Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Grandma's Marathon

Race: Grandma's Marathon
Date: 22 June 2013
Location: Duluth, MN
Distance: 26.2
Time: 3:47:37
Female: 465/2343
19-34F Age Group: 254/1163
Marathon # 15
Garmin Link:Grandma's Marathon

I love this race!  The course is scenic with nice, small rolling hills, cool temperatures and great crowd support.  I have never run a race with so much enthusiasm from the community both before and after the race. Best of all, I have also set a PR both times I have run this race.  Overall, the course, fans and friends made this a race worth running again!
I made the trip with Mark and a group of runners from Oklahoma City.  Mark and I arrived in Duluth Thursday before the race.  We had a long day of travel (including missing our flight thanks to me) and a foggy drive from Minneapolis.  We never actually had a good view of the lake thanks to the weather conditions.  It was also much colder than Oklahoma City, and I'm a cold weather wimp, so I needed a jacket the entire trip.  The low temperatures did however make for perfect race conditions.  Saturday morning we woke up early to catch a train to the start in Two Rivers.  This is the only race I know of that shuttles runners to the start via rail.  It was much more relaxing than a school bus, plus we had access to a bathroom.  The day started out overcast and chilly with a 10 mph wind out of the north (tailwind all the way!!).  Because I'm whip, I was bundled up and steeling body heat from Mark.  The start was crowded and we had a hard time finding our friends.  The gun went off and out of nowhere, our pace buddy finally appears.  Actually, we could hear him running up behind us, he was wearing a poncho that swished.  Grandma's is point to point running along Lake Superior along the highway.  The first half of the race is tree-lined with intermittent views of the lake.  There are also several small, quaint towns along the way that spectators gather at to cheer on the runners.  The race traces through rural Minnesota toward Duluth.  The start is always the hardest for me, I have a tendency to start out too fast, so I was constantly reminder myself to slow down.  My strategy was to run slow for the first 5 miles, then increase my pace by 10 seconds per mile every 5 miles after that.  At mile 20, I was going to give it everything I had left in the tank.  I stuck to this plan for the most part.  It wasn't until about mile 21 that I started to feel tired and started reminding myself to run, not walk.  At this point, the course enters the city.  I love this part of the race because the local residents line the streets cheering us on.  People are playing music, serving beer (no, I was not tempted this time) and screeming.  There are so many people cheering on runners the last 2 miles, I felt like an elite runner leading the pack (in reality I was somewhere in the middle of the pack, struggling to keep my pace).  The race finishes downtown near Grandma's Bar and Saloon.  Once I crossed the finish line, I was so cold!!!  Did I mention I'm a wimp????  I retrieved my gear bag, wrapped my self in a blanket and proceeded to the party boat.  Yes, a friend's family has a boat with heat, food and adult beverages :)  It was the perfect place to warm up and relive the race.      

Of course, no race is complete without a trip to a brewery.  Thankfully there are a few near the finish.  After a few brews and food, I was ready for bed :)



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