I've run out of superlatives to describe this marathon. It was an absolutely amazing experience. If you haven't run Twin Cities Marathon I urge you to put it on your bucket list, if you have, then you know what I speak. The fan support is unbelievably intense. The streets are pretty well lined solid with spectators, EMS, clowns, bands and every sort of costumed character you can imagine. 14,500 full-marathon runners and tens of thousands of fans (I heard 350,000 fans, but that sounds like a lot)... it was an emotional sight to behold. The sheet rain for the first two hours only added to the overall experience. My left calf popped at mile 4. I was overwhelmed with the possibility of having to pull out after all the training and anticipation. My four hour goal was no longer a possibility... my thoughts turned to survival... will I finish? I stopped, stretched, re-evaluated, and continued on with a painful limp. The running gods were smiling because as I ran the pain eased enough to shuffle along at a reasonable pace (it only hurt when I walked). I considered 4:15 may be a possibility, but even that time goal evaporated. It was at this point, when I gave up on all time goals, that I started to enjoy the race. There is one hill that my friend Gary has named Oh F*** Hill... you round a corner at mile 18 and there, suddenly, is a huge hill... "Oh F***' spills out under your breath... and then you toughen up and do it justice. I ran non stop from mile 20 to finish... I was sure that if I did stop, even for a drink, I wouldn't have the energy to start again. My calf was screaming, my legs were logs. At mile 23 I recited the times table, mile 24 the alphabet up to Z and then back to A, mile 25 I recited the names of my siblings, their birthdays, their kids, and their connections.... clearly I was skunked out stupid by this point. It took every fiber of my being to cross the line without walking. It was hard run, an intense run, an amazing run... and I am better for it. It was a good day, it was an unbelievable day to be alive.Here's my beautiful niece Laura and I waiting in the Metrodome pre-race. Some of you will know her simply as "Lucy's mom"... (I tend to brag about Lucy). Laura is the reason I run. She motivated me years ago to take a few baby steps. I am grateful for her. Laura has run many marathons and continues to dazzle me with her accomplishments. That's a New York Marathon tee-shirt she's wearing. This is Tim and Gary with Laura. I started the race with Gary, but we were separated at mile 3 due to the crowds. Gary has run Twin Cities 4 times (or as he says 3 3/4 times because he had to exit with dignity once). I believe he's run about 20+ marathons. Tim and Gary are great guys and we had a hoot in Minneapolis.We met up with David and Melissa for supper and the morning of race day. This was Melissa's second marathon and David's 55th marathon (he started running about 6 years ago... you do the math!). An amazing guy with incredible charisma.Gary and Laura... pre-race surge to the start line. It was chilly.Mike and Gary... started the race together with the four hour pace group. Gary and I passed this gentleman at the start... 80+ with 300 marathons under his belt. Notice his pack... huge! As I passed him I chatted and he gave me some advice... don't start out to fast. Too bad I didn't listen to him.Here I am at the finish line. As the volunteer was placing the medal over my head I mumbled "stop". I removed the medal, pulled out my camera to take a self-portrait, when another runner offered to take the picture... A Kodak moment don't you think? Notice the fake smile and 'heartfelt' thumbs-up.Laura is amazing... after the marathon she joined a quintet at The Hilton for an impromptu gig... she didn't even change. What a gal! We were asked to leave shortly after.
Thank you to everyone for your encouraging emails and advice, and suggestions, and encouragement. I truly am indebted to you all.