Grandma’s Marathon 2011 Race Report

Finisher’s Shirt and Medal – 35 years of Grandma’s

The other swag because it was 35th year – we got a free water bottle and AWESOME backpack thingy with zipper pouch

The Details:

  • Chip Time:  4:14:42
  • Avg Pace: 9:44
  • OA place:  3387 out of 6333
  • Female:  1098 out of 2678
  • Age group (F35-39): 181 out of 389

The details you know you are really curious about:

  • F-bombs: 5  (surprising, given my time)
  • Tears:  yes, at the finish line

My Goals:

  • As you know, my time goals were ambitious.  I wanted between 3:40 – 3:49:40.  I was trained for it and really thought it was do-able.  I was mentally and physically ready.   Result:  Fail!
  • My other goal was to have fun.  Result:  Mostly achieved.  I actually did have fun until mile 25.  From mile 25 – the finish was the worst mile I’ve ever raced.

The day before the race:  Full report of Grandma’s pre-race festivities here.

Night before the race:

  • I was reading and getting very sleepy and ready to turn out the light (and think I would have fallen asleep good), but then about 8:30 p.m. the fire alarm went off in the hotel.  And it was LOUD!  And it wasn’t stopping.  Ugggg.  So I did what anyone looking for a BQ would do in that situation, I grabbed my purse, garmin, my running shoes and my race number (already pinned to my shirt!) and headed out the door.  If the hotel was going to burn down, I still planned on making it to the starting line.   Turns out it was a false alarm – some little kid thought it would be funny to pull the fire alarm.  Of course the alarm continued SHRIEKING for a good 10 minutes til the fire department could come and give an all-clear.

Yes, that is my stuffed bear, Bear, crammed in my purse.  He goes everywhere with me and I wasn’t about to let him burn.

  • When I got back to the room after the false fire alarm, it was about 8:45.  My heart was racing and my ears were ringing.  But, through the ringing of my ears I could hear the people in the room right next to me starting to party.  There was a woman with the most irritating shriek and laugh ever.  So I did what anyone hoping to BQ the next morning would do.  I called the front desk with a noise complaint.  At 9:00 p.m.  🙂  When I told my brother this the next day he asked, “Did they ask you if you were 70 years old, calling in with a noise complaint at 9:00 p.m.?!?”   Well, it worked, the front desk called them and they immediately quieted down.
  • I finally settled down and fell asleep about 10:45 and woke up before my alarm even went off at 3:45 a.m.  (Woke up about every hour from excitement and to pee, but was able to fall right back asleep each time).  This was MUCH better than the first time I ran Grandma’s where I literally got about 2 hours of sleep.

Race Day:

It was raining when I woke up and the radar looked like it would continue raining right through the beginning of the race.  I wasn’t super worried about it though.  I had a feeling it would clear up and end up ok.  My biggest concern had been staying dry before the race, so that I gave myself a fighting chance.   I ended up doing a couple of things which for racing in the rain which were definitely smart and which are tips I would strongly recommend to anyone racing a marathon when rain is predicted before the start:

  1. I wore an old pair of running shoes to the starting line.  This ended up being really smart because on the walk over to where the train was, I had to walk through a couple huge puddles and my feet were soaked.
  2. I threw an extra pair of dry running socks in with my race shoes.
  3. I brought a mini umbrella with and used it on my walk over to the train (and would have used it at the starting line if I needed to and then ditched it).
  4. I brought a big black plastic garbage bag with, which I ended up using at the starting line after I had already peeled off and discarded my old ugly sweats.  I had seen lots of people do this at other raced and figured I’d give it a try.  WOW – I was really surprised how warm it kept me.  I think if I hadn’t done that my muscles would have tightened up.

Grandma’s is somewhat unique in that you have to take a bus or train to the start line.  Last time I did Grandma’s I took the bus and it was ok (a little yellow school bus), but you end up getting to the start with a good hour to go and there is NO tent or shelter whatsoever to stand around in at the start line.  This year my hotel was closer to DECC, which is where the train leaves from, so I took the train.  WOW!  That was really the way to go.  It was comfy, there were bathrooms and it moved pretty slow, so we literally got there with only 1/2 hour til the start time.  You could have stayed on the train longer if you wanted too, but I ended up getting off just because I’m anal and wanted to make sure I got to the start without having to hurry.

On the train I sat across from a guy from New Mexico who was racing with his daughter, trying to support her as she tried for the Olympic B Qualifying time.  I looked her up later and she made it, with room to spare (and he crossed the finish line with her).  Good for her!

The Race:

The weather ended up being great.  About 50 degrees at the start, dropped to about 48 at finish.   Tailwind of about 10mph, I think.  Overcast the whole day.  It didn’t rain during the entire race.  Ideal running weather.

