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

The end of the Sochi Olympics

Derek was gone less than 12 hours after the gold medal match finished.  I don’t really know why they were in such a hurry to get him out of here – but the game ended at like 8:30pm on Friday night and he was picked up at the hotel at 3:30am for a 5:30am flight on Saturday.  I stayed through Monday.  The remaining days were very mellow – just six-hour shifts, and even then, Mark wasn’t super strict about needing me there. Continue reading

Men’s Curling Playoffs

The matches didn’t go the way I ideally wanted – I was really rooting for China to win a medal.  I like Edin’s team from Sweden (who defeated China for the bronze) – but I just thought China played so amazingly well all week, played with such class and balance, and I just got pulled into rooting for them.  Plus – I loved David Murdoch’s story – so even though he and the Great Britain team were clearly underdogs in the gold medal match – I really wanted them to win.  Sadly – both games went the other way; and, even more sadly, each team kind of defeated themselves. Continue reading

Women’s curling playoffs

Great Britain v Switzerland for the bronze medal (Eve Muirhead and Mirjam Ott in this picture):

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A shot of jubilation:


Jennifer Jones making her gold medal winning shot:IMG_0652

And exulting afterwards:


The photographer scrum for the flower ceremony (I just thought this was funny):IMG_0667 IMG_0670

Yes – apparently Elvis roots for Canada:IMG_0681

Derek’s assigned desk:


The flower ceremony:

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Fun around the Olympics

Derek took a walk about (I think on my birthday) and went to the Bosco Olympic superstore.  This store was barely built in time for the Opening Ceremony – but then had really long lines throughout the Olympics.  The outside of it was super-shiny – here, you can see the reflection of the Iceberg (skating venue) in the side of the superstore:

IMG_0393 Continue reading

Round-robin play

Once we got the confusion straightened out – everything ran really smoothly.  My job kept me busy, but not overwhelmed.  I was there for the morning and afternoon draws, and left right as the evening draw was starting.  I enjoyed it – I really thrive in these kinds of environments – intense, focused efforts with a lot of energy.  One thing that was a little hard was that I often felt like my stuff was being sent into a black hole.   Everyone gets so busy – it’s not like they’ll say thank you all the time (or even send any reply) and you don’t often know if your stuff is being used or not (sometimes I’ll hear it in the broadcast feed, but as the curling was done both here in Sochi and in Stamford – I never heard what Stamford did because I couldn’t hear their broadcast feed).  I didn’t expect thank-yous or responses – but it did make it weird to be working in a backroom, sending a bunch of stuff out, and not really knowing whether it’s useful.  My best feedback was that people kept asking me to add others to my email lists and that no one asked to be taken off. Continue reading

The start of competition

The first weekend of the Olympics was still a prep weekend for us – as curling action doesn’t start until Monday.  I helped Derek orient himself – to the IBC, to the walk over to the IBC through Olympic Park, etc.  I was kept busy getting some stuff ready for the games.  But by Monday – when the games had started – I felt like I was drowning.  Somehow I had gotten myself into preparing pre-game prep sheets for each game that the team was broadcasting.  Well – I got Monday’s done (5) – but then on Monday, I had to watch the games; write summaries, gather interesting articles, quotes, and tweets; and prepare the Daily Olympian entry.  So – trying to do the pre-game preps was killing me.  I consider myself a highly efficient person – and I was drowning. Continue reading

Opening Ceremonies – some favorite moments


The mascots bowing to us:



A story of the birth of Russia that has something to do with being birthed from the belly of a whale?

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A very cool scene with the ship and water projected on the floor, and the dancers moving along with the ship across the floor:


The ballet:


Dove of peace:


The entrance of the Olympic flag:


Psychedelic glowing rollerbladers:IMG_0285

The torch with Tretiak:


The lit cauldron right after the Opening Ceremony:IMG_0299

Opening Ceremonies

The end of week one neared and that meant that the beginning of the Olympics was nearly upon us.  I was eagerly awaiting Derek’s arrival.  Some of the research room gets assigned to Opening Ceremony duty – but I wasn’t one of those assigned.  So – I figured I would watch the Opening Ceremony on Russian TV back at the hotel.  But in an amazing stroke of luck – around mid-day on Friday, I was offered a ticket to the Opening Ceremony!!! Continue reading