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Grandma's Marathon Race Report (Read 227 times)


Hungry

    Short Version:

    I ran a 3:09:40 at Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, MN. A good training plan (Running Wizard) and ideal weather conditions (50 deg F, light mist/drizzle, tailwind) combined to result in an all-time PR for me by over a minute (and an “old guy” PR by about 12 minutes over my Fall 2012 race). My previous all-time PR of 3:11:00 was set in 1994, when I was 29 – I am now 48.

     

    The much too long version:

    Woke up at 3:45 a.m. and ate breakfast, then went back to bed. Got up around 5:00, put on my Saucony Virratas, and walked about 4 blocks to a parking lot where buses took us from Duluth to Two Harbors, about 22 miles northwest (basically, the marathon course in reverse).  On the bus, a young man sat down next to me. His gear bag had his bib number on it, #38. I assumed that a 2-digit bib number meant he was fast, so I asked him what his goal time was. He said his goal was 2:12. I laughed and said that was awesome, and that I’d be very happy to come within an hour of that.

    The bus dropped us off in a large parking lot. I was in the very first bus to arrive, and there was a seemingly endless row of porta johns and no other people. I looked at my watch, and there was at least 90 minutes to wait until the start of the race. I quickly realized that this would not be a fun place to hang out for that long – nowhere to sit, nowhere to go indoors and warm up, etc.  So I walked around as the crowd of people grew. There was a guy who looked EXACTLY like Forrest Gump during his running phase (HUGE beard, red Bubba Gump baseball hat, short shorts, etc.).  I saw another guy doing some kind of martial arts warm-up routine – he almost kicked a young lady walking by.  As race time was approaching, I thought I had taken care of my bathroom needs. But at the last minute, I felt a sudden strong urge to go one more time, and I headed to use the porta john with just 5 minutes until start time. Despite the endless array of porta johns, there were long lines now, and I waited for quite awhile before I could “go.” [In hindsight, I am quite sure that I saved my PR with this last “move,” so to speak.]

    Because of the last minute pit-stop, I started pretty far back in the pack. Well, I thought it was too far back because I felt claustrophobic and I had to dodge and weave my way around other runners for the first 2 miles. In retrospect, this was probably a good thing, because I was pretty amped up and would’ve gone out at too fast a pace had I not been so constrained.

    The race fans/spectators were pretty darn cool. Around mile 5, there was a guy all by himself, sitting in the parking lot in front of a place called Russ Kendall’s Smokehouse, playing guitar in the drizzle. He was awesome, and I imagine he had a medley of running-themed songs that he played for the runners. Unfortunately, he was playing Jackson Browne’s “Running on Empty” when I went by. I just couldn’t stop thinking about how inappropriate the song choice was – we were only at mile 5, so a bit too early to be “on empty.” (Yeah, these are the crazy thoughts in my head when I run.)

    For the first 6 miles, I experienced shin splints. (I think it’s shin splints -- extreme tightness and soreness around my shins that seems like it might get worse??) I’ve experienced this feeling twice in the last year: during the first 6 miles of the Twin Cities Marathon last fall, and during the first 6 miles of Grandma’s. It suddenly went away both times, at roughly the same point in the race. Could this have anything to do with tapering? I never had this during any of my training runs. It went away both times, but if there is a simple fix, I’d love to hear about it.

    I followed my fueling strategy pretty closely: Gu at miles 7, 13 (strawberry banana at 7, peanut butter at 13), part of a banana at mile 19, then PowerAde® Ion4 Mountain Berry Blast flavored energy drink at every mile marker thereafter. (I wished for Nutella, I really did.)

    There were some good signs along the way. “Smile if you pee’d a little.”  I smiled. Another said, “Show us your boobs,” which seemed strange because it was a young lady holding the sign. She pointed the sign right at me and yelled it out, so I grabbed my singlet and pulled it down as far as I could to expose my chest, much to the delight (or horror, perhaps?) of the gal and those around her. (I would later learn that I had slightly bloody nipples, something I didn’t even realize until later when my bath water hit that spot – Youch!!  I haven’t had that happen in years, and I thought I had applied plenty of Body Glide.)

    I felt great, really great, until about mile 22 . . .

    At mile 22 is the most significant hill in what is really a very flat course overall. They call it “Lemon Drop” hill, and there are a couple of people at the top of the hill playing bagpipes to “welcome” you to this landmark. I climbed the hill, then promptly hit the wall somewhere before mile 23. I blame the bagpipes.

    My legs got very heavy. My calves AND my thighs felt like they were cramping (I have a history of leg cramps), and my energy level was suddenly lacking. I started counting my cadence, 1 thru 8, 1 thru 8, to try to keep my steps quick and light and to focus on something other than the pain. Nothing felt quick or light at that point. I got passed by a few people that I had easily passed going up Lemon Drop Hill.

