Grandma’s Marathon - Part 2

Monday, June 20, 2016

Mile 10.67…

A women looks at me and says kind of franticly, “They aren’t going to pull me off the course are they? How far are we?  Will I make it?” I had been catching up to her for a while. I noticed the back of her shirt had some memorial writing but I didn’t read it. Anyways, I told her we were at 10.67 and we still had plenty of time. She was very concerned that she was going to be swept off the course. She said all she wanted was the shirt and medal. She was running this for her brother who passed away and she just wanted to make sure she finished. I could tell she was struggling so I just struck up a conversation. We said the normal things, where we were from, what we do for a living, stuff like that. She was from Winona and there was a group of them running this for her brother. I had to laugh we she told me where Winona was located. Ha! I said I grew up in the Independence/Arcadia area and went to St. Mary’s so I knew the area well. We talked for quite a while.

She was worried that I was going to ruin my time but I told her I already knew this wasn’t going to be a great race so I had time to walk. This was her first half marathon and she said definitely the LAST. (We all say that. Ha!) We talked about her brother, my dad and the accordions. We talked about my crazy brother and girlfriend driving up her to cheer me on. We talked about our families. She was a single mom with three kids. She was working full time and going to school full time and didn’t have much time for training. She kept asking me how much longer to go (this happened a lot). She was still scared we were going to be swept off. I kept reassuring her we were fine. I told her I looked at last year’s results and there were quite a few people that took over 4 hours so we were fine. I told her the 3:15 time limit was just to scare off would be walkers. Needless to say we had a great conversation over the course of 2.63 miles. 

As we got close to town, I mentioned how I always had to have M&Ms when I run half marathons and I still hadn’t open my bag. So during mile 12 I opened my M&Ms and we shared the whole bag. She was so happy to have something to eat. A couple times she asked if I was an angel. Nope, I’m real! Ha! She just couldn’t believe that I would stick with her this whole time to make sure she finishes. I told her time doesn’t always matter. As we got closer I would start saying half a mile left, quarter mile left and she would ask me if I was sure. We posed for the pre-finish photos, I told her to make sure to smile. 

When we saw the finish line she said she could run to finish. So we sprinted across the finish line and she gave me the biggest hug ever. She said she could have never made it without me. We got our medals and finisher shirts (what she had been worried so much about). She wanted a picture together. We friended each other on Facebook (all during the finisher chute). She gave me one last hug and we parted ways. 

I saw Dean, my fellow trombonist in the Eden Prairie Community Band. He was volunteering in the finishers’ area. He came up to me to get a hug and I said, I’m soaking wet but he didn’t care. It was great seeing him. I really had a lot of support at this race. It was great!

I met up with Mike and Linda just outside the finish area and we walked to meet DJ and Katelynn. I had an amazing experience and can’t wait to do it again! 


My overall time was 3:05:21. So yes, my time was 5 minutes slower than 3 hours. And yes, I realized I could have easily beaten 3 hours again. But it just doesn’t matter. I made somebody’s day and helped them finish. Sometimes that is all that matters.










Grandma’s Marathon - Part 1

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Yes this is a 2 part post because I have a lot to say!

Half #3 is in the books. It wasn’t my best performance but considering the heat and humidity, I did well. In one of my last post before the race, I mentioned I wanted to complete it in under 3 hours. I didn’t do that and I’m ok with it. I’ll explain later why I’m ok with it.

Race Morning
My silent alarm on my Fitbit went off at 4am and I got my sorry butt out of bed. We had a late night so I was going on about 4 hours sleep. Not the most ideal but what are you going to do. I got all my gear on and had two pieces of bread with Nutella. I checked the weather and it was 63 and humid. The sun wasn’t up yet so that means it was going to be a hot/muggy day. I had a plan in mind of how I was going to run this race and I was going to try and stick to it. That never works so I’m not sure why I even try. Ha!

