Grandma’s 2017 – RACE RECAP
“Disclaimer: I received entry into Grandma’s Marathon to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”
I LOVE GRANDMA’S MARATHON!!! I was so happy when Bibrave partnered with this race, I couldn’t wait to get back to Duluth. In fact, my group of friends already had a hotel reservation. I would be returning for a 4th year at the event…. in fact I think my first Bibrave race was the Garry Bjorklund half marathon in 2014.
Duluth is about 7-8 hours from Iowa City, and as per usual, this is a road trip for me. Josh and I got a head start by staying in Rochester, MN on Thursday evening. We woke early, to pick up Miguel at the French Meadow in MPLS – hello delicious breakfast!
From MPLS we made good time to Duluth. That drive on I-35 can be tough as there always seems to be construction and everyone is leaving the city to get to their lake cottages.
We called ahead to our hotel in Superior, WI (just across the canal) and we were able to check in early. This allowed for some down time, even a nap before we would go to the expo, packet pick up and pasta dinner. The hotel had a welcome bag with Clif Bars and bottled water in our rooms.
At the expo, Kara Goucher would be speaking at 3pm, followed by Dick Beardsley. The 3 of us left our hotel around 2pm so we would be able to hear Kara speak, and meet up with the Bibrave gang that was also running the race.
Once we got near the DECC, where the expo and festivities were being held, traffic was backed up due to parking limitations. There was parking available for $5 near the area, but everyone was arriving at the same time. We should have left earlier or parked across the way and walked over. After some cussing, we talked our way into a bar’s parking area – they begged us to have a beer, but instead we gave them $5 and were given a parking pass.
It was a short walk to the expo building, but we were able to make it before 3pm. We met up with the gang and listened to Kara speak.
It was time to get our packets and then check out the expo. The vendors are set up until about 8pm, while packet pick up stays open late – 11pm. When we were there, around 4 ish, it seemed very busy.
There were the typical vendors, and a few free samples including pork, beer and wine. Grabbing our packets was easy, just needed the bib number, and didn’t have to show an ID, when you left this area they double checked that your timing chip scanned.
It was time to eat! I had won a Grandma’s prize pack on facebook which included 2 shirts, a hat and 2 pasta tickets.
Gina (Bibrave pro) had an extra pasta ticket which she shared with Miguel. You might have heard me boast about this dinner. It’s my fave because I can get a plate of plain noodles… um I might have have 3 plates of noodles…in addition to some bread, wafer cookies and a tiny Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. We took our time here and conversed with Gina’s friends, who happened to be from Iowa.
Before we left to get back to our hotel, we stopped to check out of the finishers of the 5k. (you could run this as part of the Great Grandma’s Challenge, 5k Friday and half or full Saturday) Even saw a joggler amongst the many people.
Back at the hotel, after laying out all the race day essentials, we called it a night at 9pm, it was going to be an early wake up call.
Gear: Bibrave tank, Sparkle Athletic Galaxy skirt, Zensah USA compression socks, adidas boy shorts, moving comfort bra, Hawkeye hat, Orange Mud Endurance Pack, aftershokz Trekz Titanium, Welch’s fruit snacks, Brooks Ghost 9, Garmin Fenix 3, Road ID. *planned on a Half Buff & my XX2i France 2 shades
4:00 am – Rise and shine! The half marathon started at 6:15 am and the full marathon started at 7:45. The race starts at Two Harbors and ends in Duluth, we had to take a shuttle to the start. The hotel offers a bus for the marathon, but there was no option for Miguel (running his first half marathon,) except to catch a shuttle in Duluth.
This hotel caters to the runners and put out a breakfast starting at 4 am. Coffee, toast, bagels, fruit, juice, yogurt; all the simple basic foods that are perfect before a race. I toasted some bread and slathered some peanut butter on it, and grabbed a granola bar for the shuttle to the race.
We all piled into the giant rental truck, and barreled down the highway… ok not really, but we left around 4:30 for the boarding that was happening between 4:45 and 5:15 for the half.
UGH! Traffic was backed up onto I-35 from the exit ramp, as they could’t move cars fast enough into the parking lots. We pulled an “audible” and took some other random exit, with some twists and turns, we had cut the line from the interstate, and were close to getting a parking spot. *Ok, so I don’t do well in these situations, in fact I think this is the only thing I worried about on race day. I wanted to make sure we all got to the starting line. This caused major anxiety, as I am spoiled by Hawkeye events with parking passes and traffic control.
Whew! We were able to get close enough to have Miguel get in the line for his shuttle. We had options to get to the start line, and had time to then park the truck. We paid the attendant $5 and went to go find Miguel in line for some final good lucks and a picture.
Josh and I now had time to get to our shuttle… ok so the marathon buses started loading after the half and did so until 6:15am. However, Grandma’s is the only marathon that has a train that will take you to the start. I really wanted to do this, but it was first come first serve to 1000 people. With the timing, it worked out, we made the train!!!
The train goes up the shore, following some of the course. It is also sold as having bathrooms. I did not use a train bathroom, but Josh who had to wait a long time to use one, said they were “well used.” That aside, I really thought the train was a unique way to get to the start. There is also a spectator’s train.
We arrived to the start with plenty of time to check our bags, and wait in the super long port-o-potty lines. There has to be about 200 or so bathrooms, but never seem like enough. It was cloudy and there were some rain sprinkles falling.
