at my first half marathon in Chicago too…which is where she was living at the time. Now in Minnesota, her arrival at the race really brightened my day. Yeah, I was very bummed about grandpa…but I had other friends and family who were turning up to cheer me on. And that meant the world to me!

I stretched and talked and talked and stretched…and soon I noticed the corals filling up. So, I gave hugs to everyone and they all wished me luck and I headed off alone to choose my pace group. I opted for the 9:00 pace, figuring that was as good a place as any to start. I also happened to be in the first wave they sent off.

I had some fun talking to some of the people I was near. Some were anxiously searching for the pacer, as they wanted to run near them so they knew they were on target. Some were running their first race ever. Some chose this as their first half marathon. Some were pros at this. Some were discussing the hills on the course. And others just plugged into their iPod’s and focused on the run ahead.

The National Anthem was sung once more and then…moments later…we were off.

I could hear my family and friends cheering for me as I crossed the start line. I flashed my signature peace sign and just told myself to pace myself. Why? Because I tend to go out way too fast and then suffer in the end. I knew that this course was going to provide some hills and I wanted my energy for them. So…I did what I could and kept a good pace. In fact, I somehow missed the mile marker for the first mile. Because, before I knew it…I was coming up on Mile 2. It was a great morning to run. A little warmer than I liked…and it was only going to heat up more, but it felt good to be out there. The spirit of the race was fantastic. People were scattered along the course. There were spectators and people cheering and holding signs everywhere along the way. Just after Mile 3, we doubled back and headed back along the river front.

And for the first time ever…I got the thrill of a lifetime at the halfway mark. I spotted my dad and my aunt on the side shouting and cheering as I passed. Yep. They met me halfway. And just a little more up the way…Heather and Cathy were there. And they were screaming for me. They were awesome. All four of them. Best spectator moment ever. Nothing gives you a second wind more than seeing your peeps cheering for you halfway through a 13.1 mile race. It felt great.

And then…the second half of the race kicked in. It was really starting to warm up now, but I was wearing my new race tank, and it was keeping me cool. I was carrying a water bottle with me. Unfortunately, and lesson learned, I had flavored water in it…which wasn’t settling well in my stomach now. But, it was hydration. So I sipped at it as needed. There had been hills here and there…and awesome people on them to tell you that you were almost at the top and to keep pushing. My speed slowed down now. I lost the pacer I had been keeping up with the entire time prior to that. But the heat was getting me…and so was that flavored water. Blech.

Top it off with the hills and I was just fighting for each step I was taking at this point. I felt off. My great pace was lagging. And I was just starting to feel the effects of the stressful week. I was going to push through though. And I did. And that wall was broken through, especially at Mile 9.5, where the turnaround happened again and I was now on the last couple of miles to the finish. When I hit Mile 10…I knew it was only a 5K from there on and I was still making pretty decent time…despite the slow down. I got out my Annie’s Bunny Fruit Snacks (citrus flavored) to put something in my stomach. The citrus, while delicious, wasn’t a good choice on a day when flavored water was churning my stomach. But I needed the energy. From now on…I might go with the Sports Beans. Anyway…I gave the eat and run a go and continued on to Mile 11. Another mile down. Then another. Soon after Mile 12…a hill loomed. I knew it was coming because I had looked at the elevation map. It wasn’t going to be as hard as the one I hit around Mile 7…but my legs had carried me up and down hills all morning. By Mile 12, they’re ready for a rest. But I powered up it as best as my legs would allow. And then…the home stretch.

My iPod was playing Rob Thomas and Santana’s “Smooth.” And if you haven’t seen the video for Marathon Thoughts…you won’t understand why this was appropriate. I could hear the announcer. I knew I was close. Around a corner I came and there it was…the finish. I picked up speed. I even passed some people. I totally chicked a guy who was making his way to the finish by passing him on the double. I saw my dad, Jan, Heather and Cathy. Cathy was screaming at me about a new PR. I could see I was under 2 hours…and I bolted across that finish line.

Aunt Jan, Me, and my Dad after the Minneapolis Half Marathon - Minneapolis, Minnesota

Aunt Jan, Me, and my Dad after the Minneapolis Half Marathon – Minneapolis, Minnesota

As I made my way down to the end of the finish area, I was handed my finisher’s medal, a bag of snacks, some water…and I waited until I could spot my cheering section. They found me in no time and I shouted “THANK YOU, ROB THOMAS!” Cathy got it. No one else did. Again…watch Marathon thoughts. You’ll understand. Soon after, I was on my back with my feet up, laughing, talking, and discussing the race. According to my Garmin…I ran 13.2 miles from start to finish. So, let’s hear it for that extra 0.1 mile. WOOT! I was just elated. My first ever sub-2 hour half marathon. I was aiming to do that in Hershey, Pennsylvania in October. But I tore it out in Minneapolis…for Grandpa…who was there in spirit and doing himself some good by staying home and resting.

I ate my Picky Bar (by Lauren Fleshman…good carbs/protein ratio) and downed my protein shake. Water followed…and I downed two bottles on the walk back to the car. We parted ways here. Cathy and I headed off with Heather. We were going by her house. I was going to shower. And then we were heading out to a pub for lunch. My dad and Jan gave me hugs and I promised I would see them when I returned after lunch.

This race, for me, was a mixed bag of emotions. I am still working on getting my pace figured out…and how to properly fuel by body on these long runs. I loved having my dad there. I loved having my aunt, my roommate, and Heather there to cheer me on. I experienced the high of reaching one of my goals, finishing a half marathon in under 2 hours.

But…I was very sad not to have grandpa there to be a part of the experience. But…there will be other races. And, as I said before…he was there in spirit. It was best that he stayed home to rest and get better. I know that. And I’m glad he did just that. With that in mind, I think I was meant to set that PR at this race. For Grandpa. Just like my headband said.

Official results of the Minneapolis Half Marathon are that I finished in 1:58:28. I was 828/2779 finishers overall. WOOHOO! I was 366/1773 women to cross the finish. And I was 79/356 people in my division. I couldn’t be happier with these results.

You know what? Grandpa is pretty damn proud of me too!


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