The morning of the Twin Cities 10 mile didn't start out great. My Nebraska Cornhuskers played Wisconsin the night before and got killed after a promising start. I tried to turn the game off three times but had to finish watching the blowout and thus gave myself five hours of sleep the night before the race. I was frantic that morning and didn't leave enough time to get to the start--the line for the bus was way longer than I remembered it being when Laura and I ran the marathon in 2009. Thankfully, unlike 2009, our bus driver didn't get lost and we got to the Metrodome 15 minutes before the race started. Despite all the morning hectic-ness, lack of sleep, and mediocre mileage in September, age-graded, pacing, and experience-wise the TC 10 mile was the best race of my season.
The night before the race we had some runner-friends over, some of whom were running the marathon and some who just came to eat pasta and have fun. We chatted about running while Dean Karnazes's "Ultramarathonman" played in the background. Then the Husker game came on and people started clearing out as most intelligent runners (like Laura) like to go to bed early before a big race.
After the craziness of the morning ended and I'd sort of warmed up by running to the start, throwing my bag in a pile of drop bags labeled "extras" (I didn't have time to wait in the huge line to give it to one of the volunteers sorting them numerically) I made it towards the front of the first wave. I didn't get the memo that the elite women got a head start on the elite men so when the gun went off I yanked off my throwaway sweatshirt and then stood for a few more minutes--shivering--until the real start.
The start went great. I really didn't have to maneuver through traffic and I hit the first mile at 5:48. I was shooting for a sub-60 and the first mile felt good. I tried to stay with a pack as there was a little bit of a headwind or crosswind for most of the race but I seemed to keep getting caught in no-man's land--not sure if I should slow up to get with a group or speed up to catch a group ahead of me.
As we crossed the river from Minneapolis to St. Paul I knew I needed to keep the pace up because the last five miles were mostly a slight uphill grade. I did well and by the time we turned onto Summit Ave I'd built a bit of a cushion. I hit the 5 mile mark at 29:15 (according to the manual lap split on my Garmin. Mtec results had me at 29:10 yesterday and 28:56 today) and by the time we climbed to Cretin Ave hill to Summit Ave I'd settled in a pack of four runners.
I stayed with those runners on and off for the rest of the race. Our pace slowed a little for two of those Summit Ave miles--6:05s, but then we started picking it up again. At mile 8 I momentarily thought I was at mile 9; the thought briefly demoralized me when I heard a friend, Steve, cheer, "turn on those wheels, Nate!" I gave him a "woo00!" and pumped my fist.
After mile 8 I left the pack. They caught back up to me, passed me, and then I caught back up to them--all between miles 8 and 9. Just before mile 9 the pack pulled away from me again. In the meantime I'd been watching a pair of Collegeville runners about 50 - 100 meters in front of me for the last few miles of the race. At mile 9 I picked up the pace and hoped I could catch them before the finish.
The last quarter mile I went as fast as I could. I caught all the runners in the pack I'd been in but the Collegeville boys stayed ahead of me. My kick was also a little early as I couldn't hold my speed through the finish as one runner passed me with 10-20 meters to go. I was a little upset I hadn't got past the Collegeville boys and had mistimed my kick--but I was thrilled with my time: 58:19.
It was a great day for a race--changing fall colors, cool weather, and great competition. My last mile split was 5:22 and the rest of the race all my miles were between 5:45 and 6:05. After getting my post race food and massage and correcting some papers in my car I jogged a couple miles and spent the rest of the morning cheering with Steve and his daughter at mile 24 of the marathon. They had some great signs including, "Mortuary ahead, look alive!"
Lots of friends were running the marathon and I got some great pictures and cheered until I was hoarse. Then, I got to see Laura and run alongside her until about half-a-mile from the finish. She improved her time from her previous marathon by over 15 minutes. I was so proud of her and all the runners who finished the marathon--especially considering it was much warmer for the marathon then the 10 mile.
Laura and I then enjoyed some giant burgers and a pitcher of beer before spending the evening relaxing at home.
After recovering for a couple days I'm planning on finishing my year of PRs by running a 10k in two weeks and a 5k two weeks after that.