Medtronic Twin Cities 10 Miler and other big updates!

by Emily Gordon from Marathons and Mechanisms

Hey Guys! It's been a while! I have been quite busy the past week. I moved back down to Los Angeles, I received an awesome grant, and I traveled to Minneapolis to race in the Medtronic Twin Cities 10 Miler! To top all of that off, my nutrition is coming along great! I want to tell you all about it.

UCLA, I am back again
On Wednesday I made the five hour and 20 minute drive (with 4 stops!) down to Los Angeles. I am back in my great apartment with my previous roommate, Ella, and a new addition, Jacquelyn. After spending three full months living at home and spending a lot of my time alone, it’s so nice to be surrounded by friends again. I started up classes on the 2nd, took a final vacation to Minneapolis, and then dived back into it this week. Cell Biology is interesting, but dense, and my Biophysical Chem class is jamming through information. Nothing I can't handle, only nine more weeks...
Minneapolis, leading up to the 10 Miler
On Thursday I took a very scary (life-threatening) bus ride through LA traffic to LAX (my shuttle driver was very aggressive), hopped on a plane and landed in MSP around 11pm. Eric, one of my teammates, picked me up and helped me get settled into the Airbnb studio apartment that my mom and I reserved in downtown Minneapolis. My mom's plane got in at 1am and then we both fell asleep before our heads hit the pillow around 2amFriday was busy, with a meeting at General Mills for a potential job opportunity when I move, a Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon Reception with Twin Cities in Motion, which the organization that sponsors Team USA Minnesota and completely puts on the Twin Cities Marathon weekend events. Between these two events, my mom and I explored the skyway of Minneapolis and I got to run the first 2.5 miles of the race course. To top it all off, it was about 50 degrees all day long! Eventually, I got used to it, but man. It’s a cool day in LA these days when we have a high of 73! It doesn't even get below 60 at night. So, Minneapolis took some getting used to. Saturday was an early morning of volunteering at the finish line of the 5K, 10K, and kids fun run races. My mom, Gabe, Jon, Jon, Eric, Gina (all new teammates), and I got to give out finishers medals. It never ceases to amaze me what an amazing experience road racing is to so many people. The overwhelming sense of accomplishment when crossing that finish line shows on so many smiling (and only ONE puking) faces. I was then checked into the Crowne Plaza in St. Paul with the other elite athletes. My mom and I explored St. Paul a bit and I was able to run across and along the Mississippi river to do my final pre-race shake out. We got dinner at Cossetta with Eric in St. Paul and I got everything out and ready for the early race morning. 
Sunday October 5th, Medtronic Twin Cities 10 Miler
4:34am I rolled over to check the time. Then, I checked the weather: 36F, feels like 28F. My first reaction: Oh boy, I wonder what it is in LA. 64F, even with the 2-hour time difference. Okay, that wasn't going to make anything better. I got up, grabbed my 2 hard-boiled eggs and cup of granola with almond milk and started chewing. The goal was to get the food in my belly ASAP. I then put on a base layer, my Saucony jersey, a t-shirt, a long sleeve, a sweatshirt, a down jacket, and a wind breaker. On the bottom I had on my 1/2 tights, full tights, and then sweatpants. After a quick ride to the race start with my coach and teammates, we got our warm up going. I quickly regretted all of those layers. I started to sweat, drenching all of my upper layers. By the time we were heading to the start line, I was on just my jersey, arm warmers and (soggy) half tights. I was cold, but surprisingly not freezing. 5 strides later, the anthem was played and the gun went off. 
The women's elite field was not giant, but 5 of us created a pack out front quickly into the first 200m of the race. The first mile, which actually was 0.86 (due errors with the road closures) was a combination of downhill, uphill, hard right turn, hard left turn. I was feeling fresh and we were moving at (prescribed) 5:45 pace. Mile two was tough. We were all fresh enough to jam up the biggest hill just after crossing the river, but it wasn't without some pain. At mile two we dropped to a lead pack of four. Through mile 3.5 it was up and down, up and down, then it finally flattened out a bit. Allison Mendez opened up and the pack of 4 turned into a line of 4, I was holding up the rear. I wasn't feeling like I was running at my heart rate threshold (where I should be when running all out) but I couldn't really pick