    I walked a bit and consumed the entire PowerAde at mile 24, which seemed to help. By mile 25, I had a little bit of a kick left (or maybe adrenaline kicked in from the awesome spectators cheering us on), and I ran pretty well from there on (7:08 pace for mile 26). I was enjoying running the final 0.2 miles with the crowd cheering (apparently for me!!)  … then some guy behind me kicks into really high gear and passes me like I’m standing still. He’s waving his arms up and down to coax the crowd into a frenzy of cheers, and the crowd is eating it up! It was cool, except he was stealing my thunder. So I pointed at him and mocked him with my own arm gestures, which caused some of the crowd to laugh.

    I finished in 3:09:40, better than I really believed I could do. It beats my 19-year-old PR from 1994 by over a minute! It qualifies me for Boston by more than 15 minutes! I am very pleased with the result.

    [After the race, I checked on my pal from the bus, #38, Eliud Ngetich. He also met his goal; he ran a 2:11:59 and finished 3rd overall!! Holy crap that’s fast!]

      Congrats on nailing that all-time PR.  Enjoyed the report.


      Closed for repairs

        Fantastic.

         

        JML


          Great stuff.  Congrats!

           2014 goals: run a bunch....race some.....repeat...

            Nice running ! Enjoyed your race report too.


            &*^%$#@$#

              That guy was playing Running on empty when I passed by him as well, and the bagpipes made me get teary eyed for some reason (crazy emotions that late in the race, I guess). I did not realize that was Lemon Drop Hill until I read your report. Nice job. I ran my first marathon after being a total couch potato six months ago. I finished in 3:31:16 which I am satisfied with for now considering where I was three short months ago. I looked at my 4 mile PR from March 23rd 2013 and I was a minute per mile slower for one sixth the distance and my heart rate was at 186 bpm. I am hoping that my progression is moving along well enough to BQ at Twin Cities Marathon in October (3:15 for my age). SubDood, did you see the gorilla on the mini trampoline?

               

              4 mile pr

              http://www.runningahead.com/logs/9862c5db9c92423c88c212a5a686f6e5/workouts/1f85d94a8ad34f74b9862d7bcac69cb7

               

              1st marathon 3 months later

              http://www.runningahead.com/logs/9862c5db9c92423c88c212a5a686f6e5/workouts/7e0600eb49214a4289a50e31ab310935


              Hungry

                That guy was playing Running on empty when I passed by him as well, and the bagpipes made me get teary eyed for some reason (crazy emotions that late in the race, I guess). I did not realize that was Lemon Drop Hill until I read your report. Nice job. I ran my first marathon after being a total couch potato six months ago. I finished in 3:31:16 which I am satisfied with for now considering where I was three short months ago. I looked at my 4 mile PR from March 23rd 2013 and I was a minute per mile slower for one sixth the distance and my heart rate was at 186 bpm. I am hoping that my progression is moving along well enough to BQ at Twin Cities Marathon in October (3:15 for my age). SubDood, did you see the gorilla on the mini trampoline?

                 

                Congrats, Richard! I read about the bagpipes before the race, so I knew they were coming -- otherwise, I think they would've gotten me to squirt a few tears, too. I must've missed the gorilla on the trampoline; where was that?

                Let me just say that your progression in a short period is phenomenal, Richard. I'd say you've got a chance at a BQ time at Twin Cities if you can continue that kind of progression. That said, weather helped us out a lot in Duluth; there's no telling what kind of weather we'll get around here in October -- could be in the 20's, could be in the 80's! Best of luck with your BQ goal!!

                  Re: Bagpipes at races ... I can see how the Scots were such ferocious warriors when they had bagpipers playing during the call to battle.  We used to have a bagpipe group that played at about mile 5.5 of the Silicon Valley Turkey Trot 10K (haven't seen them the last couple years) but, wow, I'd pass those guys and the hair on my arms would stand up.  Always gave me an extra kick to the finish.  Bring back the 'pipes!


                  justrundan

                    Nice job!

                     

                    Wow, 2:11:59 only gets you 3rd!  amazing.

                    Dan

                     

                     

                     

                     


                    Hungry

                      Nice job!

                       

                      Wow, 2:11:59 only gets you 3rd!  amazing.

                      Only 3rd.  What a disappointment!   I have since Googled him -- Eliud Ngetich of Kenya. Sitting next to me on the bus, he only mentioned that Grandma's was just his second marathon attempt. He didn't mention that he WON his first marathon just a month earlier!!  He won the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon in a time of 2:18:26.

                      http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/article/20130519/GPG0211/305190278/New-York-teen-Ngetich-wins-2013-Cellcom-Green-Bay-Marathon

                      He is only 19 years old. Maybe I should've asked for his autograph ...

                        Possibly an up and coming star.

                        Well at least someone here is making relevance to the subject.