Grandma’s Marathon 2012–Race Recap

The third time was a charm!

I have been trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon since my first marathon (Grandma’s Marathon in 2010) but missed qualifying by 2 minutes that year. Then I tried to qualify last year but ran even slower with a time of 3:44 (Mayor’s Marathon in 2011). I was bummed, so I picked an advanced training plan, trained really hard this spring, and it paid off!


My previous PR (personal record) was 3:42:12, which means I cut 15+ minutes off my PR!!

I am ecstatic about this! I’m so pumped the marathon went well, and I can’t wait to see my future potential.

Backing up to Friday. . . .

Craig and I checked out the race expo, picked up my bib, and picked up as many free things as possible.

We also stopped by the Minnesota Pork Producers booth to see my mom promoting pork! (My mom’s in the yellow t-shirt.)


They were handing out pork samples, meat thermometers, recipes, and cutting boards.

Craig with our cutting board.


After the expo, Craig and I took a walk along the water: Lake Superior.


I love being near water—it doesn’t matter if it is a lake, the ocean, a waterfall, etc., I love it all.


Craig and I


A nice Minnesotan offered to take our picture after they saw us attempting to take one ourselves.


Of course Craig had to wreck my picture. Ha!


There, that’s better.


After our walk, it was time to get some food.

Last time I ran Grandma’s Marathon (two years ago), my mom and I discovered this cute little café in Duluth, and as soon as I knew I was running Grandma’s this year, I had planned on eating dinner the night before the marathon at Amazing Grace Bakery and Café.


I ordered pretty much the same thing I did last time: half of a turkey sandwich with cheese, tomato, lettuce, onion, sprouts, mayo, and Dijon mustard. The sandwich was huge for a half of a sandwich. (The picture makes it look deceptively small.)



The evening was too picture-perfect not to spend some more time outside, so we did a little more walking around the water front area.


I love Duluth.

But soon it was time to get off my feet and get some rest before the marathon.

When we got back to the hotel, I laid out my things for the next morning and watched a little TV before hitting the hay. I, of course, didn’t sleep well, but I wasn’t worried because I felt ready to go the next morning.


Since it was a point-to-point course, I had to catch the bus before 6 a.m. to be transported to the start area.

At 7:45 a.m. it was time to go!!


As with everyone, I was super conscientious about not going out too fast at the beginning. I was constantly checking my Garmin to make sure I was staying within my targeted pace.

I knew I needed to average 8:12 minutes/mile in order to run 3:35, which would qualify me for Boston. Yet at the same time, I was pretty confident I could maintain a pace under 8:00 minutes/mile, so after using the first mile to warm-up, I settled into a nice 7:40 minutes/mile pace.

Mile 1 – 7:54

Mile 2 – 7:40

Mile 3 – 7:38

Mile 4 – 7:42


I did a nice job of maintaining that pace for the first 8 miles.

Mile 5 – 7:43

Mile 6 – 7:37

Mile 7 – 7:42 –> took energy gel #1

Mile 8 – 7:42


At this point, I started to feel the affects of the marathon, which scared me because it was definitely too early to be getting tired.

It didn’t help that I desperately had to use the bathroom: the coffee/caffeine went right through me, and I really had to go #2, so I sought out the nearest port-a-potty and got it out of my system. I felt ten times better after that!

Mile 9 – 7:50

Mile 10 – 8:24 –> this is when I had to use the bathroom


Luckily my time didn’t drop off too much after that, but it wasn’t quite as effortless as it was at the beginning.

Mile 11 – 7:49

Mile 12 – 7:48 –> gel #2

Mile 13 – 7:45

Mile 14 – 7:47


I came through the half-way point at 1:42, which made me pretty confident I would be able to qualify for Boston. But if something unexpected did happen, I would have a few minutes to spare.

The next few miles started to get tough, but I still hung on and made it my goal not to let me pace drop below 8 minute miles.

Mile 15 – 7:53

Mile 16 – 7:53

Mile 17 – 7:54

Mile 18 – 8:00 –> gel #3


I put my sister in charge of meeting me at various points to give me my energy gel packets and water. It was so nice I didn’t have to worry about carrying these myself.

I like this picture with my sister running with me and my parents in the background (on the right) cheering for me.


Once we got to mile 19, we were into the city of Duluth and there were tons of people cheering! It helped so much because it took my mind off the pain!!

These last few miles were tough, but I pushed through and stayed focused on my goal.

Mile 19 – 7:43

Mile 20 – 8:13

Mile 21 – 7:58

Mile 22 – 8:02 –> gel #4

Mile 23 – 7:59 –> Lemon Drop Hill had nothing on me!


I rarely use mantras when I race, but for some reason, these two phrases were repeating through my head druing the race:

“You are strong.”


“You have trained harder than 90% of these people.”

Mile 24 – 7:58

Mile 25 – 8:02

Mile 26 – 7:41

I kept giving it everything I had until I crossed the finish line.


Woohoo!! So tired yet so happy with my performance!


I was also super happy that Craig was there to see me run!


I also loved having my family there to cheer me on!

Kristy (my sister), me, and my mom


Kristy, my mom, my dad, me, and Craig


What a great day!! I can’t wait for the next marathon—even if I was thinking, “maybe I should just stick to the half-marathon” at about mile 23 of the race. Ha! Gotta love the addiction!

(Click here to see the professional photos from MarathonFoto.)


35 responses to “Grandma’s Marathon 2012–Race Recap

  1. Wow what an amazing race…congratulations! So you going to run Boston 2013? It is a must do…a bucket list item for runners 🙂 now what that your goal has been accomplished? Enjoy the rest of your summer and best of luck with the job search! Oh and mantras are super powerful there is an awesome book called dancing mind thinking body an excellent read for any athlete! Run on and Run Happy!

    • I want to run Boston in 2013! Now my goal is to keep getting faster. My next goal would be to break 3:20 and then we’ll see from there!

  2. Great job Michelle! Way to run tough. Grandma’s is definitely on my list of marathons I’d like to run in the future.

  3. Woohoo! Great job Michelle! Wish we could have been there to cheer you on.

    PS I’m going to borrow one of your mantras for childbirth.:)

  4. Great race & great report! We probably crossed paths at some point because I recognize the dude with the mohawk (I named him the Mr. T dude) in one of your pictures. Good luck in Boston!

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