Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Grandma's Marathon

Friday afternoon and we are parked at the DECC. Building at the right (below) is the Great Lakes Aquarium, well worth a visit.
After picking up our race numbers and bags, checking our chips, we toured the expo, stopping now and then to chat with friends and acquaintances. Spectacular clouds were an attraction of the weekend... and we hoped these clouds on Friday afternoon would shade the race course on Saturday. Our Caribou skim milk lattes had carried us through the expo, and then we stopped again at Caribou to fill out 16 ounce Thermoses with skim milk latte for 4am Saturday morning... Then a stop at the Duluth Co-op for a few more lunch things... and up the shore to Brighton Beach on Lake Superior to eat lunch.
Pre-race dinner... Much discussion these days about the best pre-race food. Good visiting with Don's folks in the afternoon, and then our gracious host prepared and cooked this wild-caught Alaska salmon on the grill. We had fresh cooked sweet potatoes and whole grain rice pasta (gluten free) with organic tomato sauce with fresh chopped basil. Marathon Day, and up at pre-dawn 4:00.
Below: dawn.. as we were boarding the North Shore Scenic Railroad train, destination: start line at Two Harbors. As the train pulled out, a sign flashed an ominous 62 degrees. We 2 ran our best marathon in NYC in 2006, when the temperature was mostly in the 50's. Through the reflections on the train window, see the white dome of the Veterans Amphitheater on the right, the Duluth aerial bridge.. just right of center.. and you can just make out the long brown ore ship (white on either end) going out heavy. Oh Joy!! Riding the train is the BEST! Happiness is. Fabulous transportation to the start line: a train ride, free coffee, restrooms until we got off half an hour before the race... at the start line! Getting lined up for the race... slopping on
VANICREAM SPF 35 Sunscreen Sport, Pharmaceutical Specialites, Rochester MN with active ingredients Zinc oxide 8%, Octinoxate 7.5%. (no PABA or oxybenzone) www.psico.com
That stuff really works.. wherever you actually apply it!!!! The North Shore Scenic train (in the shade, below) waits at the start and then slowly chuggs its way back to Duluth, stopping at strategic points to watch the elete runners, and for first class passengers there is full breakfast. A moment of silence for Wesly Ngetich,
winner of the marathon in 2007, murdered in his native Kenya.
The Star Spangled Banner.
And after the starting gun, "Chariots of Fire" ... Sorry folks, but I never tire of that melody, wishing I could say with Eric Liddell, "God made me fast."

And we're off.. runners as far as the eye can see! Clouds! Amazing in their number.. and their random ability to avoid being between us and the sun.
The first three miles were glorious of course... and then miles 4 through 7 were nice marathon pace, followed by a very fast porta potty stop (2 empty portas conveniently side-by-side), and three more pretty satisfactory miles.

Art and Helen have been amateur radio (HAM) communication volumteers for all the years of the marathon, most recently a fixture at mile 7, retired from duty this year. We missed them.

The "60% cloud cover" promised by the weather service never really materialized to our benefit.
We were grateful to a family member and friend who met us curb-side with a cooler of water.. some of which we poured over our heads and the rest we drank or carried with us.
Official water stops had adequate... but NOT cold water and Ultima (which we had tried earlier and didn't care for).
Early water stops had ice.. which we dumped down our backs and tucked in clothes.
Between miles 12 and 18 1/2 the road is bright white reflecting sunshine, hard rocks embedded in concrete, and fairly boring unless you really like trees.. too far from the road to provide shade. This picture does not do justice to the reflected bright heat. When we picked up water from our support people, we also picked up an umbrella, which we took turns using as a sun-parosol on that very bright stretch of road. Must mention the two women who came out with a tray of water cups and proclaimed their support of slower runners. That might have been somewhere around mile 20 .. on London Road.

The official high for the day was 73 at the airport... but we know that a residential thermometer registered
80 degrees .... just 3/4 of a mile from the race course at mile 20.

