This will be the first of 12 episodes - one for each of my lifetime marathons. I'll talk about what was going on in my life, my training, and the race.
So let me take you back to 1980. A few of
you were alive then. Jimmy Carter was still President. The entry fee for
this marathon was $5. It was during the first running boom and races
were popping up all over, but most runners were serious. It was run fast
or don't bother. This marathon shut down the course after 4 1/2 hours.
had just graduated from high school. I was a serious track and cross
country guy, running 50-60 miles per week. Lots of intervals, no long
distance runs over 10 miles. Track had just ended a few weeks prior, and
some of my friends and I had decided months earlier to do Grandma's
Marathon in Duluth after we graduated. A week before the race I ran a PR
10K in 34:40. I was in good shape! So three of us and a few friends
drove up from Minneapolis the day before with some tents.We camped out
near the start of the race, which is 26 miles outside of Duluth,
basically in the middle of nowhere, next to Lake Superior.
I settle in for the night in a pup tent with my new girlfriend. Here I
am, an 18 year old virgin, on a full taper, lying in a tent with a girl
for a first-ever sleepover, trying not to think about my first marathon.
Nervous for so many reasons. I'm wearing my only pair of running
shorts, which I sleep in. Well, let's just say I had a little accident
during the night. So, here I am, in the middle of the night,
panic-stricken, walking around in the dark, looking for the nearest
faucet, trying not to be seen, rinsing out my shorts. By morning they
are still wet. I don't remember what I told people, but I had to get
going to the start. At least I got rid of some excess energy!
the race is a beautiful course that runs mostly along Lake Superior and
finishes in Duluth. It was warm, but not too bad. I don't remember if I
had a goal. I went out at my normal easy training pace at the time, 7
minutes per mile (!!!), and just cruised. I don't remember too many
details of the race, but I never hit the wall or even slowed down much. I
have one split - I hit ten miles in 1:11:10, or 7:07 pace. Otherwise no
splits, no Garmin, not sure if there were mile markers, maybe a few.
Probably only 3 or 4 water stations. It was a simpler time.
friends got caught up in traffic, so I didn't see anyone the whole
race. It seemed relatively easy I guess - I don't remember any real
difficulties. Ah youth! I think my quads were not happy with me but I
was able to keep moving. Most of the race is quiet and in the country -
no people. The last few miles are in town with lots of noise and that
was fun and helped me get to the finish. When I got to the end I was
very excited about coming in under 3 hours (2:58:55). A few people I
knew from the running community cheered me in. Average pace was
6:50/mile!!! Negative splits!
I remember finding a place
to sit on the grass and just sat there and felt very proud. I do
remember that the next few days were ones of excruciatingly painful
thighs. I could barely walk. Little did I know that I would never run
that fast again. At that time, it took a 2:50 to qualify for Boston, so I
missed by 8 minutes. A new hope was born. But I think I already knew
that I might be a runner for life. We had a good group of runners on our
HS team, and a great coach who preached the lifestyle of running. He
ran with us. Now 35 years later, many of us are still running.
Here is my official pic. I think I weighed about 120.
here is my race shirt that I still have after 35 years. No medal. They
didn't start handing those out to everybody until a few years later.
Someday I hope to go back and do Grandma's again. Maybe on the 50th anniversary of this one. I'll be sure to get twin beds.
Next: Episode 2 - The Marathon Strikes Back