DJ got up and gave me a ride to the shuttle bus. Looking back, it really wasn’t necessary as she really only could drive me to the end of the apartments driveway as the shuttle busses were blocking the way. There were busses everywhere. There were people everywhere. This was a crazy experience for me. I felt very alone surrounded by these thousands of people. I just kept thinking of my race and what I wanted from this day. I eventually got on a shuttle bus and the driver had the heat blasting. Seriously? It is hot and humid and you have the heat on? WHY??  The ride to the starting line seemed to last forever. I’m sure part of that was the heat and also I just wanted to get on with this race. We finally get to the drop off point and I stand in line for a porta-potty. It was the longest line ever for one porta-potty. The time quickly ticked away. People were sick of waiting and relieved themselves in the bushes. I’m not there yet. We heard the National Anthem and the horn and there were still 20 people in front of me. I decided to screw it, I’ll go later if I really need to. The actual starting line was a third of a mile ahead. So I made my way to the start and right before the start was a sea of porta-potties. Like 200 of them and no lines! WTF? I wasted my time in line when I could have just ventured down here? ARGH! This isn’t a great start. I made a quick stop at the bathroom before heading to the actual start. There were hundreds of people behind me still waiting in line for the bathrooms. It really is silly.

The Start
By the time I actually got to the starting line, the area was pretty much empty. The clock said 13 minutes or something like that which means I started way after the gun went off.  This is not what I had envisioned for my start of Grandma’s Half Marathon. I didn’t have time to be disappointed…I had to GO! The one benefit to having nobody around me at the start was I could start my intervals earlier. I didn’t feel like I had to run the first mile without stopping. There wasn’t anybody around to guilt me! I was going along at a really good pace and just tried to take in all the scenery around me. Around the .75 miles I saw a “Go Kim Go” sign and I thought that is cute, there is another Kim here…but wait a minute. Linda is holding it and Mike is there in his bright neon green shirt. WTF? Am I seeing clearly? I stopped for a bit to talk but they kept yelling “Go, Go, Go!” The left Arcadia at 2am to drive to Duluth to see me run! Crazy!  I was in shock…I’m still in shock! It made me a little teary eyed.  My first mile came in at 12:15. I liked that pace a lot. Mile 2 and 3 were pretty much the same as mile 1. There was the lake and there were houses. Not a lot of people but some people were out in their yards supporting us. It was still very early. I remember looking at my watch and thought it must be 8 am already and it was only 6:45. Ha! It was nice seeing people supporting us. The first water stop was at mile 2 and I took a couple waters because it was already hot. I poured one over my head. Between mile 2 and 3 we lost the nice lake breeze and it just got stale and hot. Miles 2 and 3 came in pretty close to each other at 12:29 and 12:32. I was trying to maintain an even pace. I saw Mike and Linda again at mile 3.  It was great to have somebody to cheer you on.  

The course was not flat by any stretch of the imagination. There were definitely rolling hills. But it was nothing like Lola’s. The great thing about this course is the support.

After the third mile I decided to take some sports beans. I was sweating a lot and I need the salt. I learned not to put a handful into my mouth at once because I have a hard time chewing so I threw a couple in and then a couple more and then I bit into something hard. I’m like WTF? (I thought that a lot during this race). I spit it out and realized it was an Advil. I had forgotten that I put 3 Advil in my Sports Beans bag to have for later. Well I thought what the heck and swallowed them down. Somewhere around mile 4 started the showers. People put out showers/sprinklers to run through and cool us off. I ran through all of them. A family was cutting up banana and giving us some chunks. That was great. I love bananas. Mile 4 was a tad bit slower at 12:37 but still well within my plan of keeping my pace around 12:35 in the beginning. 

The Middle
Mile 5 was the last one along Lake Superior. It was really starting to get hot and I was feeling it. I need to keep myself cool if I was going to keep going. I poured some of my water onto my buff to wipe my face. It was nice but it got warm quickly. I saw Mike and Linda again around mile 5. I think I heard only 9 more to go or something like that. Ha! Mile 5 slowed down quite a bit to 12:58 but my overall pace was still in my desired pace range so I didn’t worry too much.

