In 2005, a few years after we graduated college, my husband Adam decided to train for the Twin Cities Marathon. I didn’t think much of it and it didn’t affect our lives too much — he did some long runs, and I grudging cut some weekend gatherings short to get him home early enough to get a good night’s sleep. (These were our post-college years, after all). For training and strategy he read some books and looked at plans online but we were really marathon newbies — so much so that we didn’t realize until the day before the race that we had to pick up his race number and packet in advance. Yikes!
After he ran that first marathon I decided that if he ran the Twin Cities Marathon the following year, I’d sign up for the 10-mile race that accompanies it. Then I went on a run (in the heat, going too fast) and decided I hated running, it just wasn’t for me, and I’d do that one race and be done.
Because I am a planner, I signed up for a running group to train for the race. Even better, I talked a friend into training with me. Our local Running Room store offered a twelve-week training group for the race that met every Wednesday (for regular runs, and then speed and hill work) and Sunday (for long runs). The kind couple that ran that clinic held our hands, made us run easy and slow, and delivered us to the starting line confident and injury-free. I really learned how to run in those weeks and loved every minute of my race, and decided that as long as I was trained up to 10 miles, why not keep going and do a marathon the following spring?
At my first real marathon – Grandma’s Marathon 2007.
Thus began our collective completion of 29 marathons (18 him, 11 me). Locally we’ve ran the Twin Cities Marathon, Grandma’s, Med-City, Paavo Nurmi, and Minneapolis, and more far-flung we’ve run the Rocket City Marathon in Huntsville, Alabama and the Helsinki Marathon in Finland. We also crossed an ultramarathon off our list at the 50k Trail Mix.
The quiet streets of the Rocket City Marathon in Huntsville. It was a December race, so a little strange to train for in Minnesota. The women got pink finisher shirts (in women’s sizes) and the men, blue.
After finishing the Helsinki Marathon. We weren’t sure if Maali meant start or finish, so we waited for others to line up. The race started at 3 p.m. (which was fantastic) and they served peeled bananas and pickles on the course.
Cumulatively we have an eight-year streak going with the Twin Cities Marathon. We’ve only ran it once together — in 2011 — having been foiled by work (Adam), and pregnancy (me) the other years, but one of us has always run it.
Me, 13 weeks pregnant with Bee, and Adam at the Paavo Nurmi Marathon in Hurley, Wisconsin. I was surprised when I signed up to volunteer that I was able to get finish line duty, and was one of three people handing out medals, taking chips, and assisting people to the med tent after they finished. They served Finnish stew as part of the post-race refreshment.
No one is as surprised as me to see that the Twin Cities Marathon has become a family tradition. My amazing parents perfect their spectating strategy every year and have always been there to cheer us on. My cousin has run the last couple of years so we’ve enjoyed having extended family as part of the fun as well.
My mom cheering with Bee this year.
And we signed Bee up for her first race this year — the 50-yard Toddler Trot that is part of the Twin Cities Marathon Family Events. She loves to take off down the sidewalk and do laps on our block, so we thought she’d get a thrill out of the race, which for a mere $9 provided a T-shirt and real medal! It was really cold (a few snowflakes were in the air) and it was getting a bit close to nap time so she didn’t bring her A-game, but I think she got a kick out of it nonetheless, and enjoys batting at her medal, which hangs on her wall above her changing pad, and listening to me talk about the race.
Rocking the Toddler Trot last weekend. I admit I had some stage mom guilt when she was crying at the starting line (she didn’t want to be held, and didn’t want to stand still) but I think it was worth it.
But we are both staring down the likelihood of breaking our streak next year. Although with a late January due date we’d have more time to train for the October race than when Bee was born in March, we remember too well the sacrifices training for the marathon required. And after seeing my friends do a-mazing! at the race last week, it makes me want to really train and do well — not just get a slow time. Training well for a 10- or 13-mile could be really satisfying, and much less complicated.
But as with everything, we’ll see how we feel in the spring!