Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon

Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon Race Report


Overall Time:  2:37

As I was attempting to change into my clean clothes post-race while in the Elite Athlete Tent, I was rehashing the race and contemplating how I was going to approach this race report.  I was in phenomenal shape coming in.  My focus has been on the Twin Cites Marathon for months and I have dedicated a lot to having a successful race.  What is a successful race?  Sub 2:19 which would qualify me for the Olympic Trials in January.  I though I did everything right.  Trained hard and consistently, ate a nutritional diet, tapered adequately, and conceived a solid race strategy.  I did all of this, but I made one mistake…….(Buckle up, this is going to be a long one).

Last Monday I went for an easy run and I felt like poop.  I felt as though my legs didn’t have the POP! they normally had.  Tuesday I swam a good effort at Masters’ and I was to run an interval workout post-swim.  I figured my legs needed to get turning over again so I opted to do the intervals on the treadmill.  If only I could go back in time.  I hadn’t done a hard workout on the treadmill in a while.  I made it through 3 of the 5 intervals when, all of a sudden, my IT Bands on both sides locked up.  So badly that I could not bend either knee.  I had to walk out of the gym looking like and athletic version of Frankenstein.  This had happened after a treadmill run one other time, years ago, but I had no inkling of it since.  Last time it happened, they were fine and loose the next day, but last time I didn’t have a marathon the following weekend where I was expecting to push the pace the entire course of 26.2 miles.  So last Wednesday I got a massage, and Thursday I did ART.  By Friday I was feeling great again and my IT’s were loose as a goose (or so I thought).

So keep that detailed information in the back of your mind because I am going to come back to it.  I arrived in Minnesota Friday feeling good and ready to kick some butt.  The race was the most professional race I have ever been part of.  The way they treated the Elite runners was astounding.  They picked us up at the airport, put us up at the hotel, gave us free massages, had a hospitality suite fully stocked with food at all times, and made us feel as if we were truly professionals whose livelihood depended on performing well.

One thing I did notice throughout the weekend is the skin and bones physique of the top runners.  These guys do not have any unnecessary weight on their bodies and when they run it is more as if they are floating than they are running.  Still, I was convinced I was prepared to compete with the best.

Quick side story:  I was a victim of discrimination while walking the streets of St. Paul with two Kenyan runners.  The three of us were heading to the VIP reception Friday night and countless times random people walking down the street stopped these two Kenyan guys and asked them what time they were planning on running and if they were shooting to win the race.  Keep in mind I was right next to these guys.  The problem was, I looked as if both of these Kenyan guys could fit into me with room to add a third.  I had actually had the same PR’s as these two guys, yet they were the one’s getting all of the gawkers.  This got my juices going.  I wanted to perform Sunday and show all of these people that they should be paying attention to the “white boy” as well.

Ok, so theres’s the back story.  Let’s get to the race.  I was raring to go.  Relaxed, confident, and feeling fresh.  My plan was to go out ultra conservative.  5:25-5:30/mile pace for the first 10k, then turn on the jets and hover around 5:15 for the remainder of the race.  If  had more juice towards the last 5-6 miles I would close hard and try to reel some people in.  This would put me below 2:19 and make my professional marathon debut a success.  I started off right on track.  I came through my 5K around 16:30, and my 10K around 33 minutes.  I was feeling great.  Then the downward spiral began.  Remember that mistake I made by running on the treadmill?  Yeah, at mile 7 I felt my right IT Band start to tighten up.  I knew, from past experience, this was not a good thing.  I knew it was only going to get worse.  I pushed through and took the pain as it got tighter and tighter with each step I took.  I hit mile 11 and all of a sudden the left one went.  The only way I can describe the feeling is by comparing it to a guitar string.  As you turn the tuning dial at the top, that string gets tighter and tighter, until it snaps.  This is what I was feeling.  I felt it from my hip to my knee, and it felt as if the band on either side was going to snap.  I hit the halfway point(13.1) in 1:10, but I knew my miles were falling off abruptly.  I was still on my race plan, but I knew it was only a matter of time before all was lost and I would be out there struggling to survive.  I was dreading every undulation in the course.  Uphills, downhills, turns, etc.  They all caused greater discomfort.  By mile 16 I was hobbling more than running.  The only thing that kept me going was the fact that I had not completed a marathon in some time and I had a huge contingent of family out at the race.  Every time I passed the 14 of them(family) on the course(3 times) they were shouting at deafening levels and this pushed me to drive through the pain.

I was getting passed left and right, especially in the last 10K which didn’t deter me, but I knew I should have been the one doing the passing at this point.  I came to the last quarter-mile which was a steep downhill to the finish and this was misery.  I could see the finish line, but I couldn’t lift me knees higher than an inch on either side.  I was in the most pain I have been in, in quite some time.  I crossed the line in 2:37 and I stood a foot past the line for about 10 minutes.  I couldn’t move.

I hobbled to the Elite tent where I found my clothes.  I considered calling my brother, to come in and help me put on my shoes and pants, but I struggled through it and that was just as much of an accomplishment as finishing the race was.

So how do I feel about the run?  I always like to take positives away from every race and learn from my mistakes.

  1. I am in phenomenal aerobic shape.  I could have run forever.  I look at it like I had a mechanical problem.  My fitness was there, my bike(or body in this case) broke down.
  2. I need to loosen my hips up and learn to run from my gluteus.  Right now my hips are crazy tight which means I have a short stride, which means I use my quads to propel me forward, which leads to tight IT Bands.  Sound familiar?
  3. If I want to stay with this running thing I need to have self-control when eating.  I am not saying I need to  lose a ton of weight.  I just need to lose the lbs. I don’t need.  I hate being hungry so I eat, but I think I can be better at eating fuel that is better for me.
  4. Continue to build on my run fitness.  I am super strong, and with consistent training I will only become stronger.

Although I didn’t have the day I would have liked I still had a great experience in the Twin Cities.  I would like to thank Matt Dowin and the rest of the TC Marathon staff for putting on such a well-organized race which showed me how professionals should be treated.  I would also like to thank my family for pushing me throughout the course.  You guys inspire me to keep driving everyday.  Thanks Mom, Dad, Ken, Phyllis, Sophia, Pat, Joanne, Colleen, Joe, Meredith, Monica, Mike, Heather, Nora, and Liam.

Up next, Austin 70.3 October 23rd.  I can’t wait to get back on the triathlon circuit and see the gains I have made.  SCREW YOU IT BANDS, YOU ARE STUPID!  RACE HARD!



  1. I just wanted to let you know you are truly bad ass. Even though you didn’t get the time you wanted, you finished when a lot of people couldn’t. Good luck at the 70.3!

  2. You’re still a winner in my book, Jim. Thanks for the great advice. I had the same exact problem at Malibu Tri. Finished, but ran / walked the run with my ITB’s screaming at me the whole time.

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