June 18, 2016 Mitch and I ran Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, MN. We ran the half last year and had a fun weekend in Duluth so we decided to go back for more this year.
For training I mostly followed Hal Higdon's Intermediate 2 plan. I didn't follow it exactly, but made sure to get the miles in during the week at some point. I also go to Orangetheory Fitness about 2 days per week, sometimes more, sometimes less. On the days I go to Orangetheory I might run 2.5 miles on the treadmill during class, then sometime later that day I'll run a few more to get up to the miles on the training plan. Generally all my runs were done at an easy pace, other than whatever we do at OTF.
Over the 18 weeks of the marathon training plan I averaged 38 miles per week and my highest week was 57 miles. I also want to note that I only did two 20-milers this time. Last time I did three, but we ran a half marathon on the weekend we were supposed to do one of the 20 milers and I had already run a 19 and two 17s so I thought that was good enough. One of the weeks I ran 17 miles I hit 51 miles total, which is more than HH has for his 20 mile weeks. I'm realizing total miles per week is generally more important than how long the longest run is.
When I ran Twin Cities I tried fat loading - where 13 days before the marathon I aimed to get 65% of my calories from fat for 10 days, then switched to 70% carbs for 3 days. I felt like I had an abundance of energy during that marathon and I ran it better than I thought I'd be able to so I decided to fat load again for Grandma's. I kind of felt like crap while I was doing it, my stomach wasn't too happy with me about every other day, but I made it through and lost about 4 pounds too which is a nice bonus :). I also decreased my coffee consumption for 2 weeks, hoping I'd have more kick from caffeine on race morning.
Thursday June 16 we arrived in Duluth, picked up our race packets, checked into our bed and breakfast and then headed to dinner at Fitgers. I love their wild rice burgers so I get one every time we go to Duluth. I also had a beer but for some odd reason I wasn't really in the mood for it so I only drank half. Then we walked to the bar Tycoons where we had stopped last year on our way back from the half marathon. I had a glass of wine which went down much easier.
Staying at a bed and breakfast is awesome, so quiet and peaceful. Friday morning Mitch and I went for a short, easy 2 mile run, then cleaned up and waited for food. Breakfast Friday was a hashbrown casserole, fruit with yogurt, zucchini bread and blueberry scones and we ate every bite. After that we walked around downtown and shopped a little. I felt really tired and groggy and I had a headache so I just focused on drinking water and hoped I'd feel better for race day. Our dinner reservation was early at 4:00 so we just had an appetizer for lunch at Fitgers (hummus w/ pita and veggies). Dinner was at Va Bene Caffe - seemed appropriate to have Italian food the day before a marathon! Mitch had mahi mahi with angel hair pasta and I had a pasta and sausage dish. Then we had some gelato for dessert - I had mango sorbetto, yum. We also had wine with dinner and that night I was actually in the mood for beer so I had one when we got back to our room. We got our race things together and turned in early for the night.
Saturday morning my alarm went off at 4:15 and I pressed snooze a couple times. I was tired! Eventually I got up and got a cup of coffee, bagel with peanut butter, a hardboiled egg and a banana. The B&B we stayed at is great and sets out a "runners breakfast" with tons of options. We had to catch a shuttle between 5:45-6:15 to the start, and we chose to walk downhill a few blocks to the Edgewater Hotel to catch ours. Another choice was UMD but that was a walk uphill a few blocks, and the hills in Duluth are no joke so we decided to take the easy route. We left our bed & breakfast at 5:40 and there was no wait for a shuttle. The ride to the start took about 30 minutes so we were there in plenty of time to use the porta potties a couple times and sit around and wait for the start.
Temps at the start were about 68º, definitely warmer than I'd like. Flags were green though, low risk to runners. With my last half marathon of 1:50 I thought I would try for a 3:55 marathon. I ran Twin Cities in 4:00:32 and I felt better trained this time, but the weather was quite a bit warmer. So we decided to start by the 4 hour pacer and hope just to come in under 4 hours. I took an espresso gel 10 minutes before the start and at about 7:45am we were off. We crossed the finish line just behind the 4 hour pacer but quickly moved in front of him and then didn't see him for a while.
