I love this race so much. I love the midwest, I love the Grandma’s staff and volunteers, I love the course! Grandma’s Marathon treats their elite runners like rock stars and I am so thankful to have been in Duluth again this year after my awesome race in 2011.
This year, I was the Grandma’s poster girl, so that was super fun. My mug was on everything, including the tax forms we got for winning money. It was pretty neat and I am so thankful for the opportunity. It is not everyday you see yourself on a billboard on the side of the highway! Article here.
We drove up to Duluth from Minneapolis on Thursday evening. Friday morning, Matt drove Camille and I on the course so we could run (and get lost). In the afternoon, Camille and I were 2 of the 8 elite women, and the only Americans, invited to take part in a press conference, so that was super fun. Friday was very warm and humid, but the temps were supposed to be around 60 degrees at the start of the Saturday race, so I wasn’t too worried. I tried to take in extra electrolytes and stay hydrated.
Saturday morning, I was feeling ready to go! I had a little niggle in my left hamstring and plantar that I had iced all day on Friday, so Saturday morning, they were feeling pretty good. After getting to the start line, the humidity was on the rise and the sun was out. I was sweaty just warming up. However, after running in Arizona, I was pretty confident I could deal. The gun went off and I just tried to stay relaxed. My race plan was to run the first mile @ 6:00 and then hit 5:55’s until the halfway point and pick up from there. I was very confident going in to this race that I would break 2:35, possibly even 2:34:30 given a perfect day.
The gun went off and I found a guy to run with who was also shooting for sub 2:35. Awesome! we ran together for awhile. I grabbed my first electrolyte drink at mile 3 and it hit my stomach like a brick. I passed some port-o-potties at mile 4 and then instantly regretted passing them. Then, of course all I could think of was my stomach so my nerves probably made it worse! I quick ducked in to a bush and was out as quick as can be. I sped up to catch my pack.
About 10 minutes later, my Garmin disconnected from the strap! AHhh!!! I knew I should have just worn my timex!! Luckily I saw Matt on the course and was able to toss my Garmin to him. I have never raced without a watch before so I knew this would be interesting. I had really no idea what my splits were until I got to the 10, 13.1, and 20 mile markers. Being slightly OCD, this was a little challenging for me.
It wasn’t too long after that, I had to go AGAIN! ugh. I had to get this all out of me. (Sorry, TMI) This time I found a port-o and was in there for quite a long time. My stomach was completely knotted up. I just decided to stay in for as long as I needed to thinking that it would help in the long run. It did, I ran out of there like a bat out of hell trying to catch my group. I was so far behind them.
After this second pit stop, my stomach was good. I was able to get in all of my fluids and did not need a gel at all. By mile 14 or so, the clouds came in and the temperature dropped significantly. At mile 15 I took my one and only ginger bomb (I somehow missed the second one at mile 20) It was awesome and worked like a charm. That ginger ale tasted so good after all of that super sweet Heed.
I started reeling in many men, and one Kenyan women runner. I knew my dear friend Camille was getting closer to me and although we are friends, I really wanted to catch her. And, I would expect nothing less of her if the roles were reversed. 🙂 I finally caught her in the last 800 meters and I knew I had to kick. Camille is a very strong marathon runner and I didn’t know if she was going to be able to respond or not. I gave it everything I had to get over that finish line. I finished 6th place, first American in 2:40:08. Camille finished 10 seconds behind me. Funny thing is, with all of the weird things that happened to both of us, we didn’t run any part of the race together as we had wanted to do.
After the race, we went to the sponsorship suite where my lips continued to turn blue per their usual post-race routine. The suite was awesome, they had drinks, food, pizza! later that evening, we went to the awards ceremony and then dinner at Fitgers. It was a very fun day, but I was SO exhausted that it was an early bedtime for me.
I am happy I stayed in the race. I honestly thought this would be my very first DNF. My left leg was a mess starting at mile 10. I told myself that as long as I was in the money (top 10) I would hang in there. Honestly, I could not afford me dropping. And, my parents were there!!! I knew I couldn’t drop after they had driven so far to see me!
I have A LOT that I need to work on. I know some things are not in my control, but that doesn’t take the sting out of this race time. I don’t know if running RNR San Diego Half as hard as I did was the best choice. I don’t think my left leg fully recovered before Grandmas. John thinks I may have peaked a bit too early for this race. Who knows, I guess you live and learn.
I have a tendency to be a little hard on myself, but when you give everything in you to reach a goal and it doesn’t happen, it can be devastating. I don’t feel like I was being delusional in my goal time. My workouts indicated that I was set-up for a breakthrough. But, that’s part of the marathon mystique, sometimes things happen. However, I feel that if I wasn’t hard on myself, and I lost my drive, I would not be a successful runner. I am happy with things I did in the race, happy for hanging in there and really happy for giving my all to scratch and claw to claim the 6th place spot. I think I am pretty tough. 🙂
Moving forward, I am super excited to get to my new team in Michigan! It will be tough to leave, but I am so excited to improve further and to see what the Coach Keith and Coach Kevin have planned for me!
In closing, I have to thank Matt. I could not do any of this without him. He chauffeured us crazy girls around, spent tons of time working on my bum leg, and did everything he could to help keep me calm. I am one lucky girl.