Twin Cities Marathon photos, and a teaser…!

Well, Marathon day has come and gone, and I’m still alive. Not going to lie – it was really, really hard watching everyone run and be so happy (oh my gosh.. that sounds terrible), but there was no way I could NOT be happy to see everyone doing so well. The conditions were perfect – cool (45°-50°ish), dry, little to no wind, even SUN at some points – just perfect. My mom and I formed a pretty solid cheer squad just by ourselves – I swear we were yelling more/louder than anyone around us. We looked pretty cute too – She was wearing her 2000 Boston jacket and I was wearing my 2009 Boston Jacket, and they’re both blue and yellow. Go ahead… awwww

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We cheered at mile 6 and at mile 22, and honestly, I felt like we saw so many fewer not-gonna-make-it runners at 22 then we have ever seen before. Mile 22 is at a point where you’re definitely fatigued, and you still have four more miles to go. We kept cheering runners on saying “just break it down – one mile at a time”, “keep that focus”, “you’re looking strong – you can do it” and other stuff that the runners probably laughed once they heard. Lol I’ve said some ridiculous stuff before in a marathon…

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(Front runners coming through mile 6)

Funny story: so there’s a runner on Team USA MN that I knew was running the marathon. I’ve met her and talked to her before – super nice girl. All of Team USA MN trains at my gym so I’ve actually gotten to meet a lot of them! Anyways, I saw her at mile 6, and yelled my head off! Then the lady next to me said, “Who is that?” and I told her “Michelle, from Team USA MN.” And my fellow cheer’er said, “Haha, no. That’s Kristen!” So when I saw her again at mile 22, I yelled “You’re doing awesome Kristen!!” or something along those lines. OK.. I thought for sure I knew her name.. I’ve talked to her enough. I felt pretty dumb for having talked to her all this time and called her the wrong name. Turns out I was right the first time.. definitely Michelle. not Mrs. No-You’re-Wrong… so then I just looked dumb at mile 22! She gave me this funny grin at mile 22 too.. so either she thinks I’m nuts or she’ll think it’s hilarious. Lol it’ll be an interesting conversation next time I see her.

“My” runners did SUPERB – every fricking one of them! I think they’re ok with first names on the blog, so here are my runners’ results:

  • Sue – 3:47 – qualified for her first Boston!
  • Jim – 3:37 – his FIRST marathon!
  • Jackie – 3:37 – a PR!
  • Jeanie – 3:53 – another PR!
  • Josue – 3:12 – a PR and a crazy amazing time!
  • Julie – 3:42 – another PR!
  • Tzivia – 4:08, and a great race!
  • Julie A – 3:53 and I think a PR for her too. Her chip fell off.. bummer!
  • Mark – 3:24, and other Boston Qualifier!
  • Mark O – 3:36 – just a couple minutes off of a PR, but a great race nonetheless, and NO cramping!
  • Bill – 3:33 – a HUGE PR, and a BQ!
  • Jaimie – 3:37, and another trip to Boston!

I just can’t say how proud of everyone I am!! If you want to check results of your runners, you  can look up the RACE RESULTS HERE.

One of the ladies from my Dashers training group who wasn’t running the marathon put together a huge volunteer team to man the mile 22 water stop. It was great to see everyone and their kids/husbands/friends working so hard. I have worked the mile 7 water stop for many years, and it’s a hard job! This photo below is of myself and the coach of that group. She’s running Whistlestop this weekend! She is honestly the best coach I have ever had, and couldn’t ask for anything more.. she is the one who got me into triathlons, got me back in the pool, she is just a fantastic lady.. that’s as much as I can say!

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Big up to these guys coming through – the two front runners at mile 22. So. Fast!

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Like I said, watching all these runners.. there was no way I couldn’t feel happy for them. True confession though.. pretty much every runner I see out there when I’m on my bike or just walking.. I want to run you down and grab you and make you stop. Haha steal your shoes or something! 😯 Not at the marathon though!! Hahah if you’ve ever been injured and had to take serious time off, you know how I feel, and if you haven’t been there, just consider yourself lucky.

