What It’s Like Running a Goal Race (unsuccessfully)

Disclaimer: I received an entry into the Grandma’s Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

When I train for a marathon, I train in two ways. I am either training to run a race that I am interested in or excited about or I am training for a goal race. I have trained and ran five races that I was just interested in running and two that were goal races for me. This year, in April was the first one and last month, Grandma’s Marathon was the second one. Total of over six months of training for these two goal races with Grandma’s being the one where I was hoping to run a sub 4-hour marathon.

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I want to start off and talk about how iconic and special Grandma’s Marathon is. If you live in the Midwest and run marathons or have a “one day I will run a marathon” mentality, you probably have Grandma’s Marathon on your list. I have wanted to run this race for many years now. There is just a vibe that Grandma’s Marathon gives off that people fall in love with. It is remarkable how addicted people get to this race. Everything from the extremely fast course, to the views, to the partying, and of course the traditions. I was stoked to experience all of that.

I felt prepared going into marathon weekend. Almost too prepared because I was feeling a little too confident. Physically I was exactly where I wanted to be. Training went well, earlier marathon showed my potential, and I was able to make it through the Spring season without any major injuries. Mentally, well we’ll get to that. The night before I was running up and down the frontage road between my hotel and Highway 35. In my mind I was going through the list of things I need to bring with me to the starting line. Water, Nuun Hydration tablets, Bib (definitely can’t forget that), long sleeve because it is supposed to be chilly, a BibRave Buff® head band, and my shorts and jersey. I remember stretching after that and my mind was just kind of blank.

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Fighting for a cup of coffee with the rest of the runners in the hotel, I grabbed a cup of coffee and a muffin. Walked over to the free school bus shuttle that was filling up with runners to be taken to the starting line. I sat next to a guy with his headphones on and thought that I would throw mine in as well. I don’t run with headphones so I use them as a pre-run mental clearance.

Running around brand new Chevy cars in the dealer parking lot next to the starting line corral in Two Harbors, MN, I wasn’t thinking about anything. I had my routine and I just followed it. There were no corral numbers so I figured I had plenty of time to jump in the bathroom line and do my pre-marathon ritual. Unfortunately, that was not the case. With about a minute before the starting of the race, I walked into the end of the race corral. Definitely not where I wanted to be. I look around and I see that I am next to Pacer 4:45 and boom the race starts.

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This is where I was not prepared mentally. Instead of running my own race, I ran someone else’s. I am not the best at pacing myself consistently so I chose to try to catch the Pacer 4:00 with whom I planned to run with from the beginning. That was my mistake that I believed caused me to miss my mark completely. By the time I caught up to the 4:00 hour pacer, knew that this was not going to be the race where I break 4 hours. I had to make a decision: try to keep up with the pacer and risk injury or DNF, or slow down and enjoy the race.

By mile 14 the sun was beating down hard. The temperatures where close to 70 degrees and I knew that this was not going to happen. I decided to enjoy myself. I knew that the time is not going to be something that I would be proud of but I wanted to make the last half of the race as enjoyable and memorable as possible. I did just that. I enjoyed all the sprinklers that were set up. Gave HIGH FIVES to all the spectators, tried to look good for the WeRunMPLS crew that was out there supporting the runners, played catch with a football while I ran past the college guys, and even enjoyed a beer at mile 22. After the race, I enjoyed all the free food for all the runners but unfortunately that was cut short. Feeling dehydrated, I had to get back to the hotel and recover.

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I ran my goal race at the best physical fitness that I have ever run a marathon, but I completely missed on the mental side of it. Without any mental prep days leading up to the race and before the race started, I made a crucial mistake and was unable to recover from it. Does it suck? Yeah totally. Marathon training take a ton of time and effort and it is no fun when you screw it up. Am I going to complain about it? Not one bit. By missing my mark, I have opened up the door for a 2018 redemption.

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Grandma’s Marathon 2018, registration opens up October 1st, 2017

How did your races go in the first half of 2017?

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Need a PR Race? Run Illinois Marathon!

Disclaimer: I received an entry into the Illinois Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

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I had the privilege of running the Illinois Marathon on April 22nd. This was an important race for me for two reasons. One, I have never run a Spring race and training in the winter in Minnesota is one hell of a challenge. Two, this was my redemption race. With a disappointing finish in my marathon in November, I was eager to make this race count. I accomplished what I set out to do and that is to PR the Illinois Marathon! Training is the typical reason why you PR, but it is all about the race in the end. There is a reason why some of the fastest marathon times are done on a super flat fast course in Berlin. I owe a lot to Illinois Marathon and here is why.

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Pre-Race Weekend: Everything prior to the race weekend was done by the book. I was receiving valuable information regarding the race, partners, medals, lodging and occasional runners humor. Right as I signed up, I looked through the entire site and could find easy and helpful links for getting my lodging sorted out, figuring out race details, and learning the course. The team behind the marathon did an awesome job with their Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts to keep them updated and answer any questions that anyone asked. Week before the race I received a digital packet that had absolutely everything you can think of in there.

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Race Weekend Events: The first thing I did when I got into Champaign, IL is go to the expo. There were a billion volunteers there. Well not a billion, but they were everywhere. They had lines on the floor directing you where you needed to go and the volunteers had awesome foam fingers that pointed in the direction where the expo was. Everyone I talked to was fell informed and had an answer to all my questions. I was running the I-Challenge so I had to pick up two bib, get two string bags, and get two shirts. It was painless. Afterwards, I walked around the expo, bought some last-minute things and took a picture with Abe Lincoln. Once again, everything was well laid out and easy to navigate.

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Race One: On Friday night, I ran the night time 5K. It was my nice warmup to the marathon which was happening the next morning. The course went through the University of Illinois and finished by running into their football stadium. Once again, there were a ton of volunteers there and everyone was super helpful.

 

Race Two: On Saturday morning, I ran the Illinois Marathon. The morning started out great. There was plenty of space to warm up. Volunteers were giving out coffee and bagels, every runners dream. There were plenty of portable bathrooms, and there was a truck that took your gear to the finish line. At the starting line, I found the pacer that I wanted to run with and at the gun we were out for the run. This course is EXTREMELY flat! It is a very fast course to run. It was easy to stay with the pace group, but there was a bit of congestion when we came into the park area in the first 13.1 miles. The race really opened up after the half way point when we dropped off the half marathoners. Along the entire route there were awesome volunteers, drink and food stations, aid stations, and bathrooms. It was an awesome run through the University of Illinois and the surrounding areas and it was pretty freaking awesome running out of the tunnel of the stadium and seeing yourself on the big screen.

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After The Race: After the race I was given an awesome medal, a water, a blanket and shook hands with one of the race directors. I got a sweet picture and was off to the stadium concourse where I got all the food I can ever want. Bananas, chips, pasta, pizza, granola, fruit, water, and sports drink. It was a great way to hold down the extreme hunger that I had after my race. Once you exit the stadium you are greeted with a block party. There is a band, tons of food and most importantly BEER. Every runner got a nice cold one from a local brewery.

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Final Thoughts: This is a race that I will be back to run. Every marathoner’s dream when it comes to the quality of the race and the speed of the course. This has to be one of the fastest courses in the Midwest, maybe right behind Chicago. If you are looking for a Spring race where you know the race director and their team of volunteers is going to kill it and you are going to be able to run straight and flat, the Illinois Marathon is for you.

 

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