Honestly, I don’t feel like I need to say anything more than
Grandma’s Marathon was a BLAST!
But of course I will. 😉 Not a race report.. but I will take you through the my Grandma’s experience from start to finish!
My mom has run Grandma’s Marathon 7 or 8 times. It always used to be over Father’s Day weekend, so we would pack up practically the day after school was out, and head up to Breezy Point Resort in Two Harbors for the whole week. The entire trip was full of flashbacks from past year’s Grandma’s adventures.
This time though started a whole new chapter in my book of Grandma’s memories. This time, the trip was for ME. 😀 No Breezy Point resort (although I do hope to continue that tradition in the future..), and no week long vacation (that one would be nice too), and this time, I wasn’t a super fan – I was a runner!
And I say runner – not racer. If you don’t remember me talking about it back at Med City time.. my plan was that if I BQed at Med City, then I would just take Grandma’s easy and have fun. If I didn’t, well I didn’t really want to consider that, but there was always as a backup! Luckily, I took care of qualifying early on, and so for Grandma’s I decided to pace two of my favorite buddies from my Running Club! These two lucky guys would be D and M, together forming team MED. 🙂 D’s previous PR was a 4:30something at Twin Cities last year, but that was his first marathon, and for those who don’t know, Twin Cities (the same day as last year’s Chicago) was KILLER HOT. D has improved so much since then! M on the other hand had run Fargo back in mid May, and Med City at the end of May.. so this was marathon #3 within about six weeks! M’s previous PR was like a 3:45 I believe (over in Fargo).
D and I drove up on Friday afternoon. After getting through some annoying traffic on 280 (can’t wait till the 35W bridge is open again!) the ride was pretty smooth the whole way up. We had fun looking over at other cars and guessing which contained runners on their way up too. The 26.2 bumper stickers were a dead give away, but so were the vans that had grocery bags in back with bananas peaking over the top! We went to the expo right away to get our packets, and we were in and out in no time!
Dinner was FABULOUS and at Pizza Luce in downtown Duluth. During race weekend, most restaurants wont take reservations, so we weren’t sure if we’d get in. We planned that we’d all meet at 6:00 at the restaurant, and we were probably seated by 7:00! That’s really not that bad considering the amount of people that were there.. and especially not bad because we had a table of about 20! That included about 13 runners and some family members who tagged along. I think the majority of us runners got spaghetti, myself included! It was delicious as always. I ❤ Pizza Luce. We also got ice cream on the way back to the hotel, because that’s just what you do and it’s my standard night-before-a-race (actually night before.. every day) deal. It was also delicious. As always. I ❤ ice cream. 😀
We stayed at a hotel about 10 minutes outside of downtown Duluth. Almost every hotel has a 2-day-minimum kinda deal.. which is sort of ridiculous. Along with ridiculous are the RATES! $216 a night.. for a hotel that any other time would typically be like under $100. I don’t really care though.. the room was comfortable, there was good water pressure in the shower, we were across the street from a shuttle to the race start, and they had coffee. We clearly know what matters.. 😉 Along with D and I were four other people in our room – N (another girl from our running club), Big Bryce (the BF of a girl from our RC), and two guys who were the acquaintances of a friend of an ex girl friend (‘s dog sitter’s neighbor from Tennessee. Or something along those lines.) There were only two queen beds.. so the acquaintances got sleeping bags on the floor. Plus, they were only running the half.. sleep doesn’t really matter if you’re only doing 13. 😉 (Haha kidding. Sorta.)
Saturday morning started at 5:00 am. There were shuttles from the mall across the street at 5:30 and 6:00.. and we opted for the 6:00 because unless you’re really concerned for some reason that you wouldn’t get there in time.. why go stand around outside for an extra half hour when you could have that extra time to sleep? The hotel had continental breakfast open at like 4 already.. so I headed down there after I got dressed. Of course, most the runners down there brought their own trusty breakfast along.. we just all wanted the coffee.. to “clear things out”. It was hilarious.. everyone has their own little tricks for getting things goin in the morning. There were people standing there doing toe raises as they watched the morning weather, and one chick was running up and down the hall.