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Despite the ?? look on my face.. I am SO glad I went out to cheer. When I’m running races, I appreciate the crowd support SO MUCH. And despite hearing dumb funny stuff sometimes.. it all helps.

So what’s this teaser? Well… I am doing my first GIVEAWAY! Stay tuned for details!! There will be a couple winners… I’m excited!

One last big congrats to all you Twin Cities Marathon finishers, and anyone else who raced this weekend! Good luck to my Whistlestop runners this coming Sunday! Nighty night yall.

-E

My definitely-NOT-Twin-Cities-Marathon-pre-race-report. Dang…

Hey kids. Well.. this is a post that no one wants to write (maybe no one wants to read?! Haha.. sorry), but I figured I better write it before the marathon. Not like you guys are hanging on my every move here, but maybe someone wants to know.

After my last post, I was still undecided about what I was going to do about the Marathon. For anyone who just stumbled onto this blog or for new readers to the blog.. quick run down: Twin Cities Marathon is this Sunday (Oct. 4th).. I’m registered to run, trained to run, and wanting to run. And I’m not running. I found out last Friday that I re-fractured my femoral neck.. a fracture that I was dealing with almost exactly a year ago from today. Actually.. it’s sort of scary – everything is happening basically a year in parallel. I had surgery last December, and healed/rehabbed, or so I thought, started training for TC in July.. and found out about the fracture 9 days before the marathon. Sweet.

So now we should all be on the same page here I think..

SO. As you can imagine, I was pretty distraught after the phone call from my doctor. Clearly the fracture was a big deal, but honestly, I was most concerned about what I was going to do about the marathon. I had tons of questions for my doctor.. questions for myself.. my mind was just jumping all over the board. At the time I was writing my last post, I think my mindset was something like this:

No running until race day, run the marathon but don’t race it, don’t run after the marathon until the fracture heals. 

And yes – every time I wrote that or told somebody that was what I was planning, I realized how ridiculous it sounded. Here are the main flaws I see now with that problem:

  1. I trained to race, not run. Would I really be happy just running a marathon when I knew I wasn’t giving it my best?
  2. Would I even enjoy the race? My mind would be pretty much consumed about what was going on in my body.. would my hip be worse? What if it broke through the pins? Why am I doing this?
  3. I am already a week into healing. If I run the marathon.. it’s just that much longer until I heal. And probably extra because a marathon isn’t exactly the same as just going for a 5 mile run. 
  4. I would be knowingly going against the advice of all my doctors, PTs, and surgeons. What makes me think I know better than them? 
  5. Just say I ran, and my hip did fracture through the pins. We’re talking total hip replacement. I don’t think you see too many competitive 20something runners with a hip replacement. (This thought brought up an interesting point about athletes with prosthesis.. but then I realized where my mind was really headed.. is running THIS marathon really so important to me that I’d rather lose my leg? Um…)

I know there are other factors that went into deciding against that plan.. but these are the major issues I found. After talking more with my medical team about the real risks.. I realized that I’m too smart for that. 

So then, my game plan as of now:

Go to expo (check), go to marathon to cheer on all friends running it, go to PT (check) and continue it weekly, see new young-adult hip specialist.

