Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Guest Blog: Brad Aagaard's Twin Cities Marathon Report

Today's post marks a minor landmark of sorts here at Daily Adventures: my first Guest Blogger. I figured it was a good way to get some content without actually doing any work of my own.

Okay, actually my friend Brad ran an awesome race this year at Twin Cities and sent out a detailed report to a few of his fellow runners. I thought it would make a great addition to my blog.

Brad and I ran Track and Cross Country together in college. Brad, like me, specialized in the 1500 and ran the 800 as a secondary event (along with various other distances - that's the nature of running for a small, D-III school). I had to hunt down his 1500 PR online because he refused to remind me what it was (3:51.93). Anyway, he was fast. I mean, he is fastAnd of course, he still is. After college, he spent approximately a decade with a foot injury that prevented him from any serious running. When he got healthy a couple of years ago, he certainly didn't waste time with running slow.

I especially enjoyed this report because, in addition to having lived in both Minneapolis and St. Paul, Twin Cities was my (and my friend Charlie's) first marathon.

Brad said he forgot to take pictures, so I'm providing a few of my own. (Sorry Brad. Next time maybe you'll remember to pull that camera out!)

Here's a shot of Charlie, me and Brad, circa 1995, after a 30K in McCall, ID:

This is how I remember Brad in college: running (or, in this case, about to run). This shot has Brad (#454) along with fellow teammates, about to start the regional championship race in XC.

So, without further ado, here is Brad's take on Twin Cities '09:

Twin Cities Marathon, Oct 4, 2009


Time: 2:40:53 (1:20:45/1:20:08)
Place: 73rd overall, 8th in my age group (35-39)
Weather: 46-52 degrees and partly sunny with 85% humidity



I opted to use the same 12 week training program that I used for
CIM last fall. Nothing fancy, just 6 2-week blocks (one week of
long intervals and a long tempo and one week of shorter
intervals, hill repeats and an easy long run) with with 1 day off
every other week. I peaked at a little over 80 miles per week.

Racing/Traveling Partners

Solomon - One of my regular training partners. A 1:51 800m runner
in college, now a consistent 2:45 to 2:55 marathoner. Solomon
started running well the last couple of weeks leading up to the
marathon (the ole-Sol who had been missing for about 12 months
finally returned).

Mammen - A mainstay of the Palo Alto Run Club (everyone knows
Mammen) and experienced sub 3-hr marathoner.

The Day Before

The day before the race was a leisurely day in St. Paul that
involved picking up our race numbers, running some errands for
food and cheap gloves and hats that we could toss on race day.
When Solomon picked up his number, he was mistaken for an elite
athlete. No such mistaken identify for Mammen and I.

Early Race Day

Up at 4:50am to eat and drink a bit. Didn't sleep much but that is
normal. I am ready to go. It is 5:35am and we slowly jog the 1/2
mile jog down the street to another hotel to catch a bus to the
start. It is dark but not too cold with no rain in sight. No line
for the buses (this definitely isn't Boston!). We get on a nearly
full bus and are quickly on our way to the Metrodome. It's 6:15am
and we are at the Metrodome. Uh oh, the driver doesn't know where
to let us off. He stops to ask a policeman blocking a street but
he doesn't know either. The policeman does tell the driver which
street he can turn on. We are at the 10 mile start. People up
front convince the driver to let us off here (their start is less
than an hour away). Off the bus and now a slow, short jog to the
Metrodome. The hallway around the perimeter is somewhat crowded
with runners sitting, standing, and stretching along the
sides. There is some space ahead which we take. My stocking cap
provides some cushion against the hard concrete floor.

We decide to do our short <10 min warm up at 7:20 so that we can
try to be in the coral 15 min before the start. Time to sit around
and relax for a bit. Mammen lays down and takes a cat nap. Lots of
10 mile runners around. I head to the bathroom (only 2 people
ahead of me; this definitely isn't Boston!). ... The ten mile
runners are headed to the start line leaving just us
marathoners. 7:20am and time to jog some more (a little faster jog
now but still slower than running). It is light now and the sky is
almost clear! A little wind but it will be a tailwind for most of
the race, so the weather is perfect. Headed out towards the 10
mile course. Lots of marathoners are just arriving. A short
out-and-back jog and we stop by the port-a-johns near the 10 mile
start. A much shorter line than the one inside or immediately
outside the Metrodome. Solomon is headed into the Metrodome to
fetch his sweat bag and get Mammen. 25 mins until the
start. ... 20 mins until the start and no sign of Solomon and
Mammen. More and more people are headed to the start. At 7:45am I
am not waiting any longer. 7:44 still no Solomon or Mammen. Ah,
there is Mammen and Sol. Time to get rid of our sweats and get to
the start, and eat gel #1. The other four are tucked in my
shorts (one every 6 miles). Very crowded at the sweat drop. Gotta
get to the start line now. Whew! They have pace signs which people
are actually following. Plenty of room up near the front. The
elite runners are jogging back and forth out on the course. Just a
few minutes before the start!