At mile 6 we had another water stop. From this point on there was one every mile and with the hot day it was needed! They also had ice. I would take a couple of ice and put it in my bra (it works!) and another I wrapped into my buff to cool my face. That worked great too. I’m so glad they had ice. My mile 6 mile was 13:32. I slowed down another 30 seconds. This wasn’t good. My overall pace fell to 12:44. I started feeling like I wasn’t going to break 3 hours. It made me sad but I pressed on. It was also during this time I got sick of my visor. I was hoping to see Mike and Linda during mile 7 but they didn’t catch me again until mile 9 so I carried that damn visor for 4 miles.  Mile 7 slowed again but this time only by 12 seconds to 13:44. It was at this point I changed my goal and said I would try and keep my miles under 14. The heat really played havoc on me but thankfully I wasn’t like some people who passed out. Somewhere around mile 6 and 7, an ambulance had to pick up a runner lying in the shade. Her running friends were all around her and when they started running again and leaving their friend behind I heard one say, “why didn’t they elevate her legs, she didn’t have a pulse!” Yikes. I’m assuming she is ok as I don’t think anybody died. 

Between mile 7 and 8, I saw Kristin, Danielle’s friend and fellow bridesmaid in Danielle’s wedding. She lived nearby. I stopped for a short hello and picture and pressed on. I was really slow at this point. I took advantage of every sprinkler, shower, water, ice, food I could see…except the alcohol. Not for me! 

Coming up to the end of mile 8, I heard what I thought was a polka band. But it was very faint. The closer I got to the mile 8 marker I was sure I was hearing polka music. Yep! There were some guys playing accordions. I took a quick selfie…my first time of this whole run. As soon as I started running I had a huge emotional rush come over me and I was bawling. It was so odd. I don’t normally start crying but that did. I think it was because it was the day before Father’s Day. For a moment it was like my dad was with me. I wiped my tears with my iced buff and continued my trek. Mile 8 slowed down even more to 14:11 but I stopped to take a selfie and I cried for a solid quarter of a mile so I say whatever.

To calm myself down, I started counting steps as I ran and walked. I know this sounds crazy but it worked! I would walk for 15 paces each foot and then run for 40-60 paces each foot and counted it. It distracted my mind and I actually got faster! By this point in the race I was surrounded by a lot of walkers so the fact I was able to still getting some running it was amazing.

I was so relieved to get some bananas, strawberries, oranges and frozen grapes during mile 9. They were so good. I have to remember the frozen grapes! I was so happy to have real food. I saw Mike and Linda one last time just after the 9 mile mark and the horrible Lemon Drop hill. The hill wasn’t horrible but I was tired and cranky and didn’t want to run it. But I saw Mike’s shirt so I had to keep running. Just before them that was a digital road sign that said 4.1 miles to go. I threw my sweaty visor at Linda and kept on going. Mile 9 was a bit faster and under 14 minutes again at 13:58. Woo hoo!

Not long after that at mile 10, I saw DJ and Katelynn for the first time. I told them there was no way I was making 3 hours but I’d see them at the finish. My time was 2:12:50, I was over almost 2 minutes faster than the 10 mile race two weeks ago. That made me happy! But I didn’t think I could do the last 5K in 47:25 to beat the 3 hour mark. I didn’t quit and I thought I’d give it a shot anyways. But that all changed at mile 10.67…

The Drive, the Expo, the Unexpected 5K and Where the F*&# is Our Room

Saturday, June 18, 2016

So Friday morning, after Eric and Phil went for some haircuts, we started our venture up to Duluth. I was told ahead of time that construction by Hinckley was terrible and we should get off interstate 35 early and take old U.S. Hwy. 61. Best advice ever! We stopped at an A&W in Pine City for lunch and a quick fill up. While eating at A&W, Phil mentioned he got an email about the 5K and was confused as he was running the marathon. When we continued the drive up to Duluth, Phil discovered he signed up for the marathon challenge and had to run the 5K at 6pm. Doh!

We got the DECC about 3pm. We got our bibs, freebees and DJ and I bought some wireless headphones. We spent some time outside by the big ship waiting for Phil’s 5K race. Finally 6pm rolls around and Phil is off for his 5K. He said it was going to be slow. But of course, typical Williams fashion, he was not.



