Twin Cities Marathon Review – Minneapolis/St Paul MN

This is the first year I have run the Twin Cities Medtronic Marathon. I have run the Twin Cities 10-miler in the past, but never the full. I must say, it sure did feel different crossing that finish line after 26.2 miles vs after 10. Both are a huge accomplishment, but it had been 8 years since I ran a full marathon, so the finish line was that much sweeter this year!

Expo & Packet Pickup:

I went to the expo on Saturday at 2pm (2nd day of expo). I was able to find some cool Minnesota branded clothing that I bought, but there was a lot of the clothing merchandise I was interested in buying from the Brooks store that was already out of my size (Brooks had the biggest vendor spot with the largest selection of Twin Cities Marathon merchandise). This was disappointing as there were some really cool items there that I would have liked to have added to my running collection.

Merchandise purchased at the Expo

Packet Pickup was located at the expo. There was no line to get my packet and bib which was great! This marathon had a virtual event bag, so there wasn’t very much in the bag other than the bib and the extra runners gift!! Each year for the 10-miler and marathon you are given an extra gift in your packet pickup bag. This year it was a TC Marathon winter hat. I was happy with the gift, especially because it is an extra item they give us, but I would have been happier had it been made for running (out of some sort of running material).

The plastic drop bag that my bib came in, that I was to use to transport my clothes from the starting line to the finish line,  was not very high quality. Both of the friends I went to the expo with, and my wife and I all had our bags rip while we were walking around the expo and had to go back to the packet pickup stand and ask for another bag. The volunteers were all very nice and handed us new bags with no questions asked, but I sure was glad it happened while we were still at the expo and not already home for the night.


Since I live in the Minneapolis area, I just drove myself down to the starting area the morning of the race and parked next to the very last light rail stop in downtown Minneapolis (this was right next to the Twins Stadium). Being a little ways from the Vikings Stadium where the race started meant that I didn’t have to pay for event parking that day (since there was a Vikings game at noon the same day as the race). Parking cost me $3 for 6 hours of parking. The light rail was free to runners the entire weekend so I didn’t have to pay for that either. The Vikings Stadium was about 5 stops away from where I got on and only took about 10 minutes. This also dropped us off right next to the start of the race. Another added bonus is that the light rail also goes pretty close to the finish line, so I was able to get on the light rail after the race and take it all the way back to my car.

On the light rail on my way to the start with my friends

The bag drop was very organized based on which coral you were in. The people taking bags made sure that the correct bags were getting into the correct trucks. For some reason there was a really really long line of people waiting to drop their bags in the trucks. Every other race I have ever been to just had a cluster of people standing around the truck handing them their bags. So taking that knowledge into account, I just walked to the truck and handed the guy my bag with no wait at all! Maybe the line was intentional, but I wasn’t sure, and I still needed to use the restroom and stretch prior to the race starting so I didn’t want to wait around to find out.

Before the start of the race

There were plenty of porta potties at the starting line. And since the 10-miler had started an hour prior to the marathon start, there were additional porta potties about a block further away from the starting line that really had no line, so obviously I just walked a bit further and found one empty right away. Since there were no crowd there, I decided to sit down on the curb and do my stretching there as well. It was great! I am pretty sure I used the porta potty, stretched, and made it back to the starting corals before some of the other people even got into the porta potties that were right by the corals.

I think the temperature at the starting line was around 35 degrees. This was a lot colder than the high 50 degree early morning temps I had trained in, but I didn’t want to change my entire race day attire at the last minute for warmer clothes since I hadn’t trained that way. To account for the colder temp I bought arm sleeves at the expo that I ended up wearing for probably 3/4 of the race. The clothes I wore for the race, including the arm sleeves, made for the perfect temp to start a race. I wasn’t at all cold while I waited for the start and I knew I wouldn’t be overheating by any means. The other benefit to adding the arm sleeves was my wife and kids wrote messages to me on them that I continued to look at throughout the entire race!


The start of the race wasn’t the best, and by start I mean standing at the starting line waiting to begin. As I put on my headphones something just didn’t feel right. I took them off and low and behold I had lost the earbud cover that goes into my right ear. I have no clue where I lost it, could have been at home while packing the night before, or on the light rail, or while stretching, but needless to say I didn’t end up finding it anywhere. I didn’t want to not listen to anything for the entire 26 miles after all of the training runs I did I used my headphones, so I had to chance it and listen with just the ear fin on my Jaybirds holding the right speaker in my ear. Luckily it held and actually wasn’t that noticeable after the race started.

The first part of the race was great. I made my way out of downtown Minneapolis and over to the lakes (the lakes include Lake of the Isles, Lake Calhoun, Lake Harriet, and Lake Nokomis) in Minneapolis. This scenery really makes you forget that you are right in the heart of Minneapolis. At this point in the race the course was very level and didn’t show signs of any difficulties in elevation. I wore my OrangeMud HydraQuiver for this run that I had filled with Nuun, but I still made sure to get water at almost all of the aid stations.

At the half way point I clocked in at a 1:49:40 which was basically right on with my half marathon finish time for the Seawheeze Half in Vancouver that I had completed during mid August of this year. I was feeling really good at this point and was very happy with my time so far. I remember thinking to myself that I am right on pace for where I want to be and I just need to keep it up!

