Coming soon: more race recaps

Grandma’s Marathon – Duluth, MN June 19, 2010

This year I ran my first marathon. I have ran 3 Half Marathons, a 10 mile and a 5K before. For some reason, J and I decided that this would be the year to run a full marathon. We signed up and started training in January 2010. Before that, we ran 1-2x per week, always very leisurely. We only ran “hard” when we were training for Half Marathons — and even then, I didn’t try very hard! As a result, my Half Marathons were tough and I hated every step I ran.

This year would be different, since we were running a full. I told myself over and over again, that I had to take my training 110% seriously, or I was going to fail miserably. It didn’t matter that I read in Hal Higdon’s book (appropriately titled Marathon) that if you miss a day or two of training it isn’t the end of the world.

But it felt like the end of the world to me! Every time I ran only 4.75 miles instead of 5, I would kick myself the rest of the day. Why didn’t you just finish that last quarter mile? You could have worked harder. You could have gone further. Your next run is going to be so hard because you messed this one up. Now that I have FINISHED a marathon, I can tell you, that missing 1-2 days or even a week or two of training is not going to hurt your chances of finishing. It may hurt your chance of having a “great”race time (which differs from person to person). But if your goal was to finish (mine was!), then missing some training wouldn’t be the end of the world.

J had a tough time with the training. After a few weeks he hurt his ankle and decided to rest for 2 weeks. I kept going. I felt stronger and I felt lighter as I kept running. By the way, I was running T, W and Th with a long run on Sat. Long runs started at 8 miles (week 1) up to 20 miles (3 weeks before the race). While J was out of commission, he read Born to Run (I still have not) and learned about barefoot running. Training yourself to run barefoot was supposed to relieve any aches and pains in your body, but it takes getting used to. J researched and finally found these shoes:

He started training with these shoes, but it was almost like starting over with running. He was using different muscles while running with these shoes — but his ankle pain never returned. Soon we were both training together.

So, lets get to the race, shall we?

We got up at 4am on race day. We both showered, ate a breakfast cookie (a big one for each of us!), dressed and headed down to the finish line. From there, we took a shuttle bus to the starting line, 26.2 miles away.

This was the longest bus ride of my life.

On the bus we realized J had forgotten his sunglasses in the car. He was crushed. All he said was “pray for clouds for me, please”. And I did. I also prayed that we would both finish and we would both be without any injuries. All of my prayers were answered! It was a fairly cloudy, overcast day and we both finished and we both were uninjured. Alright, here’s the breakdown of the miles:

Miles 1-10: J and I decided to run seperately, since we each run at different paces. Honestly, these miles flew by. I just kept telling myself “Holly you are alive and it is amazing that you are doing this. All your training is paying off right now. You are healthy and you are strong. You are running a marathon. One more mile. One more mile”. And let me tell you, it worked.

Miles 10-13: I had to push pretty hard to keep going, telling myself that I was “only halfway” was hard to realize. I kept thinking that we should have signed up for the Half instead of the Full! I finished the first half in a little over 2 hours.

Mile 14: I finally caught up to J. He was limping. He told me that he will finish, it is just going to take him a while. We both knew that he hadn’t had enough time to train with the vibrams, and the muscles needed just weren’t strong enough yet. I gave him a kiss and ran off.

Miles 15-18: My knees started to hurt a bit, but nothing terrible. The longest I had ever ran was 18 miles, so I knew the rest of the race was going to be tough. I started to wonder how Jason was feeling. Luckily, we had our phones in our running belts, so I called him. He said he was hurting, but he’s going to keep going. I told him that I’d like us to finish the race together, and he said he’d catch up to me if I would start walking. So I did.

Miles 19-21: I walked these miles, and although I felt “odd”, I knew I was doing the right thing. J and I decided to train and run this together, and I wanted us to do just that. I crossed mile 20 at 4 hours. J caught up to me at mile 21.

Miles 22-26: We walked together for the next 5 miles. it was hard for me, because my legs instantly started to cramp as soon as we started to walk. I “needed” to keep running to keep the pain away. But I wanted us together, and J could barely move at all. I was proud of him for continuing the race.

Mile 26-26.2: We sprinted the last .2. It was tough for the both of us: J was hurting bad and my legs were so cramped from the running. But it felt amazing to sprint so hard and to finish the race.

We immediately got our medals, some food, more water, our free beers and our sweats. J went and soaked his feet in Lake Superior (many runners did that) and I just relaxed. It felt so unbelievable to be done.

Grandma’s Marathon was a great race because there are so many people who come to watch the race. There are radio stations, businesses, colleges, and high schools all represented throughout the race course. There were people dressed as Ronald McDonald, The Hamburglar, Elvis, grandmas, monkeys, anything. The volunteers were wonderful as well: the water stations were always stocked, the roads were all blocked and marked appropriately and using the shuttle bus service was a breeze. If (and I do mean IF) J and I run another marathon, it will definitely be Grandma’s.

Oh, and the best part:

Have you ever finished a race? How did you feel afterward?


9 Responses to “Running”

  1. Holly Says:

    I loved reading this! How amazing that you did a marathon! It really makes me want to do one but I had better tackle the 10K first!

  2. balancejoyanddelicias Says:

    really touching story about you and J! 🙂

  3. Kelly Says:

    Great job completing a marathon – I have dreams of running one, but don’t think my knees could handle the 26.2. Instead I do triathlons to help save my knees. 🙂

  4. John Roman Says:

    Congratulations on completing the marathon! I am from PA but also ran the 2010 Grandma’s Marathon (my 25th). I agree that the Hamburgler/Colonel Sanders/Ronald McDonald trio were welcome sites as we ran from Twin Harbors to Duluth!! Awesome city and awesome turnout for the race! I have to do that one again at some point myself!!

  5. John Roman Says:

    Congratulations! That is an awesome inspiration story! I am from PA but also ran the 2010 Grandma’s Marathon (my 25th)…it sounds like we were pretty close on the course based on my final time….I agree that the Hamburgler/Ronald McDonald/Colonel Sanders trio was a welcome site for me along the course….I saw them 3-4 times and also at the finish line…..folks like that who show up, dress up, and cheer really give me a boost during marathons!

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