I have been struggling what to write about for my 2017 Grandma’s Marathon race recap… but before we get to that, I’ll chat a little bit about the entire weekend. 

William A. Irvin 5k Finishers | Crazy Running Girl


Melissa and I actually signed up for the Great Grandma’s Challenge, where you run the 5k on Friday night and Grandma’s Marathon on Saturday. I’ll write a full recap for the 5k next week, but the highlight of the weekend was definitely the marathon. 

We got up to Duluth and hit the expo immediately since we couldn’t check in to our hotel, and it wasn’t too busy yet. At packet pick-up, we had a little struggle finding the Great Grandma’s Challenge bibs… and the volunteer we asked thought we were completely nut jobs for running both races. That gave us a good laugh. 

2017 Grandma's Marathon Bib Pick Up | Crazy Running Girl


I found my name! | Crazy Running Girl

Since it was such a beautiful day outside, we spent some time checking out Lake Superior and relaxing before the 5k. Somehow, the race was timed perfectly where the hot sun went away (I should say the weather was perfect for hanging out outside, not running) and the clouds rolled in. 

After the 5k, we went to the same place I did last year for pre-race fuel —> the Ledge Rock Grille at Larsmont Cottages. I opted for the walleye with wild rice and ate a ton of bread.

Ledge Rock Grille dinner at Larsmont Cottages | Crazy Running Girl

At this point, Melissa and I were still fretting about the weather (seriously, I’ve talked about the weather more in the past week than the weatherman) and stressing a bit about the race because we both felt like it crept up on us just way too fast. But it was here, and what were we going to do? 

I think I ended up going to bed around 11 and we woke up around 5:30 to get ready and head over to the expo. This year, we stayed at the Hampton Inn right near the finish in Canal Park and it was amazing to walk to the expo and to grab the shuttle; as well as walk back after the race. 

Sunrise in Duluth, MN before Grandma's Marathon | Crazy Running Girl


The shuttle bus pickup was on the other side of the convention center so it took us a little bit longer than we thought to get there… and so we managed to catch the last bus! 

We got to the race start about 40 minutes before and immediately hit up the port-a-potty lines, which was a good thing… they were really long, even though there were a ton of them! The weather wasn’t that freezing at this point, but we were chilled and took that as a good sign. 

With Melissa, pre-Grandma's Marathon in 2017 | Crazy Running Girl


Our last words to each other before we went to our corrals were “umm is this really happening?” I think we were still in disbelief that the race was really here! 

For some reason, the race started about four minutes late… so at 7:49, we were off. My goal was to start out at a slower pace so I could keep the whole running strong and consistent thing alive. It was really hard because you feel so good at first and can’t help but sprint out! 

At this point, we had some nice cloud coverage and it felt pretty amazing. Around mile 2, I started to settle into a pace and noticed a group near me that seemed to be running together at the same pace. I asked them if they were shooting for 8s, and they said yes for that period of time, so we ran together. 

This is when things start to get a little fuzzy —> as Melissa and I joke, I think I blacked out for a good chunk of the race. I mostly was worried about my fueling strategy, how to stay mentally strong and for some reason, whether a tattoo impacts how well you sweat (seriously thought about this for about 5 miles). 

2017 Grandma's Marathon Finisher! | Crazy Running Girl


My fueling strategy

I had a lot going on with my fueling strategy and I think that’s why it was a really good distraction. Pre-race, I had a bagel and some PROBAR Bolts, plus a hardboiled egg. During the race, this is how it went down:

  • Honey Stinger Gels: I took a full one at mile 3, and every 3 miles after that, I would take half a gel.
  • SaltStick Capsules: I took one every 5 miles starting at mile 5 (and instead of mile 10, at mile 11 because of water stop timing)
  • Water/Powerade: I love that they have Mountain Berry Powerade because I feel like lemon-lime tastes so gross in the heat. I took water every two miles starting at mile 3 and grabbed some Mountain Berry more frequently towards the end. 
  • Ice: It doesn’t count as fueling per se, but I poured ice in my sports bra at every single water stop and would grab a sponge or two too. I swear this was a savior. 


Unlike this year’s Boston Marathon, where I ended up feeling nauseous, this went down without a hitch and was amazing. I felt like this made me run really strong. 


My paces

As I said last week, my goal was to run a consistent race with my splits in the 7:55-8:00 range. Over half of my race was run within that range: 

My splits at the 2017 Grandma's Marathon | Crazy Running Girl

I was really proud of this consistency and as you can see, I fell off towards the end… you know, hitting the wall part of the race (and Lemon Drop Hill). I was able to pick it up to get to the finish line a little quicker… but I am really proud of my paces and how I was able to be so consistent. 

One of the reasons behind this was finding people running my pace and sticking with them. It made me spend less mental energy trying to concentrate on what pace I was running and it was nice to have company (even though said people didn’t realize it). 

And it paid off —> 3:30.02, a one minute and 17 second PR!


My gear

Race day gear for 2017 Grandma's Marathon | Crazy Running Girl


I was really happy with what I chose to wear for this race, too. Seriously, everything just seemed to work together! Here is what I wore and carried with me:

  • Brooks Ghost Racerback Tank: I actually wore this same tank last year, just in a different color! I love how light this one is, which was perfect as I did get really wet with the ice/water/sponges and it didn’t feel weighted down.
  • UA HeatGear Middy: These are 5″ and DO NOT MOVE. I love them for that… no worries about chaffing and they are super comfy. 
  • Brooks Running Launch 4: This year’s Boston Marathon was the first time I raced in these shoes, and I’m in love. They are so light and feel so good on my feet! I still use my beloved Glycerins for training, but do love these for racing and faster runs. 
  • FlipBelt
  • Garmin 220
  • Kaenon Sunglasses


My race thoughts

There are so many things I love about Grandma’s Marathon. Obviously, I’ve PRed both times I’ve run here so I think it’s a race that will always have a special place in my heart. But here are the top 5 things that stand out to me for this race:

  • THE PEOPLE. The organizers, the volunteers, the crowd support… it’s all amazing and such a MN feel, which is partly why I think I love this race so much. Everyone is so nice and they’ve done this race so many times, they know how to do it right. 
  • THE COURSE. I love point-to-point courses the best, and this one is absolutely beautiful. You run in the woods for awhile and then it opens up to views of Lake Superior, which are breathtaking. From there, you end up in the city and finish downtown with a mass of crowds. Just amazing. Note, it is NOT a flat course… there are rolling hills but they are definitely gentle. Love this. 
  • THE SWAG. The medal and the shirts were on point this year! I love that we also got a hoodie for the Great Grandma’s Challenge. 
  • THE CITY. Duluth goes all out for this and it’s amazing to be in the heart of it all. We did the post-race festival on Saturday night, and it was a great time! Even better since we had some major PRs to celebrate. 🙂 
  • THE EXPERIENCE. This is an incredible race experience. Everything mentioned above contributes to the overall experience, but it’s amazing. There’s a reason I already booked my hotel for next year. 😉


Linking up with Susie, Rachel and Debbie for Running Coaches’ Corner —> 



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