Friday, June 29, 2012

Grandma's Marathon ~ 26.2

We set our alarms for 4:44 AM, not 4:45 AM because it's better luck to wake at 4:44 AM.  {Something about all numbers the same on the digital clock and a wish.}  These summer days, that was a little early for me.  Plus nerves and somebody getting up for water, {which turned out to be more than just water}, made for a sleepless night.  I have come to expect a sleepless night before an unknown race.  I also have come to know that it all works out and sleep doesn't really matter the night before.

We dressed, had our coffee {a must}, bagels and headed out to meet the bus to take us to Two Harbors, MN.  It was really nice to have my sister with me getting ready and on the bus ride, somebody to talk with, share the experience with and our nervousness.  This was our first Marathon and I am super grateful to have had this experience with her.  Not only is she my sister but she is also my sole sister!

We arrived among many buses and unloading runners in Two Harbors about 45 minutes prior to the race start.  Which was only enough time to wait in line for the bathrooms, apply some sunscreen {the forecast called for clouds so we didn't think of it as we were getting ready in the dark and thankfully the start line had some} and I applied Ben Gay to my calves.  I figured it wouldn't hurt and really doesn't it just smell purty!  We lined up at the 5:00 hour mark.  That was about where I thought I'd be and I didn't really see any point in pushing through the already in place line to get any further, especially since I'd probably just get passed.  Tonya on the other hand probably would have benefitted getting closer to her time of 4:30.  But she stayed with me, what a sister!

The race started with the National Anthem and a fly by of two fighter jets.  That just sends chills all over when they go by!  Right on time, 7:45 AM the race started.  It took us four minutes to cross the start line. 

The weather was forecasted at cool, overcast with a slight wind NNE, which would be to our backs and coming off the lake.  Then for late runners {I like how I'd be considered a late runner and not a slow runner}  the winds would change to SSW and become really humid and rain.  I didn't mind the rain part at all but was dreading humid weather at the end of the race when I anticpated not having any energy left. 

While training during my long runs, I ran with a water belt but for the race I decided to take water at the water stops, which meant I would have to walk through them.  I wasn't the biggest fan of that but also didn't really want to run with the water belt.  I did pin a bunch of gel packs to my shorts so I could take those when needed.

As I mentined earlier there was a definite need for sunscreen as there wasn't a cloud in site.  The first miles went good, very normal, with the first water stop at mile three.  Every two miles after that, until mile 20 there was a water stop.  After mile 20 there was a water stop every mile.  I tried to take my gel packs every four miles figuring there would be a water stop a mile further.  It somewhat worked until at some point I needed the gel pack earlier and lost count where I was.   Then during the last few miles I think I piled a few in me so I wouldn't lose steam and look like a mess on Suprior Street.

It was hot.  Around mile eight I started thinking this was going to be tough, I had 18 miles to go {which was the furthest run I did in training} and I was already feeling like this is getting hard.  I just kept thinking to the next water station, where I'd get a short walk and then at mile 13 I'd see my family.  It was so helpful to know that they'd be there.  Even though I thought it was getting a little hard I was doing a 10 minute mile and saw the 4:30 pacer about 200 feet ahead of me.  I thought I might catch up, was over the moon thinking of that time at the finish, but as soon as I hit the 9 mile water stop I lost the pacer.  I stuck to my plan of walking through the water stops to make sure I got enough.  Maybe next time, maybe another race.

Right about this same time, mile 10, I started to feel a cooler breeze come off Lake Superior and was seeing more clouds.  WONDERFUL!  That's when things started to turn around and I was feeling really good.  At this same time there were many people passing me, many people were starting to walk and I just started taking the whole experience in.  Every mile that passed since mile three I thanked God for the experience, prayed for the runners and said a Hail Mary.

Towards the end of my training I was pretty tired of running.  Not so much the actual running but the time it was taking to do the runs and how much sacrifice it was for me, Adam and our family as a whole.  I firgured this would be my one and only marathon, so when I was out there I really took the time to relish in the experience.  This isn't something I usually do, more often than not, I plow through whatever it is just to move on to the next thing.  There was really something special about this marathon that kept me in the moment that I was.

There weren't any crowds gathered at mile 13 so I didn't see my family.  I knew it must not have been a good spot on the ajacent road for them to have stopped.  Instead I saw them at mile 14 and even then, I almost didn't.  I was looking and on the correct side of the road but unless Adam didn't holler my name (I paused my shuffle ahead of time so I could hear) I might have missed them.  I ran over and gave each kids a kiss as well as my husband.  What joy it was to see them and I was so thankful.  It really does something for your spirit and body to see family. 

