Monday, June 18, 2012

My Minnesota Marathon

Split Rock Lighthouse
     So Minnesota was my 25th marathon state on my goal and it was a fabulous race!  I ran the Grandma's Marathon in Duluth along the beautiful coast of Lake Superior and lush tree lined roads.  It was a decent size marathon, I believe around 7,000+ entrants and an amazing group of volunteers and race organizers.  Also to clarify for people like my sister, it was not a race just for Grandma's.  Well I maybe for a few, but not me:)

     We were pre-warned in the days leading up to the race to expect temps in the 70's and horrible humidity up in the 85% range.  The temperature was expected to be perfect, but add the high humidity and it had the possibility of being a REALLY hot race.  They also warned us about a chance of rain showers.
Having run a lot of HOT races this year both with and without humidity, I prepared fully and I was perfectly hydrated going into it.

Northern Coast of Lake Superior
     The race had a shuttle bus that actually picked me up right in front of my hotel.  Guess that is one of the benefits of staying at one of the race recommended hotels.  Truthfully the only reason I ended up at the Radisson in Duluth (which I swear was the highest priced hotel in the city).  Wasn't because I wanted to pay a small fortune each night, but I was an idiot and left booking my hotel until a few months prior and basically I didn't have a choice.  When you wait too late, you are basically stuck with places that have prices others tried to avoid.  That aside, it was a nice hotel and I did have a fabulous room that overlooked the city and Lake Superior and their famous Ariel Lift Bridge

    So after a short 30 minute bus ride into the small town of Two Harbors, more specifically I believe it was a car dealerships parking lot:)  Right next to the railroad tracks and on the Scenic North Shore Road.  When I arrived at first I just noticed that it kind of felt like it was getting hotter by the minute,
When it came time for the race to begin someone sang the star-spangled-banner.  I was in line for the port-o-potties which more often than not ends up being my location during the song in a race LOL.  Then the fighter jets flew over, and I have to say it was AWESOME!  One moment nothing then they were there and if you blinked you'd of missed it since they were so fast and I swear flying as low as they could so it was even louder for us.
Right after the jet flew over they played the theme from Top Gun "Highway to the Danger Zone."  I loved that touch!  At that point I was seriously hooked and finally caught on to the race energy and I was ready to go.

Gooseberry Falls
     The first few miles went pretty good, I eased into the race having some weird pains in my calves and ankles which I think were from my new shoes that might not have been as broken in as they should have been.  I adjusted my pace and mixed things up a bit and by mile 3 the pains seemed to be gone completely.  I was sweating A LOT from the heat on the so far not really a cloud in the sky day, and my stomach was growling because I didn't eat enough that morning.  But other than those two things, I was feeling pretty fabulous!
The race was so well organized, medical support at every mile (which I didn't need, thank goodness!)  Water every other mile starting at mile 3 and a very happy and energetic group of volunteers.

Two Harbors Lighthouse
   



The first 12 miles for me were pretty hot, the sun was full out and there was little to no breeze.  But after that the clouds started to roll in, and drop the temperature a little.  Then the winds started kicking up from the lake and hitting us with cooler little breezes of air, so to me it was absolutely perfect for running.

     Not only that but the course was just beautiful, pine tree's and other kinds lined the street completely forest like.  All traffic was stopped so it was only us runners out on the road and the occasional group of spectators who came out.
When the tree's weren't to my left, the beautiful lake was.  While the sun was out the lake was just beautiful and blue.  When the sun went behind the clouds and the winds kicked up, you could hear the waves crashing along the rocky coastlines.  (In my opinion the lake was like being next to the ocean, when it was wavy.)
I don't run with headphones anymore so I just enjoyed nature sounds, runners talk and the occasional stereo or band out on the course.

Aerial Bridge in Duluth
     I felt pretty good until around mile 17, that is when my feet started to really begin the soreness coming back, which I think was mostly due to the fact that possibly I didn't give them enough of a rest since 2 weeks ago when I ran my last marathon...
Temperance Falls
My stomach was on empty and I probably ate more during this marathon than I ever have before.  Thank you oranges, banana's and the yummy Dum Dum suckers I took...  To be honest, I am just thankful that they all agreed with my stomach and didn't cause me any other problems.

