Last Friday, Jim (my running partner), Sophie and I left Pine City around 11:30 to try to beat the marathon/weekend traffic into Duluth. I'm glad we left when we did, because traffic was already slow with construction. By shortly after 1:00 we were in Duluth. After a quick lunch, we hit the expo. The expo was a zoo. It seemed that they maybe had more booths this year but in the same amount of space . . . I found it difficult to really look around because there were just so many people. I did end up running into an old friend who my husband and I worked with back in 1998 when we were all working at a state park together. He was running his first marathon (and ended up running a 3:40!).
Sophie decorated a nice Run Mommy Run sign for me for Saturday . . .
After wrapping up at the expo (and a quick trip to the Duluth Running Co. store to use some coupons), we kept driving north to our hotel in Silver Bay. Silver Bay is about 25 miles north of the Two Harbors, where the race starts. While it made for a little more driving, it was nice to be out of the chaos of Duluth.
Friday night we relaxed - hung out in the pool, ordered dinner in, and waited for my mom and sister to show up.
After a kind of late night Friday (my mom and sister had a LONG drive from the cities), I was up at 4:45 and ready to go. The weather forecast was for cool weather and rain. Cool weather? Lovely. Rain? Please not too much. Although it poured on the folks running the half marathon (which started at 6:30), the rain had pretty much died off by the time the full started.
After a quick breakfast of an English Muffin with peanut butter and a banana in the hotel, we took a hotel shuttle to a grocery store parking lot in Two Harbors, and then a big yellow school bus to the start line. My stomach was grumbling a little, so as soon as we got to the starting area, I got in the ridiculously long lines for the porta potties. Lots of people were abandoning the line to get to the start, but I wasn't giving up. I wanted to go before the race started.
I made it through the line and into the porta potty, and to the starting line just before the race started. Of course, this meant starting at the very back of the pack. The clock was at about 8 minutes when I finally crossed the start line.
I didn't really have any time goals for this race. I wasn't sure how my body would handle two marathons in less than 30 days. And with the back issues I have been having, I hadn't run more than 4 miles since Fargo. All I knew was that I really wanted to beat my Fargo time (5:24) and I would be ecstatic if I made it under 5 hours.
The first few miles went by really quickly. I had some stomach pain but just kept telling myself to ignore it and it would go away. Around my 7-8, the stomach pain was at its worst. A girl came up behind me and started talking to me - she complimented me on my outfit, and then we started talking about all sorts of things. Turns out we graduated from the same college (me about 100 years before her, of course). This was just the distraction I needed. We ran together chatting until the mile 9 water stop.
At mile 11 I was feeling better stomach wise but still anxious about the miles left to go. I had been plugging along well - running and stopping to walk only for a little bit at the water stops. I stuck my headphones in and listened to music, which was a nice distraction. I love thinking "only two more songs to the next mile marker."
By this time we had caught up with and passed the 5:30 pacers and the 5:00 pacers. I wasn't sure if they had 4:45 pacers and was hoping we would maybe catch them. I was very conscious of not wanting those 5:00 pacers to catch me.
Around mile 19 we saw the sign welcoming us into Duluth. What a welcome sight! I felt a huge energy boost knowing we were coming into a more populated area and getting that much closer to the finish.
Miles 20 through 26.2 were awesome. That's right, I said awesome. I have never felt so strong at the end of a marathon before. I was still taking my short walk breaks at the water stops, but felt so strong running between them. There were more groups of spectators in this area, and music playing, and just the extra energy of knowing the finish line was close. I felt like a train. Not a train wreck, just a train, chugging towards the finish line. I took my headphones out around mile 22 so I could enjoy the crowds and the finish.
There was a clock at the mile 25 marker and, although I don't remember what it read now, when I saw it I knew I would finish under 5 hours. I was so happy! I couldn't wait to round the corner and look for my mom, sister, and Sophie. I kept running strong towards the finish, searching the spectators for my family. I crossed the line, with the clock time reading 4:58:ish. As soon as I crossed the line, I saw my mom just past the finish line. I actually started running again to run over to her - and ran right past the folks handing out medals. Dork! My mom told me to turn around and get my medal, and snapped a great picture of me getting my race bling.
I was so excited to have run such a strong race. It was perfect running weather (not so perfect for the 3 mile walk back to the car after the race, though - brr!). A great experience at Grandma's. Although I was very stiff Sunday and Monday, I am recovering well - went to Kettlebells Tuesday night, ran 3 miles yesterday, and had a good swim this morning. Tomorrow is my first triathlon of the year. Hope you all have a great weekend!