Late last year when I read that Grandma’s Marathon would be celebrating its 40th Anniversary I knew that I had to enter the event. I had run 49 marathons; Grandma’s had been my first-back in 1998 and would be my 50th marathon. I have run 11 Grandma’s Marathons.
With a few 50Ks earlier this year, Psyco Wyco in February and Chippewa in April, I wasn’t too concerned about training for a marathon. I and my friends, Heidi and April, began to run each Tuesday after school, on pavement, so I was getting my legs used to the asphalt. I ran a few 20s and a 30 on asphalt and felt good. So good, in fact, that I decided to enter FANS 24 hour run. I changed my mind, a week before FANS, as I was feeling some neuroma pain in my ‘good’ foot. I knew my foot would hold up for a marathon on asphalt but rethought the 24 hour business.
Heidi has relatives who live exactly on Mile 22 of the course, on London Road, on Lake Superior, right at the base of Lemon Drop hill. What a location ! Her relatives opened their home to 16 of us. Seriously. We weren’t even cramped!! They were the most hospitable, welcoming, warm people I have probably ever met.
Friday 4 of us rode together and rolled into the Expo about 4. I actually ran into people that I knew just by chance. It was a blast. I messaged Kim and we met up for a quick hello. So much fun to see good old friends.
We made our way to our hosts’ home for a dinner they prepared. Spaghetti, meat sauce, various salads, fruit, breads, a real banquet. We walked around the property, checked out the lake, the beautiful home and the lot. I was first to bed, at 830PM. That’s me!
At 430 I awoke, without an alarm, this is my regular wake time. I dressed and got myself ready for the day. I went up hoping for coffee and of course, our hosts had coffee brewing. Incredible.
The others began to filter into the beautiful 4 season sun room. We had breakfast and checked out the weather. A gorgeous sunrise was showing itself over Lake Superior, right in the back yard. It was amazing. The forecast had called for rain/thunderstorms but that was not going to happen today. I certainly didn’t think it was going to be a black flag excessive heat warning, as it was!
For breakfast I had a sweet potato, avocado, coconut manna bowl. I sprinkled half a scoop of UCAN over it. Delish. My new pre race/long run meal for days I have time for digestion.
Since February I have been training using a low heart rate-140 (Phil Maffetone) or below-and have been adding more fats to my diet, in an effort to be able to burn more fat while running, not being so dependant upon gels. This gel every 30 minutes has become tiresome. (Superior 100) Also, the 140 HR allows a speedy recovery for me. Tracy has been helping me to train in this manner the past 4 months. I’m loving it!
We were only down the hill from The Edgewater, where the busses were delivering runners to the start. We grabbed all of our stuff and were off. We rode the busses to the start and were ready to rock and roll!
Riding the bus to the start I couldn’t help but recall previous Grandma’s Marathons that I had run. My first. The one I ran with Dad. My family waiting on London Road. All of the friends I have met. So many memories.
As I was walking to the bag drop off I ran into so many people that I know from running. I wasn’t looking for anyone, but yet I saw Kelly, Jim, Shelly, Doug, it was crazy. 10,000 people and again I am running into others that I know.
I removed my sleeves, it was already warm, it was going to be a toasty day. There wasn’t a breeze, either.
The herd began to move toward the starting line, here it was, my 50th marathon!
I kept my heart rate at 140 or below the whole way. The heat caused it to rise a few times. I noticed the black flag warning of excessive heat at about mile 10. I then drank, grabbed a sponge at the aid stations and walked until it came back down to 140. Only a few steps, and back down it went. I wasn’t going to push it.
During the race I used a scoop of UCAN at mile 18, I had a strawberry and orange slice during the race that was handed out.
At about mile 11 I was running along and pretty soon Scott was at my side! What a nice surprise! He and Greg were running together. We gabbed for a while and then they were running too fast.; I looked at my HRM and told them to have a good race, I was staying at 140. That was my plan.
At mile 19 I began to look for Kim, it was so great to see her and Barry. Hugs. I was ready to move on. At mile 22 I stopped to say hello to our hosts, then up the hill I climbed, onto the finish line.
I was getting warm. It was toasty. I saw the 445 pace time pass me, I was ok with that. My first marathon and slowest marathon was 459. I felt that this 50th marathon would probably be about the same. I was happy with that. I only wanted to finish healthy. My feet didn’t hurt at all, nothing hurt. I was in a good place, albeit it a bit warm.
I thought about the 18 years that have passed since I first ran this marathon. I thought about my family, the friends that I have made, the sobriety I have kept, all of the lift changes…running has been a constant.
I am truly blessed. I crossed the finish line with tears in my eyes and a smile on my face. 4:50. I felt fantastic!