The hip specialist that I’m trying to get in with is apparently just that.. pretty dang “special”. He was wayyy booked out, and I can’t get in to see him until sometime in NOVEMBER. I took the appointment, but asked to be put on a cancellations list so that hopefully I can get in sooner. Going to the expo today was fun, because hello – marathon expos are always fun, but it was also HARD. To be honest, I definitely had my mind made up at one point that, eff it, I was just going to run. But I was able to talk myself down from that and get my feet grounded again. The marathon is on Sunday, and I’m going to spend the morning with my mom going to a couple points on the course to go cheer. 

e

I. Will. Get. Through. This.

On a brighter note.. I have been doing some fun stuff to keep my mind occupied. Like school doesn’t do enough of that! And I got to see my dad yesterday – he had a layover in Minneapolis (that turned into an overnight in Minneapolis.. lovely weather!) and it was SO nice to get to see him, even if it was only for such a short time. Training wise, I have had some really good rides.. at least my biking can only get stronger during this time. That goes the same for swimming too. We had our first team dinner of the season last week.. and that was a ton of fun! It was a potluck deal.. and I brought.. POPCHIPS!

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They were definitely a hit. Two other people brought tortilla chips or regular potato chips, and those bags weren’t even opened! Haha I was nervous people wouldn’t like them because they’re “healthy”.. but there weren’t even crumbs left in the bags at the end of the night, so I take that as a sign that they were thoroughly enjoyed! 😉

Oh.. p.s. This is clearly not that timeline post I was talking about. I have like half of it written.. and then I guess life got in the way and I never came back to it. Sorry! I will probably still post it just for my own sake. And for now my friends, I have to say goodnight. I am going out for ice cream, and then getting back home EARLY for Spinnergy tomorrow morning. Sorry for a mostly-downer post, but it is part of life, and there’s no way around it!

Hope everyone has a good night and a great weekend.

-E

Fibrous Dysplasia // the Sperly Hip // A History in the Making…

Update 10.05.13 – Follow me now: www.offtheDL.com

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Well, if the post doesn’t give a hint, the status on the hip is not very positive. Waking up today, I had the feeling that it was going to be one of those days… 10 minutes before my alarm went off someone called my cell phone and woke me up (suuuch a big pet peeve! I know I’m not the only one), it started pouring just before our last “long” run this morning, I was dropping sh!t all day, the bus was late, shoes were soaked, just in general I got that no-good-can-come-of-this feeling.

 


On the [very late] bus on the way to school [in the rain] I got a call from my doctor with the results of yesterdays tests. (Haha.. am I painting enough of a dramatic picture here? Ok.. I’ll cut it..) The bone scan had shown “abnormal activity” in my left hip, and PET/CT showed that there was indeed a fracture in the inferior femoral neck. Basically right in the same place it was almost exactly a year ago (“last fateful run”… Sept. 29th, 2008). I am thinking that the fracture healed after surgery with all that rehab time, but that in amping up my mileage for this marathon (Twin Cities.. 9 days from today) I refractured it. 

 

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(Rehab post-surgery: December, 2008)


Given my medical history and the fact that I have fibrous dysplasia.. am I surprised? Yes and no. I thought the fracture would have for sure healed, but now that I think about it, when you have fibrous dysplasia, it is essentially scar tissue where it’s supposed to be bone. So if it’s not “real bone”.. then how can it generate new bone growth if there is no “bone” there to begin with? Am I making sense? 

 

So I had all of this gloomy glorious day to sit and dwell contemplate. What am I going to do from here? What about the marathon? If there’s no marathon.. can I still run.. at all? Can the severity of the fracture be quantified? Is it as bad as last time? It doesn’t feel as bad as last time… What about the marathon? What about cross-training – is that still OK? Am I going to be back on crutches? How long will this take to heal? And.. what about the effin’ marathon!?!

 

My doctor is pretty amazing.. no doubt about that. I would definitely recommend him to anyone in the TC area who is dealing with an athletic injury. If you want his name, I can definitely pass it on to you, but I’m not sure if he would want his name publicly included in this so I will just leave it at that. Anyways, being the amazing doctor that he is, I have his phone number, his email, I see him at my restaurant, and he said I could call with any questions I had. Seeing as that questions were ample, I wrote down all the valid ones, and called him after class. (Just about 15 minutes ago actually.. I am posting again via public transportation – the 114 bus.)

