So, as I mentioned on Facebook, on Saturday I ran in Grandma's Marathon, Duluth's very own world-renown (maybe?) race. My observations started on Friday, the day before the race. All around Duluth I saw runners as they went out to eat, picked up their racing packets, shopped, etc. How did I know they were runners, you ask? They were wearing running clothes. I don't understand this. You aren't running, it's 50 degrees in Duluth, and you are wearing shorts, technical running shirts, and neon yellow running shoes. To my mind, your entire outfit is one giant cry for attention. You so desperately want someone to ask, "Are you running tomorrow?" So you can look slightly abashed and reply, "Why yes, yes I am. How did you know?" I mean, why not just throw on the headband and the compression socks too while you're at it. Maybe wear one of those water bottle holsters/fanny packs and munch on energy bars during conversations. Sheesh.
So, the morning of the marathon came much to early. I woke up at about 5:25 after a fitful night of sleep where I checked, re-checked, re-re-checked, and re-re-re-checked my alarm clock to make sure I would get up. I blame this Seinfeld episode with Jean Paul where he explains how he overslept for his Olympics race:
So, I headed to the mall for the shuttle out. The drive out to the starting line might be the worst part of the entire experience. As you're gliding along with the help of an internal combustion engine for a good half hour, all you can think is, "I have to run this whole way back? Can I just take the bus back to the mall and maybe go to Denny's for a grand slam instead (disclaimer: we really don't have a Denny's in Duluth, so it would probably be a Tremendous 12 at Perkins, but I thought Denny's would be more recognizable to my country-wide readership)?
So, the day was foggy and cold, which I thought was just fine for running. As we were all standing around the starting line people were doing what they could do keep warm. I've never understood the people that run to warm up. Isn't 26.2 enough? If I could get someone to push me in a wheelchair all morning up until the very point where I have to start running, I would. Alas, that service is not provided. Finally, the run started, and we were off.
The actual marathon went pretty well. I decided to stick with the 4:00 hour pace guy at the beginning, and I felt good. As I mentioned before, I had timed my audiobook so that I would be listening to the last 4 hours of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, so I was enjoying the beginning of the Battle of Hogwarts as I trudged along. At about mile 13 I realized that I really was going to have to go to the bathroom at some point, and I am just not going to be the person who just uses their spandex as a diaper; I am neither that competitive nor have the necessary disregard for hygiene. So, I took a quick trip to my disgusting arch-nemesis the porta-potty around mile 14. That could be another whole blog post about the fierce battle between my OCD tendencies and my need for speed, but I will leave such potty talk in the porta-potty.
When I got out, I still found myself far back of the 4 hour pacers. I decided not to expend the energy necessary to catch up and kept on keeping on. As per last marathon the most difficult part was probably mile 18-23. During this point, you have run a long way, but you can't really say you're almost there. When I heard people yell, "You're almost there!" at mile 19, I wanted to retort, "Oh yeah? Then why don't you run it?" Instead, I listened to the history of Snape's love for Lily Evans/Potter in "The Prince's Tale." At about mile 23 I started seeing people I knew, which helped motivate me to keep running. The Right around mile 25 I realized that I could get under 4 hours if I hoofed it until the end, so I picked up the pace. The nice thing was (HP spoiler alert) that at around mile 25 Harry killed Volemort. I decided I should put some music on to finish the last .6 miles, put on my running mix, turned on shuffle, pressed skip, and "Born to Run" came on. It was the perfect musical inspiration I needed to hustle to the finish line. I still didn't know if I finished under 4 until I talked to my sister who had been tracking me via my racing chip (mark of the beast, anyone?) and she said, "You made your goal by 2 seconds!" So, a 3:59:58 marathon. Here's a picture of me at mile 26. I don't know what that smirk on my face is all about; maybe it's because I didn't have enough energy to control my facial expressions at this point, and my natural expression is a smirk. If my face was actually representing how I felt, it would be melting of my skull.
So, I thought it was a successful racing day, even if they put up a hypothermia warning on the last 7 miles (late June in Duluth!). Plus, I got to catch up with Greg and Kelly Johnston, Cooper Gillan, Steve Hawkinson, and Tim Lindstrom, which was wonderful, even if the latter three did make me go to Grandma's Sports Garden the night after the race (they were watching the Bruins/Blackhawks game there, even after I assured them that the "sports" in Grandma's Sports Garden is a misnomer anytime after 8 p.m.), something I vowed never to do again after 23. I now redouble my vow NEVER to do again. That place is a John Barleycorn-esque meat market. Anyway, here's my freezing family and me at the end of the race.
Today I'm feeling pretty good as long as I don't have to make any sudden movements, walk up stairs, or get up from a sitting position. Also, today I got to watch my niece Paisley get dedicated by my dad, so it was worth getting out of bed for. I have no pictures of that yet; I'm sure you are all heartbroken. So, one more week in Duluth and then headed to the Windy City! Later.