Look ma! I’m famous!

Ok – hardly famous – but you can catch me in the background of this Grandma’s marathon recap video:

Grandma’s Marathon recap video, hosted by Olympian Carrie Tollefson!

To help – my grand appearance is roughly between 2:32 and 2:42 in the video.  Carrie is interviewing a female runner just past the finish line (who I think was wearing a superman cape).  You can see me in the background (purple shorts, white shirt, white cap) just after I crossed the finish line.  I think I am in a state of happy shock.  It looks like I am walking around dazed and confused.

What’s really funny is that if you had asked me what direction I had walked in after I crossed the finish line – I would have said I walked straight ahead.  Yeah, so this video would say that is just not true – I seem to drift off to the right.  Which corresponds to the picture of me with my medal and carnation – which shows me right near a curb – when I definitely would have said that I was standing in the middle of the road…

I’m going to chalk it up to euphoria 🙂

Holding onto the memory

Ok – so I’ve been distracted this week…

And I find myself wanting to relive Saturday and somehow hold onto the memory of every mile, every minute (which is really pretty darn funny, because I would guess that as I was running the race – I was probably pretty darn happy to forget each mile!).

But – memory doesn’t work that way, especially not mine (sometimes I am like a goldfish – but at least that means that everything is new to me!).  And – the course was a single road, in fog – so a lot of it blends together.  I thought I would just jot down whatever came to mind.

  • The bus ride which, despite the great company, felt way longer than I thought it would – all I could think was, “I really have to run that distance back in?”
  • The two old guys at the start chatting (mostly with each other) but occasionally with me
  • Great volunteers at water stops – so organized, so friendly; often they would call my name out (our names were on our bibs)
  • A few glimpses of the lake and some sounds of lapping water
  • A woman being so excited to talk to her friend (who was spectating but then ran beside her for a short bit) that they kept running sideways and almost took me out.  I actually had to say “please don’t run into me”
  • College kids offering beer on the side of the road (and one runner went to take one)
  • Other college kids holding out a beer funnel
  • Yet other college kids offering tequila shots (which I don’t like on a good day!)
  • Funny signs:  Poop now run later – no wait, run now, poop later
  • One spectator yelling out that a course record had been set 2:09 (which is cool, but also just makes you realize how not fast you are, when you think you are being blazingly fast; and also you realize that, well, other people are already done)
  • Wondering if any of the spectators calling out my name were curlers – because I was so surprised that everyone pronounced my name perfectly (that never happens!)
  • “Speeding” past lots of other runners (mostly guys) in the last mile
  • The super organized volunteers handing out medals – they stood in columns of about five deep; each person had a slew of medals around their arms.  I imagine when the person in front ran out – the next person moved up and the first person went to refill.  Really efficient!
  • The mylar blanket that I really didn’t think I needed at the finish – but was grateful for about 20 minutes later


What’s next

Ok – so it turns out, that when you don’t have to spend 1.5-2 hours running each day, that you end up having a lot of time on your hands!  Now – I’m sure there are a million things that I could do, but because the shift is so sudden (and temporary) – I have to say, I’ve felt a little lost this week :).

And reaching this long sought after goal has had several interesting effects on me:

  • The crazy demon effect:  yeah, pretty much once I accomplish something, it often doesn’t seem like much of an accomplishment to me, because, well I did it – so how hard can it be?  Yup – trying to banish that one from my head and just enjoy
  • The overambitious effect:  wow – I did so well at this race – let’s set more ridiculous goals to go after!
  • The overzealous effect:  I want to run, even though every book and website article I read says you shouldn’t run during the first five days at least, and some extend that to two weeks.  But the truth is – my body feels great – the best it’s ever felt after a marathon.
  • The “it’s all about me” effect:  yeah – so where’s my ticker tape parade?  The cakes?  The balloons?  The festivities?  The big gifts of jewelry?  Surely everyone else’s lives must revolve around me so much that they would stop their lives just to tell me how great I am for days on end 🙂

Ok – by now you all think I am a total nutter.  And, well, there’s probably some truth to that.  I am really excited still, I have already tried to do some planning for Boston, and, yes, I’m already thinking about new goals.  I did hold back on running until yesterday morning (did a short, easy jog).  And I guess I need to take it easy next week.  My body feels pretty good – but I guess there could be some damage that I can’t feel.

