24th Twin Cities Marathon: the 2005 USA Marathon Championships
Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, Sunday, October 2, 2005
This marathon was a USA Championship and also the first chance to qualify for the 2008 Olympic Marathon Trials. About 50 elite women were invited, including 4 past US Champions. I was very excited and nervous for quite some time before this race because I put a lot of pressure on myself to run well. My time goal was 2:37... my training indicated that it was a reasonable goal in good conditions. However, the night before the race the forecast was for a low temp of 67 °F w/ high humidity and winds. Since I never trained in that weather, I decided to change my goal and just run what felt right. When I woke up at 4:30 a.m. on race-morning, the temp was 67 °F with 100% humidity and 12 mph winds. I decided I was there to seize the opportunity, and I was extremely excited to race no matter what the weather was.
At the start, the wind was at our backs. My first mile was 6 flat (just about what I had hoped for) and I was probably in 20th place among women. The second mile was uphill, and I hit 6:38. I felt comfortable and kept my eyes on all the women in front of me. As the miles clicked off I kept moving up in place. It was quite windy out there by the lakes so I tried to draft as much as possible. By 8 miles, I was tied for 7th place w/ 4 other women in my pack, which also included 3 men. We cruised for a few more miles and our pack dwindled down to just the 3 women. At halfway, I was around 1:20:30, and my time goal was definitely out of the question, and so I was then shooting for a top 5 place. My little pack continued working together until 21 miles. People along the course kept telling us that there were three other women strung out just a few minutes ahead of us. The thought of catching those women really kept my group motivated.
The humid and warm temps began to really make the race tough near 17 miles. I was drinking my fluids every 2 miles, but I could still feel my leg muscles cramping a bit from dehydration(?). 21 miles started a 3-mile stretch of uphills, and my pack still included the 4th, 5th and 6th women. I could feel our pace slowing down, and I really wanted to catch 3rd place, so I increased the effort but I had to lead my group thru the wind. I caught 3rd place at the 23-mile mark and it was an adrenaline rush!! Spectators were going wild along the course, cheering my bib number.
Susan Loken who followed me for most of last the 5 miles … she must have been lurking and waiting to pass me. She waited until the 25th mile. When she passed me, I could not stick with her. I have had some trouble with my hamstrings prior to this race and they were shot and my quads were really cramping by then. I gritted my teeth and fought thru the extreme pain to try to catch her but her surge was too powerful. The last 600m were downhill to the finish. The streets were lined with spectators cheering and clapping. It was a rush!! Susan stayed 15 sec's ahead of me and we finished 3rd and 4th.
I was so excited/thrilled to get 4th place! Many, many invited men and women dropped out of this race due to the harsh running conditions, so getting 4th felt extra good! Susan and I hugged each other tightly immediately after the finish b/c we both knew that we had helped each other to place 3rd and 4th. I then had to go into the drug testing tent for about 2 hours. This was an interesting and embarrassing experience. Being dehydrated and having to produce a urine sample was not an easy thing to do, especially with the sample collectors closely watching my every move. Getting drug tested had long been a goal of mine… it somehow seems like a status symbol for a runner. :o)
Brenda Rowell, LMT of Montana
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