I came into the Grand Lake Marathon with lofty expectations, probably too lofty. A month before race day, I told Tina, I just don’t feel it this training cycle like I did last fall. I don’t know if it’s my body wanting a break from the marathon training or just lack of motivation. Either way, I kept my goals the same. The top goal was to run a 2:55:00, next to run under 3:00:00, lastly to run a 3:10:00 (my new Boston Qualifying Standard).
The Grand Lake Marathon was my 13th marathon, and second of four for the year. The morning temps were in the upper 50s with the winds coming out of the east/northeast at about 4mph and getting stronger throughout the morning and overcast. Would have preferred cooler temps, but with being overcast, it wasn’t that bad.
The race started at 7:30, right as the sun was rising over the Grand Lake. The Grand Lake was once the largest man made lake in the country and was important part of the Miami and Erie Canal which connects the Ohio River to Lake Erie.
Both the Marathon and half marathon started in Celina, OH. The Marathon ran completely around the lake, while the half marathon ran from Celina (northwest corner of the lake) to St. Marys (Northeast corner of the lake).
The goal from the start was to go out relaxed. To run a 2:55:00, I would need to average a 6:41. First could miles felt relaxed and comfortable. Splits were 6:42, 6:42 and 6:37. The course is not too hilly, but in the first half there are some rolling hills. Nothing too bad, just enough to keep you honest. I probably didn’t start as slow as I had hoped for but I wasn’t out of control fast either. The next few miles were run in 6:49, 6:47, 6:44, 6:46. These were some of the hillier miles and also still into the headwind. After mile 7 we headed south for a short period before heading east again. Mile 8 was run in 6:35 followed by 6:41. This would be the last time I hit a mile split at goal pace or faster.
Starting at mile 13, it started to rain. So much for that 0% chance of rain. But it actually felt really good at this point, but not good enough to help me. From the start, I had been running with 2 other guys. At mile 16, I lost them. I started to slip back to 6:50-7:00 miles. At mile 16, I was holding onto 4th place. At mile 20, my legs had it. They were done and this was my first (yes, first) walk break. I was hoping a quick walk like I had in Boston would be enough. After a minute, I got going again. Obviously by this point, 2:55 was gone, and 3:00 was looking bad as well.
Something else was happening that I had not felt in a long time, my feel we’re going numb. I made sure not to tie my shoes too tight before the race. The main reason I have come up with, and after talking to other runners after the marathon, why my feet went numb, was the crown on the roads as well as some steep banked turns towards the end of the race.
As I said, mile 20 was my first walk break, of 4. Yep, it got that bad for me. I took a walk break at 22, 24, and 25. All short breaks, got fluids in me and got my legs back under me. With all this being said, to say I was still on pace to get a Boston Qualifier was unexpected to me. But I made the last turn and saw the finish line and finished in 3:07:51. As much as I wanted a better time, just getting a BQ was ok for the day.
Maybe this was the kick in the butt that I needed, and maybe it’s time to reevaluate my training and eating. It maybe too late for this year, but time to get things in gear for 2016.
Both Chloe and Emma also took part in the kids run. This was to mark the end of the girls summer marathon. They were to run 25 miles before Saturday and run the last mile on Saturday. I will explain more towards the end, but this was a little disappointing end for them both.
This was the first year that I ran this race. It is a small town race. Small town races are some of my favorites as I do not require large cheering crowds along the course. There really wasn’t much crowd support at this race except at the aid stations.
-nice race shirt. It was a different design, but the marathon, half marathon and 5k had slight differences.
-easy packet pickup. Quick, easy, with a small expo to walk through if you desired to but easy to avoide if you wanted to.
-aid stations at about every mile. Had gels, water, and electrolytes.
-Scenic Course, with portions along the lake. Other portions are in the country.
-bus transportation. There is very little parking right by the start/finish line. You are asked to park at the county fairgrounds about a mile away. Buses run all morning long and you are not waiting long at all to catch the next bus. It was the highlight of Derek’s day.
-the crown on the road and banked turns
-at a couple aid stations I asked for water only and was still handed electrolyte drink (I think it was Nuun). I can’t stand Nuun. Worst part was, at the last aid station, I dumped It on my head thinking it was water.
-kids run. This was supposed to be the last mile of the kids marathon. It ended up being half a mile. Our girls were actually disappointed in this.
-packet pick up was only until 7PM. Hard for our of towners who work to make it on time.
All in all, I thought it was a good event. We had a great time in the area and it really is a beautiful lake. Also a lot of history in the area with the Erie Canal. If you like small town marathons, check this race out.