We walked across the street to the mall at 5:45. It was weird to have it be so sunny already! I’d say it was about 60 degrees already? Not bad. While we were waiting, I had my trusty breakfast of soy nuggets and coffee. I also grabbed an english muffin from the breakfast room.. and decided to eat that on the bus. The ride was quick, and before we knew it, we were in Two Harbors at the start!
This is when you know.. you’re in for a good time. 😀 There’s music playing, people laughing, the whole atmosphere is just FUN! We jumped in line for the porta-potties right away, made it through the line, went to go find M, and drop off our sweat bags. M was getting nervous because he came on the 5:30 bus.. and he was probably thinking “WHERE ARE THEY!?” I’d be thinking the same thing if I was waiting around and my team wasn’t there yet!
(Left to Right: N, ME, M, D)
We jumped over the fence for the chute so we could make it up to the 3:30 group. That’s what both M and D had in mind for a goal time.. although I say “had in mind” very loosely. Both of them just really wanted to run and do their best, and if that meant taking it back, then that meant taking it back! I know D is capable of running a 3:30 marathon, but he just doesn’t race enough to know how much he has improved. M was shooting for a 3:30 because that’s his qualifying time for Boston!
The race started right on time at 7:30, and off we went! We stayed on pace (actually ahead of pace.. because M and D both walked through the water stops) up until mile 16. At that point, I could feel that both of them had been fading – I was in that always-one-step-ahead-of-ya position.. but I didn’t want to ask them if they wanted to tone it down because this was their race.. and I wanted them calling the shots. Both of them decided to take it back a notch at that point, and shortly after, M told D and I to go head. We continued on.. but still slowing down.
I was having so much fun.. the crowds at Grandma’s are AMAZING! Such a different experience than Med City. For the first ~18 of the course, they are spread out along the county road, mostly at or around the aid stations. Once you get into Duluth though, they’re pretty much constant! Oh – my dad!! I forgot to say that my dad drove up, at 3:00 in the morning! Trooper. I wasn’t sure where he would pop out, and I only saw him twice on the course, it it was great to hear his voice! Around mile 22 I saw him the 2nd time, and ran up and jumped in his arms and gave him a big hug, and then took off again. I thought I had a right to be tired.. but man-o-man, this guy deserved a nap! (Which luckily he got..!)
The last 10K was definitely the hardest for D. He didn’t hit “the wall”.. but maybe more like a fence. He was just sorta losing steam. It didn’t help that there were now water stops at every mile between 19 and 26, because that meant more walk breaks, which meant more times where it’s harder to get going. I kept tellin him, “The faster you run, the faster you’ll be finished!” Lemon Drop “Hill” was at like 22.. and I could tell D wasn’t thrilled about that one. He did a really good job though on the way down – dropping his arms and opening up his stride. OH MAN I said some ridiculous things along those last six miles trying to encourage him on! Something along the lines of..
“Dominate that hill D! It’s yours!”
“This is the strongest mile of your life! Make it yours!”
“Find your Kenyan! Dig deep.. it’s in there!”
At which point he probably just wanted to say “Shut up Erika! I’m trying!” but he didn’t and he just took it all.. haha now we get to look back on it and laugh. Afterwards, he said it was helpful, even though he couldn’t talk and say anything back, so YAY for good effort and not stopping even though I sounded like an idiot. 😀
In between 25 and 26, I was turned back yelling something [good and encouraging] at D, when all of the sudden, M came outta nowhere! I was like “Mighty M! Where’d you come from!” (We all have nicknames by the way.. Mighty M, Dashing D, Extreme Erika, Namaste N.. etc. I don’t know if they want their names online, so I’m sticking with letters here.) I wanted to all finish as Team MED!! But D told us to go ahead.. he was still truckin though! M and I pulled up a little, and crossed the line together. He was hilarious, and amazing! He kept saying “Stop speeding up! My legs can’t go any faster!” and I was like “I’m not going faster! You’re going faster! C’mon – you can do this!!”
M and I both finished in 3:42:xx, and D came in at 3:43:xx. D PRed by over 45 minutes! And while M didn’t qualify for Boston this time, he’s just that much closer! They’re both running TC (yes – I’m jealous!) in October, and I know they’ll both do stellar!
