“Why is it called Grandma’s marathon?” I asked that question multiple times and discovered it was named after a chain of restaurants in Duluth and the race’s first major sponsor. I personally believe that it is called Grandma’s because of how you walk very, very, very s l o w l y and hold up traffic every time you cross a street for days after the race. Whatever the reason may be, it was a beautiful course along Lake Superior from Two Harbors to Duluth, MN.
My goal for my third marathon was to run a BQ (Boston Qualifier). I have dreams to one day add “running coach” to my resume and before I pursue that, I want to run Boston. When I think about running in the Boston marathon I literally get butterflies. It is the ultimate achievement as a runner in my eyes. You must first qualify to be given the chance to register, and even if you do run a qualifying time, it isn’t guaranteed you’ll get in. The faster you run, the sooner you can register and if it’s sold out before it gets to you… tough luck. The symbol of the Boston Marathon is a unicorn, which is believed to have been chosen due to its place in mythology. Chinese and other mythologies regard the figure as an ideal and something to be pursued but which can never be caught. If that doesn’t make you want to run it, I’m not sure what will!
Having never trained for a specific time goal, I decided to hire an online running coach. Amanda (@run2pr) has been an Instagram inspiration to me and I committed to her 4 month training program. The encouragement and accountability from her during my training was without a doubt worth it. I felt 100% prepared for the race after training 6 days/week for the past 4 months. On June 17, I ran a personal best of 3:45.26, beating my previous time by 15 minutes, but missing the qualifying time by 10 minutes. Looking back, there were things I can identify that I did really well and things I know I could have done better. I hope that you can learn from me sharing my successes and mistakes!
What could have gone better:
- Nutrition. Don’t get me wrong- I eat primarily whole foods and generally stay away from fast food, processed foods, excessive alcohol and sugar. But I know I can clean up my eating even more to make my body the healthiest, leanest, and most efficient it can be.
- Not moving. This was obviously unavoidable and 100% worth it, but moving while training for a marathon and taking a cross-country road trip during my peak week was a major challenge! Thank God for my coach’s accountability and my supportive husband during that week, because running in a different city every day was mentally tough. I was in unfamiliar places, spending the majority of the day in the car and eating out/on the road every meal.
- Going with my gut… NOT a pacer during the race. I have told people a million times… “Don’t go out too fast! That first mile can make or break your race.” You can only imagine my surprise when the first mile I ran with my 3:35 pace group (8:12/mile) was 7:53. 19 seconds faster than race pace. I ran with him for the first 8 miles, all of which were 1-2 seconds over or under 8 minutes/mile, before dropping back. In the future, I will be sure to keep an eye on my watch and drop back sooner if the pace is too fast.
- Downloading my Spotify playlist. Heads up, if you’re running Grandma’s, the reception along the lake is extremely limited. No service = no music. Oops.
What DID go well:
- Staying committed to my training plan. Every run got done, no excuses. Didn’t matter if it was somewhere I’d never been before, what the weather was, didn’t feel like it, or didn’t want to.
- Staying hydrated and fueled along the course. The race day temps were high 60’s and high humidity. By the second half of the race, I was running through the water stations, half drinking/half spilling 3 water cups at every one. I ran under as many of the locals’ sprinklers as I could and stayed on the shady side of the street. Dehydration in marathon is NOT worth the few extra seconds you would shave off your time by not taking water.
- Having FUN! I may not have gotten my BQ, but I focused on knowing I gave it every ounce of physical and mental strength I had in me. I focused on my 15 minute PR instead of beating myself up about not hitting my goal. And I focused on the fact that I was able to run this race with some of my absolute BEST friends from college. Sore legs? No problem. You better believe we went out until 1AM that night dancing in Duluth!
Reunited again! Milwaukee beach, race expo and carbo-load dinner in Duluth.
Pre- Race bus ride and porta-potty lines
POST RACE! WE DID IT!
Call us crazy…
Speaking of crazy… I signed up for another marathon! I will be running the California International Marathon (CIM) in Sacramento on December 3. Known as “the fastest course in the West,” I will once again chase my goal of running a sub-3:35 marathon, learning from my past mistakes and building on the conditioning I’ve done the past 5 months. In the words of Kara Goucher, “Once you make the decision that you will not fail, the heart and body will follow.”