up my legs and go much faster. I have been experiencing some tightening in my tfls (hips) and IT bands recently, and I know the cold was not being good to me during this race. The goal was to just maintain. I will admit, watching the three girls ahead of me take off and disappear around a curve, I felt like settling. Can’t have that can we? I started to focus on my core and picking up my knees. Around mile 6 I finally felt like I was getting into my groove. Some master’s men pulled up beside me and I did my best to work with them, and came up beside Gina just before mile 8. Mile 4 through 9 were a slight grade uphill, not enough to visually notice at times, but man did my splits show it. I just tried to maintain until we reached the crest just after mile 9 and dropped down to the St. Paul capital building and across the finish line. I came in 3rd, with a time of 59:04. 
The course was very challenging and absolutely beautiful. Twin Cities in Motion and all of their volunteers did such a fantastic job holding this race. I got to run my first race as a Team USA Minnesota Athlete in the amazing place I will soon get to call home. I couldn't have asked for a better course and experience. 
So what’s my take on my finish? I am not too thrilled about how my pace turned out. Considering some of the workouts I did leading up to this race, I know I am capable of a faster average mile pace. I also realized during that first mile that this was the first time I had ever RACED a road race. Prior to Sunday, I had only RUN a road race. I spent my past two marathons and my half marathon running completely alone. It was a completely new experience to be running with competition and to have to work strategically with and against one another. Lastly, it was my first race back since my February marathon and my calcaneus stress fracture. My coach told me that it was expected to feel weird and different to be back on the roads like that. 
So the goal now? Recover, take care of the tightness, and get ready for the even bigger and more competitive field at the EQT Pittsburgh 10 miler on November 9th
RRCA Road Scholar Grant 
On Tuesday a press release was sent out naming the eight athletes who received the Road Scholar Grant from the RRCA organization. It’s a huge honor to not only represent the RRCA while I race the roads for the next year, but also pretty cool to be included in the list of incredible athletes who were also named grantees, this year and years prior. It’s a great feeling to be receiving the same award the 2014 US Marathon Champion Esther Erb received. I met her at the great Twin Cities elite after party on Sunday and got to hear all about how her race went, the play by play was great. I find her very inspiring, and to be considered by the RRCA to have potential, just like she has potential, feels so great. This organization is helping athletes like me race to roads and continue to represent the amazing American distance running movement. 
Lastly, a quick nutrition update: Traveling really affected my eating habits and my GI tract. There's no easy way to say that I had to poo the ENTIRE 10 miler. My regular daily routine was thrown off by the time change and the early race start and it really did a number (tehe) on my race. I 100% believe that I could have run faster if I wasn't thinking about my bowels the whole time. I was also tapered for this race so I spent a lot of days eating and not training hard, which made me feel bloated. Rasa assured me that it would get easier and would feel better leading up to the race. As for during the race, she was both empathetic and willing to help me practice with different breakfast and pre-race meal in order to ward off the urgent need to find a port-a-potty.
On the regular, I am now back up to 128.0 lbs (my marathon race weight) and still feeling like I am stuffing myself continuously. It is quite amazing, though, how much my metabolism has picked up since I started fueling with more food and more often. I generally sleep well, my mood has drastically improved, and most importantly, a number of people, including my roommate, grad mentor, and other good friends, separately told me that I look good. I no longer look emaciated or tired or too thin. I look like a happy and rested athlete. It is so reassuring to hear that, because the idea of gaining weight (like I blogged about before) is not usually a positive thing. I am finally meeting my energy needs and still training well. It is not without bumps in the road though, every day has its own challenges with this stuff. My old ways of eating battle me at every meal, but like Rasa has told me, if I want to be the best athlete I can be, I need to make sure I am getting the fuel I need.