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2018 Grandma’s Marathon – 2:53!

I am really proud of how Grandma’s went this year. In part because it was a 5 minute post-baby marathon PR, but also because I put my head down and went to WORK that morning. It was not my best day. Sometimes marathons are like that. That’s the nature of the beast.

The first 4 miles felt okay. Not great, not bad. I wasn’t springy by any means, but I chalked that up to a poor warm-up. I typically have a great routine – four minutes with 30 minutes to the start and another four minutes 10-15 minutes to go – but I was a little frazzled between figuring out the elite sweat drop location, porta-potties, and finding Craig and Sara (F42 in the picture below). I had chatted with Sara after her 2:47 at CIM and have followed her OTQ dream ever since. We decided to start out together and then her plan was to drop the hammer the last 10k.

I posted this on Facebook and Sara commented that she hated the way her face looked. When I first say this picture I immediately hated how much my mom-stomach showed in the new XS Run N Fun/Brooks singlet. It made me sad to realize how critical we all of ourselves.

After 4 miles at 6:30 pace, Craig said that it was time to start notching down the pace. I tried, but a little bit of clumsiness came on (NOTHING like I used to have!) and I could tell I was reaching for a pace that wasn’t natural. Heck, even 6:30s-6:35s felt more like work than they probably should have! I noted to myself that I didn’t nail the taper perfectly.

At 1/2 way I saw a 1:25:40-something split. I hadn’t been paying attention – I guess I thought I had been staying closer to 6:30s than I actually was – so asked Craig if the clock was right. I did the math: if I can hold on to this pace, it would be a 2:51. Not my goal, but also not bad. Keep going, Nichole. Keep going!

I placed my bottles perfectly along the course. One at mile 7, one at mile 13, and a last bottle at mile 22. I had the majority of a gel at all three of those bottles (taped to the outside), plus UCAN hydrate inside the bottle. The green pipe cleaner handles worked great! Very easy to spot & grab!

I had another gel at mile 17 when volunteers handed them out. Total fuel was as follows:

  • Oatmeal in morning (larger portion)
  • Banana 60 minutes before
  • Chocolate UCAN w/ protein – heavily concentrated – sipped on all morning, majority of it taken with 45 mins to race start.
  • Gel at mile 7, 13, 18 (grabbed it at 17, stomach was pretty full so I carried it for a mile), and 22 (didn’t take much of that one)
  • Water at every water stop

Around mile 17 I started hating life. There’s a point in every marathon where that happens, right? I contemplated stepping aside. I wondered why I hadn’t taken up a hobby more like knitting or gardening. Then I remembered my TNC athletes out on the course. I definitely can’t quit. Nope. Plus, even though I’m not feeling great and paces are becoming more and more effort, I know I’ve hurt worse in workouts. I know I can power through. I had one 7:00 mile around the 20 mile mark. I allowed myself to slow to a pace that felt comfortable and boy, it felt nice to ease up! I quickly realized that it didn’t actually hurt less to run at 7:00/mile pace, though – and that just meant I’d have to be on the course longer – so I picked it back up to 6:35s/6:40s.

When I said I put my head down and “went to work”, I wasn’t exaggerating! Craig is trying to pull me ahead here.

The last 5k I called upon the 2×6 mile workout I had done two weeks prior. I remembered how I felt with just 5k left to go then. Because I had done it then, I could do it now. My stride felt powerful and smoother than those around me – I could tell that I was well trained for the distance. I noticed my stride more than I have in the past because during previous long efforts my leg would NOT have been doing well at this point. Again, I am so thankful Dr. Moser and I were able to “cure” my clumsiness! It’s only been 5.5 weeks, but wow! What a difference!

I passed the clock at mile 25 and knew I had a 2:53-high for the day. I held my pace, excited to cross that finish line. If I would have been on the cusp of a 2:52 I maybe could have kicked it in! Me, kicking it in?! I don’t know that I’ve ever said that about a marathon. Maybe I was better trained than I thought! Ha! I was on pace for a mid to high 2:53, though, so I allowed myself to just cruise in.

.2 miles to go!
.17 miles to go! (approximately)

I gave Craig a big hug afterwards and thanked him for helping me through the day. It was a tough one, that’s for sure! He said that he could tell. I limped over to the gathering area “T” letter (for TNC) and had someone help me to the ground. My legs were shaking and they just hurt!

Ourch. And Brrrrr.


With Leigh, my soul sister and the woman I’ve been lucky enough to coach for the last year. She has turned herself into a 3:07 marathoner (!!) through pure grit and determination. Prior to last year her PR was 4:XX. That’s so crazy, even for a coach that is used to crazy PRs! Watch out, world.

IMG_4813 – video somewhere around mile 20?


I am following orders and NOT running at all until this upcoming Sunday. An entire week off! My next post will be about future plans and changes… hint: I’m fired up to get after those last 8 minutes and 42 seconds 🙂 🙂


Your turn:

What mental tactics do you use during a marathon?

What is the marathon performance you’re most proud of? Was it because you muscled your way through it, achieved something you didn’t think possible, or something else you’re really proud of. Do tell!

For anyone that has just completed their Spring “A” race/marathon, what is next for you? Other than the obvious cupcakes, chocolate, and greasy cheeseburgers? 🙂

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  1. Congratulations on your marathon and post-baby PR! That is so awesome and it’s amazing that the PRP did so much for your stride and clumsiness. I really hope mine will work that well even though I have a different issue, but posts like this are really an inspiration for injured runners or runners going through hard times, or runners coming back from a pregnancy, to see that it’s possible to crush your goals.

    This whole marathon looks like a great event… I heard the weather really held up well for you guys and that’s a big thing with marathons, you’re just out there so long. Plus a well organized race always lends for PRs, especially if you have people to run with. Not every race has a speedy field so if someone is targetting a goal, they have to be picky.

    I hope your week off is going well and you’re enjoying the cheeseburgers and ice cream and other deliciousness- you worked hard and earned that rest girly!

  2. I am very proud of you! I am also very happy we met and shared the beginning miles. I’m confident you will keep chipping away, and I can’t wait to hear what’s next for you! FWIW, I think CIM is a good 2+ minutes faster than Grandma’s due to the net downhill (findmymarathon.com agrees). 😊

    Also you’re right about it being sad that we are so critical of ourselves! We should be proud our bodies are out there powering through 26.2 miles instead of hating how we look doing it. I think you look awesome and strong! I also always say that if I look great in race pics it means I am running too slow.

  3. Great recap! You nailed that race, even though you didn’t feel like you were in the best groove. Nice job on your mental game too (recalling workouts that went well and reminding yourself to embrace the pain–thank you Dr. Asp!)

    I’m so inspired and I have race envy. It’s been too long.

    When I saw that picture of you and Sara, I thought, Those women are BRINGING it! So true that we view ourselves through distorted lenses.

  4. You are a constant source of inspiration for me, Nichole! Though we have not talked in many years, I follow your journey and appreciate your writing. I have had a series of underperforming at marathons, but I hope to run something fast (for me) this fall. Maybe TCM? For now, just summer fun.

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