Sunday, June 21, 2009

Grandma's Marathon Recap

The Final Result: 53rd place 2:50:44 (goal: 2:33:30)

splits since I kept them: 5:39,5:53,5:52,6:04,6:01,6:10*,12:06 (2),6:01,5:53,6:10,6:03,6:06,6:02,6:07,6:14,6:22,6:25,6:25,7:00(20miles)
8:04,8:16,14:36 (2),15:37 (2),1:26 finish


First of all I have to thank my wonderful wife Kari, and our son Lucas for putting up with all the weekend runs and schedule for the last 6 months. I also want to thank all friends and family for coming out and cheering and family that cheered from miles away.
I want to make it perfectly clear that all of you who helped me get my gatorade even though I didn't drink it, I am so thankful for you. Had things gone differently those bottles would have been crucial. Thank You!

I'm sure I can echo the stories being told today by many runners of the 33rd Grandma's Marathon and Garry Bjorklund Half-Marathon. But I need to write this down to put the final nail in the coffin.

Like others I put in many hours of training, most at 5:00 am, into this marathon build-up. As I get older my days of personal records are limited. I had a good feeling about this year, as I had THE best training block for a marathon as I ever had. I recovered from workouts and some of the races I had ran this past spring went better than expected leading me to think, "this might be my year". As I mentioned in my last post, training for a marathon only "prepares" you for the day and guarantee's you nothing. That was the case for 2009.

The spring in Duluth was a very cool season. More cool than usual. Two weeks ago I was still wearing running pants and long sleeves with gloves on during my morning runs. Two day's prior to the marathon the winds started to shift and on Friday things were looking pretty good. Then we woke up! Saturday was 63 F at 5:30 am and humidity in the upper 80%. As we were driving up to the start we noticed a runner on the sidewalk in Lakeside and she was drenched in sweat. I told my buddy Erik, "look at that, that's not a good sign." Trying to keep a positive attitude, we made our way to the start and I couldn't help wonder how this heat would affect me. I am 1-1 for heat marathons and I was looking to better my 500 score. Could this be the year for me to have a little success in the heat. I was willing to bet yes.

The gun went off and I settled just behind the lead women's pack and had a bit of a time to calm my breathing down only to see a 5:39. I was so happy it was that fast, as I knew that I could slow down ten seconds a mile and feel very comfortable. (i was just glad it wasn't a 6:20 feeling the way I did) It was between the first and second mile where I slowed and tried to settle into the 5:50-5:55 pace I was planning to run, and then I noticed it. A cramp building in my stomach, right in the middle, and it wasn't letting go. I tried to do some belly breathing and it helped very little. As I approached the first water station I took two cups of water just to see if I could get my stomach to settle. (This was the exact cramp I got during the Fargo Half-Marathon in May and I had that the entire race.) It really didn't help but it didn't get worse either. I just tried to relax and get into the groove hoping that this cramp would go away.

My next gatorade bottle was waiting for me at 5 miles. I took it and forced myself to drink the entire bottle over the next three miles, during which I stopped for a pee break at 10k and managed to run a 6:10 mile. That bottle made the cramp return with authority and it was then I decided to take no more gatorade and chance it with water and energy gels. The times I could get the cramp to settle a bit I would knock off 15 seconds per mile having my legs feel just awesome. The half approached and I crossed in 1:18:40 ish. Knowing that it was going to be a rough day I was thinking of slowing to a 1:20 second half and still setting a pretty decent PR. At that point my legs felt good, it was the continuous stomach cramp that would hammer me all the way to the line in Canal Park.

As most know by now the second half was the most brutal running I have ever done. I was clicking off 6:07-6:20 miles before I hit my final mental break, which occurred just after the 20th mile marker. I crossed the mat at 2:02 and I had to walk. I was looking for someone I knew to call my wife and weigh the out the costs of finishing. The funny thing was I didn't ask anybody to use their cell phone I was just walking in a daze looking at people like they knew what I was thinking. I didn't walk very long and I started to stroll down the course again wondering how the next five miles would lay out.

Many thoughts went through my mind those last five miles, and the most common thought was, "don't quite. just make it to the finish and deal with the results. as long as there is no true pain, continue to run and you'll thank yourself for finishing. you don't want to show Lucas that quitting is an option." Hey, I was right, I am happy I continued to the finish line but it still doesn't soften the blow of the brutal running conditions. I walked and jogged, and even busted out some dance moves on London Road for one of the girl dance squads that were handing out water. You should have seen the looks on those girls faces... priceless!! It's hard, but you have to laugh during times like that. It helps with the pain for a short time anyway. Superior street was it's usual kick ass screaming section. As I made my way past Pizza Luce' the hair on the back of my neck was standing up and I almost lost it emotionally. I choked back some tears and also choked back some puke that was on it's way up. (talk about a bad place to puke!)

The finish line couldn't come soon enough and once I hit the mat I was so relieved. There was this little kid with a fire hose and I walked right into it, spun a couple of 360's and proceeded down to the goodies. It's interesting because I finished many marathons feeling much worse, but the actual running hurt the most of any because of my stomach, not my legs. In all honesty, had the stomach not been the issue, my legs wold have let me run 2:38. BUT, woulda, coulda, shouda.... no such luck, that is how the marathon makes us all feel like a little toy. It can destroy you at anytime. Better luck next time.

Weeks Total: 58.5 miles
Years Total: 1287 miles


Chippewa said...

good seeing you Greg. Sorry to hear about that all did not go as planned, but you still ran a very solid race. It's hard to let a race like that be the indicator of what your fitness was leading to the start of that race. You just hope that all is well on race day. That, Mother Nature is out of our control. Had folks around here been granted some weeks of heat and humiditiy I think things would have been different. Even the Kenyans that have been training around this area felt the effect. I have found that in races where weather is a major factor, you often have to adjust your goals (typically for long races like this). Anyways, good work, recover well and look ahead to other races yet to come in which it will all fall into place.

Kurt said...

Dude you did the best you could and for that I am proud of you.

Chad said...

Gregg, nice bumping into you after the race. You know, misery loves company and all.

Some year we'll get a cool day.