 

Regarding the “Will it ever heal?” question, he wanted to consult with a doctor who specialized in fibrous dysplasia before giving me an answer. I really appreciate that, because that plays a huge role in what I decide to do about the marathon. If the answer is “no”, then that means I will probably not be able to ever DO another marathon, in which case I might just say eff that, and make TC my last. If the answer is a definite “yes”, and the prognosis is that I will be able to still competitive run distance, then I would probably hold off on TC.

 

My question about “How severe is the fracture? Is it as bad as last time?” had an answer.. and that one was at least positive. The answer is no, at least not right now. Last year I was given crutches.. I was limping hard core.. it was bad. And I knew that. The fracture doesn’t at all feel like it did then, and just looking at the scans, the doctor was able to say that “this time”.. it isn’t “as bad”. 

 

(edit: location change – I’m off the bus, at home, and about 4.5 hours out from when I started this post.. went over to my mom’s house.)

 

And finally, “So what about the marathon?” All sorts of crazy illogical thoughts have gone through my mind about that today, from “of course you can’t run it” to “there’s no way I put all that effort in for nothing…” Up until just a little bit ago, my head was not even able to make one concrete thought and stick with it for more than a minute. Talking to my mom really helped, and so did talking to the doctor. At the current moment, my train of thought is somewhere along the lines of this: I will not run at all right now until race day. I will run TC, but not race it. After that, no running the fracture heals. (That is if it CAN heal.) 

 

I know I’m going to get mixed reactions to this one.. some people will say that that’s being ridiculous – what good can running the marathon do? It will only set you back. Other people might agree.. I guess just depending on your background, your opinion will be different. Like I said though, that is just my CURRENT thought.. and my current thoughts have been changing like every 5 minutes so nothing is set in stone here, and I’m not holding myself to anything. Twin Cities marathon is 9 days away, and I’m sure I will have “made” 25 different “decisions” between now and then. 

 

Sorry to be the lil downer here.. as I’m sure you know, I wish I could be posting with GOOD NEWS and happy faces. All I can do at this point is count my blessings, try my best to keep a solid head on my shoulders, and live the life that I have been given to the fullest. 

 

When I was doing core at the gym today, I was thinking about this post. There was so much that I wanted to include, but to keep it manageable I’m going to split it into two. In my next post, I really want to put together a little timeline of my running history, and how this injury has come into play. More so for myself, but I have gotten a few comments from newer readers who didn’t know I pretty much went through this last year. I think it would also be good to have a little bit of my running history and background so no assumptions are made.. it’s not like this is an overuse injury from suddenly jumping on the I-need-to-do-a-marathon-or-my-life-isn’t-complete-bandwagon (I think that pretty much sums up how I feel about THAT one…). Fibrous dysplasia is a genetic condition you are BORN with, and is something that is beyond my control. A little education goes a long way, and I feel like I could lend a little insight to a couple (or one?) of anonymous commenters. 

 

Anyways, it’s only 10:00.. it’s Friday night.. and I’m on the couch. Lame, but I’m pulling the get-out-of-jail-free card and saying I’ve had a pretty long day. Week. I’m going to watch the news through the sports and then take the advantage of the night and just crash early. Sleep is super important in recovery, and that’s an easy thing to forget.

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(knocked out post surgery – December 2008. LOL I slept like 15 hours a day for like 2 weeks.. thankk you pain meds.)

 

Truly, I love you guys. Thank you for your support, and yes, your sympathy. I’m a big girl.. I can handle it. 😉

 

G’night to all.

 

-E

A fun filled day at the hospital

Well, in short, I will just tell you guys that I had a fun filled day at the hospital. I didn’t want to bring it up earlier on the blog because I already feel like I’m getting all this “sympathy” here at home.. and honestly sometimes it’s just hard to take.


(University of MN Fairview Hospital. photo credit!)