Some thoughts on new goals (not fully committed yet):

  • I would love to be able to run 1:40 in a half marathon.  My PR is 1:44.  I have a great half marathon coming up over Labor Day – but it’s pretty soon.  And it turns out that 4 minutes is a bigger gap than I realized for a half.  So – looking at the time available and the paces I’d have to run – I would be totally psyched if I ran 1:42 at that half
  • I want to requalify for Boston and do it more than one year (ok – one crazy thought I had while running this morning was to set a goal of running in 10 Boston marathons – to equal the number of years I spent in Cambridge/Boston going to school).  I could potentially requalify for Boston at the WDW Marathon in January 2015 or maybe even at Boston 2015.  Neither race is a good race for a PR or even a great time – but since I have 17 minutes to my true qualification time (3:55) – I think it’s possible.  If not – we’ll see if my overzealousness holds and I aim for a late summer marathon.
  • And of course – I’d love to run a faster marathon.  I was 43rd in my age group at Duluth (man – that is a fast race) – but a whole bunch of folks were between 3:30 and my time (20th place was 3:29) – which makes me hungry.  With age against me – this one could be really tough.

That’s all my crazy head has concocted so far.

What ideas do you have?

Grandma’s Marathon race recap – part 2

4:30am came pretty quickly – although I felt reasonably awake and ready.  The weather was pretty ideal – the temps would be in the 50s for the whole race, overcast, some fog and mist.  There ended up being a slight headwind in parts of the race – but nothing serious.

Derek drove me to the bus stop, I hopped on a bus and was off to the start.  I had a great time talking with the guy next to me on the bus – I think this was his 45th marathon!  Wow.  At the starting area, I just milled about until it was time to get into the corral.  They didn’t have formal corrals or waves – but they had signs showing expected finish times.  I planted myself halfway between the 3:35 and 3:45 signs.

I felt surprisingly calm that morning – perhaps all of the distraction and stress from the day before actually helped me not worry too much about the race.  I had a plan – go out at 8:20s (no faster than 8:15s) and see where it goes from there.

The race started and we were off.  I actually started out a bit fast – my watch was telling me I was running 8:06/8:10 for those first few miles – but I felt great, my heart rate was low – so I didn’t worry about it too much, just tried to keep it controlled.  I did think – man, if Derek and Beth see my 5k split they are going to be worried that I’ve gone out too fast.  But luckily for me – there was no 5k split and they didn’t get the 10k split until after they got my half split – so all good!


It is a great course – pretty much one road all the way from Two Harbors to Duluth, MN.  On the shore of Lake Superior.  Tree-lined, quiet road.  It was really foggy – so we couldn’t see much of the lake (nor could we see the bridge which indicates the finish line – lots of people mention how a characteristic of Grandma’s is that you see the finish line bridge with at least 13 miles to go).  The road is undulating more than rolling – the uphills weren’t so noticeable except that your pace was a little slower, some of the downhills were a little noticeable.

The road got a little monotonous – so that left a lot of time for thinking, and fractions, and convincing yourself that nothing hurts that bad yet.  I felt strong pretty much the whole way – which isn’t to say that it was easy – I definitely wanted to stop running and had to bear down and concentrate to finish it out.  But I was running well – pretty easy, good pace, I could tell I had about a minute on my goal time of 3:40 (based on my pace tat) – so I told myself when I had 12 miles to go, that if I needed to, I could ease up the pace by 5 sec/mile and I would still hit my goal.

Derek and my friend Mary (who graciously hosted us for the weekend) did an amazing job spectating.  They saw me at miles 6, 12, 19, 24.5, and then the overpass right by the finish.  Frank (Mary’s beau) and Patti (another curling friend) joined them at mile 19.  It was so great to have them cheering for me at each spot.  I really tried hard to smile and wave each time so that they would know I was doing fine.

