I went into this weekend with a whole lot of emotions. I was excited to run the amazing course and such a storied race. I was nervous because there was supposed to be rain/storms. I was frustrated because I hadn’t trained like I had planned. And I was exhausted from all of the feelings! But with all that said the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon was an amazing adventure!
A few weeks ago I considered skipping the race since my training was next to nonexistent and I wasn’t feeling prepared. Also, because I had hoped when I registered this would be the race where I could PR my half marathon time by 10%, and I knew that wasn’t happening! But I decided I would put my big girl running shoes on and give it what I could. I am happy I made that decision because it is one of the best race memories I have!
Friday I drove the 2.5 hours to Duluth, the drive was actually really nice. I found myself chuckling during the drive because it became obvious early on that a lot of people on the road were on their way to Grandma’s Marathon weekend (Grandma’s is the sponsor of the full marathon), I saw more 13.1/26.2 stickers than I think I had in all of my life that afternoon. I also saw a lot of running shoes hanging in peoples windows (is this something I am missing out on?).
Once I got into Duluth, I went directly to the expo to get my packet, then I headed to the hotel to meet my mom. After checking and catching up with my mom we headed out to do a few errands. At this time, I really started getting worried about the weather for race day. I wasn’t sure I was as prepared as I wanted to be clothing-wise. I packed about 4 race outfits but for some reason, I didn’t think I had the right gear. I ran to Target to get myself a long sleeved shirt just in case I would need it, mind you I already had a running rain repelling jacket…
I laid everything out the night before and did decide that I would wear that shirt I had just picked up. I set my alarm and hit the bed because I knew it would be a early morning. And, yes it was. When the alarm went off, I immediately check the weather on my phone. It said it wouldn’t start raining until 7am, I thought “Well, at least I will get a few miles in before I have to deal with it!” Then I was up and getting ready.
I headed down for breakfast, it was really nice because the hotel started breakfast at 4:30am since so many runners were staying there. I ate my bagel and peanut butter and then headed out to catch the shuttle to the bus that would take me to the start line. As I was on the way to the starting line I thought through what my plan would be and decided that I would run with the 2:45 pace team. If I finished with them I would get a PR but it wouldn’t be as much as I wanted, but it would still be a PR.
I got in line for the port-a-potty and soon I realized there was no way I would make it through before the start of the race. I knew it was chip timed so I figured getting the bathroom break out of the way and starting late was better than waiting in line on the course. So, I started late. Only issue with that was that the pace team was long gone.
I made it the first mile and ended up getting hot, I took the “much needed” long sleeve shirt off, glad I had go to Target for that! And then the rain started! It wasn’t bad just a constant light rain, I knew I could deal with that. As I approached mile three I saw a pace team in front of me about a quarter mile or so. I debated if I should push it to catch them or just run my own race. I decided to push it!
I caught up and sure enough it was the 2:45 pace team. I ran with them for the majority of the race from there on out. I am really glad I did because it was exactly the right pace for me with my lack of training. At about mile eight I checked with the pacer to see where we should be and based on his pace band we were right on track for a 2:45 finish, that meant I was on pace for about a 2:42 finish since I start after the race started. I was ecstatic!
However, at mile 1o it all started to unravel! My knee was killing me, I have always had issues with my IT Band and it decided to rear its ugly head. And if that wasn’t enough my feet were really starting to hurt, I felt blisters starting on the bottom of my feet from my wet socks and shoes. I really debated if I should just stop there (I saw a drop out point) but decided to keep on. I figured I only had a 5K left and if I had to walk the rest of the race I would still finish better than my slowest half marathon time. So, I let the pace team slowly get out of my grasp.
From there on out I pushed myself as much as I could, and with less than a mile to go I could see that I would be getting a PR and depending on how much I could push it, it wouldn’t be anything to laugh at. So I did, and did it suck! But it paid off because when I crossed the finish line I PR’d my half time by 1:45. A minute and 45 seconds! That is huge!
I got my finisher medal & shirt and headed to the food. They had a good assortment but all I cared about were the potato chips and the Salted Nut Roll! Then it was off to the family meeting area to meet my mom. We walked around the post race area for a while and then headed to a good vantage point to watch the marathon finishers come in.
All in all, I am so happy with the weekend. If I had trained more I possibly could have hit that 1o% PR goal but maybe I wouldn’t have, I will never know. But what I do know is that I did my best and had a good time doing it and that is what really matters!!!