We quickly made our way to the cars and drove up to University of Minnesota Duluth to pick up the keys to our apartment. There was a little snafu in booking hotels so I also got an apartment at UMD. I had a heck of a time finding the apartment. When I got the key it said Oakland B, Apartment 328. Well it was had written and when the girl at check in gave me the key told me 32B. It looked like a B to me too. So I was looking all over for 32B and could not find it. I’m so stupid. It was 328. ARGH! That put me in a bad mood. I was tired, hungry and we still had to go over to Superior to check the boys into their hotel room.


We ate first as I was starting to look at the time and realize I had to wake up at 4am and I need time for the food to digest. We meet Brenda, DJ’s friend, and her girlfriend Chris at a family diner. It was good food but I was really at a lost for what to eat. I went with a grilled ham and cheese. It was good and I think it was a smart choice. The pies looked delicious so I went for a lemon meringue pie. I later regretted that decision. The pie itself was DELICIOUS. And I really enjoyed it but my stomach did not. I didn’t get sick but I had a hard time falling asleep with the pie sitting in my stomach. I eventually fell asleep.

Twins Game with Phil and Katelynn

Friday, June 17, 2016

We had a great night for the Twins/Yankees game.  I think we all had fun even though they lost.  We drove past the new Vikings stadium and the rainbow bridge.





Why am I scared to death?

Monday, June 13, 2016

So in 3 days, 16 hours and 48 minutes, I’ll be starting my third half marathon – Grandma’s Half Marathon in Duluth, MN. This is my third one so why am I scared to death?  I ran a hilly and hot 10 mile race 2 weeks ago and finished so what’s my problem. I really wish I knew.

Time…my biggest concern is my time. I don’t want to be slow! Both of my previous half marathon finishes have been under 3 hours. Not much under but still under.  Tulsa was very hilly. San Diego was mostly downhill with a few climbs. Grandma’s is mostly flat. What’s my problem? Lately my runs have been S-L-O-W. And I’ve had a hard time going longer than 4 miles. It’s great that I can run 4 miles but what about the other 9? Ugh. I don’t feel as prepared for this race as I did the first two. I had triathlon training that took up my April and May which meant I didn’t run the long runs like I should have. The only long runs I had were races!

Weather…the first two were in the winter and were pretty much perfect running conditions. Temps in the 40-50s, no humidity and no windy. I do well running in colder weather. Once you get over 50 degrees I start to tank. The forecast for Saturday morning is 55 degrees, 70% humidity and wind from the south at 10-15 mph. I hate humidity and I’m running south into the wind. And you know that 55 degrees is going to warm up really fast.

Support…I’m scared to do this race alone. Eric is running the full marathon so I is just me and the road. Even though we fight about pacing, Eric really gets me through the miles. I won’t have that this time. When I wanted to give up at mile 9, he said no! Keep running! I won’t have anybody to yell at me to keep running! This course is also very lonely as there isn’t much crowd support. When all the fast half marathon runners are gone it will be just me and the other slowpokes. I have a mental problem when I see people walking. I want to walk too. If there were people cheering me on, I’d be less likely to have this problem. But there will be no crowd so I need to fight myself to keep running.

Knock on wood…I don’t think I’ll have a problem finishing it. I just hope I can finish it with a good time. Originally, when I signed up this race, I was hoping for 2:45 time. Now I’m just hoping to finish standing up.



Lola’s Lake Waconia 10 Mile

Monday, June 6, 2016

One word for this race…HILLS!

I wasn’t surprised. I knew the hills were coming but I still didn’t prepare for them. I did one 5 mile hill workout a month or so ago. I had a game plan though. Run all the down hills. Try and run all the up hills. If I couldn’t run up the hills, I tried to limit my walking. The race started out a bit warm (61 degrees) but the humidity was killer at 82%. I felt the humidity for sure!  My goal for this race was to finish with a decent time. It was going to be a PR no matter what as I have never done an actual “10 mile” race before. This really wasn’t a race for me though, it was more of a long training run where I get water along the way and a medal and banana at the finish. I needed a 10 mile run this weekend for my Grandma’s Half training plan and I know that if I would have ran it myself, I probably would have quit at 8. I need this long run to prepare me for what is to be in two weeks. Yikes!

