Grandma’s Marathon – 2018
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It’s really hard to imagine ever running a marathon, but here I am ready to conquer my 26th. With running I have learned that anything is possible.
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In my last blog post I wrote about the William A Irvin 5k, which is part of the Great Grandma’s Challenge. Run the 5k on Friday and the marathon on Saturday, I was participating in this. In that post you can learn more about going to the expo, etc.
SATURDAY, JUNE 16
With an early 4:36 am wake up call, the first thing I did was check the weather forecast. All week I had been on weather.com looking at the forecast, the rain chance hadn’t budged. We all know I will run in the rain – as evidenced in my last two weekends of races but I was done with it!!! SO what was the weather when I woke up… 50 degrees, clouds and NO rain… I couldn’t believe it!! Plus the last 2 years have been soo hot, I really wished I had put in more training effort, the weather was perfect for great racing times.
Josh, Miguel and I went to the hotel lobby for the runners continental breakfast. There was a lot of choices, but I kept it simple with a bagel topped with peanut butter and some fruit. I could tell Miguel was nervous, it was his first marathon.
Back to our room to grab all our things. The hotel has shuttle buses that come right to the front door, we needed to be on one by 6:15 am. This is so much easier than trying to get back to the DECC, fight through the traffic and either get on a bus there or the train. (which we did last year, nice ride – not enough toilets.)
Gear: Sparkle Athletic skirt, Zensah socks, Orange Mud Endurance pack, Zensah bra, Rabbit tank, Addidas short, Coros Pace Watch, Rudy Rydon glasses, Aftershokz Trekz Air, Brooks ghost 10, Hawkeye hat, spi belt
The bus ride was long….. only because we got caught in the traffic and construction area back in Duluth. However, we had plenty of time and made it to the starting area around 7 AM. The race would start at 7:45 AM.
While the start area can be a congested mess, with a little time it’s easy to navigate. The race starts near Two Harbors next to a car dealer lot. There is no good place to be dropped off or to park, just buses. Once off a bus there is the spot to check your bag, and the car dealer lot is full of port-o-potties as far as the eye can see. While there is never enough, just get to the ones furthest away and the lines will move quick!
I had last minute plans to meet with some BibRave Pros in the area at 7:15. I knew the area, and suggested the entrance to the corral system. At 7:10 I meet Jenn, she had traveled from PA for the race. I waited until 7:20 am and missed anyone else. I was kinda bummed, I knew there were 3 others running. However, as I said the area is very congested.
In the meantime I had said goodbye to Josh and Miguel. Josh was off doing his own thing, he had something to prove with this race. The heat from the previous years did not treat him well. Miguel needed to use the bathroom. I wished em good luck… and didn’t see them for hours.
The thing is, when it’s your 26th marathon, you still get nervous, but you are a little more confident in your ability to finish. I used the bathroom and took my time getting situated in the corral. Where I still stood forever until I crossed the starting line.
I mentioned how I wished I had trained better, but the week before the race I also registered for a 56k, so this was a training run too. I really love this course, and all it has to offer. I just wanted to enjoy and get to the finish.
It was a little gray and while you couldn’t see much of the lake, you knew it was there as every once in a while a cool burst of air fell over the course.
I ran on the gravel shoulder in as many spots as possible. The road was closed to traffic the entire course, so if you wanted to run the tangents that was possible.
The course is well supported with official aid stations offering water, Powerade, Ice, sponges, gus and oranges and bananas. Spectators are in all the spots they can get access. In the early miles the course is on old Hwy 61, and at any intersection there are groups with signs, or at camping or lodging areas there are bands or loud music. When you get closer to Duluth the spectators set up many unofficial aid stations with bacon, watermelon, pickles and even ibuprofen.
Then near mile 22 is the infamous Lemon Drop Hill. I think this course is relatively flat, some will tell you different, but that is why this hill is significant as it’s the biggest climb in one area. It’s actually an overpass bridge.
I had to use the bathroom for the second time… ahh, I had hydrated maybe too much? I was loving the new Watermelon Gatorade I had with me, not as sweet as the Powerade, where you feel you need to brush your teeth at the end of the race.