We ran into Gina in the bathroom lines… just like last year, lol. I wanted to snap a pre-race pic with her. I took off my hat to put on my BUFF, in this process, my sunglasses which were resting on top of the brim of my hat, snapped in 2. GASP! *update XX2i has a lifetime warranty*
I wear a visor/hat and glasses to run in, as it’s great and easy way to protect me from the elements. So there I was, about to run my 23rd marathon, and I had no sunglasses… however I got my picture with Gina.
Josh and I walked to the starting corrals, we slapped high fives and wished each other luck. He went to the faster area, and I pushed towards the back. There really weren’t corrals, but there were pace signs and pacers to line up with.
The National Anthem was sung live and the race was underway. I knew it would be a few minutes before I would cross the start line, so I finally went to push the buttons on my Garmin to get it ready to use. That is when I discovered it was at 35% charge. UM? I had it plugged in all night…. oh wait, did I? Obviously not. Then I realized my error, I plugged in my headphones, and was like, they don’t take long.. I’ll just unplug after a bit and plug my watch in….that never happened.
Here I was, ready to start another marathon, no sunglasses and a watch with minimal charge… but you know what… I was not worried, not anxious…. nothing – I was ready to tackle the trek to Duluth.
I didn’t have a race goal… I blogged about my training for this race, including the crappy 16 miler that was my one and only long run. I knew I would be able to finish, and I knew I would do my best. It was also my third time at the event.
I don’t have too much to say about the marathon this year that’s any different in years past. The event is very well organized and any ability is welcome, course is open for 7 hours. Great spectators, great volunteers. The sun eventually came out, and it warmed to 77 degrees – according to the marquee when I was near mile 23. This is also when I switched my phone off airplane mode and called Josh just to tell him where I was.. and he was with Miguel and they were tracking me *blushing* This is is when I noticed my watch had officially died – so it lasted 22 miles, and like 4 ish hours? Guess I need to run faster.
I felt great this race, I walked the aid stations, like every 2 miles….and never wanted to walk – until mile 25. I never felt defeated. I did feel hungry at mile 15, and I had been eating my fruit snacks, I took bananas and oranges from the official aid stations. I had also been drinking the blue Powerade on course, but had to stop as it was way too sweet. (I was ready for a toothbrush.) I am thankful to the bacon stop and the people who had strawberries.
When I got to the last .2 miles the sky had clouded up and there was a downpour, the sound system even went out, and my name was not announced when I crossed the finish line at 5:26. I didn’t have any clue how far I was back from the official time, so when I first saw my finishing time, I was a little disappointed. Oh well, I am slow and most importantly I felt good, not tired or sore.
I am not sure there is anything I dislike about this event, maybe they could add some food choices in the beer/music area AND consider something other than marathonfoto for pictures.
This is a race where you get your shirt at the finish line, so after collecting that, my medal, heat sheet, and bottle of water…the sun was already back out. I met up with Josh and Miguel, then saw Gina in the runners only food area. I made sure to grab some more strawberries.
CONGRATS MIGUEL!! Finished his first half marathon!!!
We then all met up with the Bibrave gang and enjoyed the post race music and beer.
(this area is open forever too, so everyone gets a chance at beer and music.) There were soda choices in addition to Odell brews.
Everyone then departed, and that is when Josh ran into a guy he knew from Iowa, and I saw Darin (hope I spelled that right) I keep running into this guy at races. So we chit chatted some more. If you see me say hi!
Then it was time for the traditional post race Little Angie’s. Tacos for the win! It was tough to eat all my food… I wasn’t super hungry then and I was tired!
Some how it was nearing 4:30… we trucked back to the hotel for a much needed shower and nap. However, I thought if I napped at this hour I wouldn’t get up, or I wouldn’t sleep the night.
Around 7:15 pm, I convinced Josh to drive some where so I could put my legs in Lake Superior. We found a pull out along the course, just north of Duluth. The air temp was in the 50’s and the lake was sooo cold but it felt sooo good! We skipped some rocks too.
Of course I was now hungry, so we drove a little further to a restaurant you pass along the course. We both got the walleye and tried the wild rice – which is a “thing” in the area. After dinner, it was finally time to close the chapter on the day…. I was ready to crash… and I did that.
Time for breakfast, and the trek back to the Hawkeye State. We did some googling and thought we would try this cafe that served the famous Betty’s Pies. When we arrived the line was out the door, so we found this other place in downtown Duluth, the Lark. Welp, while the food was tasty, the service was slower than my marathon time. We were happy to leave and go get some more coffee at the Duluth Coffee Co.
The trip back to MPLS to drop Miguel was uneventful, no traffic back ups. We were back in the cities around noon time, said good bye to Miguel… and crawled back into the truck.
After a traffic back up in southern MN (seriously that area has been under construction for years.) We made it all the way back to the Clear Lake exit before we needed to eat again. Luckily we did not need any gas, all the pumps were full. We discovered that Casey’s would put their chicken strips into a wrap, that was a delicious discovery!
Then really… it was a boring road trip, the radio was boring, the scenery..boring… maybe because we have traveled it a lot. Oh well, we made it home.
As stated at the beginning of this super long post, I love Grandma’s and Duluth, can’t wait to get back… of course we have the hotel reserved already.
You can follow Grandma’s on twitter, Facebook, Instagram or their website to keep up to date with the 2018 event, and you can check out my bare boned review at bibrave.com
To answer the question, when my watch was recharged, I could see it had worked for 21.2 miles and 4 hours 15 minutes.
Amazing recap! Really sounds like quite the event.
hope you get to run it some day!
Me too! Definitely one on the list!
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