Thursday, June 23, 2011

Grandma's Marathon

The 35th Grandma's Marathon was this weekend. Grandma's will always be a special race for me as it was my first marathon under 3 hours, and at the time it was a 17 minute PR! I bettered my debut marathon time of 3:15 in L.A. 2004. I was very naive to the marathon and believe I went into it undertrained. My only gauge of my fitness level leading up to Grandma's was a local 20k race around the brutal Red Rock loop outside of Las Vegas that I ran in 1:24, and I had paced Andi to a 3:38 LA Marathon 3 months earlier.
My goal was to run a BQ (3:10 at the time) and I settled in with a pace group. I didn't know anyone else running but had family there waiting at the finish line for me. The Grandma's course is unbelievable. They bus you 26 miles north of Duluth, MN to Two Harbors and then you run back on the lakeside road with Lake Superior on your left the entire time. After about 3 miles I remember thinking, "This feels slow, I am going to run ahead of the pace group and see how I do. Then if they catch me I will just have to hang on." I went through the half in 1:28 and realized I was clicking off 6:30 to 6:40 miles consistently. The pace group never caught me, my last mile was my fastest 6:04, and I finished 2:58:37.

Grandma's is a fast course with great competition. My sub 3 hour finish barely cracked me into the top 200 runners, and this year would have been no different. This year there were 18 guys under 2:20, a 42 year old ran 2:29 and a 52 year old ran 2:43. Two Americans, Jeff Eggleston and Matt Gabrielson, ran 2:13. Michael Wardian, who just finished 11th and was first American at Comrades Marathon (5:52:51), a 50 mile race in South Africa, came out to Duluth 3 weeks later and ran an Olympic Trials Qualifier in 2:17:49.

The winner of Grandma's was closing in on the finish line this year, crossed what he thought was a timing strip, and stopped 60ft short of the finish line. People were yelling at him to continue and once he realized that he wasn't done, was caught by another runner and they sprinted to the finish. The leader still won the race but only by .2 seconds!

Jennifer Houck, a 27 year old up and coming American marathoner was 5th in a PR of 2:33:01. She has run 5 marathons now and gotten progressively faster each time. She is also a Physical Therapist! Look for her at the Olympic Trials for the marathon.

1 comment:

gettingfaster said...

This race is at the top of my wish list; if Boston does not pan out for me in April-- which I think it will, I am headed North for this one; I hear so many runners talking about the great running community, the town, and the course. Regardless, I will do this one in the next two years.