What I Learned From Running The 2014 Twin Cities Marathon


Showing Off My Finisher’s Medal

I sprang out of bed at the chime of my cell phone alarm at 4:30am yesterday. I quietly got ready for the day, gathered my things, and quietly closed the hotel room door behind me as to not disturb my sleeping family. I headed downstairs to the lobby to meet some friends and to walk over to the light rail station that would take us to the start line.

In just a few short hours I would be lining up with over 11,000 other runners to run the Twin Cities Marathon.

It would be my 4th time, and I had expectations of a personal best as I had been training hard. My long runs had never gone smoother. I had done more hill and speed training, and my legs felt rested and strong from the two week taper period.   I entered my starting corral and quickly found the pace runner that would help guide runners to a finishing time of 3 hours and 45 minutes.

If I could meet that goal, I would beat my previous best by 20 minutes.

At 8:00am the wheelchair race started, and shortly after that the elite runners. They then delay for 8 minutes as to allow those groups to get a sizable start as to not have the rest of us get in the way of potential records.   When the announcer finally said, “Runners ready? GO!” goose bumps formed as I made my way to the starting line, and broke into a run just feet away from the pacer I was determined to stay with.

Unfortunately, it quickly became clear that I would not run a personal best.

I slowly watched the balloons on the stick the pacer was holding get further and further ahead of me. By mile 6 I couldn’t see them anymore.

At that point, I had very important decision to make that would likely dictate how the rest of my run would go. I could wallow in failure for the next twenty miles, or I could accept the fact that I had misjudged my conditioning, and simply enjoy the race and whatever finishing time came with it. Knowing full well the impacts of negative thoughts when exhaustion would set in later in the race, I chose acceptance, adjusted my pace to be comfortable, and continued on.

I interacted with the crowds lining the streets. When there was a line of children holding out their hands raising a sign saying, “Free high fives!” I swerved to the side and touched as many as I could. When I saw signs with a big star and the words “Press for Power” I did it. Every single time. I pointed and laughed at signs with sayings such as, “Run Like a liberal is chasing you!” and “You’re running better than the government,” and my personal favorite, “Smile if you’re not wearing underwear.”

By mile 21, I had hit the infamous wall. My hips and groin were killing me, but strangely enough my actual legs felt fine. I looked up at a very long and steep hill and decided I was going to run up it as a small personal victory. About three quarters of the way up, I saw a familiar face out of the corner of my eye. I saw my brother-in-law and my son screaming words of encouragement at me. I high fived them as a smile burst on to my face. About 50 feet later I saw my daughter and my wife also on the side of the road cheering me on. Tears rolled down my cheeks, and I felt like someone had just breathed life back into my lungs.

The next 5 miles were essentially a run/walk. I don’t remember much about them to be honest, but I know they were not easy. At about mile 25.5 I turned a corner to the left, and stood atop a hill looking down on two hook and ladder trucks hoisting a gigantic American Flag waving over the road, with the state capital in the distance.

I breathed a sigh of relief as every ounce of pain melted away.

With the Cathedral of St Paul on my left, I began my descent towards the finish line, breaking into a sprint. The street was lined with crowds of people shouting at anybody and everybody. I could hear the announcer at the finish line reading off the names of those crossing into the promised land. I found my family on the right side of the street, about a hundred yards from the end. Another brother-in-law and his kids, as well as my mother and father-in-law had joined them. I raised my hand in victory, and high fived each of them. I crossed the finish line in 4:25:41. Twenty minutes slower than my previous best, and 40 minutes slower than my goal.


marathon finish

Finish line, here I come!!!

I couldn’t have cared less about my time. My marathon experience was everything I had hoped it would be.

The journey of life will not always be what you had planned for. You can take a route of self-pity and failure, or you can accept those twists and turns, adjust accordingly and enjoy whatever happens. I promise you that acceptance and enjoyment is a much better choice.

On the other hand, you get the life you train for. I read an article about a week ago that talked about the dangers of adjusting your pace on race day. The article suggested that it’s OK to slow your pace due to weather conditions, but never push your pace to try to get a better time. Run the pace you trained for. I felt enlightened at both the common sense and brilliance of the phrase. I also felt stupid. I’ve been a runner for most of my 40 years of life. Never, ever have I trained for a specific pace.   I just put in the miles, do the speed work and the long runs and then hope it magically translates to a personal best. Looking back, I had trained only to finish, and that’s exactly what I did.

Today I begin training for my next marathon. It is Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, MN on June 20th, 2015. My legs need to heal before I can lace up my running shoes again, but I’m already mentally preparing. While I’m satisfied with yesterday’s marathon experience, I want a very different experience in June. I have aspirations of bettering my time and eventually qualifying for the Boston marathon. This experience has taught me that I will have to train very differently if I want to achieve my ultimate goals.

