Well. We ran the Mankato Marathon yesterday. We were planning on doing the half since neither of us felt like we were in ‘Marathon-shape’ but made a game-time decision Thursday night/Friday morning and ended up signing up for the full.
Going into it we decided that we were running for fun and for the purpose of running together and enjoying each other’s company. We don’t see each other enough so when we do, the time flies by. So we thought, hey! The time will fly by in the marathon as well!
Happy to be done!
Overall, we thought this marathon was much better than the one in Omaha, and it was only the second year! Here’s our run-down of likes and dislikes:
What we liked:
- Crowd Support. Sure, there were places where we wished that there were more people, but the marathon organizers worked hard at recruiting teams of people to cheer throughout the course and even had us do a survey at the end asking what we thought of each cheer group. The only problem with the survey was that we had a hard time remembering which group was where. Additionally, the Sports Psychology Team provided an excellent source of inspiration as they rode their bikes along the route cheering us on and providing us with motivational distractions and mantras to keep us going.
- 10k, 1/2 and full split. The 10k started at 7:30 while the 1/2 and full marathon started at 8:00. This was nice because there were tons of 10k runners so it allowed for less runners at the start. The marathon and 1/2 marathon also split from each other at about mile three so there was more room to move in general, and parts of the course were narrow so it was good to have fewer people.
- Port-a-Potties. Even though we didn’t have to stop at any, we noticed that there seemed to be more at the stops. However, in talking about it, we realize that our view of this may have changed if we would’ve had to stop where there wasn’t one!
- Free Hammer Gel. Instead of the usual ‘Gu’ stop at mile 18, there were three spots throughout the course where volunteers handed us gel. Even though we had what we needed with us already, it was nice to see how readily available it would’ve been had we needed it.
- Post-race survey. Every aspect of the race management was so interested in what they could do better next year that it impressed us! They had surveys for runners to fill out after and we also went to the Mayo Clinic booth (they’re a big sponsor and will be for the next two years) in the post-race area where they asked what they should do in the future as well.
What we didn’t like:
- Sidewalk running. Part of the course had us running on the sidewalk, which was definitely too narrow for the number of participants who were running there. It became cramped and near impossible to pass. Also, because it was on the sidewalk, there were tree branches and bushes that occasionally slapped us in the face.
- Segments of the last few miles of the course. There was sort of an out-and-back that was semi-isolated and then between mile 25 and 26 there was basically no one cheering us on. At that point, it is nice to have huge crowds of energy pushing you through, and this was one section where crowd support was lacking.
- Timing. This is a little bit of a sore subject for us. While we understand the difference between gun time and chip time there definitely had to be a mistake made somewhere. We crossed the finish line at the same exact time, holding hands, yet the results insist that one of us crossed the finish line ten seconds after the other. It also states that there was a girl who finished between the two of us, which would have been impossible unless she was hiding under one of our shirts. Second piece of evidence: there is a picture of us hugging after we finished with the time in the background being 3:48.
I don’t even know where to start in expressing how this spur of the moment marathon experience went for me! The night before the race was definitely a sleepless one filled with “OMG this decision was insane” moments that jerked me out of a few strange dreams. Before yesterday I hadn’t gone on a long run in at least a few months since I switched over to swimming, so needless to say I was freaking out a little bit on the inside.
After a night like that I totally expected to be sick to my stomach the next day but surprisingly enough I was super calm and ready to go! I think that treating it as just another long run/bonding moment with the big sis made it much more doable. Speaking of Charissa, I have the best sister EVER! Without her I absolutely would have quit early. The first time I looked at my watch 40 minutes had already flown by thanks to our constant conversation. We joked that we probably didn’t even look tired considering neither of us were breathing hard at all through the whole race. Honestly it seemed like an easy feat up until mile 23. It was around this mile that my legs decided to realize that I was attempting a marathon. 20 miles used to be their longest journey so the extra length started to make them cramp up. Every minor hill after this point felt like a mountain and I could feel the metaphorical shackles gluing my legs to the ground. Without Charissa they definitely would have won but her constant pushing me and taunting me with promises of West Virginia Wine (aaahhhmazing!) and Chocolate Torte helped keep my feet moving. Not only did she push me to keep running but she stuck with me. When her ankle started to bother her she was unable to slow down and I gave her the go-ahead to leave me. After it started feeling better she made a small circle back to run with me once again. Needless to say she would have completely dominated this race if I was not with her!
Aside from the awesomeness that is my sister I have to give a huge thank you to the Sports Psych Team. At about mile 24 I was provided with a great visual to help me concentrate on my breathing and pull that last bit of energy that I had buried deep. After about 1.5 more miles I was escorted to the finish by another member of the team. She made sure I was focused on the finish line ahead and not on the impending doom that was my legs giving out .2 miles before the end of the race. Overall I am beyond blown away by the support that follows me including my sister, my cheering parents, the sports psych team, and randos along the way!
I am so happy that we decided to run the full marathon, it feels amazing to have accomplished something that seemed to be slipping away ever since my knee surgery!
Marathon number three! I can’t even express how much better this run went than Omaha. There really is no comparing the two. What I can say, however, is that I LOVED running with Elysia. It really made the time fly and as I concentrated on motivating her at the end, I was really motivating myself. Usually when we have run a race together we decide that if one of us wants to slow down or speed up, it’s okay to separate. This time though, we were in it for each other. The small amount of time that we were apart, it was lonely! I know that ‘meditation’ and whatnot can work for some when running alone, but I didn’t want that. Not this race. The decision between running alone and maybe running faster or running together and finishing together was not a choice for me. I wanted to run with Elysia. I wanted to finish with her and high-five across that line, and I wanted her to be with me as much as she probably wanted me to run with her. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Along the course we talked basically the whole time. Afterwards, we decided that there were probably quite a few people who heard a lot of random topics of conversation from us. It’s kind of funny the anonymity that you can feel in a big group. We’re probably not going to see any of those runners again, or if we do, we were in our own little world so much so that we probably wouldn’t remember a lot of them. There were a couple of people that we talked to that we obviously won’t forget, but overall we were absorbed in each other’s company. I remember talking about a bondi band that I saw that said; “Run like a man. Walk.” I was telling Elysia about it and we were having a good laugh when from in front of us we heard “hey, can you stop it with the man bashing?”. Looking back now, we were surrounded by guys at that point and they probably thought that we are man haters. We’re not, but it’s kind of funny to think about how we didn’t even consider who was around us at the time.
Overall, I am SO glad that we did the full marathon. After how I was feeling after Omaha, this race just re-affirmed my love of running and boosted my confidence for future races. It just goes to show how you have to take each race as it comes and push forward through your frustrations!
Now get out there and run!
UPDATE: Click on the below link to see a video of the psych team, as well as our finish!