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Twin Cities Marathon

To say TCM didn’t go as I expected or hoped is an understatement.

I was really proud of the training build-up going into the race. While not remarkable, it was solid, and that was what I was hoping for after a really rocky winter and spring. I often felt slower than I had been the previous year in my build up (the 2:52 I ran while under Gary, having literally used a NeilMed sinus rinse the morning of the race to get green junk out of my sinuses – blog post here), and truly was slower in most measurable/comparable attempts. I chalk that up to a few different things:

  • I came into training under Gary in ridiculous shape, although slightly over-trained, and when he decreased mileage significantly I was able to soak up that fitness and really shine.
  • But, that low mileage had me feeling flat and not showing any progress (actually, regressing) after the first 3-4 months.
  • When ramping back up with Meghan to a system and mileage I was more used to, I broke down: hamstring started bugging me, clumsiness came back big time, etc. I need to spend a lot of time and attention to the little things now: PT, TVA work, regaining spring in my stride, etc, and wasn’t doing much of any of those. I need to now more than ever as I age!

I really felt like the build-up focused exactly on what I needed to focus on: laying the right training bricks for long term results. I logged a couple 90 mile weeks, most in the 80s, with some solid base building-block work. I thought a 2:50-2:54 was very possible on race day.

The Tuesday before the race – last “workout”! I felt okay on this. The previous week my log noted general feeling of running heavy, loud, not smooth and dance-like similar to what I’ve had during most of my tapers (that have gone well).

Nate and I hanging out in the Elite Hospitality Suite! SO COOL. TCM does an amazing job hosting its athletes. One fun story was when I signed up for a massage and I saw “Sara Hall” written over other scribbles (lots of scheduling and re-scheduling happens). I asked Nate if there was another Sara Hall as I knew she had just run a new PR in the Berlin Marathon. Nope – not a different Sara – it was THE Sara! Unbelievable how quickly she can bounce back and race! Not just bounce back, but bounce back to WIN the US 10 mile championships!

Also at the Elite Hospitality Suite: Seven Sundays! Ahh, what a cool company. Love their product, love that they support TCM and runners!!

Fast forward to race morning: I found Carrie Tollefson at the start line. Yup, my childhood idol! When I was a 7th/8th grader running in MN, she was a junior/senior and won every single race I competed in or heard results from. She had texted me ~2 weeks before the race about my race pace plans. Turns out we both wanted to start around 6:45 and drop into 6:30s after about 5-10k. She asked if we could work together, which of course I said YES to! I then printed out that text conversation and framed it. JK, but I thought if my younger self would have ever thought I’d be working with Carrie in a race… well, I don’t know what I would have thought!

We both fuel with UCAN, so I took my last swig about 20 mins before and stuffed my concentrated UCAN gel in baggies into my bra. Carrie pointed to her fanny pack with hers in it. I know I talk about it a lot, but if you haven’t tried it, please reach out. It has really changed how I fuel marathons, fuel runs, teach my body to burn fat as fuel, eliminated the dizziness at the end of marathons… the list goes on.

We started out exactly at 6:45 per the race mile clock. Our watched were both off, saying something like 6:20, but luckily my internal pacing clock is pretty darn good. Love having that as a strength! Mile 2 was something like 6:44, and mile 3 6:42. Spot on!

 

Except, I was working WAY too hard for these paces. I couldn’t believe it. If I kept this up, I’d definitely implode by about 1/2 way. Should I keep pushing? Maybe it was just temporary. I reminded myself that during last year’s 2:52 I thought it wasn’t my day at mile 2 but it ended up not being that bad. I decided to stick on pace for another 1/2 mile but then told Carrie to go on ahead, that I just couldn’t notch it down like we had talked about.

 

I was so bummed to let her bounce along the pavement ahead of me – I was really, really looking forward to working with her throughout the race.

Eventually Marco Santos, a friend who lives in Northfield, came back to me. We decided to try to run 7:00 pace together. He hasn’t been training much due to a job transfer. This was so great for me as it was during the time when my form was struggling the most. I turned off my brain, tried to focus on relaxing my legs and form, and we knocked off 7:00 after 7:00. Thanks, Marco, for helping me through one of my rough patches!

I won’t bore you with the rest of the race recap. There isn’t much I remember, mostly because I’ve tried to forget it. When I caught up to Jeff, a long time friend, on the course he asked me why I was running with so much movement. I know it was because I was trying to muscle my way to paces that weren’t natural for me. That led to some clumsiness, tripping a couple of times. I know what you’re thinking, right? This sounds like a train wreck? Yep, it pretty much was.

^Nate’s sister Jessica came to cheer with nephews Simon and Silas. It was fun to give them a high five!

I’m proud of a few things along the course: even though I knew my race was going down the drain, I never once let myself stop trying to push. I kept mentally strong, trying to push, trying to think of a way to have my body move more naturally, efficiently, and to let those 6:45s come back to me like I thought they should. I’m also proud I didn’t stop and walk. I thought about it, frequently, but didn’t let myself. It would have been easy to let myself.

I was also floored to see a few of my current and former NHS athletes out on the course, including this amazing young woman!! She hopped in and ran a good 1/2 mile with me. It reminded me just how HAPPY I am to coach others through their running journey. Of course I don’t want to give up on my own, but there is so much more joy in my heart knowing I am helping others. That sounds so sappy, but it’s true! This quieted down the voices in my head that questioned my own distance racing knowledge while I was running this marathon . For example, I literally told Jeff during the race that I regretted ever thinking I knew how to coach others/train/race/peak/etc – to which he told me to shut up, stop thinking, and remember how I helped him improve from a 3:30 marathoner to a world record holder in the 1/2 marathon and sub 2:40 marathoner. Anyway, a huge thank you to EH for coming up to remind me of what is truly important in my life. Whether it’s 6:45s or 7:15s or 9:15s: it doesn’t matter. They look up to me and my passion for running and coaching no matter the result. <3

I finished in 3:11.