My plan had been to take the first couple miles slow, at 8:40 pace, and then drop down gradually, so that I’d be at 8:34 pace at 10k mark, 8:23 pace by HM mark, 8:15 pace by 20 miles, then hang on for 8:23 finish.

Miles 1 – 5: 

  • Plan was working.  I started out slow the first mile and felt ok.  Dropped my pace like I had planned on the next miles.  By breathing felt a little bit labored and it felt a little humid to me though.  When I look at the heart rate numbers, I do think it was a bit humid in the early miles because my HR was higher for a slower pace.
  • The 3:40 pacer went by me about 1/2 mile in and I was VERY glad that I wasn’t with him.  He was cruising and it wasn’t long before they were way in front of me and I never saw them again.   I had planned on starting slower though, so I wasn’t freaked out or worried at all.
  • Splits: 8:42, 8:31, 8:22, 8:26, 8:26

Miles 6 – 11:

  • Things continued to go ok.  If anything I felt like I was going a bit faster than I had planned, so I was forcing myself to slow down.  Though, if I’m being completely honest, the pace FELT harder than it should have (certainly harder than that pace felt in my medium effort training runs) and I’m not sure I would have been able to sustain it for 26.2.  It didn’t FEEL like it was my day to meet my goals (even before my injuries/issues).
  • I would occasionally think negative thoughts (just after the 5 mile mark I thought about having 21 more miles to go and feeling like that was impossible;  I also started thinking about how I wished it felt easer, and “shouldn’t this feel easier?”).  Each time I had a negative thought I forced myself to push them aside and think of something else.  I used the mantra thing alot – chanting to myself “I am fit.  I am strong.  I am fast.”
  • At one point when I was feeling a bit discouraged with how long I still had to go, I reached to my neck to feel my new Sporty Girl necklace, which I had custom made with MY mantra on it  (“Make Today Count“).  Ugggg.  It wasn’t there.  I had forgot to put it on, even though I laid it out.  I found myself feeling for my necklace several times during the race and even though it wasn’t there, I would think about making today count and I would get a little extra burst of energy.  (Note:  i couldn’t find it anywhere in the hotel room later, but Meghan found it for me.  Yeah!).
  • Overall I was happy, because I was still on pace for a decent race, though I honestly felt like 3:40 would not be happening today.
  • Splits: 8:33, 8:32, 8:32, 8:39, 8:22, 8:36.

Mile 12:

  • Something happened during mile 12 to my right inside thigh/groin area.  Same place it felt tweaked during Little Rock.  I tried to ignore it and hoped it was my imagination.  It wasn’t.   I slowed my pace a little, hoping it would go away if I eased up on the pace.  It didn’t.
  • Split: 8:42

Mile 13 – 18:

  • The issue with my upper right thigh/groin didn’t go away (and wouldn’t for the rest of the race).  After I crossed the HM mat I stopped for 10 – 15 seconds and stretched it and it felt SO MUCH BETTER to do that.  It was still there, but after I would stretch it I would be able to run for about another mile without it bugging me (but at a slower pace).
  • So my new plan became to focus on having fun, letting myself stop when I needed to in order to stretch it so I could keep going, and to just take in the day.
  • I stopped about every 1.5 miles and stretched.
  • I took in the spectators at the few places that they were along this stretch.
  • Even though my pace was much slower than I would need in order to meet my A, B or C time goal, I was really honestly ok with that.
  • I felt relieved that the issue that I was having didn’t seem to be an “injury” and that I knew I could finish the race and have a decent day.
  • Splits:  9:03, 8:53, 9:09, 9:09, 9:25, 9:45

Mile 19 – 25:

  • I knew my family would be at mile 19 and it was SO GREAT to see the happy faces of my parents, Meg, Carter and Meghan’s friend Kallie.  The last split that they had seen of mine on the  email tracking was the HM split, so they thought I was on track.  I think they were surprised to see me stop and talk with them, instead of waving and running by.  I told them about my leg issue and that I just needed to stop and stretch and it wouldn’t be my day.    LOVED the boost of energy I got from seeing them.
  • The miles did get harder and slower, and I was stopping at least once during every mile to stretch the right thigh.  But I was still ok with it.  I was still having fun.
  • I finally saw the troll display that I somehow managed to miss in previous years I’d run the full or half.  (Found this link to the troll picture and some other really fabulous shots by this professional photographer, Derek Montgomery).  Very cool!
  • I high-fived little kids, drunk college guys, and even a rhubarb (weird, I know).
  • Lemon Drop hill felt harder than it should have, because it really is just a tiny hill.  I’m pretty sure that was where I let out my first F-bomb, which really wasn’t bad that it took me until mile 22 for that to happen.
  • I saw The Family (plus my brother!) again by Pizza Luce around mile 24.5.  Another fun boost of energy.
  • Splits:  10:00, 10:24, 11:11 (bathroom break), 11:41, 11:02, 11:58, 12:12
  • Still not the race I wanted time-wise, but I was having fun.