About mile 23 now, I turned my phone off airplane mode and thought I would call Josh. He answered quickly, so I knew he had finished, YAY!! However, he said he was in the medical tent again….um? This time it’s because he was sooo cold and couldn’t warm up. This race…..
The end of the course was re-routed as there was construction in Duluth. I liked the change, however it added what felt like a steep, short downhill. It did eliminate the brick streets which are tough at the end.
I was really close to the finish and I spotted my number 1 fan, Kate cheering people on…so I did what anyone does at the end of a marathon… jumped for photos and stopped to chit chat. I was feeling really good, slow but good!
I left Kate and decided I should get my medal. I saw Josh near the finisher chute, yay he was no longer in the medical tent. I crossed the finish line with another jump. (While there is a Marathonfoto of that, I am not paying for it.)
I am sure I have mentioned this before, but after you get a finisher’s medal and a bottle of water, you get your finisher’s shirt. You not only have to earn a medal, but you earn your shirt. This year it was a darker green, short sleeve, gender specific tech shirt. Very similar to my 5k shirt.
After the shirt pick up, I saw Miguel…or maybe it was before… YAY, Miguel made it to the finish line!!!! Congrats on your first!!! He did look a little rough, but he was up right.
He walked with me through the finisher area, as it was the easiest for us to all reunite. I grabbed some strawberries, there was also orange juice, oranges, and apples. Then I saw the chocolate milk, I needed one of those!! There were chips and bagels with cream cheese too. This was also the area to grab your gear checked bag.
We departed this area and I wanted my beer!!!! The beer area is also the post race party. The race merchandise is set up, coffee, soda and a band is performing. There’s a giant video screen for viewing the finish and a results tent as well.
I turned in my beer ticket for an O’dell’s IPA. Dear races with crappy beer…. this is how you do it! They had the lighter choices, but then beer that actually tastes good.
I was trying to carry all my things, which is always difficult. I wonder if this is how they police people from taking to many post race things? Miguel and I stood even longer while communicating with Kate. She was nearing the area and would be at Little Angie’s Cantina, so Miguel went out to find her.
I drank my beer and met up with Josh. He waited at the finish to watch some people he knew cross the line in their first marathon… and as luck would have it, they gave Josh their beer tickets…. MORE BEER!!
Josh and I went inside the band tent to sit, listen to the music and just enjoy the event. Then we discovered that GRANDMA was singing… yes, there is a lady that dresses in a Grandma’s costume to greet people all weekend, and here she was signing cover songs on the stage. It was the coolest thing!!
We cashed in our second beer tickets, this time I tried an Alaskan brewing white ale. It was good, but not my favorite. We checked out the merchandise tent and then thought we should catch up with Kate and Miguel.
They were seated just outside Little Angie’s. For some reason Josh and I thought we would order some more beer and food. Little Angie’s has been the post race tradition now for 5 years. It’s right at the finish line, plus you can never go wrong with Angie.
We were all tired, so another year passed and I still hadn’t went in the lake post run…I am thinking the lake was almost the same as the air temp.
After some lounging at the hotel, we did do some more discovering of Duluth. We always say we want to spend more time in the area, but then always are too exhausted to explore. This year we went over the lift bridge and drove the island. We discovered Park Point Beach, what a cool spot.
Then some how it was time to eat again. By a suggestion of Josh’s friend we went to Sammy’s pizza. We each ordered an individual pizza… we know how to party!! Then it was time to call it a night.
SUNDAY, June 17
Time to go home, Duluth is quite the drive. I didn’t leave before getting in another mile in my run streak, such a great place to be…plus it was also about 90 degrees at home.
We gathered our things, hit up a popular local coffee spot and made our way to MPLS to drop off Kate and Miguel.
Then had an uneventful trip to Iowa City, complete with a road side attraction photo.
Grandma’s is one of my favorite marathons, ever!! The race organization is top notch, the course is beautiful. I really thought this was the year to finally eat at Grandma’s restaurant and jump in the lake… maybe next year….