Finally! A Grandma’s Marathon Recap

Ok, so now that I’ve kept you in suspense for oh…about 4.5 months…Here are my official results from my very first full marathon! (Warning…lengthy post ahead!)


25M 4:06:07
23.1M 3:48:38
19.3M 3:10:28
16.2M 2:40:42
13.1M 2:08:58
10K 1:02:58
Average Pace 9:47 per mile (view kilometer pace)
Since this is my first ever race recap, I’m not sure where to begin. SO I’ve plastered my finishing time on here and I’ll just start rambling from the beginning!
I picked my sister up on Friday morning to head up north to Duluth. My sis accompanied me since Hubs had something else going on this weekend. Yes, I know this was my first full and I tried to whine and kick and scream to make him cancel his plans…but he won. That’s where sisters come in! I know he really wanted to be there and I was very disappointed that he couldn’t, but I was very happy that one of my sisters was able to accompany me.
We made the slow (thanks to road construction season…yes, here in MN road construction is its own season) uneventful trip up to the North Shore. We stopped for lunch at a Subway and got into Duluth I think around 3pm. We checked into the Holiday Inn downtown and got settled into the room and headed down the DEC for the expo. One complaint I do have about this event is that every single hotel in the area doubles their per night cost and require a 2-night minimum. I haven’t traveled to any other marathon events, so if you do, is this common for hotels to do?? If so I think I may stick to local races!
We went through the expo, checked out some vendors and then headed out to watch the 5k race. It was warm, but not overly hot, but the guy that was going to finish first collapsed into the crowd probably 50m from the finish! I hope he was ok!  We went to Grandma’s Restaurant for supper. I ate some chicken penne pasta dish that was tasty. We walked around Canal Park for a little while and decided to head back to the room so I could get my stuff ready and work on some homework.
My amazing nieces made me a sign!
One of my awesome nephews made me this poster

The outfit for the race!

The morning of the race and I’m ready!
One of my favorite sayings is, “Never underestimate the power of prayer”. The weather was initially in the “red zone” because of the humidity. It was supposed to rain from the start, it also called for a wind out of the SW (a headwind the whole 26.2 miles), and like a gazillion% humidity. I prayed, and prayed, and prayed when I went to bed for the weather to cooperate and change. By gosh when I woke up and went outside it was sunny, and hardly any wind. I didn’t need my throw away outfit, but I did wear the fleece top just in case I needed it at the start.
I was disappointed because in the years past the hotels have had a spread of bagels, orange juice, coffee, water, and bananas.  So I got up, showered, got dressed, and got ready to go downstairs. I didn’t make coffee because I thought they had some downstairs. I also didn’t bring any pre-race fuel because I assumed they had some downstairs. Just to be clear, I did check the website and it did say there was coffee and pre-race goodies. I must’ve gotten confused because they had a table the day before at check in with some stuff on there, so I assumed there would be on race morning as well. Apparently not. I realized quickly that the website was referring to the coffee shop downstairs and you had to pay for everything. Which is fine, but I didn’t bring any money. So back up to the room, grabbed some cash and went back down for java and my english muffin with peanut butter. After I shoveled that in I headed outside to stand in line for the bus. Up to the starting line we go! They literally bus you up by Two Harbors 26.2 miles outside of town and drop you off. Guess you have no choice but to run back to town! I don’t have any pictures because I didn’t take my camera with me. I gave it to my sister to take photos at the finish.
The lines for the port-a-potties were ridiculous and random. I warmed up, stretched, they sang the National Anthem and we’re off!! Not even a couple miles in my stomach starts to rumble and I needed to stop. I stopped 4 times through the whole course! I decided to not bring my handheld water bottle with me because they had water stops almost every mile. The sun was warm and the wind had picked up but changed directions and was out of the NE so we had a nice tailwind blowing us all back into town. So I took a water and a Powerade at every water station. I knew I had to stay hydrated! For fuel I brought Honey Stingers and Clif Shot Bloks. I think I started taking them at mile 6 and then took a couple every few miles. My IT band felt pretty good through the race, but my right knee started to bother me around mile 17. Eventually that went away and I continued on. When you come into town the crowd support got even better. There were so many people cheering! The best part is when you turn the corner with a couple miles to finish and you start to head into downtown. The street turns to pavers and the crowds make so much noise it echoes off the tall buildings! The feeling you get when you run through that area is incredible. I’m not sure if I was on some crazy runner’s high or what, but I sped up, I felt great, and I knew I was so close to the finish. I had worked so hard for this for months and the time had finally come to cross that finish line!
Despite stopping 4 times, I finished in 4:16:19. I wanted to negative split and I thought I ran the second half stronger than the first. I started out with a slow pace group and quickly left them to just run on my own. I really wanted to be under 4 hours. All of my training times were good and I should’ve been able to get in sub-4hours. I did stop my Garmin when I stopped at the port-a-john’s and I did come in at 4:06. Stupid stomach. I think it was mostly nerves. I’ve never had that problem in training. Physically and mentally I felt great through the whole race…besides the stomach. I started out a lot slower than I had been running because I didn’t want to hit the wall. I never did find that wall. In hindsight I should’ve run faster. However, my first goal was to finish. And that I did. I know for next time I can start out faster and hopefully go for sub-4!
After I crossed the finish line they had a great selection of food and drinks at the end. I grabbed a couple things of chocolate milk (my favorite thing to take in after a long run!), a bagel, and some yogurt. I found my sister at the family meeting area at the end!
The first few miles were tough because it’s more crowded and people tripping over people and elbows flying. Eventually it got better and less congested. I had my music on the whole time, but I honestly didn’t pay much attention to it. The scenery was amazing, the volunteers were great, and the crowd support was awesome. If you’ve never volunteered at an event like this, try it sometime! Even if its a local 5K .
The race as a whole went very well. Hubs and I have done the half marathon a couple times so we knew how the bag drop worked, the busses, the finish line goodies, the expo, and everything else. We knew where to stay so we could walk everywhere. There were a little over 5,000 runners in the full marathon and almost 6,500 runners in the half. The full marathoners were bussed up to Two Harbors (26 miles) and the half marathoners were bussed up 13 miles out of town. So there were two different start lines. There were no corrals, just pace groups that were lined up. I love everything about this race. The expo has always been in a good location and the post-race festivities are fun too! Good food, good music, and great beer 🙂
We went back to the hotel and I stretched really good and sat in ice cold water in the tub for 10 minutes. I showered and got ready to go for an early supper or late lunch…whatever you want to call it. We went to Fitger’s Brewery and their food was amazing. One of my all time favorite restaurants!
There you have it! What a story 🙂 Question for you…has anyone experience overpriced hotels and two-night minimum stays on hotels for races??!



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