Forward Motion – Grandma’s Marathon

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.

Marathon outfit

Outfit all laid out the night before the race. I was a bundle of nerves and wanted everything ready to go for the morning!

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!


I feel like this is the holy grail of racing. It didn’t stay like this for long.

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!

Princess with Kayla

The first time that Kayla and I met up was at the Disney Princess Half Marathon in 2011. Which seems like freaking forever ago.

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).


The start of the race was cold and misty with a side of fog. We were under a hypothermia risk warning for a significant portion of the day.

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.


Open roads, gorgeous forest, and our friend the joggler.

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.


Advertised vs reality.

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.

Mile 18

But first, let me take a selfie!

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:

hate life

This is the look that says, “Seriously? Another effing turn? WTF!?!” I don’t even look like I’m moving.

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:

Finish line

So happy to finally have stopped moving!

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!


Really proud of us. Our average moving time was pretty much spot on for a goal of a sub-6 marathon. So close! Really proud of how well we did though and pushing through the pain.

I slowly strolled back to the hotel with Fella and the puppies.  He was so proud of me and I really love that.


So happy to be out of my shoes and only second away from a shower!

koda sleeping iwth medal

Koda was less than impressed with my medal.

We were all pretty exhausted from the day’s activities…

sleeping puppies

Sleepy puppies. They were the best cheer squad ever!

After a luxurious shower and a quick nap, I recovered the exact way that you are supposed to after a marathon: steak and wine!

post marathon food

Om nom nom. This was just about the best steak ever.

wine post marathon

The first glass of many.

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.

car ride

Somehow both dogs ended up in the front seat with us. And don’t worry, we were stopped in a traffic jam for this.

Now I get a break for a couple of weeks before I start training for my next big challenge: the Half Ironman!

Happy Monday!


Forward Motion – Grandma’s Marathon — 35 Comments

  1. YAY!!!! Awesome job!

    I know EXACTLY how you feel about posting your time because you think it’s on the slow side. Dang girl, you killed that marathon. I absolutely LOVE the last picture of you with the “UGH” look on your face. That’s awesome. And in the finish line picture I couldn’t figure out where the basketball shorts came from until I realized it was your bright orange shirt around your waist. Funny.


    • Oh yeah, I always wear baggy basketball shorts when I run. Very fashionable :p And thanks! It’s good to know someone else feels that way. There are so many fast people out there that it’s hard for us turtles sometimes!

  2. WHAT?!?!?! You didn’t win?!?!?!?!? 😉

    Congrats on a finishing. The photo where you looked “less than thrilled” made me laugh, because I think I’ve felt the way you look in the photo. 🙂

    I like that you stuck with your run/walk intervals for the duration. I’m sold on run/walk as the way to go if I ever get to running again.

    • I know? Maybe I’ll win the next one? :p

      I am a believe of the run walk. I may eventually switch back to just running in the future, but I really have fallen in love with intervals.

  3. What a great recap!
    I like it when people post their finish times and goal times, etc. I know that no one really cares about my times, but it helps to tell your story. Whether or not you achieved the goal you wanted to or not, how much you’ve improved, etc. That’s what I find interesting in bloggers of all speeds.
    Congrats on a new PR! You earned it!

    • Thanks! I went back and forth on posting my time, but I’m glad that I did. It’s a big part of the story and it matters!

  4. I am totally the same way with the pace. I try not to care, but then I read (or hear) people say things like “I had a really slow run today, like 10 min/miles” and I’m like…woah. I’m slow.

    Sounds like you had an AWESOME race though! I love that picture of you two walking. That is totally how I felt past mile 11 of my half. I’m so impressed that you finished out a full marathon with that amazing pace!

    Repeat after me: a mile is a mile is a mile.

  5. Congrats on the PR! That is fun you got to run with Kayla (I met her once or twice in Chicago :)).

    I think everyone should be proud of their time no matter what it is! 🙂

    How do you keep track of the 1:15/1:00 intervals! Math is so hard when you’re running! LOL! Does your watch track it for you?

    • I have a Garmin 220 that I have set to beep on intervals. On the downside, you want to throw your watch in a pool at the end of a longer run. But on the upside, it keeps you on point!