The Race

Mile 1 - 6:18
Mile 2 - 6:15 (12:33)

There is the gun and we are off. Well, sort of. I am slowly moving
towards the start line and soon running. I am stuck behind a few
slow, older runners. There goes Mammen past me on the right. Finally, a
gap opens up and I am around the slower runners. Okay, time to
settle in. This pace is comfortable, heart rate is fine. I don't
think it is too fast. Is it too slow? We will find out at the mile
marker. 6:18. How much time did I lose at the start behind the
slower runners? Was it 10 seconds? Downhill and then uphill. Mile
2, 6:15. Still a little slow. Starting to pass some people.

Mile 3 - 6:23 (18:56), 151st at 5km
Mile 4 - 6:02 (24:58)
Mile 5 - 6:15 (31:13)
Mile 6 - 6:16 (37:29), 139th at 10km

The first significant uphill. Slowing down a little to keep things
comfortable. 6:23 for mile 3. It is flat now. No need for gloves
any more and off they go. Much more comfortable now without
gloves. I'll keep the hat for a while longer. Not feeling great,
but still comfortable. Passing a few more people and settling in.
Looks like there are a bunch of masters women just ahead. Winding our
way around one of the lakes now. 5:52 for mile 4. Did I really
speed up that much? It doesn't feel that fast. The mile marker
could be off so let's keep this pace and see where we are at the
next mile. 6:36 and if I remember correctly, this is exactly where
mile 6 is supposed to be. So that previous mile wasn't 5:52, which
means I am still running about 2:44 pace. I want to run faster
than that but maybe the legs just aren't going to cooperate today.
Still 20 miles and 2 hrs of running to go. Time for gel #2. Still
plenty of energy but a long way to go. My left arch feels a little
tight. I hope it doesn't get worse.

Mile 7 - 6:08 (43:37)
Mile 8 - 6:09 (49:46)
Mile 9 - 6:13 (55:58)

Let's try increasing the pace a little and see what
happens. Does my heart rate increase? No. Passing the big group of
masters women and moving up to the next group for a while.
Downhill! Letting the legs run. Still feeling good. Headed along
the shore of another lake. Feeling more comfortable now. Ready to
slowly move past this group. Turning away from the lake now. Rolling
hills for the next couple of miles. Not much uphill. A slight downhill.
Starting to get into a faster rhythm now. The tightness in my arch is
gone. No more need for the stocking cap. Off it goes! Whew, that feels
good. Time to slowly close the gap on the big group ahead over the
next mile or so.

Mile 10 - 6:08 (1:02:07)
Mile 11 - 6:00 (1:08:07)
Mile 12 - 6:07 (1:14:14)

The big group ahead is starting to break up. Definitely feeling
better and getting into a nice rhythm. Megan (two-time
Olympic Trials marathon qualifier and fellow Menlo Park runner) is
in the pack. 90 degree right turn and up a slight rise, I pass
Megan and start working my way to catch up to the front of the
pack. Time to maintain pace for a while. The next turn just after
mile 12 will take us into the wind for a couple miles.

Mile 13 - 6:08 (1:20:22)
Halfway - 1:20:45, 114th place

Here is the left turn and we are into the wind. I am at the front
of the pack and pulling slighty ahead. It's decision time. There
is a group of four men about 20m ahead and a big gap ahead of them.
Time to close the gap and catch on to the pack. Here we go! My heart
rate is definitely a little higher now and I am breathing harder.
Okay, we are making progress... made it. Time to sit and draft and
eat gel #3. Two of the others are dropping back but there are still
two leading the way. Someone flies past on the right. There is no way
I am going to try to go with him. The others aren't either. Good.
Coming up on halfway. 1:20 high. If I even split, I can PR! My legs
feel good and my heart rate is still fine. If I keep feeling this
good and maintain this pace, I may be able to go faster the second
half by getting rid of some of those 6:15 miles.

