Sunday, July 10, 2016

Grandma's Marathon - The race Recap is FINALLY here!

My first marathon.  Hours of training.  Sweat.  Smiles.  Tears.  Injury.  
I FINALLY wrap it all up on the blog. 


I've wanted to write about my marathon for some time now.  

Three weeks ago,  I became a marathoner.  So much joy, so much emotion, so much dedication.   Unfortunately, the elation all came crashing down the day after my finish when I had to say goodbye to my beloved dog.  I was hurting so badly.  My brain was in a fog.  My kids needed me.  Work needed me.   How could I possibly talk about my "BIG DAY!"  

Fortunately and with time, my heart is mending and it's time to spill it all.   

Grandman's Marathon was a race I won't ever forget.  As a "first-timer," I wasn't sure what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised at how seamless the entire race was.   My husband traveled to Duluth with me and took in all of the festivities before and after the race.  He was planning on biking much of the route to cheer me on and snap unforgettable photos of me on the race course.  There were times on the course it felt like I only kept going so that I could see him at the next stop.  Oftentimes,  I repeated to myself 'just another mile and you'll see his face.'  He was my support.  He kept me going. 

This photo was the first time that I saw Brad.  He was at mile 14! I was so happy to see him!



This race was hard.  Damn.Hard.  It was incredibly HOT, with temps in the mid-80's at the finish.  It wasn't as flat as I had expected and I didn't have sunscreen.  That was a major fail because I was burnt to a crisp!  I found out later that 2000 runners did not finish.  There were so many people walking it was unbelievable!!

Wow, saying all that out loud seems crazy!  It took me 45 minutes longer to finish than I had anticipated.  BUT,  I FINISHED!!  

My official race finish time was 5:00:16.  It's funny.  My first half I finished in just under 2 hours.  I was elated as I was on pace for my goal time.   The first 15 miles were pretty darn good and as you can see from my face I was pretty dang excited to be running this race!



The support along the race course was tremendous.  Although there aren't many spectators until you get to mile 20, the water stops were packed with people cheering loudly and shouting encouragement.     The homes, maybe 10-15 along the race course from miles 2-18,  all come out to lend aide and water.  Many had their garden hoses attached to high ladders for all the runners to run through.  Thank you for that! 


At the start of the race, the white conditions flag was flying.  By mile 20,  it was black flag conditions and I was truly worried I'd have to stop because the race officials would call the race due to the heat.  Thankfully, they did not.  This sign says it all.  This was at mile 21, and by that time, I truly had had enough.  My husband took this picture and kept saying that I could do it and I shouldn't be concerned if I had to walk a bit.


The water stops were amazing.   Each stop you were able to get ice cups as well, which quickly went right down my sports bra.  The ice lasted about 1/2 mile.  It was a great way to stay cool.  Also, at many of the water stops, we were handed cold sponges which were also amazing.  I carried them a ways and wiped my face and squeezed water on my arms and head.   

At mile 22 is the infamous Lemon Drop Hill.  To tell you the truth, at first glance the hill doesn't look that intimidating.....until you're running it and at mile 22 no less.  I refused to walk up the hill.  I would NOT let it defeat me.  



The last 4 miles to the finish line is packed with people.  I would image that in the early hours of the race there were even more.  It was incredibly hot that day, so I'm guessing there were many spectators that were calling it a day.  

Mile 25 was hard.   I rounded a corner and yet another hill,  it was ever so slight, but I had to stop and walk.  A volunteer came up to me, looked me in the eyes, put his hand on my shoulder and said, " don't worry honey, you'll get there. "  I cried.  It was just such a caring gesture.  It was like he knew my thoughts.  It felt like I was NEVER going to get there. 

The last 1/2 mile comes into canal park where you weave around the major tourist attractions.  I could see the lift bridge. I was so close.  I rounded the corner for the last .2.  My husband snapped some photos and then yelled, " you did it, put your hands up, you did it!" If you look close he's in the background in the yellow with his camera!  I just love this photo!!
   