Don’t get me wrong – I am so thankful for my support network: my family, my friends, my teammates, here on the blog.. you guys are all amazing. I think I struggle with even talking about my hip/health problems because that means I’m admitting that there is something wrong there, and that potentially it could be a big deal.

But anyways, yep – the hip. Again. MAYBE. 

I have been experiencing some discomfort/pain/feelings that I know shouldn’t really be there for about a month now. I have an amazing doctor who is the chairman of the sports medicine department at University of Minnesota Fairview. He is also the physician for all of our athletes, and I definitely know I am in good hands. On Tuesday I had xrays done, which were basically inconclusive. Good news is my pins are all still in place… for a while I got myself thinking “what if they’re poking through the other side of the bone!?!”

Today I had lab work at 1:00, injections at 2:00, part 1 of a bone scan at 2:10, a ct scan at 2:40, and part 2 of the bone scan at 4:00. That was all I was scheduled for today, but they could see some “abnormal activity” in the bone scan, so then I went in for a combo PET/CT scan. It was actually really relaxing.. I fell asleep on the table! My only battle wound for the day are a blown vein in my left arm, and a huge blood pool under the surface of the skin on my left hand. I can’t blame them… I have some tiny freaking veins. 

My doctor wanted another doctor to read the scans.. and he said he’d call me within 48 hours, so hopefully then I will have a better idea of what is going on. My plan is to still run Twin Cities Marathon, although ultimately if I’m putting myself at risk of needing another surgery or fracturing something again, I will listen to the advice of my doctor for sure.

Anyways.. just wanted to keep you guys in the loop. I don’t like feeling like I’m hiding something! And as much as the “sympathy” is something that is hard for me to deal with, I am not too big to ask for prayers and thoughts. I really appreciate all the support I have found in you guys in the past, and I know it’ll be there in the future.

I’m off for a quick ride with some of the team.. will be good to clear my head. Be back soon!

-E

Land of the Cheesesteak

Hello hello mis amigos. I am writing a quick “tide over” post before I head off to the airport. I am going to PHILADELPHIA to see my dad! He moved there in December.. and I haven’t been out to see him there yet. I have actually never even been to Philadelphia before! Been to Pennsylvania, but not the city of brotherly love. 🙂 (Is that the right phrase.. or am I completely making that up?)

Quick running update:

I am currently alternating between coffee, Powerade, and water. I did my third 20+ miler of this “season” (haha.. I never know what to refer to it as! This Twin-Cities-training? This period? Season works for me), and it felt fine. I ran it way slower than I did my last 20 miler because that is just the pace of the group I was with, and their company is worth way more to me than proving I can run sub 8s for a long training run. I ran into this situation two years ago when I was training for Med City – running with a group that is slower than my pace – but I seemed to do just fine when I ran a 3:19, so hopefully that trend will carry through!

My upcoming schedule for running/racing looks a little like this:

  • September 5th – St. Croix Valley Triathlon
  • September 12th – the Capitol Run – 20+ mile training run
  • September 20th – October 4th – Taper time
  • October 4th – Twin Cities Marathon!
  • October (3oth or 23rd?) – Monster Dash Half Marathon
  • November XX – Turkey Trot 5K
  • January XX – Winter Carnival Frozen Half Marathon
  • April XX – Boston 2010

I don’t know what other little races will pop in there.. but I usually do a few 5Ks just for fun (like the Turkey Trot! I think there’s a Jingle Bell 5K too…) so we’ll see. I also need to look at my budget because I’ve spent more this year on races than I have on the past. I don’t know that I’ve necessarily raced more,  but they have definitely been more expensive races. Especially with triathlons – that is not a cheep sport! Luckily, I’ve found ways to cut costs here and there (carpooling, sharing hotels, discounted bike shoes, etc.) but that is a whole ‘nother future post! 🙂

I promise – my Ragnar Post will be published soon! I made a photobook of the whole event.. so I’ve been putting a lot of time into that instead of writing up the dang recap! I leave you with photo of me n’ Rilo – my mom and I were getting a little carried away with sports mode on her camera 🙂 I’m bringin’ the McMac along to Philly, so maybe I’ll get a post up while I’m there! Otherwise, catch you when I get back!

