It’s been 11 days so you would think my legs and brain would be rested enough to finally write a Grandma’s Marathon Recap, right? But no, it’s still hard to put words around the race(also, why are my legs still sore?). I think that’s the hardest part about being a Mother Runner – the race is just this three to four hour period of time where you don’t need to serve anyone a snack. And the four months of training before the race is pieced together with before the sun rises runs while everyone sleeps or between school drop-off and pick-up times and your own work schedule. You steal an hour before you grocery shop, or even skip that trip to Target so you can get in a track work-out. And after the race is done, it’s back to work and motherhood and then a week later…what race?
I felt lucky that I even remembered my running shoes by the time the minivan was packed on the Friday before Grandma’s. Not only did we have to pack for two days in Duluth(and remember my music, fuel belt, headband, GU, running shoes and clothing), but we had to pack the two older girls for a two week sleepaway camp that I dropped them off at after the marathon, and Astrid and I had to pack for a week at the cabin with my parents. And sure, we had to make sure there were some crumbs of food left behind for Jed and the cats to live off of during our absence.
I spent the week before Grandma’s obsessing about the weather. Not that obsessing about the weather does any good – but especially in this race – it does have an impact on the race. Since we run the 26.2 miles along Lake Superior, a nice tailwind and cooler temps makes this a very fast marathon. But sometimes Mother Nature feels like messing with us. Temps were predicted in the 60s(hot for Duluth), with high humidity and severe thunderstorms and heavy rain…and with a bit of a headwind just for fun. So I chose a tank, running skirt and a garbage bag as my outfit of choice and just said “It is what it is.”
The morning temps were fine – about 59 degrees, but the headwind they predicted showed up, and about 20 minutes before the race started the sky opened up with a very very very heavy downpour. Like two inches of water in your running shoes kind of downpour. I wonder if anyone was able to get a cool shot of 6500 people wearing trash bags at the start of the race? Like crazy rain. But once the gun went off and we started moving, besides the squishy feet, the rain felt good.
I ate a GU about 10 minutes before the start(after peeing 4569 times) and felt ready. I lined up between the 3:35 and 3:45 pacers and had a goal time in mind of 3:40. My strategy was to run closer to the 3:45 group through mile 15 and then push ahead. OH that is so funny to read now. Because ME, being ME just cannot do that. As usual – I went out too fast and pretty soon found myself running an 8 minute mile pace and slightly ahead of the 3:35 pacer. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. So at mile 8 I slowed to run with the 3:35 pace group. Of course I still felt great and I had a GU about every 5 miles or so as I ran. The rain continued and kept the temperatures cooler.
I stayed with the 3:35 pace group through these miles and finished my half at a PR pace(which at this point I knew was going to be trouble….oh silly me…). And at mile 14, the pace group started pulling ahead of me. So I started doing some math in my head that if I could just hold on to run 9 min miles for the last 10 miles, I would still stay ahead of the 3:45 pacer. At this point I started questioning the reality of a 3:40 run.
By mile 16, I lost the 3:35 in the distance ahead and then the rain stopped and the sun came out and the steam coming off the pavement was freaky. Also hot. The humidity really kicked in and the sun pretty much sucked. I just kept my head down and was thankful I finally had a GPS watch for the race so I could make sure I was keeping my pace at or below 9 min miles. I just held on and ran the best I could before hitting the last six miles that are in Duluth and would have bigger crowds to give me some more energy.
At this point I was embracing the suck big time as I just wanted to maintain my speed – which I did. This is the part of the race that you don’t train for – but actually all of your training is what gets you through these miles. The mental games were full on crazy town through these miles. Thankfully the sun went away and the wind switched and that part of the race did not suck. The crowds were awesome along the course by this time.
My family was at mile 24 which was wonderful! I was in the “I can run for 18 more minutes, right – I can do anything for 18 minutes!” mode. Typically I have enough energy to have a fast last mile – but no, not this time. I struggled to the end and could not wait to stop running and get a bottle of water and a banana. I still smiled at the end. But I was ready for it to end.
I finished with a 3:43. Which, yes I was disappointed not to meet my goal…BUT I set a new Marathon PR for myself and improved my Boston Qualifying time by another 5 minutes – so I beat my BQ needed time by 12 minutes – which is HUGE really! And I finished in 16th place for my age group and made it into the Sunday paper!
And after I got my water and my banana(and a fancy medal), I immediately decided to start training for a 50 mile race to complete before I turn 50…OMGosh soon.
So obviously I felt okay if I started thinking about my next stretch running goals.
In the meantime I just started training for Twin Cities marathon and I’ll be in Boston next April!
What is your next race?