Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Grandma's Marathon Race Report and Video

We covered all the pre race and post race fun in an earlier blog post, so here's Holly's report about the race itself.

By the time we got into the Duluth/Superior area Friday night, we were tired from the long drive. We were planning on going to the Expo even though we didn’t really need to as I had paid extra to have my bib mailed to me before the race. As a side note, I really wish more races would offer this. Super convenient. The race organization was excellent about letting you know that you should avoid going to the Expo between 5 and 7 due to the heavy traffic delays caused by the 5k that would be going on at that time. Guess what time we headed to the Expo? 5:15. UGH. This did not help the grumpiness. It took awhile but we finally made it in. I got some cute pictures with our traveling buddy, Fozzie. I also bought a long sleeve technical shirt, because I was thinking that it was really feeling chilly and damp out and I might want one tomorrow. Lesson learned, always pack for everything!

We headed out of the Expo pretty quickly. It was smaller than I expected for the size of the race. We found our dinner spot and headed back over to Superior to try and get a good nights sleep.

Race morning started at 4:30. It was still really foggy and damp. Luckily there was no rain yet. I was very relieved about that. Grandma’s Marathon is a point to point course that starts in Two Harbors, MN and ends in Duluth, MN. Grandma’s says you must take their transportation to the start to ensure that you are there in time. My hotel had a bus pick up at 5:30 and it pulled up right on time. I was trying not to look out the window because I really don’t like to see what I’m going to be running. Plus it seemed really far! I’m not used to point to point courses and this really accentuated how far 26.2 miles really is.

The bus ride was no issue and we were at the starting area in no time. A short walk over to the “runners village”, i.e. port o potty land, and I found a space on the ground to put down a trash bag and sit and wait the hour and half until the start. Of course spectator extraordinaire, Dave made it into the runners village. It was nice to have him there to pass the time. It was freezing and I was so thankful it was not raining. I waited in the longest port o potty line ever and literally walked into my corral right at the start time.

They bill this race as a nice downhill course with spectacular views. Unfortunately the weather can’t be controlled, and the course was fogged in the whole way. I never could see the great Lake Superior. Also I wouldn’t call the course downhill. It was definitely more rolling. Nice gentle rollers though.

I am still struggling with Plantar Fasciitis in my right foot and have changed over to Hoka One One shoes to try and beat this. They are very cushioned. I had about 70 miles on them before the race, but my longest run in them was 15 miles. I was hoping I made the right decision.

I got to see Dave right at the start and of course several times along the way. He did great finding me and for dealing with standing in the freezing cold and rain. It was truly a miserable day for running and even more so for spectating.

My goal was to stay with the 5:30 group as long as possible to keep me from going out to fast. I did well at this and forced myself to stay back even though I felt good. I stayed with them until about mile 14 or 15. Then my foot really started bothering me and I was really shuffling along. The course was really boring through this point with very little to look at due to the fog and very few spectators. I had a mini breakdown at mile 16 but pushed that down and thankfully got into a small town that had some spectators out and they lifted my spirits. I also had a banana, which helped. I think I needed something more to eat since the marathon had such a late start. I of course found beer at two points on the course and it was most welcome!

Grandma’s did a nice job at the water stops, with plenty of water, Powerade, ice and sponges at all of the stops. I saw Dave at mile 18 or so and was pretty miserable and so was he. I was honestly ready to pull the plug, but when you are trying to do a marathon in every state, it’s really hard to give up. I kept going but I was starting to have some IT Band pain and calf tightness. This is something I have never had before in a marathon, so I’m not sure if it’s the Hoka’s or if it was bad form from the foot pain. I’m giving up on them for a bit and may try them again in the future.

Finally made it into the outskirts of Duluth and my mood greatly improved. There is something about making it into the 20’s that always lifts my spirits. Then it started to pour. Great! But actually it was a good thing, because I wanted to break 6 hours and it was going to be close. I hate running in the rain so the rain made me go faster. It was cold, I was cold and I wanted to be done. Finally made it to the finish line and of course Dave was there! It was great to see him and to be finished.

The finish area was chaotic to me. I got my medal, finisher’s shirt, bottle of water and a heat sheet and exited the area. Apparently I totally missed all the food, which was a bummer because I was starving! Dave found me and we went back to the hotel for a lukewarm shower, boo!
My final thoughts on the race are very jaded. I was hurt and the weather stunk, so maybe that was why I just didn’t understand the charm of this race. This is one of the races that I was first told that I must do and I’m not so sure why this should be on the list?

Below is our video from the race along with Dave's comments:

Dave's Comments
I had a feeling snacks would be hard to find along this course. So I stocked up with a bagel, apple, granola bar, Sour Patch Kids, Diet Coke, nuts, and coffee. I drove to the start line and was surprised to find Canada was only 140 miles away. After being misdirected by volunteers a couple of times I was finally able to park my car near the start line. I was able to keep Holly (and myself) entertained in runner's village before the race. When I made it to my start line viewing area I noticed all the other spectators and I had something in common: lots of camera and tripods. What I didn't have that they did: press passes. Start line was pretty desolate. The course was pretty easy to follow and I had no issues parking, even in the crowded spots.

Man was it cold! There were a few occasions I almost pulled the plug and headed to the finish. At mile 14 I had to trudge through the woods to get to the course and ended up slopping through some mud - soaking my feet. The finish area was pretty cool since it was in the entertainment district of town. Beer was easily attainable (but I didn't bother to get any). I was able to spectate at the start, miles 6, 9, 14, 18, 20, 22, and the finish. I think I could have worked one more in but I wasn't sure about traffic getting back into the Canal Park Peninsula. Overall I exceeded my plan by one stop so it was a win!

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