Any weekend that involves stuffing ice cubes in one’s bra has got to be awesome. Am I right?
Jeff, Diana, Todd, Nicole M., Nicolette and I all made plans to head out to Duluth, MN for a fantastic Grandma’s Marathon weekend. For Jeff and Nicole M., it would be marathon #7 in state #7. For me, it would be marathon #13 in state #13. I figured both of their lucky number 7′s cancelled out my unlucky number 13 (this is how I do logic).
We decided to arrive on Thursday and attend the expo right away. I’m so glad we did because I got to meet Jeff Galloway, take a picture with him, and get a book signed!
Hanging out with Jeff Galloway
After the expo, we made our way to an Italian restaurant, had horrible food, a ton of laughs, and finished with just enough time for a glass of wine in the revolving restaurant at the top of our hotel.
Friday we slept in and branched out to explore Duluth. Nicole, Nicolette and I chose the route of “senior citizen” and opted for a complete bus tour of the course. We finished in Canal Park and did some sightseeing before having lunch at Grandma’s Saloon. After that it was relaxing, getting ready for the next day, and off to bed.
Sightseeing in Canal Park
Four a.m. wake up calls are never fun. Oh, and have you met me? If so, you know waking up is not one of my better skills in life. But somehow on marathon morning I get it done (we’ll credit anxiety for help with that). Jeff and I managed to board the bus from our hotel at 5:30 and Nicole M. got on hers right around the same time.
Grandma’s is a point to point course along the shoreline, so we were bussed a whole marathon distance away from the finish. The bus systems are great, take off from almost every hotel and dorm in the area, and get you there on time to gear-check and stretch before starting. We noticed right away on the bus ride how humid it was. Checking the weather on our phones showed over 90% humidity – many of us were sweating just sitting.
Our bus tour guide called this a “sea of humanity”
We found our way to our starting spots after an awesome fly by during the National Anthem, and then we were off! Nicole M. and I started with the 5:30 pacer, but not even three miles in and I had to drop back. Asthma and humidity have never blended well together for me and since I gave up caring about my finishing time, I decided to take it easy. Luckily, the aid stations were prepared. Water / Powerade / More Water / Ice were at every stop. Immediately, I started stuffing ice cubs in my hat and in my sports bra.
It’s amazing I didn’t pick up any boyfriends within those 26.2 miles. Because nothing says “sexy” like a sweaty asthmatic moving around ice chunks through her shirt.
On the course, around mile 5
After passing the best marathon signs ever (which I found out later from social media were made by Ann) the humidity let up. The sky went overcast, the breeze came off the lake, and I felt so much better.
Hey I just met you…
And this is crazy -
You’re running a marathon
So, finish, maybe?
Finally able to breathe, I just aimed to make it to next water station, or the next time I had to take another powergel. And it worked. Before I knew it, I was at my mental halfway point, mile marker 18. I was happy, carefree, and relaxed.
Until I wasn’t.
As if on cue, at mile marker 23, I started to feel awful. Coming up on the mile marker sign, it immediately started raining. But it was also at this moment I realized I could truly walk out the rest of the course and finish within the allotted seven hours and my knee and ankle were doing just fine. I swallowed down some “almost tears,” put “Call Me Maybe” on repeat, forced myself to be happy, and shuffled on.
Nicolette found me with a mile and a half to go and ran in with me until the end, where Nicole M. was there cheering! It was awesome. The finish line has tons of food choices, drink choices, and live bands playing. It was like a mini-festival! We hung out for a little bit and then were back to the hotel to nap and relax before going out to celebrate.
And we had a lot to celebrate – Jeff had a great time for his 7th, I finished my 13th, and Nicole M got a PR! She ended up feeling so great, she ran ahead of her pacer and did amazing.
It was a great trip in a great town with great friends. I loved the point-to-point course along the shoreline, and it felt like the entire town celebrated the runners.
Jeff, Nicole M., and myself. Finishers!
Minnesota is done!
Adding MN to the rack!