My A goal for the day was a new post-babies PR (2:52:28 was previous). My B goal sub 2:55. C goal: sub 3:00. D goal: BQ so I can run Boston 2021 with Craig and Jeff (and hopefully other friends who are considering it in ’21). So, I met my D goal and will target Boston 2021.

^Somewhere along Summit. Kristi came back to me – she had passed me somewhere around miles 8-12. I tried to motion to her to come along, but I’m not sure what actually came out of my mouth. You can tell we are both loving life at this moment 😉

For the week or two after the race I was sort of numb to the result. 3:11. I was ~20 minutes off of what I thought I could do. What the?!? Meghan and I chatted back and forth and the only thing I could really come up with from a training cycle perspective was:

  • This cycle had way more moderate runs and moderate progression runs than I’ve ever done before. I really think I respond better to higher intensity/tempo vs. progression runs that end in around MP. I know those workouts have their place, I just don’t think I would do nearly as many next cycle.
  • ^ definitely had me feeling flat and slow. If I could do it all over again, I’d spend a little more time on VO2 work, working on efficiency and power/movement more than building lung capacity, and then carry a little more of that higher speed movement into the MP training block.
  • We held mileage higher than I’m used to during the taper. Too long? Also, the strides the week before and early the week of the race were done way too fast. I don’t recover as quickly now, so this left me tight and tired for too long!
  • I also mentioned that I had missed my last period before TCM, which typically doesn’t happen. It’s unusual enough that I took a pregnancy test the Friday before the Sunday marathon (negative). While not typical for me to miss, I guess I wasn’t too surprised: I am not typically trying to lead a high school team of over 100 runners, further refine and direct the monthly financial rhythm and entire budget process at work, while also managing my small private coaching business and a now nearly 3- and 5-year-old. Maybe it was just too much. I also know that my nutrition suffers big time when I’m this busy. So, *goals* for next cycle: planning, planning, planning! I have learned to have fun meal planning, hitting the right quantities/macros/timing of foods! Just gotta make the time to do it.

Two weeks later, Meghan wrote me again after she looked through my logs. She asked me to re-look through everything to see what in the taper we had missed. She also asked me if my period had come back yet. I replied… well, speaking of that, I was at work late last night and felt a little sick to my stomach so took a pregnancy test later that evening.

 

Yup, you guessed it. Pregnant.

 

!!

 

We are so very excited! We have been wanting a 3rd, but I also didn’t want to dial back my training or racing to potentially increase our chances. Hence continuing to train at the 80-90 mpw level! Selfish, perhaps, but I knew if I dialed back I wouldn’t be as happy not having goals/not challenging myself. It also would have put a lot more pressure on the process, which is not what either of us wanted. We had said we would try for a year, knowing that we are both older and it may be harder to conceive the older you are, and if it happened, it happened! If it didn’t, then we would be happy with our two girls (i.e. not going through IVF or any other process like that).

So… adventure #3 begins! You can see why I couldn’t write much about this earlier! I could have published a blog post within the first week of TCM, but other than that, I would have been publishing something without the full story behind the race! I’m 10 weeks, 3 days right now, so still before the 1st trimester, but I didn’t want to wait any longer to break the silence – and begin to blog again!

Here’s to staying strong & fit through a third pregnancy. It’s going to take a lot more diligence on my part! I’m surprised how quickly my running and performances have changed this time around! I’m excited to try to come back as a near-master runner to see what these legs still have in them. I can not wait. Seriously :).

PS – for your reading enjoyment, my blog post about Anna’s pregnancy. I can not believe I didn’t really know until the 13 week mark. Read my post here for some entertainment value. I posted about my “pouch” at 9 weeks along, didn’t take an at home test until 13 weeks, and then went in for my dating ultrasound April 26th, at 15 weeks. That’s just crazy! Even crazier, I think I was getting faster through most of those weeks!

PPS – I’m also so excited to start blogging again on a regular basis! I didn’t realize how much I would miss it!

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3 Comments

  1. Hey Nichole! Long back story that is going to reveal how stalker-ish I am, but I have followed your blog for a few years, which eventually turned into me following you on Strava and starting to recognize you at races. (I think I cheered for you at Grandma’s randomly once. 🙂 I also passed you at Twin Cities Marathon this year and was totally confused at why I was running faster than you! Anyway, I just saw on your Strava that you said “its getting hard to keep up”, which triggered “pregnant?!” in my head, so figured i needed to track down your blog again. CONGRATULATIONS!!! I am actually 12w1d today with my second! You must be just a couple of days ahead of me!

    1. Really? Ha! What time did you end up finishing at? I’m surprised at how much I slowed RIGHT AWAY. It must be a power/hip flexor thing? I felt like I was just pounding the road, definitely not floating down.
      I think I’m 12w1d today as well… when are you due? June 16?!?
      That would be crazy… 🙂

      1. I’m due June 17! CRAZY. It took me weeks to recover from TCM this year, I wasn’t sure if it was bc of baby or because it was my fastest marathon to date. (I ran a 3:06.) Luckily baby didn’t seem to impact my race much. My goal was 3:05. (I missed it by ~10 sec.) But now I barely hit 15 miles a week. Completely stepped back, I had a long training season with an IRONMAN and then TCM. You are still crushing great mileage!

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