For whatever reason, I haven’t been sleeping real well before races lately. Maybe I’ve been nervous because of my back, dealing with the heat, etc., but it’s just been strange. Waking up on Sunday morning in Minnesota was no exception. I felt incredibly nauseous and hadn’t really slept much at all. I forced myself to choke down half a bagel, but I already knew it was going to be a rough day. I thought I had finally figured out how to control my nausea during races, but apparently not. T-Rex Mom drove me to the start of the race, and in typical T-Rex fashion, I arrived about 15 minutes before the start. Amazingly, it was cold outside! Windy and in the low 60s, and I was wearing my running skirt and a singlet. I couldn’t imagine it getting hot later in the day.
I made my way over to the 5 hour pace group, figuring it was going to be a hot one and I wanted to run conservatively even though I had been feeling pretty good on my runs recently. There I found Lyle, a Maniac friend of mine who I have seen quite a bit recently, including in Knoxville and Kentucky! He was the 5 hour pacer, which was such an awesome surprise. Lyle is very sarcastic, and I appreciate running with my own kind.
Lyle and I started talking about my blog, and a girl nearby overheard us talking. She asked what the name of my blog is, and it turns out that she has read it before!! So cool! So Kelsey, blogger extraordinare from Run, Sweat, Sparkle, and I became fast friends and pretty much immediately decided to run the race together. This is a totally normal thing to do. She told me she couldn’t believe it when she saw me lining up with the 5 hour group because I look so fast, so I instantly liked her and then quickly disappointed her. I was very excited because I knew I would see my mom and my aunt a lot, who would no doubt be
embarrassing me by harassing other runners very cheerful and upbeat. The first time we saw them was mile 3, when I was still a happy camper.
It was obvious T-Rex Mom and T-Rex Aunt were having a great time. My mom was wearing her trexrunner.com shirt (an earlier version) and pimping the blog to runners who obviously have nothing else to think about besides remembering the URL of this shining example of literary greatness.
I was able to see them every few miles during the race, which worked out really great. It was very hot, and T-Rex Mom had prepared ziplock bags of ice that I could stuff down my sports bra. Stop it, I can hear you judging! Seriously though, it is the best way to beat the heat in the summer on long runs and most importantly, it helps keep my heart rate down. My heart was a big concern for me during this race because I tend to have problems in the heat, but thanks to my ice bags, I was totally cool. Pun intended.
The problem? My stomach was feeling absolutely AWFUL. I was getting more and more nauseous as time went on. So, I did the T-Rex Runner Puke and Rally – I plan to trademark that – somewhere around mile 11. Kelsey and I had been doing a walk/run up to that point, and we were ahead of the five hour pacers until mile 12 or so. I wasn’t sure why my stomach was so upset. I thought it might be the gels, but as time wore on, it seemed like it might be because I was losing so much salt. After a few more miles, my stomach was cramping up to the point that I couldn’t even stand up straight all the time, let alone run. I would have to stop and keel over. I’m really a very attractive runner, obviously. Kelsey stayed with me because she is awesome and we had already decided to run the whole race together since we both just wanted to survive. I had to break it to her that she would have to hold my hand when we crossed the finish line, but fortunately she was totally cool with that. That made me wonder what will happen one day when I am running with someone and we’ve decided to run the whole race together, but then they get weirded out by my hand holding request. The thought really stresses me out. I think I would have to run away from that person.
At mile 16 I pretty much completely melted down. My stomach was cramping so badly that I could barely walk. I needed salt, and fast, but T-Rex Mom was nowhere to be found. I stopped at a medic tent and asked for some, but they said if I could make it another mile around the loop, they would have some when I got back. We walk/ran that mile verrrry slowly, with Kelsey helping me stay upright and telling me funny stories. She’s amazing, by the way. She has lost 130 pounds through diet and exercise alone, and she has run 3 marathons. I was so inspired by her dedication and her story. Plus she tells good stories. When we got to mile 17, the wonderful medic man, who had also let me use his phone to call my mom earlier, had a salt packet for me and told me my mom had called back and would meet me in another mile with salt caps. Hooray!
We were still maintaining a decent walk/run. We found a group of people that were doing a walk/run strategy and kept switching back and forth with them. At Mile 20, however, one of the course marshals told us that the course had been “black flagged” and we could be taken off the course at any time if it was deemed necessary based on how we looked. Our first question was obviously “CAN WE STILL GET MEDALS?” followed shortly by “Are they still giving official times?” The answer to both questions was yes, meaning that the course had really been red flagged, since a black flag means it is officially canceled. At this point, Kelsey sternly informed me that I was not allowed to keel over and/or sit down in front of any medical people or race staff, and that we would smile and respond cheerfully when asked how we were doing. At this point, we were pretty much walking the entire time. I was still feeling incredibly nauseous and Kelsey was now nauseous and had stopped sweating. She told me she didn’t think she could run anymore, and I was pretty relieved. I could run, but only for about a minute at a time, so it was no skin off my back. Once we knew we would still be able to finish, we pretty much stopped caring about running and just wanted to cross the finish line upright, which I thought was quite a noble goal since it was now in the upper 80s with pretty much no shade.