Post race was fabulous (as it always is at Grandma’s!) We got our medals, shirts, drink tickets, (and I got a carnation! I guess this was only for the ladies.. a nice gesture but I ended up thrown it away.. I’m not gonna carry around a flower for the entire time afterwards.) We took a Team MED picture (see above!) in front of the Grandma’s backdrop.. knowing that none of us would get it since they’re like $$$! Then we went to grab our sweat bags, get water, stretch, (lie down in D’s case), find family, and relax!! For the runners, there was ice cream, yogurt, fruit, bagels, sandwiches, water, bottled dirty bath water Ultima, and MASSAGES (with a killer long line). We didn’t end up getting a massage.. but I really wanted one!!
We also met up with N, who finished around 3:48:xx!! My dad found me, and after many hugs and laughter, he went off to sit, enjoy a beer, and actually go back to the car and nap. He had only gotten like 3 hours of sleep!! I also ran into Mary – the woman I ran the majority of Med City with! She finished in 3:05, and did AMAZING! It’s funny how when you’re trying to find someone, you can’t for the life of you, but when you’re not looking you seem to run into everyone you know!
After we all rested up a bit and got rehydrated/refueled, we went down to the water front with M’s son (who also happens to be named M in this case) to wade into the chilly waters of Lake Superior. Chilly is an understatement – it’s freaking FREEZING. But it felt sooooo good. I wish I had been smart like N and brought along my SOCKS (I gave them to my dad in a second bag once I switched into my flip flops), because then I could have stayed in much longer! The water felt AMAZING on my legs, but it HURT your feet. Like, BAD.
D, N, and I wandered around/through all the post-race festivities, used up are drink tickets, and then decided it was time to head back to the hotel. I had gotten 2nd in my age group, and was told I was going to be getting an award. Sooo I wanted to rush back to the hotel, take a speed shower, pack up my stuff, and make it back in time for the awards ceremony at 3:15. We did just that, but it turned out then that the HALF awards started at 3:30, the MARATHON awards weren’t until 4:15. And then, after sitting through all of that, I realized that they were only giving out an award to the first place winner in the 19 and under age group, though they were giving an award to the top three in every other category. Lame. I felt like an idiot sitting through that whole thing.. and then not getting an award. I don’t get the reason behind that.. but whatever though – good to support all the other runners. Plus I saw so many familiar people/heard so many familiar names of people my mom used to run with! It turns out, the girl who took 1st in my age group was less than 30 seconds ahead of me. Not like I would have left Team MED to get her had I known.. but c’mon. Oh well, I can be happy to know that my Med City time smoked her! To give you an idea what the field is like.. Lamech Mokono, the top male finisher came in at 2:13:39, and the top female finisher, Mary Akor, ran a 2:38:50. 10 of the 12 top males were from Kenya 😀
( Mathew Chesang, winner of the half, came in at 1:04:48!!)
My dad and I headed home after the awards. We didn’t even get on the road till like 5:00, and with a stop for dinner along the way we didn’t get home till after 8:00. I drove half way home because my dad was still sleepy, but it was actually really nice to be behind the wheel – kind of relaxing. If I could have gotten into the Big Tent, I for sure would have stayed on Saturday night. I think it’s dumb that they can’t just X people who are under age. I’m clearly not the only one under 21 who ran! I can go to clubs and bars here in the cities, I just can’t drink! It seams pretty common sense to me.. I think that’s something Grandma’s should reconsider for next year.
Somethings they don’t need to reconsider are the cups of ICE, and the COLD WET SPONGES. Those were amazing. Someone needs to tell Twin Cities to get their rear in gear and do that too! Overall, the whole experience was a blast! It was worth every single thing, and certain people reading can go ahead and take the hint. I can’t wait to race Grandma’s in 2009! I’ll be countin down the days!
The next day (Sunday) was a big open house at my home.. something we’ve been preparing for for WEEKS! It definitely added to the stress that I wasn’t around on Friday night/Saturday day to help out. I was fabulous though – everything went smoothly and tons of people came! My mom worked her but off and I appreciate everything she did so much! The food was great, and the weather held out. Both D and M came too! We went for a short run once everything died down, and there were only a few people left. Team Med, reunited 😀
Filed under: afternoon, late night, morning, night | Tagged: adventure, dad, food, gomer, marathon, race, run, Team MED | 9 Comments »