I know I need to write this post. A surprising number of people have asked about it, but somehow I am having to force myself to write it. How am I supposed to capture the essence of what was truly an epic weekend in words? Honestly, I can’t. But I’ll try to regardless…because, you know, funsies.
For those of you here looking for the cliff notes version, I did not win the marathon. No, that honor went to Dominic Odoro with a new course record of 2:09:05. For the marathon. Which is a 4:55 min/mile pace. Freaking insane. While I somehow missed out on first place, I did squeak out an pretty awesome 15 minute PR with a time of 6:07:26.
As a side note, I don’t know if any other slower runners do this, but I definitely get apprehensive telling people about my time. And I realize that it’s mostly in my head, but it’s hard not to just feel slow and slightly less proud. Or self conscious. Anyone else get that? Like it’s less of an accomplishment since it’s slow? No? Beuller?
Overall, I have only rave reviews about Grandma’s Marathon and Duluth, the town where it is held. Fella and I drove up to St. Paul on Thursday evening and arrived at my friend’s condo at around 3:30 am. That’s always a good idea two nights before a marathon, right? Friday was spent working and sitting on a gorgeous patio eating lunch before we packed up once again and headed two hours further north to Duluth, MN. The drive up was crazy foggy and the second that I got out of the car at the expo, I realized that I had made a mistake. This was not the high of 79* that I had packed for. This was 45* and really effing cold. Oops? Fortunately I was able to pick up a bright orange long sleeve from One More Mile on the cheap and the day was saved! We headed back to the Sheraton with puppies in tow and I hit the sack at around midnight after a delicious dinner of pasta and chicken.
What felt like 30 seconds later, my alarm was going off and it was time to get ready. I donned my predetermined race outfit, grabbed all my gear, and headed down the block to the nearest pick up location. Grandma’s Marathon is a point-to-point which ends in downtown Duluth. In order to make things easier for everyone, they bus you to the start line from predetermined locations. I ended up being on one of the first buses which was one of the few errors of the day. It meant standing at the start for about an hour and a half before the race began. For a slow marathon runner like me, an extra hour and a half on your feet is a big deal. On the plus side, no lines!
Fortunately I was able to kill some time by meeting up with Kayla over at Running: My Anti-drug. She is one of the first bloggers that I became friends with and it was great to see her again!
While casually chatting at the start, we figured out that we were aiming for about the same time/pace. We also had both only run one marathon before and were within a couple of minutes of each other time-wise. And thus, the dream team was born. (My words, not hers. How she didn’t kill me for babbling for 6 hours, I’ll never know).
I have been training with walk/run intervals so right from the start we were doing a 1:15/1 run/walk interval. I think it served us well and we pretty well stuck with it throughout the entire race. I think I can count on one hand the number of run intervals we missed.
The course itself is gorgeous. It is true that there aren’t a whole lot of spectators for the race, but the ones that are there are in it to win it and the volunteers were second to none. And honestly, the scenery is so peaceful and soothing that you really don’t need a whole lot of stimulation.
We had a bit of a double edged sword: fog. The day was crazy foggy which kept it from turning into an oven, but also kept us from seeing the gorgeous lake views as advertised.
The weather was really a blessing in disguise though. It was nice not to be overheated on a run for the first time in over a month. I think it certainly helped us to achieve our end goals. We were originally hoping to see a 5:xx:xx as our time, but things started slowly coming apart around mile 18. The marathon distance is brutal and it does not negotiate. We were aiming for 13:41/mile average, but things started slipping at this point. We tried to “bank time” in the front half, but that may have come back to bite us. Or it saved us. It’s unclear at this point. Our mantra became “Forward motion”. We didn’t have to go fast, but we had to keep moving. Slow was better than nothing at all and it still got us to the finish line.
I’m really proud of how we handling tired and hurting legs. We kept moving. This is where having someone to run with really came into play. When I would feel like stopping, Kayla would urge me on and when she felt like walking, I would push her. I think I apologized to her a half a dozen times for cursing like a freaking sailor with Turrets. Meh, it happens. We got each other to that finish line and I’m convinced that both of us would have done significantly worse if we had been alone.
Things got ugly after mile 18 and I’m happy that I have no proof of those miles other than the picture above. Speaking of pictures, that is my only real complaint about this marathon. There is literally only photographers for the last two miles of the race. Seriously!?! I just ran 24 freaking miles and you want me to look photogenic? You must be kidding. Can you at least put one somewhere in the first half of the race? But I did get this “gem” below:
Don’t you just love race photographers and how they capture those special moments? On the plus side, not long after the above photo, we took the one below:
We parted ways at the finish line, but I feel so lucky that I had her with me at this race. Hopefully she will still talk to me after having to spend 6 very long hours with me and many of them in pain!
I slowly strolled back to the hotel with Fella and the puppies. He was so proud of me and I really love that.
We were all pretty exhausted from the day’s activities…
After a luxurious shower and a quick nap, I recovered the exact way that you are supposed to after a marathon: steak and wine!
After a night of celebration, all that was left to do was go home. I love car rides, but I would not recommend a twelve hour car ride after a marathon. I just wouldn’t.
Now I get a break for a couple of weeks before I start training for my next big challenge: the Half Ironman!