In our heat-induced frenzy, we decided it would be a good idea to convince my mom to go try and secure medals and finishers shirts for us since we knew we would finish, just maybe not by the time the race was over. Note: we realize this is unreasonable. It was the heat talking. Fortunately, we came to our senses after the 8th volunteer assured us that we would still get a finishing time and a medal. So we kept walking along, and at Mile 22, WALLY THE RACE DIRECTOR handed us bottles of water. Not even at an official water stop. He literally put bottles of water in his car, drove his car to a spot where there hadn’t been water for a little bit, and just stood there and handed them out. I told him he is the best race director ever, because he pretty much is. Just one more shining example of Minnesota people being exceptionally nice.
At Mile 23, we met another Maniac who was also walking it in. She is from Minnesota and mostly does local races. She had a super serious Minnesota accent, and when we commented on it, she said hers isn’t even bad compared to people from further north in the state. I hope I never meet someone from Duluth, because I won’t understand a damn thing they say. It is probably a good thing I’m not doing Grandma’s Marathon.
We saw my mom again at mile 25.5. For some reason she felt compelled to wait there instead of at the finish line, for reasons that somewhat escape me. Just as we were walking up to her, Kelsey asked Crecia (the Maniac friend) “Can I ask you your nationality? Because you’re just really tan.” And this made me absolutely explode with laughter because it totally reminded me of something Kate would say to someone we met during a race. For the record, she is half Mexican. I immediately ran to my mom and told her to call my phone and leave a voicemail saying it because I wanted to remember it forever. After we passed by, my mom got in the car and raced over to the finish line. We kept walking and decided to run from the 26 mile marker, breaking my cardinal rule of running all of the last 1.2 miles.
As we were approaching the finish line, the coolest thing ever happened. Sometimes they will announce your name and city when you cross the line. This time, the announcer said “AND APPROACHING THE FINISH LINE, WE HAVE THE T-REX RUNNER! CHECK OUT TREXRUNNER.COM! SHE’S A MARATHON MANIAC, FOLKS!” He said this of course to the imaginary people that were still in the area because it took us so long to finish, but no matter. Thanks Aunt Magda! It was super cool.
We were so excited to find out that a) we did not come in last b) there were still medals left and c) there were still finisher’s shirts! Sadly they had run out of smalls, so I have what I am now calling a finisher’s dress, sporting the size medium. But it didn’t matter. I loved every second.
I was sad to say goodbye to Kelsey after the race was over, but I will be seeing her in Chicago for the marathon this fall! Despite the heat and my impossibly slow time (the slowest I’ve ever gone on a “normal” course running based on my own feelings), I had such a wonderful experience at this race. The course, volunteers, race director, etc was all absolutely amazing. The spectators and volunteers went out of their way to keep us as cool as possible – setting up sprinklers, bringing their own coolers full of ice, etc – it was awesome to have that kind of support. My mom and my aunt were fantastic and getting to see them so much was a blast! It’s not very often in a race that I will say ” I want my mom!” but I said that a lot this time. I know they had lots of fun cheering for all the spectators, but I like to think they cheered the loudest for me. Not to mention, I made a great new friend. It is amazing that you can spend 6 hours with someone can come away from it really feeling like you know them, but that’s why I run marathons. I love the community, the new friends I make, and the great places I see along the way. The running? Well, that’s ok too
After a quick shower, we headed back to Madison. Know why? Because we had to get to the World’s Largest Bratwurst Festival. That’s right.
If you are trying to think of what such an event might entail, imagine your average state fair. Take away the smelly animals. Add 95 degree weather and virtually no shade. I would say add very inappropriately dressed people, but that’s implied. Add the Oscar Mayer Wiener Mobile. You now have the World’s Largest Bratfest.
At Bratfest, they also had local beers, ice cream, and approximately 500 kinds of mustard. It was also literally 95 degrees, so we didn’t stay for long.
All in all, it was a very successful weekend. I am pleased to tell you that the Med City Marathon in Rochester, Minnesota, is the hottest marathon I have ever done. It is also one of the best. Also, it was 10 degrees warmer in Wisconsin and Minnesota this weekend than it was in South Carolina. I officially give up on trying to plan races in cooler weather.
Want to make me feel better about my life? Tell me about the hottest marathon you’ve ever done.