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Hi there I’m Suzy!

I uplift other women in the areas of running, lifting, and motherhood

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An INDOOR marathon? Am I crazy?!

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I like to have a race on the calendar in ether December or January to get through the “food holidays” with minimal weight gain. If you think that’s a little extreme, you haven’t tasted my Mother-in-Law’s french toast casserole! Anywhoo, this year’s race was in Minnesota. What’s crazier than January in Minnesota? An indoor marathon.

Zoom! Yah! Yah! began in 2006 as a way to break cabin fever and support the cross country team at St Olaf College. Because the track can only accommodate 45 runners (plus the fact that there are 45+ people that actually want to do this!), there is a lottery to get in the marathon. As described on the website:

This is a 150 lap race where every lap time is recorded by your personal time keeper. There are 600 aid stations, you will hear music the entire 26.21 miles and you will change directions every 30 minutes. The weather is perfect: no wind, no rain, no sleet, no snow…just a constant 56-64 degrees.

Okay, 600 aid stations is sort of a technicality (150 laps x 4 corners with tables for fuel/drop bags), but the race was THAT straightforward. Leading up to the event, we received several helpful emails from the RD with everything from arranging travel to race day logistics and expectations. When I arrived in Minnesota on marathon-eve, I traded the pre-race dinner for a trip to the Lululemon outlet. Totally worth it.

the “course”- 150 laps

Zoom Yah Yah provides each runner with his/her own personal lap counter- members of the cross country team, folks with connections to St Olaf College or local running community in Northfield. This individual (read: SAINT!) writes down your split for all 150 laps. Boggles your mind, right?! For anywhere from 3 to 6+ hours, they will watch you run around a circle and make note of your time each 1-3 minutes….all while cheering you on and taking stupid requests like, “tell me how many laps I’ve gone at the 1 hour mark”. For HOURS. That level of commitment goes way beyond your typical volunteer position, usually consisting of handing out water at a mile marker or cutting the chip of someone’s shoelaces at the finish.

My training was speed work/interval heavy and light on volume; the longest long run I did was a 12 miler. Two pounds up from Christmas break (imagine if I hadn’t been training!), I went into the race understanding I would not achieve a PR due to the 600 turns and passing to the outside rule. Even if I did have the race of my life, this wasn’t even a Boston Qualifier! I told my lap counter Saint, Sue, that I would consider it a successful day if I ran 3:59:59.

There really was no great mental strategy for this one. In a typical marathon, I would break down the race into manageable pieces- for me, that is 10 miles+ 10 miles +6.2 miles. However, on this course there were no mile markers. No signal for my fancypants Garmin. In fact, 5.74 laps equalled a single mile, so you either did a lot of ridiculous math and annoyed your lap counter…or you just ran. I chose the latter. I focused on connecting with the other runners in conversation and slowed down or sped up based on how my body felt. There was no watch spitting out my pace per mile- it was just me, focused on picking ’em up and puttin’ em down until Sue told me to stop.

After the race, I talked with so many people who kept a mental tally of the laps they’d run- some had even broken their speed down by lap (“I will reach my goal if I run each of the 150 laps in 1 minute, 37 seconds” type of deal). That just sounds miserable, huh?! The only person who had any business doing that was Nichole Porath, who actually did set a world indoor marathon record on race day. If you want a different (faster!) perspective on this whole indoor marathon thing, check out her race recap. Just don’t read it while you’re eating- she has some gnarly blister pictures that will make your stomach turn.

One of MANY great conversations during the race
Standard Suzy pose
I asked Sue to cue me when I had completed 75 laps (halfway) so I could ensure I was on my way to a sub 4. The time went by quickly, as this is a race where you really do get to know the other runners. We had all written our names on our backs, so it was easy to cheer for others and encouraging to hear your own name ALL morning long. There were plenty of Marathon Maniacs and 50 State Club members to swap stories with. It was perfect for a gal who loves, above all things, the camaraderie among runners at a race.
The lap counters also served as a cheering section at the start/finish of each lap- I’m not sure what St Olaf’s cheerleading squad is workin’ with, but they can always call upon the cross country team for large doses of enthusiasm. Those girls were awesome- I loved them! Of course, it didn’t hurt that they were calling me “best dressed” the entire time either- thank you Lululemon outlet trip for my cute running attire!
With my amazing lap counter, Sue, who also liked my running dress
The RD, Dick, puts on a great event
After a second directive to Sue (“tell me when I have 10 laps to go!”), I ended up crossing the finish line in 3:53:09 for a sub 4 hour Minnesota. I also got my second ever marathon podium spot, coming in 3rd female overall and 1st in my age group. A big takeaway for me was how I earned this finish- slowing down or speeding up based on how my body felt. As someone who hopes to be running in her 80s, it makes sense to go into every race with this mindset- even if there are mile markers or a Garmin spitting out pace stats!

So, am I crazy for running 26.2 miles indoors? Naaahh- I’d be crazy not to take advantage of a great event like the Zoom! Yah! Yah! marathon.