Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Grandma's Marathon: Race Report

Near the finish of Grandma's Marathon

Grandma's Marathon weekend was supposed to be a PR race. After training hard to set a PR at the Milwaukee Marathon last November and having a mis-marked course thwart that PR attempt, I decided to try again for a PR in a spring marathon.

Unfortunately, several weeks into my Grandma's Marathon training, I knew I wasn't going to set a new personal record there either. In the first three months of my training for Grandma's, I dealt with a gastrointestinal issue that reduced my running to two or three days a week as opposed to my normal six or seven. Three months is about 75% of a training cycle, so a PR was out of the question by the time I was feeling better.

So, back to Grandma's Marathon. My weekend started with a ride to Duluth from my friend Brittany. Her, her twins, and I drove through horrendous traffic from Eagan to Duluth. We got to the expo as vendors were beginning to close down, but still within plenty of time to pick up my packet.
After a delicious dinner provided graciously by Brittany's sister-in-law, we talked about running. There were quite a few of us there, and four of us were running the marathon the next day: Brittany's sister-in-law Madeline, and her in-laws, Jen and Wayne. We then settled down for the evening to get some sleep for an early morning.

That morning we all grabbed a quick breakfast and made a short walk to the bus. The ride to the start was in a coach bus rather than the standard school bus, and it was nice to have a comfy ride. At the start was my only complaint about the race: long lines for the porta potties. I was in line for almost forty minutes, and made it to the start line with about five minutes to spare.

My plan for the race was to go out at about a 7:00 - 7:10 first mile and see how I felt from there. Instead, I came out at about a 6:45. I thought to myself, hey, that didn't feel so bad, so I decided I might as well go for a sub three hour finish--about 6:52 a mile.

The course was nice--more rolling hills than I expected, but scenic. There were nice views of forest, rivers, and Lake Superior, as well as the singing of white-throated sparrows. Along the way to the finish, I saw about half-a-dozen people I knew either running or spectating. As we got closer to Duluth, there were more and more spectators along the course, which gave a nice boost.

One thing that was bothering me was the outside of my right ankle. It'd been giving me a little trouble off and on throughout my training cycle, and about seven miles into the marathon it began to hurt--especially when I was running on the cant on the left side of the road. After a while, it felt almost as if a tendon was flapping around in there, but after several miles of discomfort, it pretty much faded away.

With the scenery and the ample runners, the miles really ticked by. Then, it started to warm up. The race had started overcast, but it wasn't long before the sun came out. At that point, I really started to feel the humidity as well. The heat had me drinking more than I had in any previous marathon. Every aid station I would grab a drink of water, then a drink of Powerade, then another drink of water. When I could, I would grab a cup of ice to and pour water or Powerade in that.

By mile 21 it'd become clear I wasn't going to break three hours. Though I'd slowed a little, I was still on pace for a sub-three, but my legs were telling me it wasn't going to happen. For a while I thought maybe a 3:02 would be possible, but I soon gave up on that as well.

By mile 23, I'd decided to be satisfied with a Boston qualifying finish of under 3:05 (later I learned my BQ time is actually 3:10). I came through the finish at 3:04:26, so mission accomplished.

After the race I ran into a running buddy and we chatted for awhile. He hadn't hit his time goal, mainly due to the heat. After we talked, I headed to the food. Unfortunately, my stomach began to hurt. I ate a fourth of a bagel, then gave away my drink ticket to a grateful stranger.

I lay in the grass for about ten minutes, then headed over to find Brittany and her family. I checked on them, watched Jen and Wayne finish, then walked over to a park bench to lie down. An hour or so later, I went over to watch again, but right away I began to feel nauseous. I went back to my bench to rest so more, then made another try at watching the finish. I didn't make it long, and a few minutes later I threw up into a storm drain.

At that point I felt fine. I watched Madeline finish, then we went over to a restaurant near Madeline's house where I had a big dinner.

All in all it was a fun weekend. I did about as well as I thought I could considering my horrible training, and ran my first Boston qualifying time since 2014. Now it's on to my next marathon this fall.