8:43, 8:50, 8:57, 8:52, 8:52
I thought we started out a little too fast but we were just trying to go by feel and it felt comfortable, not too hard. Water stops were at 3 & 5 and we walked through them, drinking water & powerade at 3 and taking a gel with water at 5.
9:04, 8:54, 9:14, 9:25, 9:05
9:04, 8:54, 9:14, 9:25, 9:05
We walked through water stops at 7 and 9, drinking water and powerade at both. Mitch ducked into the woods to go to the bathroom so I stopped for a bit to stretch and then ran more slowly to let him catch up. Every once in a while we'd have some shade from trees and a nice cool breeze would blow in off the lake, but for the most part it was warming up quickly.
9:06, 9:11, 9:16, 8:40, 8:58
9:06, 9:11, 9:16, 8:40, 8:58
I took another gel at mile 11 and drank as much from the water stops as I could get down. They were still every other mile at this point, but I wanted to make sure I didn't get too dehydrated. I ducked into the woods to go to the bathroom around mile 11 because I didn't want to lose time waiting in line for a porta potty. Of course around mile 12 there were tons of empty porta potties lined up. Oh well.
We were taking longer to walk through the water stops, my calves were getting tight and I was getting hot and tired. I took another espresso gel at mile 17, hoping the shot of caffeine would help. I was really starting to look forward to those water stops so I could walk a little.
9:11, 8:59, 9:15
The 4 hour pacer was right behind us so that motivated me to pick up the pace a little. My left hamstring started feeling tight and I thought I was going to have to walk, but I just slowed down for a little bit and it felt better again. It was so hot, I grabbed a cup of ice and dumped it down my sports bra, every once in a while I sucked on a cube to try to keep cool. At water stops I'd drink a cup, then pour a cup down my back.
I really enjoyed having the pacer there to tell us how to look up when we run, relax the shoulders, let your knuckles touch your hips. It gave me something else to think about other than how bad my feet were hurting. Mitch, however, dropped back at mile 21. The heat really got to him. The sun was on us full time, it was unrelenting. I noticed the water stops now flew black flags - high risk for runners.
I walked through water stops and the pacer did not so I had to run faster to catch back up to him. I was grabbing all the water and powerade I could, sponges and ice to try to keep cool. I never really felt the urge to slow down or walk though so I just kept going. I took my final gel at 23. I wasn't sure I needed it but didn't want to run out of gas that close to the finish either.
The homestretch. Running through downtown Duluth where there were tons of people. I had hoped the buildings would provide some much needed shade, but all they did was prevent any sort of breeze so it felt like an oven. The pacer kept getting ahead to whoop up the crowd, and I felt like I had to work harder and harder to keep up with him.
I felt like I had a kick at the end but my hamstring tightened up and would not let me run much faster. I sneaked in front of the pacer and stayed in front of him until the finish. I saw the balloons and finally the finish!!
Official finish time: 3:58:00
Official finish time: 3:58:00
After the race I drank 3 bottles of chocolate milk and had half a bagel with peanut butter. I didn't feel like I could eat any more than that. I had some decent blisters on my feet so I was really glad I had my flip flops in my checked bag. We made our way to the beer tent and enjoyed some well deserved beer and listened to music. After a couple hours I ate a slice of pizza which was great. We ended up walking to Sir Benedicts Tavern and I had an avocado and bacon sandwich, tasty! Then we walked all the way back to our bed and breakfast. My sciatic nerve (I assumed that's what it was) hurt when I sat too long so it felt good to walk slowly. We finally got cleaned up and then finished our wine from dinner the night before and went to bed.
My right calf felt sore the next day, but I was able to walk downstairs normally and overall felt OK other than some pretty good sunburn and the blisters on my feet.
I'm taking the next couple weeks really easy, then hoping I can start training for Twin Cities. Fingers crossed that is a much cooler race!