Once I got close to the 20 mile mark is where I really started to notice my legs being sore and my pace slowing down. The seemingly never ending hills were only adding to the pain. There was one gradual long hill and then many short hills from around mile 20-25 or so. Eventually I started fast walking up these shorter hills and would start running again once I got to the top of the hill as my legs just weren’t trained enough do endure running up them. I originally tried running up a few but my legs felt so heavy when I got to the top that I had to walk for a bit then, so figured I would save some energy and just do the walking on the hill vs after (note to self, do more hill training if I run this race again). My longest training run was 20 miles, which I did 2 times leading up to this race, and I feel like that also had something to do with my legs starting to really hurt after mile 20. Another note to self, make sure I build up to running a few training runs in the 20-26 mile range while training for my next marathon.

Also around 20 miles is when I started to feel the effects of the race and really felt like I needed more than the Nuun, two gels, and water from the aid stations that I had so far. From that point on I made sure to get Powerade at every aid station. At most of them I was actually getting 2 glasses of Powerade and still feeling like I needed more. This will yet again be another note to self, make sure to test and document my hydration/energy more regularly with longer training runs.

On another note, my watch was off by about 0.7 miles for most of the race. I had thought I was doing a lot better than I actually was for most of the race, until I finally gave in and said ‘I am sure the mile markers on the course are correct and my watch must be wrong’ so just had to go with it from there on out. My watch was set to the outdoor running mode, but afterwards it didn’t show my route map or temp detail on Garmin Connect, so maybe that could be why I was so far off on tracking…who knows?!?!

I made it to the finish line with my wife, brother, and sister-in-law all cheering me on along the home stretch. With the last quarter mile or so of the race being a downhill to the finish I was able to pick up my pace and cross the finish line at 3:50:53. It felt great to see the finish line for the first time, then to see my family cheering, then to actually stop moving my feet once I was over the finish line!

Throughout the race I received encouraging text messages from my friends and family that I was able to read on my smart watch. This was the first time I have had a watch that allowed for this, and it was well worth it to have. Every time my watch vibrated I was happy to see what people were saying, and knowing they were tracking me and seeing how I was doing. This was also a great way to stay positive and motivated throughout the race, and a way to keep my mind off of my feet moving and how many miles I had left to run. I can’t thank them enough for all their support throughout the race and throughout my training!


Immediately after crossing the finish line I was awarded my medal. This gold designed medal is amazing. The way it catches the light with the curves is just so different from medals from other races.

Next came the line of food. This included Powerade, water, fruit cup, chips, nut rolls,  chocolate milk, vegetable and chicken broth, and bagel bites. I took pretty much everything, but ended up drinking the Powerade, 2 chocolate milks, and had one bite of the bagel bite. I guess my appetite wasn’t quite there yet. I must say, as I was crossing the finish line the first thought that went through my head was “Please let them have chocolate milk”…they did and it tasted so good!!

After this I went over to the bag pickup area. I walked right over to my bib line to get my bag. There was no line and they handed my bag to me within 10 seconds, THIS WAS AMAZING!! One of the things I hate about checking a bag is the massive lines that ensue at the finish to get your bag back. I am not sure what they did differently this year, but this was the fastest I have ever gotten my bag post-race.

Post-race with my wife who ran the 10-miler

Next was the finisher shirt line, again this was really quick. I think it took about 30 seconds once I found my line (shirt size medium line) to get my shirt. My first thought on the design of the shirt was that these shirts are really bright!! The more I looked at them, the more I liked the shirt and was so happy to add a bright shirt to my collection. With it getting closer to winter and there being less and less sunlight during the day, this bright long sleeve shirt will help with visibility on future training runs.

Being that my legs were really sore, I knew I for sure wanted to take advantage of the free post-race massage. I got in the line outside the massage tent and started to wait. We were told the wait time would be about 10 minutes, and I think it was closer to 5 than 10…how can you beat this short of a wait for a free massage. While I waited in line a man walked down the line and made sure that everyone waiting was doing ok and checked if anyone needed any help. There was also a lady following close behind him offering more vegetable and chicken broth if people wanted it. I let them both know that I was feeling ok and didn’t need any assistance.

The massage tent was heated and I can honestly say that this felt like one of the best massages I have ever had. I asked the lady who was giving me my massage to concentrated entirely on my legs…amazing!! I don’t know if it was how sore I was, or just how good it felt to lay down for a bit after the race that made this experience so good, but either way, I was really happy I made the time for it!

Another perk to running the race was a free drink ticket on my bib to use in the beer garden. Summit Brewery gave all finishers a free beer in the beer garden area. I used this time to sit down and talk to my wife about how my race went and how her 10-miler race went since this was the first time we were able to talk after I finished my race. There was plenty of space for us to stretch out and there were speakers set up in the beer garden so we could still hear the announcers at the finish line.

This was a local race for me, so I didn’t have the added expense of travel and hotel which was great. The scenery was beautiful and that alone made the race worth it. For me personally this was my first marathon in 8 years and I trained really hard for it, so the feeling of accomplishment after the race made it that much more special to me. I would highly recommend this race to others looking for a good fall race with a relatively flat course. Just make sure to incorporate some hill workouts into your training cycle so that you are ready for the last few miles of the race!!

One thought on “Twin Cities Marathon Review – Minneapolis/St Paul MN”

  1. congrats on your marathon, great race and great time…this one is high on our list to visit and enjoyed reading your recap, cheers!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: