Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon 2016: Recap (Part I)

Official time: 2:32:19 (Garmin distance 13.23 so 11:30 pace)

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Tim was probably the greatest sherpa of all time!

So. Wow. This race. I have so many emotions about this race I don’t even know where to begin. Do I talk about my pre-race burnout? The heat? The PR? Not reaching my sub-2:30 goal? The elation I felt at the end?

Since I have no idea how to write this recap, I’ll just start from the beginning of Grandma’s Weekend (for those who don’t know, the Garry Bjorklund is AKA Grandma’s Half Marathon). Tim and I left for scenic Duluth Friday afternoon. We made excellent time, even avoiding the lane closures due to construction! Of course once we got into town traffic all but stopped with everyone trying to get to packet pickup. And since there are only two ways to get from the highway to packet pickup, there was a LONG backup. Thankfully packet pick up was smooth and drama free. No lines whatsoever. I meandered the expo for a little bit, long enough to pick up a #BAMNR tee-shirt, but we still had another 20-25 minutes to get to our hotel, so we didn’t stay.

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Look at all the runners clogging up the freeway!

Our hotel was located in beautiful Cloquet, Minnesota, which is a city that is near impossible to pronounce without a Minnesotan accent! Unfortunately we were given a smoking room (which apparently still exist despite a state-wide ban on smoking in public indoor spaces) and couldn’t switch it because the entire hotel was booked. So was every other hotel in town. And the next town. And the next. I sucked it up, cranked up the fan, and left the window WIDE open. It didn’t help. Thankfully the sheets and pillows smelled fresh, so I was able to sleep OK.

After a quick shakeout run/walk with Tim, we headed to dinner at Applebee’s, where I learned that I would be starting the race at 60 degrees (yay!) and 100% humidity (WTF?). I calmed myself with the memory that the entire race is run alongside Lake Superior, which gives off beautiful cool breezes all year round, so I wasn’t worried.

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Carbo-loading for the big day!

We headed back for an early bed time since we had to be up and moving at 3:45am Saturday morning. Unfortunately the people above us were not keen on that idea and chose to have marching band practice or some crap because they were the LOUDEST WALKERS OF ALL TIME. These weren’t large hotel rooms. Not a lot of room to move! But, in any case, we finally fell asleep.

At 4am we were ready to check out of the room and get our long morning started. The hotel was nice enough to set out breakfast earlier than usual (I assume for the runners). This also was good for casino-weary travelers as well. We got our ears talked off by a man who eventually offered us a ride “to help us support the Grandmas.” No thank you.

Because the start line is rather remote, there are NO private vehicles allowed. Everyone needed to take a bus to the start, and there were lots of pick up points. Tim dropped me off at a bus at 4:45. Unfortunately, due to the large amount of people busing and the ridiculous way to get to the start, it was almost an HOUR before I got to the start line.

The race started at 6:15. I got off the bus at 5:45. That left me 30 minutes to drop my bag, get in a potty line, and mentally prepare myself. Only all the porta-potties had STUPID long lines. And bag check was kind of a cluster. And there was a giant mass of humanity. And I hadn’t pooped in 24 hours (TMI, sure, but runners, you know how important it is to poo before a race!!).

So I quickly threw my bag in the self-check box, forgetting to take off my glasses. Then I attempted to get in line for a potty, but they were too long, so I figured I’d just stop at a potty along the way. I made my way to the start area and lo and behold, there was the large bank of potties like you typically see at a race. And the line was moving quickly. So I hopped in the line just as the national anthem began. And when it was my turn to use it, SOME JERK CUT IN LINE AND TRIED TO TAKE MY SPOT. Both the guy coming out of the potty and I gently pulled the woman away and told her where the line began. As I was FINALLY relieving myself, the gun went off. Oh, and it wasn’t a wave start like I thought. So when I finally got out of the bathroom, I just had to make my way with the crowd of people running all different paces. Six minutes after the gun went off, I crossed the start line.

(Part II to come tomorrow!)

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