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October 10, 2009

Brooke Wells - Entry #5 - Post-Race

Written by Dena Evans

Congrats to Brooke, who finished the Twin Cities Marathon / US Marathon Championships in 12th place and a personal best of 2:40:07, a qualifying mark for the 2012 US Olympic Marathon Trials!

The best advice I received marathon weekend came 13.1 miles in to the race. It wasn’t an internal voice, shouts from a screaming fan, or labored gasps from a hardworking teammate. It came from a small sign to the right of the course telling all racers to “Go to your happy place”. Passing it, I cracked a smile and realized, that all weekend, I had been there.

Training for TCM was by no means ideal. I worked 9-5, rarely finding time to stretch. I lost my prized possession, my 97 year-old grandmother, the gem of my family. I lacked motivation, felt tired and grumpy and defeated. I even thought of taking the easy way out and running CIM to get in a better, longer, training cycle. Anxiety about training had me cringing about race day until about two weeks before. Finally, I think mainly out of frustration, my coach turned to me and said, “You need to let yourself be a good runner.”  I reflected a lot on his words and set a new plan in to action. I would not restlessly toss and turn worrying about pace, place or finish time, but I would return to the motto that had resurrected me from a dark collegiate pseudo-running career: “This is supposed to be FUN!”

Leaving SFO for Minneapolis, I had reached “my happy place.” I was traveling with a true hero of mine, Lisbet Sunshine, and her adorable 5 year-old daughter. Once we ran in to three other TCM’ers and spent the next 6 hours passing the time through a wicked delay. We laughed, stretched, we talked running. We were “those runners” that everyone eyed in the terminal. We had a late arrival to St. Paul. I tucked in around 12:45am.

Saturday morning, teammate Chris Lundy and I went out for a quick 3 mile shake out. She took me to the finish line of the course and I was able to see the “godsend” cathedral that would announce the end of the 3 mile incline in Sunday’s race. TCM was holding a 5k on Saturday morning and seeing the accumulation of crowds and runners got my adrenaline flowing.

We had breakfast, and lunch in the championships hospitality room, and then I headed down to the mandatory technical meeting. This is my least favorite part of race weekend. This is generally the first time that all the competitors see each other. Being female, it’s not so much a fluffing of the feathers-machismo gathering, but a estrogen filled room of “hmmm, she has nice flats, I wonder if they are better than mine” type of expose.

Post meeting, I took an abbreviated course tour of the hills and was relived to see that they were much more gradual than imagined. After a challenging workout with Tom two weeks earlier, I was expecting to have to charge K2 in the final miles of the race. The rest of the day was spent laying around, watching glorious mind numbing television with my boyfriend, Crosby. He had come to race in the Men’s US Nationals 10 mile championships and be my #1 fan (he wins an Academy Award for this role).

The team went to dinner at an off-the-beaten-path Italian restaurant and spent the evening laughing, teasing (mainly me) and enjoying the last few hours before the nerves kick in.  Right before bed, Crosby helped me tattoo the letters G-R-A-N to my wrist. This was the name I had called my Grandmother.  I wanted to have them to look at for inspiration and perspective during the race. Lights went out at 10pm, I quickly passed out. Note: Advil PM is a miracle drug!!

God bless Chris Lundy! Second note: the iPhone does not automatically shift time zones. Hence, if you set your alarm for 5am, it will go off at 7am CST. Thankfully, Chris had two alarms go off an we were up and at em at 5am. We did a 10 min activation run to wake up the body and the bowels and headed up to the 20th floor for breakfast. My pre-race meal is always the same. Whole grain bread, bananas, peanut butter and honey. The morning of the marathon, I drink GU2O and eat Gu for extra calories before the gun. We loaded the buses at 6:25 (I was the last one on and did a three-to-a seat). I was grateful to have warm teammates to share with me, as I feared I might have had a “seats taken” (Forrest Gump style) situation from an anxious racer.

We arrived at a church next to the Metrodome and spent 20 min pining on numbers and checking chips before we did a 1 mile warm up. I took a GU 15 min before the race and took a cup of water to the line with me. I took a sip about 30 seconds before we started, as Tom told me this would act as my first water stop of the day.

The next 26.2 rolled out as follows. There is not a lot that I remember, but I did have the following mantra in my head at various points on the course.

Miles 1-10: “CALM”
1. 6:08
2. 6:06
3. 6:21
4. 6:00
5. 5:46 (must have been a short mile attributing to a longer 6th mile).
6. 6:24
7. 5:55 Took Gu
8. 6:10
9. 6:05
10. 5:58

The most aggressive hill that I felt was mile 2-3 in the race. Chris and I had established ourselves in a nice pack of 5 and I just tucked in and told myself to feel “light and easy”.

Miles 11-20: “CONFIDENT”
11. 6:00 Took Gu
12. 6:09
13. 6:05
14,15: 12:08 Took Gu
16. 6:02
17. 6:06 At water stop at mile 17.5, I spaced and got gapped by Chris and the group, I let them go and caught them again around 22.
18. 6:10
19,20. 12:17
Miles 21-26.2: “CAJONES”
21. 6:08 Begin hill Took Gu (yes I set a GU intake PR today).
22. 6:27
23. 6.14
24. 6:02 End hill
25. 6:06
26. 5:54
.2: change

Total Chip Time: 2:40:04, Total Gun time: 2:40:07

There are two other distinct things that I remember during the race. One, was kissing my wrist about every two miles and feeling my Gran there with me. On the start of the hill, I thought, “Gran, I really need you now”. I felt so much power and drive up the hills, it surprised me. I let that feeling roll for the remainder of the race. The second was looking over to my right at mile 25 and seeing Crosby running on the sidewalk beside me. He yelled out, “You are doing it!” and I felt so much pride in myself and in my coach. I really was doing it for all the people that had helped me get to this day. It felt, well it felt amazing.

After crossing nearly hand in hand with Chris, I gave her a big hug and a “hell ya”. She was amazing to have out there. The two of us used each other to motivate, to focus and ultimately to PR. Her help was unfathomable. We had three teammates qualify for trials. It was a great day. I ran smart, patient and strong. I didn’t let past demons or other racers get in my head. I found myself on the course, and I found my “happy place”. It is a day I will never forget.

Last modified on October 10, 2010
Dena Evans

Dena Evans

Dena Evans joined runcoach in July, 2008 and has a wide range of experience working with athletes of all stripes- from youth to veteran division competitors, novice to international caliber athletes.

From 1999-2005, she served on the Stanford Track & Field/ Cross Country staff. Dena earned NCAA Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year honors in 2003 as Stanford won the NCAA Division I Championship. She was named Pac-10 Cross Country Coach of the Year in 2003-04, and West Regional Coach of the Year in 2004.

From 2006-08, she worked with the Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative, helping to expand the after school fitness programs for elementary school aged girls to Mountain View, East Menlo Park, and Redwood City. She has also served both the Stanford Center on Ethics and the Stanford Center on the Legal Profession as a program coordinator.

Dena graduated from Stanford in 1996.

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