“Let’s hear it for the girls”
I’m going to try something new with this week’s blog. In honor of my first go at Grandma’s Marathon in one of my favorite cities, Duluth, MN, I’m breaking up this into a two-part series. But within the same post.
I’m starting to write this on Friday, the pre-event thoughts. On Sunday, I’ll write my post-event thoughts and put it together.
I just finished my last taper run, a nice 2.2 mile shakeout. Everything felt good and with the weather forecast looking to be nice and chilly, I’m feeling oddly good about tomorrow.
When I decided to take on this challenge, I was nervous – maybe even more nervous than deciding to run my first marathon. This would be my first marathon since having a baby last spring and I had no idea how I was going to make the time and find the energy to train for a full marathon while focusing on him, my husband, work, and everything else.
But I did it. It has been my easiest training season by far, no week was more than 35 miles, no weekday run longer than 7 miles, no push for speed or focused hill workouts.
I still managed six days a week of workouts most weeks, making sure to mix in easy cardio days and lifting days to stay balanced and healthy.
I’m ready for this.
More than my good feelings for running my first Grandma’s Marathon and tackling a full while balancing motherhood, I’m so excited to be running this race with one of my oldest friends, Maggie. We did a half together last summer – it was super fun running a half with a buddy – and now I’m hoping to help her get through her first full marathon without wanting to die.
Just arrived home from a girls’ weekend in Duluth and my first experience running Grandma’s Marathon. It was a great time.
Any chance to get together with a bunch of friends is great. This might sound odd to most, but, for me, sharing in the experience of running makes it even more fun. And even though we all had different goals and reasons for being there, it brought us all together. Maggie ran her first marathon, Jenny ran her first half marathon, Jess ran the 5k and the half, while Heidi cheered us on and enjoyed the girl time that we all need, more than ever now that we’re all grown up. Oh, there I go sounding old.
Okay, back to the story. How did my first full marathon since becoming a mother go? It was awesome. One of the best experiences to date. A bit sore, a lot sunburned, but I feel pretty great.
It was so fun to run with one of my best friends and help make it a good experience for her. With almost perfect weather on our side, we started off at a comfortable yet challenging pace. I started to feel a little sick and could tell Mags was starting to struggle, too around mile 18, so I started the first of a few planned “coaching” moments that I thought would help us both.
I suggested we run to mile 20, then walk through that aid station to eat gels and get a breather. She eagerly agreed and said she could make it to 20.
Once we walked a bit at mile 20, Mags was already feeling some defeat. She said she didn’t know how she was going to make it six more miles and that I should go ahead without her.
Naturally, I refused, and instead told her we’d walk another minute or two, then we’d run again – just to the next mile and aid station, then we could walk again.
That strategy worked. Through a mix of walking and slower running, we finished well ahead of her expectations. While I can’t say she finished with a smile on her face and she made it clear she never wanted to run another marathon, I think it was a positive experience, overall.
Fun side note, her previous half marathon best was 2:06. We ran the first half of Grandma’s Marathon in just under 2:02. So an *unofficial half record for her!
A few other fun notes from Grandma’s Marathon – what a beautiful course. While I admit the first 18-ish miles got a little boring in terms of the course view being pretty much desolate forest, running along the North Shore of Lake Superior mixed in a few awesome views. Early on, we spotted the lift bridge and it looked forever away. Running by it at mile 25 felt pretty amazing.
The town of Duluth came out big in terms of spectators. I had the best time waving, thanking them, taking pics, and soaking in that part of the race while Mags and I slowed down and walked a bit.
The finish in Canal Park was awesome. It was controlled chaos but so full of energy.
But the best part of the race? Mile 21. I mentioned earlier I started feeling a bit sick during the race. I opted to skip taking energy gel because my stomach was not happy and sugary sweetness sounded awful. But then, at mile 21, I saw the most wonderful sight. No, not a port-a-potty. Pickles. Yes, someone was handing out pickles. It was the best pick-me-up and the light saltiness was exactly what I needed. I will always remember those pickles.
As for the rest of the crew, Jenny made her half marathon debut in a smoking time of 1:53. Jess successfully ran the 5k Friday night, then the half Saturday morning and finished within her goal time. And Heidi slept in, enjoyed a lazy morning, then came out to cheer with more enthusiasm than anyone. A perfect weekend for all.
Back in the day, I was a bad influence on friends for the wrong reasons. I like to think these days, I’m still a “bad” influence…but in a good way.
Any other runners out there take on Grandma’s Marathon this year? Or are you training for a different race soon? The comments are your space so please write one. Find me on Instagram @lindsayinreallife or connect with me on Twitter @LindsayIRL.