As I waited outside of the Metrodome shortly before 8 a.m. on Oct. 1 surrounded by more than 10,000 runners bound for St. Paul, a few anxious thoughts filled my head.
Would my right knee start aching by mile two like it did last year during my first marathon? Would the slice of toast I ate for breakfast sustain me for 26.2 miles?
Then, before I could think about all the other ways I wasn’t prepared for the daunting assignment ahead of me, the air horn blasted, signaling the start of the race. There was no turning back, and no way to escape from the pack of runners lined up on 6th Street. So instead, I started running, inspired by all the people around me who also decided to make this long trek to the state Capitol.
Soon, the sights and sounds of the marathon course districted me from my worries. I became a spectator checking out all of the faces lining the streets — everything from a rock band performing outside the Hennepin County Government Center near the starting line to a group of drummers stationed along Minnehaha Parkway.
I must admit that I’m fonder of the Minneapolis portion of the course — roughly the first 20 miles. By the time I made my way to St. Paul, which took me around three-and-a-half hours, I hit the “wall,” and started walking up the hilly stretch of East River Road to Summit Avenue. At the beginning of the race, the mile markers zoomed by, but by the end, they became far more elusive.
Somehow, I made it to the finish line on John Ireland Boulevard despite trading in my 10-minute mile pace for a considerably slower snails’ pace around mile 19. Finishing the race would have been an impossible task without the support of all the gracious volunteers who handed me cup after cup of sports drink and water, or the help of friends, family and other spectators who pushed me toward the state Capitol when my legs started feeling like bricks.
Although I’m a back-of-the pack runner who completed the race just shy of five hours, crossing that finishing line felt like an amazing feat. The more amazing physical feat came the next morning, however, when I pried my aching body out of bed and headed for work.