Happy Friday! If you missed my review of Grandma’s Marathon on Wednesday, click here and check it out. Today I’m sharing my official Race Recap: Grandma’s Marathon 2017. Plus, five things I did that went right for this race!
Before I get into details, to quickly recap what’s already been discussed:
- I met Gina (of Running Around the Boyz) and Kim (of Running on the Fly) in the flesh. So many happies!
- The race was point-to-point.
- The weather was sunny and fairly warm.
Those are the important parts. Onward with the details:
Race Recap: Grandma’s Marathon 2017
I met up with Kim and Gina for the first time in person on race morning — in line for a porta-potty no less. It was super easy to find them, mostly because Gina gave me stellar directions to where they were standing, and because I’ve obviously been following them on social for a few years now so I knew exactly who to look for. Instagram and blogging, ftw! Kim introduced me to the infamous Barb (from all her blog posts!) and we chatted while we waited in line. It was so nice to finally meet these ladies in person, and it was like we’ve known each other for years without ever having met before.
After the obligatory potty stop, we made our way to the starting line. I had no race plan at all. In fact, I was running “naked” — meaning I wasn’t putting any emphasis on paces or splits — I was running purely by feel. I was not nervous at all — something I’ve found is directly correlated to my race goals.
I ran “naked” for the 20-Mile Drop, too, which also resulted in a massive PR.
As you may or may not recall, I’m a terrible marathoner. My first marathon was a hot mess. It took me over 6 hours to cross the finish line due to severe ITBS and an even worse case of stubborn-assi-itis. My second marathon wasn’t nearly as bad mentally (or physically), but my time wasn’t much better. So when I met up with Gina and Kim and we “said” we would run together, I had my doubts. I knew Kim was much faster than me and I knew Gina was gunning for a much faster PR than me. I thought I might run with them for a mile or two and then slow down. We lined up and waited for the race to start. Soon, the train tooted a few times, the music was up, and we were off.
The first four miles were my sub-10 miles. Kim, Gina, and I started off together but Gina was gone within the first mile. I told Kim a couple times to speed up if she felt like she was running too slow and not to feel bad about ditching me. I definitely felt like I was running too fast in these first miles. In retrospect, had I not been trying to carry on a conversation, perhaps this would have been a more comfortable pace. But I was trying to talk to Kim and my breathing was labored. But honestly, how often do I get to run with her?! Labored breathing be damned.
In terms of splits, I had about a 30-60 second swing in the next seven miles. Which, all things considered, isn’t too bad. I was feeling really good. The sun was out, the spectators were out, and I was having so much fun chatting the miles away with Kim. And yes, we may have discussed that marathons are dumb. Actually, I might have been the only one to say that. I’m not really sure. Everything’s so fuzzy now… 😉
(In my defense, marathons are dumb. Who voluntarily runs 26.2 miles?! Don’t answer that.)
There may or may not have been a potty stop in someone’s yard along these miles. Not that we would know if it was someone’s yard since the “yards” are really just more of the forest with a mailbox at the end. Semantics.
Running with a friend legit helps pass the time. I’ve run long races by myself and yes, they are manageable, but my gosh — distance races are so much better with friends. Even if you’re not even talking the whole time — or at all! It just helps knowing someone’s there in case you need to use the “phone-a-friend” option to keep your mind from going negative or out of boredom.
Kim and I snapped a few selfies throughout the race because #bloggers. This definitely helped keep our spirits up.
There was a huge, and I mean huge, porta-pot area at the half marathon mark. Kim had told me it would be coming up because it was the start of the half marathon. But wow, I underestimated just how many would be there. I had to pee but hot sun + used porta-potty = no. I figured if I had to pee again, I’d duck back into the woods.
It was just around mile 15 that we saw my husband. He cheered us on from the front yard of our resort. I restocked my Orange Mud HydraQuiver with several PayDays, ProBar Bolt, and pretzels. Fun fact: I ran 26.2 miles with my OM vest and only drank from my bottle once.
If you read my race review, you’ll remember the aid stations were well-stocked.
Mile 16 was mentally — and physically — very tough. We had just seen a friendly on the course (my husband) and it took a bit of motivation to get moving again. I joked with Kim that we could easily hop off the course and take a shower and a nap — but we only had 10 miles left! Must. Keep. Running.
By mile 17 my feet were really tired from all the pounding and they were very achy. The sun had been beating down on us for quite a while and frankly, I was just worn out — and I’m fairly certain Kim was, too. While we had been walking through aid stations (every two miles) from the start of the race, we began walking every mile to conserve energy and keep moving forward.
I did make a mental note that while my feet hurt, my IT bands did not. There was a tiny silent dance party in my brain because… yaaaaay!