My feet started hurting pretty early on – so I got worried that I might develop some blisters.  But I kept telling myself – that’s another mile down that didn’t hurt that bad and I tried hard not to project how I might feel down the road (which is just wasted worry).  Different parts of my body hurt on and off – my right achilles, my right hip, my left knee.  But luckily – they each would go away.

I got something to drink at every water stop – generally alternating between water and powerade.  And I had my gels every 5 miles.  We entered Duluth around mile 19 – so the crowds started getting steadier.  I concentrated really hard during mile 19 (as that’s where I fell last time) and after I passed the “spot” – I kept telling myself that every mile now was a moral victory.

By mile 20 – I was pretty sure that I would finish and that I would qualify.  I had enough time built up and I was still running well.  Lemon Drop hill at mile 22 really wasn’t a bad hill – not that steep or long.  I took it strongly and was starting to get excited and emotional.  It was still mental to finish – I had some looks of concentration and determination (and perhaps a few grimaces) during those last few miles.

The “this is so easy, I’m sleep-walking through it” photo:766356-1112-0010s

The “Look at me smiling for the photographer” photo, followed by the “ok, this is hard and I need to gut it out” photo and the “must concentrate to finish” photo


When I saw Derek and my friends at 24.5 – I really started getting choked up.  Because I knew I would do it, Derek knew I would do it, and we both knew that the other person knew now too.  I had to yell at myself to stop getting emotional – because I couldn’t breathe.  Time for tears later!

As we turned the corner to head to the DECC, came down a hill and saw the mile 25 marker – I started speeding up.  I was feeling strong and determined.  I knew I was going to do it.  I knew it was just a little bit longer.


Derek and my friends were on the overpass and I was psyched because Derek saw me finishing strong.  I saw balloons up ahead and asked the guy next to me – is that the finish?  He said yes – I started sprinting (well, what a sprint looks like for me after 26 miles) – but then realized that it was just the 26 mile marker – drat!

But the finish was visible soon and I took it home.  As I crossed I was overcome with emotion.  I started crying – ugly face crying – and a volunteer asked me if I was ok.  Yes – I’m just happy.  Really, really happy.  I got my medal, a carnation, my finisher’s shirt, some pictures and went to find Derek.  When we found each other – he gave me a big, big hug.


Finally – after all these miles, all these days of doubt, the injuries from last year, the uncertainty, the dedication and discipline, all the obstacles – I had had the race of my life.  I laughed as I neared the finish – because last year, in preparation for the Lehigh Valley marathon, I had been writing down 3:39 as a motivator in my journal.  And the clock, as I was nearing the finish line, read 3:38:56 (I think my final gun time was 3:39:10).

3:37:31 was my final net time.

I PR’d.  I qualified for Boston by over 17 minutes.  I beat the qualifying time I needed last year (in the 40-44 age group) by over 7 minutes.  I even beat the qualifying time for the 35-39 age group by 2.5 minutes.  I beat my goal of 3:40.  Incredible.

I am going to Boston!


Grandma’s Marathon Race Recap Part 1

Well – the weekend had finally arrived.  I had to fly to New York for a business meeting on Wednesday before the marathon – so I checked the race-day weather forecast for Duluth about a week out.  And it looked great – really great – temps in the 60s, slight tailwind – some potential for rain.  I started getting really excited – finally, a race with good weather conditions!

My flight to New York and the business meeting went relatively smoothly.  Then on Friday – I had an 8:30am flight from LaGuardia to Minneapolis.  Derek was flying from Albuquerque to Minneapolis and we were meeting there then driving to Duluth (2.5 hours away).  Everything was going smoothly – we both got to the airport with plenty of time.  He took off.  My plane was at the gate, we boarded ontime, and we taxiied to the runway.  4th in line for takeoff, a few minutes pass – then we move…past the runway.

