Grandma’s Marathon #RaceRecap – Part 1

Well, to be honest, this marathon sucked. It was the worst marathon I ever ran. The weather was brutal, I started out way too fast, and I pushed my heart rate way above where it should have been. Yet, somehow, by the grace of God, I finished with a Boston qualifier, and my third best marathon time. I have no idea how that happened.

I didn’t feel this race whatsoever. I didn’t sleep poorly the night before, but I didn’t sleep great, either. I didn’t sleep long enough, perhaps. The trip up to Duluth was a little haphazard. It took us an hour longer to get there because of road construction, and because of that, getting through the Expo was a chore, and took longer than we wished. There was no time to wander and browse. Instead, it was a race to get up to our hotel, as we had another hour driving time to get there. We still had to eat dinner and I had to get my shit together for the run in the morning. In hindsight, we should have left earlier. There was so much more we wanted to do, but couldn’t because of the lack of time. Bummer.

For some reason, by the time we got to the hotel, I was famished! It was already close to 7 pm. My husband immediately opened a beer…because that is what he does. I bit my lip, and started laying my running clothes out, anxiously awaiting him to guzzle it down so we could go eat. As I did, I noticed that somehow the colors I picked to wear for the marathon matched the bib perfectly. Bonus! I also got my space ready for crawling into bed when we got back. He asked me when I wanted to go to bed, and my answer was simple…

“…as soon as possible.”

Eventually he finished it off and we headed out.

We ended up eating at the same place we ate at 3 years ago when I ran Grandma’s Marathon in 2013. And it was good. Of course, it is hard to mess up a burger. Mine was breadless with bacon, an egg, some pepperjack cheese, and a side of butter…because butter makes everything better. We also split an order of fried herring, which was outrageously good. My husband, as always, at all my carbs. I probably could have eaten another burger, that is how hungry I was. He also ordered a few margaritas, which I took a sip or two of…just to make sure they were alright. We chatted at dinner about how we might want to stay at this little restaurant/bar/motel next time we come to Duluth. Camp 61 is actually up in Beaver Bay, which is just south of Silver Bay, where we stayed. It is 26 miles north of the start line in Two Harbors. Our plan was to have my husband drop me off in Two Harbors on his way down to Duluth. Up here, we only have to commit to one night at the hotel, and we get out of the city. Plus, I don’t have to get up quite so early to catch the bus from Duluth.

Flat Me - Grandma's Marathon 2016

Flat Me – Grandma’s Marathon 2016

With dinner done, we were off to the hotel once again. There wasn’t much left for me to do except panic about something or nothing. I tried to let it all go and just wind down as best I could. We brought some cheese and nuts from home, and I ended up eating more. I guess I figured I’d just run it off the next day, anyway. I also whipped up my hydration bottles and stuck them in the fridge, and pinned my bibs to my tank. I had it all ready to go so I just had to roll out of bed and get it all on. Our plan was to wake at 5 am and be out of the hotel by 6 am.

Checking the weather, it looked like the rain would clear out in time for the run. The biggest question would be the temperature, which could be anything from cold to brutally hot, depending upon which way the wind was blowing. I was praying for an east wind.

As I mentioned earlier, it wasn’t the best night’s sleep for me. I woke up often, peering at the clock. And when I woke at 4:15 am, I prayed it would say 1:15 am because I felt like I needed 3 more hours…ugh. That wasn’t what it said.

Oh well! Off went the alarm at 5 am and we were both up and moving. I had it all together and ready to go. My husband went to get us coffee and him breakfast (I don’t eat before an event) and began putting stuff in the car. I continued to get my stuff together. I did some morning stretches, too, and went through my pre race routine. Everything went off like clockwork. I had a little bit of bulletproof coffee that I pre-made before we left for Duluth, and I packed a half a Quest Bar for the short bus ride to the start line, just in case.

After he deposited me at the AmericInn in Two Harbors, he continued his trek south. I immediately got on the shuttle bus, and we were off minutes later. The time was about 6:50 am. I noshed on what was left of my Quest Bar, and had some water that I had stashed in my throw away bag as well.

Start Line #Selfie

Start Line #Selfie

We arrived at the start area around 7:05, and I immediately set off to find some other runners I was hoping to run into. I also noted the time and realized I had to fuel up. I stopped at the rock by the start line balloon arch and took my Energybits and my Sportslegs with the remaining water, saving my hydration bottles for the run. In them, one had a packet of KetoOS and water, and in the other I had MEStrength Electrolytes mixed with some UCAN Superstarch and the remaining ice tea from my water bottle, which I carry around with me all day. I got my belt in order, tossed my bag and my wrappers, and headed back out into the crowd. I figured now was as good a time as any to take my start line #selfie. Well, really, it was the entrance to the starting gate…but whatever. Glancing at the porta potties, I decided I was good. I knew that there would be some on the course, and I wasn’t in any dire need to go at this point.

Gina and me!

Gina and me!

