Sunday, July 3, 2011

Grandmas Marathon Duluth, MN 6/18/11

State #18
5:08:36 Chip Time

Part One - Road Trip
This marathon started out as a road trip from Milwaukee to the Apostle Islands in Northern Wisconsin to celebrate my birthday with some car camping and a kayak trip to the caves, leaving 2 days before the marathon to tackle the 6 hour drive. We camped overnight at the state campground on Madeline Island, took the ferry back to the mainland the next morning for a guided sea kayak tour. When the guide started out by explaining this was his first group to lead, I was thinking he was going to say for the season. But he continued to share that this was his first ever trip to guide, ever. He did fine but I think he needed to check with each boat individually before we launched to make sure everyone was set-up. Neat area to explore.

Garmin Track (activity was kayaking, not running)

Lessons learned
1) Thruhikers have a hard time converting to being quality car campers. We (mainly me) brought way too much stuff.
2) Double kayaks are usually not a good idea when more than 1 captain gets into the boat.
3) Kayak rudders are Good, with a capital G.
4) Solitude is unrealistic when kayaking the same weekend as the kayak symposium is in town.
5) Lake Superior is cold.

Madeline Island Ferry (held about 10 cars)

Local coffeeshop in Bayfield, WI
Part Two - Grandmas Marathon
       This was my first experience exclusively pacing a first time marathoner. Typically when I am running a marathon I chat with the runners going the same pace and if they are first timers then offer them encouragement and check in with them to make sure they are fueling and hydrating properly, at least in a way that will help them not bonk and get them to the finish. In this case, my boyfriend was attempting his first marathon with a rapid decrease in running mileage the 5 weeks leading up to the race due to a sprained ankle from a long run on the treadmill. I was very nervous to say the least and gave him several bail out opportunities beforehand and one as we passed our cabin at the halfway point.
      The course is a point to point race along the shores of Lake Superior on roads from northeast of Duluth with the finish in downtown Duluth. You are not allowed to park at the start so we got up really really early to park at the finish line and take the train to the start. It was raining and overcast as we walked from the parking lot to the train, I was worried that the rain would persist for the entire marathon because that usually makes things pretty miserable. The train ride was an hour, we brought scones and coffee to fuel us up for the challenge. The race started a few minutes late, with the rain dissipating about 20 minutes before the start time. Luckily the rain held off for the race with clouds sticking around to keep temperatures cool. For most of the race, they had the "change of hypothermia" weather banners at the aid stations. My favorite aid station was a rogue one in the first few miles that a local coffee shop set up and they had mocha frappachino type drinks in small cups they were handing out.
Pre race sleepy photo in our rental cabin
Water and/or gatorade at every aid station, Gu Shot blocks with 1 package about every 8 miles, fueling was going pretty well. Hedgehog brought his nano to listen to music for late in the race and put it on around mile 18 as he said it was getting to him thinking about never running that far ever. He took it off 3-4 miles later when I started chatting with another runner, and when we were starting to approach town and the scenery changed with more houses and people cheering. The last mile in town was a convoluted series of twists and turns where you couldn't actually see the finish line until the last 0.2 miles, very challenging to the mind of a first time marathoner. Finish area was very crowded, they ran out of finishers shirts in my size, and the area was confusing and largely by pure luck we made it back to the car without any extra walking. We avoided the recovery area and grabbed chocolate milk, mountain dew and potato chips at a gas station heading back to the cabin. Showers, naps, then dinner at the mall with frozen custard for desert (custard shops are EVERYWHERE in Wisconsin/Minnesota).