Are you training for the life you want?

About Travis

46 Responses to “What I Learned From Running The 2014 Twin Cities Marathon”

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  1. Michelle says:

    Travis, as you have actually run a marathon you are already ahead of the rest of us! Am super proud of you and I love the perspective that you have regarding the experience. Can’t wait to hear about the next one!

    • Travis says:

      I’m looking forward to the next one as well, Michelle – although I have a lot of work to do before I get there. What does a marathon runner do after they finish a marathon? Start training for the next one! LOL!

  2. Anyone who runs a marathon at ANY time is a bad ass to me! I’m sorry you didn’t hit your time, but I’m super duper proud of your accomplishment! Get a lot of rest and do a lot of foam rolling (which is almost as painful to me as running) lol! Congratulations!

  3. You completed a frigging marathon dude! What an amazing accomplishment at any time. Congratulations!

    • Travis says:

      Thanks, my friend! During the run I was just focused on the task at hand, but once I crossed the finish line I thought to myself, “How far did I just run??” Great experience!

  4. Congrats Travis, training for and completing a marathon is a victory no matter the time!

    • Travis says:

      It certainly feels like a victory, Kurt – one day after the run I’ve already mostly forgot about the pain and difficulty, and all the positive moments of the experience have been accentuated. Great memory that I will remember forever!

  5. Briana says:

    Yay Travis! I’m so glad that you didn’t let the negative thoughts deter you. Stuff happens, especially come race day. But you did what so many people could only dream of: you finished. And in a bad ass time too! Super proud and glad you had maybe not the race you were planning for, but the race that made you smile 🙂

    • Travis says:

      I’m a positive kind of person, as you may have figured out by now. I like to walk around with a smile on my face, and will find a way to make that happen. Thanks for the support!

  6. Maria Nedeva says:

    Well done, Travis. Now, you know that every marathon is different, right? And it is a bit like with writing – you can never predict how it’s going to go. My favorite is the one that was so hard that only about 1.000 mad Scots and 400 crazy people from the rest of the World run it (yep, I was one of the 400 :)). Rest, recover and than run again.

    • Travis says:

      That’s a great analogy, Maria….sometimes a post will go in a completely different direction than the original idea, and sometimes a run will be a different experience than originally intended. We just have to roll with it and find a way to make it worth while. Thanks for reading!

  7. Mackenzie says:

    Travis, you are all kinds of awesome! Congrats on finishing your marathon 🙂 You ROCK!!!!

  8. Glen Craig says:

    Congrats Travis! Isn’t it magic how seeing your loved ones can give you more energy than any sports drink or gel?

  9. Congratulations, Travis!! Running a marathon is hard, hard work and you should feel proud of your accomplishment. “Run the pace you trained for.” I love that and the translation you made to our personal lives as well. When I think out areas in my life where I have struggled, looking back I can see that I did “train” well for them and it does make a huge difference. Good luck at Grandma’s next June!

    • Travis says:

      I love that phrase, too, Shannon – I have a feeling it’s going to echo in my brain at an opportune time in the future. 😉 Thanks for your support, and for dropping by!

  10. Ciel Belle says:

    Thats amazing! Great job still on finishing a full marathon. I remember feeling the same way when I ran the half… I have yet to try to beat my time since then. But you are right, we always have choices… its better to enjoy and make the most of what was dealt with you than to wallow for the next 20miles or lifetime.


    • Travis says:

      20 miles or lifetime….awesome perspective Ciel Belle! I’m sure you felt a very similar feeling of accomplishment after finishing your half marathon – always great to hear from a fellow runner!

  11. Well done Travis, very impressed you have more than one marathon- much better than most of the population 🙂

    • Travis says:

      Running a marathon is certainly a formidable challenge….not everyone is interested in putting themselves through the rigor of training, nor the extreme challenge of race day itself. I personally love a good personal challenge. 🙂 Thanks for reading, Louise!

  12. HUGE congrats, my friend!!! I ran my first 5k at the TC marathon and I can still feel the excitement and the goosebumps I experienced as a crossed the finish line. Regardless of your time, you came out a big winner yesterday. Kudos to you. 🙂

    • Travis says:

      Cool! Did you do that this year, or a different year? I saw people doing the “looney challenge” this year….where they do the 5K, 10K and Marathon in the same weekend. Now, THOSE people are NUTS! 🙂

  13. What a great post! I got teary-eyed at the parts when you saw your family members cheering you on : ) If you had chosen to stick with that unrealistic pace, you would have missed out on all of the fun you had responding to onlookers with their signs and high-fives.What a great day it sounds like you had! And what a great event for your children to witness. I’m sure you have found large amounts of wisdom to pass on to them just from this one day. Enjoy your well-deserved rest!