Apparently some light had gone off (or not gone off) for the air conditioner.  It’s not something that would make the plane unflyable – but they had to call maintenance anyway.  So we sat on the taxi-way for say 15 minutes – at which point they said, maintenance says they have to go in for tests.  So we taxiied to a gate.  30-45 minutes they say.  Then an hour.  Then it turns out the plane failed one of the tests – we all have to get off – they need to get a part and fix the plane.

People with connections are frantic – luckily my flight is direct.  But it seems unclear whether our flight will actually ever take off.  I talk to someone and try to get on another flight – nothing available.  Then they say that our flight will be delayed until 5pm!  And I spend a long day at LaGuardia – trying to stay well hydrated and fueled and hoping that my plane will actually take off and not be cancelled.

It was a stressful day – I couldn’t believe it – everything was lining up beautifully – great weather, my body was in good shape, a good course – and now, I might not make it to the start line?  Unbelievable.  Long story short – my plane finally did take off around 6:30pm.  And arrived in Minneapolis at 8pm CT.  Derek, who had waited at the Minneapolis airport all day, met me and we quickly got on the road.  We pulled into Duluth at 10:30pm – and I went to bed by 11pm (wake up call at 4:30am).

It was a crazy day – but I was and am ever so grateful that it turned out ok in the end.  I slept as much as I could in the car (couldn’t fall asleep on the plane) and became really determined to run a great race if I made it to the start line.  I felt for Derek who was as stressed out as me, if not more so.

The big day approaches

So – my big goal marathon is this Saturday (Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, MN).

And I’m nervous

and excited

and dreaming of pancakes and french fries and wine (generally things I’ve not let myself enjoy these last few weeks as I prepped for the race)

and I’m bubbling over with excitement, anticipation, etc.

and I’m nervous.

To some extent I dream of the finish line, the really delicious pancakes and bacon that I want to eat afterwards, and the tears of joy that I imagine will pour out of me if I meet my goal of qualifying for Boston.  But there is that jumpy, somewhat superstitious, part of me that says – none of that is guaranteed.  I dreamt of the food I would eat after my last marathon, but then after I fell and smashed my face – I couldn’t even enjoy eating – which was really sad.

I know, it’s a fluke, it’s not likely to happen again – but the fact that it did happen makes me cautious about counting on anything or dreaming about it too much – because I don’t want my hopes to be crushed.

But – enough of that – I’m really mostly excited.  And apprehensive, I mean, running 26.2 miles is generally a painful experience and I’ve always been nervous at the start about the pain I’m about to put myself through.

I’ve trained hard – over 800 miles – setting some new goals (biggest miles per week: 60; biggest miles per month:  263 in May) and training at altitude (ok, this was just lucky as we moved to Albuquerque).  My body is in about as good shape as one can ask after a marathon training cycle – I’ve had niggling doubts about my hip/piriformis – but nothing overtly hurts.  Right now – the weather forecast looks pretty good temperature wise – rain and wind are still uncertain – but again, you can’t ask for much better weather as it looks right now.  I’ve worked hard to bring my weight down to racing weight – it’s not where it was last year, but it’s not bad (damn that trip to Vegas).  And I’ve prepared myself as well as I can for the possibilities (delayed flight – had my bib mailed to me; rain – got wool socks, will have aquaphor to help prevent blisters, and some plastic bags).

At this point – it’s in the hands of fate to some extent.  I’ve given it everything I have – lots of long runs in the morning, lots of determination to do my runs while traveling (I am the queen of sandwiching a training schedule around a work and travel schedule).

So – I’m hopeful for a positive, triumphant outcome.  And pancakes, or donuts, or scones, or french fries…

My goals:

1) (Moral victory) Don’t end up in the hospital

2) (Consolation prize) Finish the marathon (upright)

3) (Bronze) Qualify for Boston (need 3:55 or better)

4) (Silver) PR (beat 3:49:53)

4) (Gold) Beat the qualifying time I needed last year (3:45 or better)

5) (Platinum) Ultimate, A goal, what I’ve been training for – finish in 3:40