The Start
The 10 milers started 15 minutes before the Half Marathoners. We got to the race with about 10 minutes to spare. I usually visit the port-a-potties before but the line was incredibly long and I didn’t have time. So I started the race without my pre-race pee. Oh boy!

The number of 10 mile runners seemed very small (there were only 400 of us). I started in the back and there was really nobody behind me. I thought for sure this was going to be a last place finish for me. Ugh!  We started down a short decline followed by a somewhat steep (but short) up hill. The hills started early and were often. We get the top and it was a nice long downhill to the end of mile 1. My time was right on pace with 12:07. Whew! That went well.

The start of mile two was on one of the many gravel portions of the race. It wasn’t long or horrible…a little wet/mud from the rain the night before. We also had a short out and back portion…lame. We were rewarded on the way back with the first water stop. It was much needed on this humid day. I was sweating buckets, more than usual! After the water stop we had more gravel, well it really was a small single track gravel path with long grass around it. This was tough as everybody was running single file on the small gravel path. Any passing that you would like to do was on the long grass. I just settled behind some slow girls thinking this wasn’t going to be that far. It turned out to be at least a quarter of a mile. That was a bit annoying! My mile 2 time slowed but considering the single track thing and the water stop, I’m still happy with the 12:34. My overall pace was still under 12:30 so I was happy…I was also thankfully to get back on the road!

The next mile was along a fairly busy road. This course wasn’t closed so all the roads remained open to traffic. Most of the traffic was people cheering on their runners. So we got some cowbell ringing to keep us motivated…I hate cowbells. (LOL!) After the mile or so on the busy road we headed down another gravel road. The nice thing about this stretch was it was mostly shaded with great views of the lake. The shade didn’t help with the humidity but it did block some of the sun. I was grateful. My mile 3 was a bit slower than I would have liked at 12:45 but it had a pretty long hill during this mile.

The Middle
Mile 4 wasn’t very memorable. I think there was a water stop. Maybe not?  I’m not sure. I spent the entire race “chasing” a group of girls. I would catch them at water stops but then they would get ahead of me again.  They probably didn’t realize I was chasing them. It was also during this mile that the first half marathoner passed me. Yep, the first half marathoner ran so fast that he made up the 15 minute head start I got AND he ran 3 more miles than me. You see the half marathoners ran a separate 5K course before they joined my 10 mile course. So he passed during my mile 4, his mile 7. Crazy fast!  My pace was right around the same as the previous mile at 12:44.

During mile 5 I was being passed continuously by the fast half runners. It was a bit discouraging to be constantly passed by very fast people. But I kept plugging along. A few of them would tell me “nice job” or “keep it up!” That was nice. I hope they really meant it. Even though I was overheating, I still managed to keep mile 5 under 13 minutes with 12:56. Nowhere along this course was an extended flat stretch. It was an up and down the whole way. Check out the elevation map at the bottom of this post. It is incredible.

Mile 6 is a blur (not that I ran fast but that I don’t remember much about it). My pace slowed down quite a bit. I really max out at 10K mark. I’m a 10K runner. Anything past that I fade fast. Mile 6 was my first mile over 13 at 13:16. But my overall pace was still under 12:45 which I felt was good considering the humidity and hills.

The Finish
Half way through mile 7 was a gigantic hill. The thing that got me through this hill was the water stop I could see at the top. Even though I took my own water, I always love seeing those water stops. This water stop was at the intersection where we got back on a main road with traffic whipping past. For the next 1.5 miles I had to deal with cars whipping past and more half marathoners passing me. Argh! I switched my focus at this point to my overall pace. My goal was under 13 for the overall pace. Mile 7 slowed even more than mile 6 and I came in at 13:38. Darn it! My overall pace was still barely under 13 but I knew I wasn’t going to make that goal. When I realize that I won’t make a goal, I really start to shut down and stop caring. At that point the only thing I cared about was finishing. I need an attitude adjustment!