I was only able to contact one VRF. That was Gina from Run GINA Run. And I’m glad I did! She was running her first marathon with another friend, and had three others with her who were experienced marathoners. And they all had my Charmed Running running charms on their sneakers! That was so stinkin’ cool. They purchased them at TC Running Company in Eden Prairie. I was very excited! I got a photo with Gina and then went on to find my other VRFs.

It was here I had a little brain fart. I’m looking at the lines to the porta pottyie thinking about how much they had dwindled. I looked at my watch and thought,

“Hey! I still have 20 minutes. I think I’ll go ahead and go to the bathroom anyway.”

Yeah. It was 7:40 am. The race started at 7:45 am. In the back reaches of my brain, I had 8 pm as the start. DUH. No wonder why there were no more lines. Just as I headed back out of the gate area, they began to line us up. What the heck was I thinking? I had just enough time to make it back to the start of the crowd before hitting my iPhone and Garmin and taking off. It happened just that fast.

Yep. We were off! Thank goodness this year none of the men ran off immediately and began peeing along the side of the road. I remember that so distinctly from 2013. They must have had more porta potties this time around. Plus, there was no fog this year. I guess that made you easier to spot. Regardless, I was happy not to see it.

It was warm enough at the start line. I heard 70° tossed around. Damn. All I could do was pray for that lake breeze, but unfortunately it never came.

I started this run all wrong, and I knew it. But no matter what mind games I played, I couldn’t force myself to slow down. I was nasal breathing even, and still had my heart rate up to 170 before mile 3. Not good. But I didn’t feel awful. I just didn’t feel good. I didn’t believe from the start that I could run 26 miles that day. It was the first time I’ve ever had a race where I didn’t believe I’d be able to finish it…or rather want to finish it. Again, I have to blame it all on the sleep deficit. It was the only factor (other than the already ridiculously warm temperatures) that could have been at play for that thought. But Boston started warmer than this, so go figure.

The Evans Brothers from Grandma's 2014.

The Evans Brothers from Grandma’s 2014.

I had a brush with greatness at mile 3 up until mile 7 or so. I was running side by side with the 3 Evans Brothers. That was cool! I recognized them right off the bat after reading the Runner’s World article about them a few years back. I gave them a shout and they politely waved back. Matt, Alan, and Jim. There was a 4th in their soiree, but I’m not sure who he was. Somewhere in here I lost them, though. And I wasn’t sure if they ran ahead of me or if I ran ahead of them.

I planned to take my Energybits and Sportlegs every 6 miles for this run. So, it meant a dose at 6 miles, 12 miles, 18 miles and 24 miles. And, I planned to use the water stops to take them. But as luck would have it, the water stops occurred at odd numbered mile markers. So that completely threw me off. I managed to take the first dose at the 6 mile mark using my hydration. And I realized then that my hydration bottles would not carry me through the entire run. I’d have to use the water stops as well.

So, I started around mile 10. And I don’t think I missed a water stop. I took every opportunity to grab a sip, and pour one on my head. Ice? I put it in my sports bra. The water sprays? At first, I was worried about them getting my phone wet, but after I passed up the first one, I forgot about the phone and ran through them all. Seriously, they saved my ass. And squeezing water soaked sponges over my head? Every time I did, I got a burst of energy. By the time I finished the 26.2 miles, I was soaking wet.

But let’s back pedal to the 6 mile mark. It took forever and a day to get there. The next 6 miles took even longer. I was listening to Ben Greenfield on my iPhone. He carried me through. The crowds are in and out at Grandma’s. There are stretches with no fans whatsoever. Then suddenly they are all there. I did my best to wave, but didn’t waste my energy hooting and hollering. I didn’t have the energy to spare. Even waving was a chore. I could barely lift my arms above my waist. Smiling was even hard. I started to think about the race photos, and realized I hadn’t even spotted a photographer yet. I was paying no attention whatsoever. My head was not in this run. I wish I knew where it had gone to.

Somewhere in here, it began to get very crowded. I realized it must be a pace group that had caught up with me. And I was right. The 3:35:00 pacer had just passed me with his entire entourage of pace groupies. I could tell we were approaching half way by the sudden onset of porta potties. I gave it a good thought but decided I still didn’t need them. I was afraid if I slowed down, I wouldn’t start up again. I was still running with the pace group here but as I hitched off the side of the road to take my second packet of pills, they ran on head. I never caught up with them again.

I took my second packet of stuff. A mile later, we were halfway though Grandma’s Marathon at the 13.1 mile mark. This is where the half marathoners started. It was porta potty heaven, here. Medical tents, Pass Out Busses, faithful crowds…the works. Then just like that, we passed the mile marker balloon, and there was nothing…no people, no fans, no volunteers. We were on our own again.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

One Response to Grandma’s Marathon #RaceRecap – Part 1

  1. […] wasn’t an easy marathon. If you read my race recap you already know that. I didn’t have much residual soreness. In fact, stairs nor toilets were a […]

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