Mile 14 - 6:06 (1:26:28)
Mile 15 - 6:05 (1:32:34)

Right turn and no more headwind for a couple of miles. Up this
slight rise and then flat. No groups ahead but more people are
coming back to me, one by one. Cruising along now at just over
6:00 pace. Definitely in the groove now and hoping it lasts. This
is fun!

Mile 16 - 6:03 (1:38:37)
Mile 17 - 6:02 (1:44:40)
Mile 18 - 6:07 (1:50:47)
Mile 19 - 6:01 (1:56:48)

Along the Mississippi river on the bluff above the river
now. Slight headwind. Everybody is strung out. Slooooooowly
passing one person after another. 10 miles to go. Another hour of
running. Just like 10 miles hard after 10 miles easy. I know how
this should feel. Uh oh, that guy is not doing so well. Looks like
someone is assessing if he is okay. Some slight ups and downs but
my pace is still steady and I am feeling smooth and relaxed. Time for
gel #4. Energy level is still good. The headwind isn't too bad. Up the
hill and onto the bridge. 6:01 with the hill. Things are looking good!
7 miles to go.

Mile 20 - 5:59 (2:02:46), 97th place

Ride the tailwind now. Right turn and back down along the river on
the other side. Flat for now but gotta be ready for the uphill
just after 21. 5:59! Fastest mile so far! Steady rhythm now. Keep
rolling. Uh oh, took a little too much air at that last water
stop. A little side stitch. Breathe.... keep rolling. 10km to
go. Need to run just about 6:00 pace to break 2:40. How fast can I
go that last mile? Can I run 5:50? Wait until the top of the hill
at mile 23 to push it.

Mile 21 - 6:01 (2:08:47)

Hiting some rolling hills before the climb. Starting to feel some
signs of getting tired. My heart rate jumps up on the uphills and
I am breathing harder. The change in rhythm seems to help my side
stitch though. No worse for the wear.

Mile 22 - 6:26 (2:15:14)
Mile 23 - 6:10 (2:21:23)

What an idiot! The guy just ahead of me tried to grab water and
spilled 4-5 cups in a row. Thank goodness there were still a few
left and I could grab one. See ya later! Time to head uphill. Oh,
this is shorter than I expected! Back onto some flat road for 100m
and now the mile climb. This isn't too bad. 6:26. Expected
that. Probably can't break 2:40 now, but I can try to make it
close. Very gradual climb now with some short, slightly steeper
sections ahead. Still picking people off one-by-one. Not passing
many women now, a number of masters men though. There is the
guy who flew past me about 10 miles ago! 6:10. Better. 5km to go!
Getting tired but still feeling relatively strong. Some slight ups
and downs now and pretty straight. Time for that last gel. This
may take a while to get down.

Mile 24 - 6:06 (2:27:29)

Still rolling along. No more gel for me. Less than 2 miles to go!
Let's throw the rest away and focus on running hard. Still
passing people... a little more crowded now. Still no one passing
me. I wonder if that will last?

Mile 25 - 6:11 (2:33:41)
Mile 26 - 5:57 (2:39:39)
Finish - 1:13 (2:40:52), 73rd place out of 8432

I am glad Solomon and I ran the last mile yesterday. I am looking
forward to that last 1/2 mile with a significant downhill! Once I
get to 3/4 of a mile to go I can use the downhill. Arggh, I
remember this slight uphill near mile 25 too! 6:11, still rolling.
Catch those people ahead. Downhill! Argggh, a little rise. There
is the cathedral... it's all downhill from here. There is the
finish! Time for a little kick! Can I catch that guy.... no. Under
2:41! Sooo close to 2:39 something, yet so far.


  1. Can I just say, that second picture is without question the most attractive photo you have ever posted on your blog....

  2. And that's what it takes to get you to post a comment, Darren. Sheesh!

  3. Aagaard! Nice report and great race. And whose butt are you and Brad checking out in that picture, Darren? Hmm?


  4. It is very a pity to me, that I can help nothing to you. But it is assured, that you will find the correct decision. Do not despair.