The one pick-me-up was when I was passed by a former co-worker, Laura, during my mile 8, her mile 11. She noticed me, and said Hi! She is the one that warned me about the hills and gravel. It was nice to see her, be it briefly as she finish her awesome race. (She ran the half marathon 25 minutes faster than my 10 miler…yep, I’m slow.) I was excited to see the mile 8 sign as we turned off the busy road and on to a somewhat flat stretch of city street. It wasn’t as busy with traffic but a lot of the half runners were grouped around me. I focused on my overall pace and tried my best to keep it under 13.

I almost managed through 9 miles but unfortunately my 14:04 mile 9 pushed me over the 13 minute overall goal. With what was coming during the last mile…I knew I wasn’t going to make up any of the time. At this point, I switch my goal to beating my 15K time from April. That race was disastrous with the unusually hot weather and my tweaked calf muscle. I saw a casualty of the half marathon. A girl was sitting on the bridge and her boyfriend/husband was calling 911. I’m thinking heat stroke?  She looked very dazed. Later, when Eric passed her, she was in an ambulance. Eric said he hoped it wasn’t me in there. At least I know he cares. :P

About a quarter mile into the last mile was the major hill. The race organizers are so cruel. The biggest hill is 3/4 of a mile from the finish. It is over a 50 foot climb, around a bend, then it flattens out for a bit and then another 50 foot climb. It truly is cruel and unusual punishment! You get to the top of the last hill and you have run a “U” to the finish line. So you get to the top of this hill and you see the finish line but you have to run 3 more blocks around the park to get to it….again cruel! I walked up both hills. I wasn’t going kill myself at the end of the race and potentially hurt myself. My last mile was 15:37. My watch said the course was a bit long at 10.08 so my official time was 2:14.24. Not great but not horrible either. I was ok with it given the circumstances. I beat 18 people!  I wasn’t dead last! Yippee!

I was so excited for water (I had ran out!) and the banana. I inhaled the banana and granola bar and walked back to the finish line to see Eric finish. He wasn’t as fast as Valleyfair but still he had a great time of 2:14.25…did you catch that?  His time was 1 second slower than me. He ran 13.1 miles in the same time it took me to run 10. I’m so slow!

We walked down to Lola’s for our burger, beer ok who am I kidding? We had pop and chips. It was nice to get a meal out of the deal too. After the food, we slowly made our way back to the car. It wasn’t a great race. But it was my first official 10 mile race so I PR’d anyways! :)





Grand Canyon

Sunday, June 5, 2016

I’m a little slow at uploading pictures. A week ago, on Memorial Day, we took Eric’s parents to the Grand Canyon. It was the first time they had been to the Grand Canyon. We started the day at the visitor’s center where they watched the video on the Grand Canyon. I waited outside for Eric. He parked in the back 40 and took over 30 minutes to get to visitor center. He didn’t take the most direct route but that’s ok. Once Eric got to the visitor center, we headed to Mathers Point. This is a great introduction to the Canyon.

From there we took the shuttle bus out to Hermit’s Nest. I was very disappointed at the view at Hermit’s Rest. I thought it was going to spectacular but it really wasn’t there were many stops along the way to Hermit’s Nest which looked like they were amazing but I didn’t want to hop and hop off the bus too many times. Next time I go to the Grand Canyon. I’m hopping off before Hermit’s Rest. We all had sandwiches from the small snack shop at Hermit’s rest (the sandwiches were made in Eden Prairie, MN!). And boarded the bus back to our car. The nice thing about were Eric parked is it was right on the shuttle bus route. He didn’t know that at the time he parked…he could have saved himself the over mile walk!

We drove out to Desert View Watchtower. This is one of my favorite spots. I got some nice shots of the watchtower. We learned about the aviation disaster in 1956 where a TWA plane and United Airlines plane collided at 21,000 feet above the Grand Canyon. Very sad indeed! We stopped at a few of the viewpoints on the way back to our hotel. It was a long but very nice day.












Ethan's Graduation

Saturday, June 4, 2016

We celebrated Ethan's graduation on Friday. That was number two this year. It was a short ceremony considering there were over 240 graduates.