    • Travis says:

      If I would have chosen to try to stick with the unreasonable pace I likely would have eventually exhausted myself to the point of needing to drop out! I will definitely get some rest!

  14. Oh boy, I guess I shouldn’t run in the twin cities- I’m a pretty big time liberal, haha.

  15. Kim says:

    Like some of the other comments, I think finishing before dark is a huge accomplishment. I don’t even think I’m going to make my half this year. I do hope your training goes well for the next one. It would be cool to say you’d done the Boston Marathon.

    • Travis says:

      Never say never, Kim….get out there and DO IT! 🙂 Last year I ran the 10 mile (run at the same time as the marathon – they just start an hour earlier) and as I crossed the finish line I decided I was going to run the marathon this year…and I was going to dedicate myself to getting into peak shape and qualify for Boston. Obviously that didn’t happen….which is exactly why I registered for Grandma’s in June. I’m refocused and ready to take another “run” at it!

  16. I just think anyone who runs one marathon, let alone many, is super accomplished! Hats off to you man! Shows so much rigor and determination. Good for you with your attitude during your race as well.

    • Travis says:

      Thanks Deb, running a marathon – as well as accomplishing any goal (like getting your finances back into shape and getting out of debt) – takes just as much mental training as anything else. If you’re mind isn’t focused, you’re going to fail! Thanks for your comment!

  17. Julie G. says:

    This just goes to show your that your mind set will determine if you meet your goals or not as well. If you had allowed the negative thoughts to roll in and take over it is very likely that you could have just given up and not finished. Instead you reassessed your goals and adjusted accordingly. I needed to hear that today! I have messed up the budget and put my family back into a debt hole…It was mostly my fault as I just gave up keeping track of the money and just played musical money. (Having a child really messes with you). So while I was on maternity leave I just didn’t keep track of my spending 66% for disability for six weeks and no income for another six weeks leads to bad money decisions. Ignoring the problem will not fix the problem. I need to realize that I did not meet my goal but I can still reassess my situation and set a new goal.

    • Travis says:

      I’m almost positive that if I hadn’t reassessed I would have dropped out, Julie. Thus I agree with you 100% that you have to have the right mental focus to achieve any difficult goal. I’m sorry to hear that your finances have gotten off track….but you have the right perspective to get things headed back in the right direction! Just take note of where you are now, and make a plan to get to where you want to go – you CAN do it! I’ve love to have you let us know how you’re doing from time to time – I wish you nothing but success!

  18. Man that is awesome! Thanks for sharing the pics. I’ve done a half but never a full, it was hard to finish 13.1 so I don’t see me doing a full anytime soon.


    • Travis says:

      Like most people, I don’t like the majority of pictures taken of myself….but these actually turned out pretty good. 🙂 My wife said she wanted to be able to notice me easily crossing the finish line because there have been times that I would run right by her and she wouldn’t see me. The bright orange tights were my way of sticking out just a little bit more. 🙂

  19. I remember seeing you at mile 24, you looked strong despite what you say above. Good job, great finish!

    • Travis says:

      REALLY??? I’m completely floored that you were there and remember me – was it my bright orange tights? LOL. Were you running the marathon as well? You just blew my mind!

  20. Kathy J says:

    WAY TO GO TRAVIS! Congratulations on your achievement!


    • Travis says:

      Thank you so much, friend! It’s one of those achievements that makes a guy stand just a little straighter, with just a little more confidence that I can handle anything that life throws my way. Thanks for reading!

  21. Ryan says:

    Hey Travis, congrats on finishing the marathon! It was my first marathon and I was pretty happy with my 437 finish. I saw my family at the finish line and it is so overwhelming and emotional. That was the toughest emotional and physical challange I have ever done in my life! I can barley walk, but when I look at the finisher medal I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I already have the thoughts of doing it again next year! Thanks for sharing your experience! Seeys next year

    • Travis says:

      Congratulations to you, Ryan! That overwhelming and emotional feeling doesn’t go away – I’ve felt it every one of my 4 marathons. When I can run that marathon, and not get choked up at the sight of those hook and ladder trucks, and that descending hill towards the finish line…..when the screams of the crowd on both sides of the road no longer make me feel like I’m trotting onto the field of the Super Bowl, then I’ll be done running marathons. But until then, I’ll keep running. Those 3-4 minutes it takes to run that distance is worth every single second of training. Keep running, and hope to be sharing the road with you next year! Thanks so much for reading and sharing your experience!!!

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