We took the 6:00 am shuttle bus up to the start in Two Harbors. The ride seemed to take forever and I was a bundle of nerves. Eventually we got to the drop off point at the start in Two Harbors and the first thought I had was, “crap, I have to run back to Duluth, that is a long way!” Well duh, I had been sort of training for this so that should not have been a surprise to me but for some reason it was.
We had about 45 minutes to wait for the start. It was very foggy and cloudy the entire drive but all of the sudden the sun came out and my thought was crap, it will get hot. So we headed to the medical tent for some sunscreen. Like usual, I failed to get in the bathroom line with enough time to use it before the start. I had a similar problem with the half marathon two years ago. Some year I will run a race at Grandma’s and actually start at the right time.
After a quick bathroom stop we headed to the start. They were playing The Emperor's Theme from Star Wars. Seriously. It is like a death march ugh! But I was off. I tried to make sure not to go out to fast. The sun disappeared…thank God and the fog rolled in. For the longest time I couldn’t see more than 100 feet ahead of me. The nice thing is it was cool. That helped a lot. I was very happy and surprised with my first 11 miles. I kept them all under 14 minutes which is huge for me. And they were all fairly consistent. I think I finally felt a runner’s high during mile 10! But it was short lived. Around mile 12 it started to pour and I thought oh no, blisters! It was not fun but thankfully it was only a couple minutes and my feet didn’t seem to get too wet, the rest of me was soaked. It also made me chilly…but I’d rather be chilly than hot!
Half and beyond
Coming up to mile 13, I was very impressed with my time. I managed to have my fastest half marathon without running with Eric. It was also my first sub 3 half in almost 3 years. I was thrilled. I wasn’t sure what to expect after the half way mark as my training on maxed out at 13 miles. I was pleasantly surprised that my miles were not getting that much slower. I creeped in to the 14 minute mile mark but considering that most of my half marathons end with 15+ minutes miles, this was amazing. I managed to keep my miles under 15-minute pace through 16 miles. Woo hoo!!
During miles 17-19 things were starting to fall apart. I was still trying to run as much as I could. These miles ended up in the 16-minute pace which to me was ok. But I knew I had to keep going at this pace to make my goal of 6:40 marathon.
Mile 20 was tough, during the middle of it I was texting my niece, Danielle, asking her to do math for me because my marathon brain couldn’t think. I’m very grateful for her doing this for me. She told me what pace I had to maintain for the last 6 miles to match my goal time and also the course cut off time. I was happy when she said that I could walk 20 minute miles and still beat the course cut off. Haha!
So I bounced back from mile 20 with a good mile 21…I had a 16 minute pace again. I decided to walk for a bit longer and eat my granola bar. After about a half a mile I wanted to start running again. My upper body was onboard but my legs and feet didn’t get the message. Most people “hit the wall” while running the marathon. I didn’t hit a wall, I hit the ground. I can laugh now but at the time it hurt and I seriously thought my day was done. It was a hard landing on the ground. My hands, elbow, shoulder, knee and head all hit hard, not at the same time. I could have done without my head hitting the ground. I was a bit dizzy for a second but I pulled myself up, somehow, and pressed on. I’m not sure how many people saw me. I know the guy behind me did. I wiped off my hands and elbow with the sponge I was carrying. And I started to cry. Stupid emotions, this is not the time or place! So the guy behind me caught up and asked if I was alright. I said yes through the tears and continued my walk. I’m pretty sure I cried the rest of the way to the 22 mile marker. Even with the fall, I still had an 18 minute mile. I had just over 4 miles left and I was done running. It was a 4 mile death march to the finish.
After the mile 22 marker, God sent me a guardian angel. Her name is Courtney and she is the reason I made my goal. She was also done running for the day but wanted a walking partner. When I walk by myself, I’m slow, but when I get with somebody who walks fast, I will walk fast. She had us going at a 16 minute mile pace. That is a fast walk for me but I felt great the whole time. I really didn’t have much pain the last 3 miles. I was feeling awesome. As we got closer and closer to Duluth, I kept an eye on my time and I was trying to do math in my head. We hit mile 23 at 5:40:31. That meant that I had hour to go 3.2 miles. I could easily do that. I finally relaxed and enjoyed the brisk walk to the finish line.
Final time: 6:34:55
I did it! I ran a marathon without Eric’s help. I crush my goal time of 6:40:00 and I had a monster PR. I finished 31 minutes faster than the Little Rock Race. Overall, I’m very happy with my results.