To be perfectly honest, the finish line was a blur.  I didn't cry.  I walked very slowly through, was given my medal,  and basically brain-fogged it to the t-shirt pick up.  I couldn't even make the decision on my size because I just didn't have the energy. 

I met up with my husband and that's when I cried.  He was my strength that day.  He carried me through.  At times, he was biking right by my side, encouraging me the entire way!


My girlfriend Kris also met me at the finish line.  When she screamed, " you did it!"  I just sobbed in her embrace.  I'm not sure how long we hugged as I cried, but it was a looooooong time.  

I also met up with my crew.  They never let me take a picture of them on our morning runs.  Here they all are.  These girls pushed me every.damn.day.  I wouldn't be here without them, and for that I am forever grateful.  I love them with all my heart.  

Heather, Susan, Myself, Kris

I am a marathoner.   I set my goal high and I completed that goal.  There was disappointment and worry during the journey,  but I never gave up.  Will I run one again.  Absolutely.  In winter.  In 30 degree temps.  You think I'm kidding. :) 


This week I'm linking up with Holly and Tricia for their weekly wrap.  I am very late with this post, but couldn't wait to share it with all of you!   







19 comments:

  1. Congrats on finishing your first Marathon! What a great accomplishment on finishing under such hard conditions! Way to Go!

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    1. Thank you! My next one will be in cold weather. ;)

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  2. I have been eager to see your post on Grandma's! I thought the course was amazing (even in the torrential rain last summer). I definitely want to go back someday ;-) Congrats!!!

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    1. I'd like to try the half someday just for the pure adrenaline of the spectators. I think it was so darn hot the marathon left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. Jury's still out.

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  3. What a great recap! You had the best attitude and didn't let the heat defeat you! I'd love to run this one--wait what am I saying?

    Great job Gina!

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    1. It's about finish lines. Not finish times. A wise woman once told me. :)

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  4. Congrats on becoming a marathoner! How awesome! I've run some halfs in those conditions & I seriously can't fathom doing twice that distance under the same conditions.

    I would rather run in cold than heat any day, but my prefernce is about 50-55, being able to run without a jacket.

    I am so sorry about your dog.

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    1. How's your little firecracker??? I've been thinking of you.

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  5. You ARE a marathoner and it's freaking awesome! I cried so much during my first marathon as it's such an emotional journey. These conditions sound brutal. Thank goodness they were giving out ice at the water stops. Sponges were also nice touch. Congratulations, Gina. You should be very proud! Thanks for linking.

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    1. The sponges were amazing because they were ice cold!

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  6. Huge congrats Gina! Marathons in perfect conditions are HARD but hot ones are so grueling mentally and physically. Sounds like the race was geared up for the heat and that you made up your mind to make the best of it. I promise you a marathon in cooler weather will be a totally different animal. I speak from experience as my first was the hot and cancelled Chi '07. Your finish line pic is amazing and speaks volumes. Well done!

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    1. Oh no! Were you able to finish Chicago in 07??

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  7. Love every word! What a day and kudos to your hubby for being there and supporting you, what a good guy!
    I am all about cold weather LOL I get it :) Congrats on hanging in there, toughing it out and earning that marathoner title.
    You do have some great pictures, fabulous finish line pic! and yea, for hoses, that is nice of people. Congratulations!! Loved seeing your crew :)

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  8. Thanks Karen! I have more to add in a different post too! ;)

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  9. Congrats on your marathon!!! What a great post recap.

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  10. I had some of the exact thoughts on my marathon and really it was hard to wrap my head around what I had done until weeks later!
    Love your finish line pictures! I think I forgot to cry. I was so freaking glad to be done I kind of just wanted to leave!
    You are a marathoner! Congratulations again!

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  11. Totally missed this post earlier but CONGRATS!!! Finishing a marathon is a amazing feat and you did it in less than stellar conditions! Grandma's is a great race...the year I ran it it was much cooler. What a great finish picture!!

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  12. Totally missed this post earlier but CONGRATS!!! Finishing a marathon is a amazing feat and you did it in less than stellar conditions! Grandma's is a great race...the year I ran it it was much cooler. What a great finish picture!!

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