     I had a first in this marathon, I was cut off by a deer.  Seriously, a doe came out of the forest line around mile 21.5 and made a run for it, towards the lake.  It was fun to see happen!
I have seen deer before out running but this was the first one who crossed my path in a race.  I laugh because now I have been cut off by not only a deer.  But in the past I had a huge bull moose come run side by side a few steps with me before cutting me off.  I also had a mountain lion come out of the bush once and cross the road path in front of me and I have cut off a coyote while out on a run before.
Guess I have just been lucky to get these opportunities!!!

Upper Cascade Falls
     I was really starting to feel it by mile 23, I really didn't care for that mile not a bit.  I think the steepest hill of the course was during this mile, and in a distance down the lake I could see the Aerial Bridge (the finish line) it looked close, but with still a few miles to go it couldn't have felt further...

     However, eventually I snapped out of it I guess I can thank the weather for that.  The cooler breezy temps turned a bit colder and the rain was drizzling down on me.  When I reached downtown and the red brick made streets I got a little burst of energy.  Well it was that or the fact that I was starting to freeze and I just wanted to get the pain over with as soon as possible and get off my feet.
Lower Cascade Falls
Eventually I reached Canal Park area and after running around a huge ship (over a 1/4 of a mile at least, you notice these things when you are hurting, LOL)  After coming around the ship I could see the finish.  Some guy says to me at mile 26, "It's just the easy part left now."  Famous words I often hear by someone who I can assure you has NEVER run a marathon before.  As the last .2 of the course is in my opinion the worst and sometimes seems like it lasts forever.  (Especially when you can see the finish:)

     Thrilled to have finished state #25 and my 32nd marathon overall, I accepted my medal, my finishers t-shirt (love when they give them at the finish rather than before the race!  See then you don't have a bunch of first time marathon runners running in a shirt they haven't yet earned.)  I gladly welcomed the foil blanket that was wrapped around me (I was wet and freezing!!)  I decided to skip any food or drink at the finish, I wanted off my feet and I had a long walk back to my hotel still to go.
Luckily the city is equipped with a skywalk system that connects miles of the city together through climate controlled walkways above the streets and through buildings.  I had a little over a mile walk through them before I came out of one that exited right into my hotel.  (Also thankful for signs and directions in them, since I really had no idea where I was going or how to get back on my own!)

Lake Superior Coastal View
     When I finally was able to sit on the bed and kick off my shoes, ahhh it was fabulous.  Still very painful, but finally I was off of them.  It was so soothing I just laid down on the bed still in my foil blanket and didn't mean to but crashed for a few hours.  When I got up to walk to the shower, the foot pain was like it never left and like walking on bruises...  Luckily this race I didn't get any blisters, and had only a couple of spots on my body with bad chaffing.

Duluth Lake Walk
     Duluth and the drive along the Northern Minnesota Superior Coast is just beautiful!  Green and lush, a beautiful lake that I learned is so big if you spread out all the water it would cover not only the US but all of Canada, Mexico and all of South America with 1 foot of water.  (Thought that was interesting enough to mention:)  Great lighthouses and sheer cliffs.  Huge rivers and some amazing waterfalls.  The pictures you are seeing in this post are what I took as I visited the area, some were taken right along the race course we ran.

     Being a country girl, obviously Minnesota is a great place for someone like me to visit!  Plenty of places to see and so many trails to hike.
Also I am not going to lie, I loved what I call the MinneSLOWtaLK. LOL  I just wished more of them had that long slooooow drawn out way of talking, I loved it!  They were my favorite runners to listen to while in the race too, LOL LOL LOL..
Great trip, I'd love to make it back someday!  Also, this is one of those races that is put on so well and has such a great course that I wouldn't mind running it again!

Trail in Split Rock State Park
     Well a few weeks off racing for me now, this running wedding decorator is beginning the start of the busy summer wedding season:)  Then one more race this summer before I am going to take a couple of months off marathons.  Let my body heal a little and give it some well needed relief before September when I have a super big fall line up of races set up.  Well maybe not too much relief, since I won't be racing I am going to work on a few other things and see if I can gradually work on dropping my marathon time a little:)
Stormy day Superior Lake View

Northern Lake Superior Cliffs



2 comments :

  1. This race is on my list! My husband is from MN so I can time it right with a visit to the in-laws!

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    Replies
    1. Oh its such a great race, you are going to love it! It's such a beautiful area too.

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