After mile 20, on London Road where we had shade... but also shelter from the cooling breezes, Sweet Pea started choosing sitting down in the grass and stretching instead of running. "I have to sit down," she said.
A pain in the arch of my foot, just behind the big toe joint, felt like a multiple fracture that would render me unable to walk for the rest of my life.
I have been working out with 10 pound free weights, but muscles across the back of my ribs and the front of my abdomen would not give up their aching.
Finally I said ... we have sat down enough times now...
And we charged up Lemon Drop Hill.
Across the street a motel sign flashed Marathon Runners... 3.9 miles to the finish.
As we were nearing the high point, I had been watching the darkest approaching cloud of the day... and on the down side of the hill.....
A windy 8 minute spotty shower furnished us with a cool drenching, another use for the umbrella (!) which I had intended to ditch, and an excuse to take shelter in a gas station for just a few minutes (in case there might be lightning).
This shot, taken when the rain was about over, does not quite do justice to the downpour. Energized by the thought of actually crossing the finish line, we charged on, met after mile 24 by Faithful Runner Don, who had finished the race. The last 2 miles were easy.
An iced Caribou latte was great post-race refreshment.
Back at Don's folks we put on a turkey curry crock pot, and after snacking for while, we began dinner with one of Runner Dude's Dad's fabulous salads.

Sunday morning at church we were among the marathon finishers who were introduced!

Due to unstable air caused by an approaching weather front from the Dakotas, we were entertained by a marvelous display of cloud formations on our drive home.

Grandma's Marathon: run and finished. See you next year.


Backofpack said...

Congratulations! A great race report. I love watching clouds - must be from living where there are so many. You did well managing in the heat. I tried Ultima once and didn't like it either. And, I don't know that I have ever had cold water in a race, seems to me it's always warm!

Nat said...

Way to go! I wish I could have seen you two come in. I saw Don come in to Downtown Duluth. He looked great. I love your pictures!

Steve Stenzel said...

NICE JOB OUT THERE!!! (my day didn't go so well....)

Great photo of those pop-up downpours that Saturday had for all of us!!

ShirleyPerly said...

Great job and love all the photos!! Indeed, that train ride to the start sounds wonderful. And who would have thought to bring an umbrella to a marathon?

If I don't get into the Zoom Yah Yah indoor marathon (lottery this weekend), Grandma's is probably going to be the race I do in Minnesota next year. And it looks great as well.

Jeff said...

Congrats! Great photos and race report - I feel like I was there (except for the part about running 26+ miles in warm temps!).

DawnB said...

Great race report Thank you the photos are amazing. Look like an amazing time.

Anonymous said...

Well done :)

Nice race report and wonderful pictures!

Hope the foot pain is better.

Bob - BlogMYruns.com said...

wild-caught Alaska salmon on the grill
ahhhh nice pre-race dinner- yummy

Cool train ride to the line...sounds like a well runned (pun intended) event & wow a lot of people !!

Congrats to u all & love the re-cap & photos!! Enjoy ur week & recover well!

JustRun said...

Fantastic!!! Congratulations! And thanks for all the photos.

Oh, and both your pre-race and post-race meals sound fabulous!

Again, Congratulations. :)

Unknown said...

Congratulations on another marathon accomplishment!!

As always, your post has the best pics. :)

CewTwo said...

What a great report! You didn't sound tired at all!

There is so much to see and experience during a race. I loved the pictures of all the people!

My second half-marathon was run through a smaller mountain town. One house had a sprinkler running in the street in front of their house. It was for the runners and I sure took advantage of that! (That is where I felt like sitting down for a bit). I shook off the water, smiled by biggest smile, waved to the great, thoughtful people and ran on!

Great Job! Congratulations on another notch in your belt!

rocketpants said...

GREAT JOB!! Congratulations. I love all the pictures and the descriptions.

Vickie said...

Great job! You two (3) amaze me, on and on you run, no matter the weather. And great medals! On to the next adventure.

peter said...

Yay! Another marahon finished. Congrats. You had the full range of weather conditions, pretty much.

Rich said...

Congratulations!! Sorry it took me so long to get here; I've been so behind on reading. Great report from early morning to race-end!

You know I have to ask ... that last pic of your medals ... I've got a vacant spot just waiting for it. How about it? :-)