Mile 25 – Mile 26.2 (otherwise known as the longest/worst 1.2 miles of my life!):

  • I knew my family they whip down Lake Street and watch me on the bridge as I came to the end of Mile 25, so I planned on finishing through the rest of the race strong.   Nope.
  • Right at the start of mile 25 something started hurting on the outside edge of my right knee.  Ugggg.  My IT band.  It would hurt while I ran, so I would stop and walk and it would be fine.  But I didn’t want to be walking, this was a marathon RACE, so I would try to run again and it would hurt.  Really bad.  And my right thigh still needed stretching.  So the whole last mile became a series of:  try running, knee kills, stop, stretch thigh, rub knee, walk a second, get pissed that I was walking, try running, knee kills.  Repeat. Over and over and over.  The “running” I was doing at the end was shuffling.  It was embarrassing.  And irritating.  And frustrating.  And maddening.  I had been ok with my slow pace when I knew it was something I could deal with that wasn’t a real injury, but this knee thing HURT and I know from previous experience that with the IT band injury I will be out from running for a good couple of weeks, and that made me mad.  Ugggg.
  • I was getting passed by SO many people.  It felt like everyone around me had so much energy and was just flying by me.  It was so frustrating not to be able to move at more than a shuffle.  I seriously questioned whether I would even be able to get to the finish line.
  • Just before the bridge I saw my cousin and his little kids (whose mom Carey ran a kick ass first marathon, feeling great and never experiencing pain!).  I mustered up enough energy to veer over to them and give them high fives.
  • In the last .2 miles, I was moving so slow that I kept seeing my family pop up everywhere.  Seriously, like 5 different times they were able to run along and work their way up to the fence and yell encouragement.  That’s how slow I was moving.
  • The last 1.20 miles took me 18:18 seconds!  And, thanks to technology the results told me that in the last 1.2 miles I passed ZERO people and I was passed by 348 people!!!
  • I cried when I crossed the finish line.  Not happy tears this time, angry tears.
  • Ugggggg!
  • Split:  18:18

But, I finished.  I have another medal and finishers shirt.  Marathon #7 is in the books.

We bumped into my cousin-in-law, Carey, after the race and I was SO HAPPY to hear that she finished and finished strong.  She said she felt great and kept waiting for the pain that everyone talked about to start happening, and it never did.  Yipee!

Me and Carey

After every single marathon I’ve done, I’ve sworn that I would never run another one again.  But within hours of finishing, I was starting to think about when my next one will be.  It’s been 30 hours since I crossed the finish line of Grandma’s and I have NOT started planning for the next one this time.

8 thoughts on “Grandma’s Marathon 2011 Race Report

  1. Amazing! Your post made me cry yet again today. I feel like your yesterday was my today, but I let the negativity take over. You finished and that is all that matters, weaker people probably would have quit. Congrats!!

  2. You had a tough race. I’m so sorry it didn’t go the way you had planned. The more and more marathons I run, the more I realize they usually never go as planned. How’s your IT band today?

    I did enjoy your “night before the race” and laughed at what you grabbed when you heard the fire alarm go off. Of course, I would have done the exact same thing!

    I always wear trash bags to the start of races. People make fun of me but don’t knock it til you try it!

  3. missy lai


    i’m horribly disappointed and bummed for you so i can’t imagine how you are feeling. i will just say that after all these attempts, when you succeed, and you WILL, the victory will be so, so sweet.

    and i can’t wait to read THAT blog post 🙂


  4. Cliche as it sounds you have to remind yourself of the millions of people that never toe up at a race or even push themselves off the couch and head outside. We are the fortunate few that have this opportunity and the perseverance to enjoy such an endeavor that is the Marathon. This thought and a few other mantras often get me through the hard miles and put things into perspective after a race.

    As I was slugging through the trails in a downpour Saturday morning I had my fingers crossed that the Grandma Marathoners were not doing the same on their way to Duluth. As it turns out you had ideal wether to enjoy a “casual” jog back to Duluth.

    Best of luck working out that IT band issue – I’ve been there and know what you went through. I found that a roller does great things to work out the tightness.

    Congratulations on another Marathon!

  5. Mindi

    Sorry it took me so long to pop in. I too am super disappointed for you.

    Continue to heal up and look forward.

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