Right after that I had to use the bathroom.  That was about a three minute stop.  Three minutes.

Somewhere around mile 20 I saw a man coming up on my left side, he was tethered to another man.  My first thoughts were something like, what's going on here and then my mind jumped to children with leashes on.  They passed me and then I saw the tail runner's shirt.  It read, "Guide for Blind Runner".   I was in awe, simply amazed.  I thought this was the most charitable thing I'd seen all day.  They kept pounding the pavement and I'd wished I would have said something.  Thankfully, I was able to pass them a little further down the road and I told them I thought they were the most amazing people I'd seen all race day.  They both turned and said thank you.  AMAZING.  If I remember correctly, they did end up finishing ahead of me.  I was also told that the guide did not have a race number on and therefor was truly only doing it for the other man.  What a God sighting that was!

Around mile 22 I took my last gel pack.  A little while later I started wondering why my heart was hurting.  I had a single thought of worry and then I remembered that my last gel pack is always with caffeine.  I guess I had enough adreneline that I didn't really need the caffeine.  {Note to self}  I was hoping to not look like I was about ready to die coming into the finish line and thought I better take all the energy I could.

I saw my Dad & Sally at Lake & Superior on the left side.  I saw Sally right away and she saw me but my Dad was looking further down the street and I had to holler, "Dad, Dad, Dad" before he finally turned before I was out of sight.  It was good to see them!

Then about 100 feet down the road I saw my nieces with bright pink signs that said, "My Auntie Rocks" and "Auntie Go Go" on them.  They were with my Mom & Jim.  Mom was snapping pictures.  Awesome to see more family!  Oh and this part of the road wasn't the best to run on.  I felt like I had to watch for all the uneven brick.

Then around the corner to the back side of the DECC where I found Henry, Karley, Sophie & my dear Adam.  He also snapped a few pictures.

Just after this you go under a bridge (I think it's Lake Street bridge) and turn the corner and then it's the last stretch.  Just after this spot a girl next to me was struggling and asked me, "Where's the finish line".  I so remember my first half marathon being in that same place, thinking it would never end.  I offered her some encouragement, knowing it was almost over.

I saw my family on the bridge and then I rounded the corner. 

I kept looking at my watch and wasn't exactly sure how this was going to end up.  I knew that there was about four minutes between gun time and my chip time and that at this point I knew I could have both of those times under five hours if I trucked.  So I pretty much started to sprint as much as I could.  It felt great, I could hear the clapping, was checking my watch, everything was great, calves started cramping really really bad.  There wasn't much I could do and I only had a few more feet to go.  I kept checking my watch and at the same time I wondered if I was going to curl up on the ground afterwards and look like an idiot after sprinting.  I knew that wasn't the smartest thing to do.   I had so many thoughts going through my head as I crossed the finish line, I meant to stop my watch but paused my shuffle instead.  Then I realized that I didn't have the shuffle on and had to hit pause again.  Finally found my watch and stopped that.  This all happens in a matter of seconds and you don't even know what you're doing.

I felt great at the end.  The cramps went away right away.  The weather was nice and cool, even so much that I grapped the foil things they give you after the race, which was great!  I grabbed so food, bagel, banana, salted nut roll, chocolate milk.  YUM.

It was a great race.  I love every part of it.  I didn't "hit the wall" towards the end like I thought I would.  I am very thankful for that. 

My Times:

Chip Time ~ 4:54:57
Gun Time ~  4:59:02

While my sister had a much better time than I did of 4:24, she didn't have a great race.  She felt sore the entire time and in the end she thought she could have had a better time.  As for me, I think I could shave off time by running with a water belt and only fill from my bottles vs walking through every water stop.  Otherwise I think my average mile time of 11:16 is about right for this kind of run for me.  Maybe I could beat it a little.....we'll see!

Thanks for all the well wishes, support and prayer.  I couldn't have done it without all that and it was only possible through God!

In Christ,



  1. Wow, that was a great race recap! Would you ever do one again? I am so amazed by you and all your smiling! I'm sure I would have had grimaces on my face...

    1. Yes Colleen, I think I would do one again. I thought about it in the Fall but we are so busy with house projects I'm going to wait until Spring. You would love a marathon!!

  2. Oh my goodness girl! You are inspiring!!


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