The joy when we finally reached mile 20 — I can’t even tell you how relieved I was. Just 6.2 miles left! Kim and I stayed the course with the walk-after-every-mile plan and it worked well. We finally reached Lemon Drop Hill which didn’t seem too daunting to me, and of course we had to stop at the top for a photo opp.
Fun fact: Lemon Drop Hill is so named because there used to be a restaurant at the top called Lemon Drop Restaurant. The Duluth News Tribune sports staff gave it the nickname during coverage of Grandma’s Marathon in the 70s. #themoreyouknow
It was somewhere after Lemon Drop that Kim and I got separated. We had been running side by side for 22+ miles and suddenly I realized she was gone. I turned around and tried to find her but alas, I couldn’t spot the purple tank and hi-viz yellow hat she was wearing. For the first time in 22+ miles I was alone! And I was super sad. I didn’t want to leave any room in my brain for uninvited self-doubt to creep in. I fumbled for my headphones, turned up the tunes, and tried my best to zone out.
Around mile 24 I realized I might be able to squeeze in under 5 hours. Hurting from the stress and pounding over the course of a marathon, I didn’t want to give up and slow down if I was close. I called my husband to ask him what my time was and he said he thought I would be able to get in under 5. I went for it and ran as hard as I could for those last two miles.
I crossed that finish line with a huge smile on my face. I didn’t know for certain if I had made it in time but I sure as hell tried. And most importantly, I had finished my third marathon completely uninjured. I felt like a million bucks. In fact, I felt so great that I sat down in the middle of the finisher chute right after I received my medal because I couldn’t walk any further! 😉 But I didn’t care. I finished. Uninjured. Mentally intact. And damn did it feel good.
Official finish time: 4:55:00
Immediately following the race, I sent Gina a text to find her. We met up, took a selfie, I watched her do one of her infamous leaping shots, and then we met up with Kim and Barb. It briefly downpoured, we took more selfies, and then rendezvoused in the entertainment area for post-race celebratory brews.
After the race, my husband and I went back to the hotel to do a whole bunch of nothing. We ate snacks, relaxed, and showered. In the evening we met up with Kim and Barb for dinner. It was delicious and fun to get to know these ladies a little more — aside from those five hours earlier in the day, of course. And what meet up with Kim would be complete without a little planking action?
Race Recap: Grandma’s Marathon 2017
I’m not going to go into detail about the rest of the evening (sleeping) and the drive to Chicago the next day (hours and hours), but I will share that I finally got to meet my coach in person! We met him and his family at a restaurant on the way in to Chi-town. It was such fun and I’m so glad I could finally meet him. Facebook and email only does so much, ya know?
What Went Right?
I could spend weeks analyzing and reanalyzing every race I’ve run and what worked and what didn’t work. The five things that contributed to finally getting a “4” in front of my marathon race time?
- Running naked. I firmly believe not having any pace goal for my last two distance races helped immensely. It took a ton of pressure off and just let me run by feel. I ran fast when I felt good, I slowed when I felt bad, and I walked when I needed a break.
- Glute activation. Through the last several months, my coach, my chiropractors, and I have all been trying to solve the riddle: why do I only have IT band issues during races? And I think
hopewe finally figured it out — my glutes haven’t been firing for the entire distance and when my glutes get tired, they recruit other areas to compensate — i.e. my IT bands. I made sure to activate the heck out of my glutes on race day.
- Footwear choice. Typically, I do long runs in more cushioned shoes. This time around, on advice from one of my chiros, I wore the same shoes I typically wear for medium distances runs. This is the second time I’ve worn them for a race and the second time I walked away from a race with no pain.
- Positive attitude. No bad attitudes is my motto, and I’m certain this has a positive influence on my running. Yes, I complain, usually in jest, (marathons are dumb, remember?) but that doesn’t mean I’m truly being negative. I was enjoying the scenery, having fun, and loving the summer sunshine. Running with a positive attitude definitely helps.
- Weather. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — I’m a warm weather runner. Could I go faster if the temperatures are cooler? Sure, of course. But I don’t usually suffer through the heat like most other runners do. I embrace it. I enjoy it. And I usually have a really great race when it’s warmer out. I’m a rarity, I know.
And that’s a wrap on my time in Duluth. I experienced all that the north woods has to offer — plus a little marathon thrown in for good measure. It was a BLAST. I’m so glad I ran Grandma’s Marathon and I’m honestly thinking I may go back…
Thanks for reading and following along my journey. I’m taking a few more days off, maybe another week, and then it’s back to the grind. Next up? A couple half marathons and then Marine Corps Marathon. OORAH!!!
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I have no questions! Ask me something instead!
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