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-E

the first day…

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning, and ERIKA RAN – the first day.

– Genisis 1

Comrades, the day has finally come – I HAVE OFFICIALLY BEEN CLEARED TO RETURN TO RUNNING. 

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That would be the legit note from señor Dr. Denis Clohisy at the University of Minnesota Medical Center, and I have also been cleared by dear Dr. Millis here in Boston, as well as my physical therapist (who I haven’t talked a lot about, but he’s amazing too 😉 ), Ian.

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Now let’s be clear on some things… “Return to running” does not mean return to where I was at when I stopped. It does also not mean intervals, or tempos, or 400 repeats on the track. It does not mean that in 10 weeks I will be toeing the line at Boston, no matter how badly I want to/how much I think I “could”/how many times I look over at this posted on my wall next to my desk:

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Running Boston THIS YEAR is out. You better believe I’m keeping my number though.. because while you can “defer” your time for a second year, you can’t “defer” your payment, and that is $110 I will not be getting back. 😦 More than the money though, being able to run, but not being able to RUN, is going to kill me. It already is. Going to watch is going to be ridiculously hard, but there is no way I’m not going. I have two people from home that are flying out here to run, as well as 3 friends from here that are running it this year too. I will be there to support them for sure.

While the news that I get to run again is honestly the best thing I’ve heard since, “Hi, this is Marathon Sports. Your Asics just came in…” it did come with some setbacks. (Oh wait.. so did the Asics situation. Pink? Really? The website said RED.)

Hearing I can run? I’m ecstatic. Thrilled. Elated. Overjoyed. Over the moon. Top of the world. I don’t know how many ways I can say it.. but it couldn’t make me happier. EXCEPT.. I was/am scared. So scared. I’m scared that despite how great my hip (/hips) feel, I’m gonna get out there, and be like, “Shit. It’s not supposed to feel like that.” That hasn’t happened yet, and I feel that with each new run I go on, that fear will dissipate,  but that fear is real. 

So what.. 5 mile? No prob? Mmm… not quite. My doctor cleared me for 10 minutes/2x per day (ideally, or just 20 minutes once). As much as I want to take what he said and be like, “Sure.. no probs.” I honestly know that it’s a bit much. Not that I don’t think I could do that, but because I don’t think I should. The coach here.. even after little stress fractures, he starts his runners out at 10 minutes, every other day. 20 minutes every day.. kinda a big step up from that. I’m sticking to every/other right now for this first week, and I’m planning on evaluating with my PT tomorrow at my appointment. 

So yes. I’m back. Lots is going on right now in my life… I have this huge “Project Lent: 2009” thing that I’m doing.. more on that later maybe, and oh yeah, that little thing called college:

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Sad story – my roomie put my absolute favorite from-home Caribou Coffee travel mug through the DISHWASHER. And the hot water melted the seal. And melted the red outside color. And now its dunzo. She offered to buy me a new one, and I bring to you:

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I know I’m all “RunRoamRECYCLE”, but this is kinda overkill. It was the only one that had a solid closing though.. and I need to be able to toss it in my bag, so there you go. “Made with 28% post-consumer recycled content”. Yeah.. it says that.. plus a lot more lil recycle-happy quotes. I am ALL FOR being environmentally conscious, but I don’t like to preach. You’ll never see me wearing one of VS’s “Think Pink, Go Green” shirts. NEVER. 

Oh.. and that lil guy.. I got a new tattoo. It was kinda one of those last minute decision things.. and I’m not so sure about it now. 😦 Sorry mom. 

Love to you all, and to all a good night. GREYS!

Grandma’s non-race race report!

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).

pre-race

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!

do work!

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

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 😀