  6. Congratulations!! It was so nice to see you and Kayla at the start!

    That is one thing about the race I never understood – no photogs for miles and miles and then every 5 seconds at the very end. Ugh. WHY?!

    My Sunday car ride home was also less than stellar. Lots of stopping. Lots of stretching. Lots of hella sore…

    • It was so nice to meet you! It’s always nice to have friendly faces at the start line. How did your race go??

      And I think you really hit the nail on the head with “Lots of hella sore”

  7. Woooo freaking hoooooo!! Holy smokes, girlie, you DID IT! I was thinking of you – did you hear my thoughts osmosisly? 🙂

    Um, yeah, I’d rather bask in chilly fog than see a gorgeous view while whittling away from heat stroke – so score on the weather!

    A number is a number and I fully understand your hesitation to write it out (some people can be mean, and that’s all I’ll say about that) but this journey of yours is about you only and I am so stinking proud of your special day.

    I’m glad you found a friend to run with; I’m not much of a run-with-a-pal during a race because I get all psycho competitive (with myself) but this year I’ve found the joy in friendship on the trails, and I can’t be more grateful for that. It sure makes a world of difference!

    Congratulations, my dear. Very happy for you in CO … and hope to see you soon!! 🙂


  8. 1) Awesome Awesome Awesome
    2) We ROCK- Congrats on the PR
    3) I did not get sick of your babbling at all.
    4) I think we need a repeat (when adequately trained)for sure sub-6
    5) Great to see you again AND briefly meeting the fella and the pups!
    6) Thanks for pushing me and keeping me company!

  9. Oh and yes I have many times hesitated to put my times/pace out there. Usually if people ask I just say…slow and then if they ask specifics I tell them. But I usually do put it on my blog because honestly I blog more for me than anyone else and I like to look back on it!

  10. Congratulations!!! I have a hard time telling other people my race times because I’m slow, too. Then again… 26 miles is still 26 miles and that’s no joke. Great recap!

  11. Congratulations on finishing another marathon! It must have been great to have someone with you the entire way.

    I know exactly what you mean about not wanting to tell you time because you’re slow. I’ve done three half marathons and have never broken the three hour mark. So now I consider it getting my money’s worth 🙂

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  13. Awesome! Congrats on the PR!

    Love the contrast between the finishing pic and the the one before. I can send you a link to worse race day pics if you want :-).

    I can’t imagine getting out of a car after a marathon then a 12 hour car ride. I walk like an old man after running 10 miles then driving 2 miles to lunch. My wife often asks if I’m going to make it :-).

    Anyway, great job. That is a huge accomplishment.

  14. First off congrats on being awesome!!! Second the whole bit about being a slow runner and slightly less proud…bah that is for the birds. You are a MARATHON RUNNER! You are amazing and you are inspiring other people to get out there and try big things. Post that time loud and proud!!!! If someone has a problem with that, it is their problem. A mile is a mile and 26 miles is 26 freakin miles and that is a long freakin way!!! Way to go! Oh and did I mention you are awesome! Great recap! This marathon has been on my list of one’s I would like to do some day!

  15. Giiiiiirl, you shout your time from the rooftops and be damn proud of it! Whether a person runs it in 2:09 or walks it in 8:00, they covered the same 26.2 and got the same medal. Well, maybe not the 2:09 guy. He probably got something pretty special for that. lol But you know what I mean.

    I love your mile 24 photo up there. Ever since the 2012 Olympics, I’ve wanted to stop and give a race photographer my best “Pam is not impressed” face. lol This is almost as good. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, google “McKayla is not impressed.)

    I thought about doing the Galloway method during my last marathon but decided against it because I was afraid I would drive myself crazy constantly watching my watch. Does that not get on your nerves????

    • You have no idea. By the end of the race I wanted to burn my freaking watch. And then rebuild it and burn it again. But it’s hard for me to be able to just run when I’m heavier than I like to be right now. For the half ironman coming up, I hope to just run!

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  17. I’m a 6:06:something marathoner and I am so happy to see a race report from another runner like me! I always wonder if there’s anyone else out there posting about it. It’s even harder to be out there for six hours than four hours.


    • I hear you! I’ve been really happy with the positive feedback from posting my time. And yay for finding anohter turtle marathon. I love us 6+ hour peeps 🙂

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