Oct 21

Race Report: Grand Rapids Marathon

I am finally back home and have a chance to sit down and do a full race report from the marathon last weekend.  Enjoy!

Pre Race

I love me a local race.  No hotel to worry about.  No getting up extremely early.  No parking umpteen miles away from the race start.  And most importantly, no stress.

We got up around 6:00 and were out the door by 6:30.  Parking was a breeze.  We were about 100 yards from the start/finish line.  Can’t beat that.  It was pretty cold out though – in the low 30’s – so getting out of the car was less than pleasant.  We immediately headed into the YMCA where most of the runners were hanging out.  I found a spot where I could stretch, lay down, and take a quick nap.

Trying to stay warm

Ready to Go

As race time approached, I headed over to the starting line and found my position between the 3:29 Billy Baldwin Racers and the 3:44 Dubya Running Mates.  One of the cool things about this race is that rather than having regular 3:30, 3:45, 4:00, etc. pace groups, each pace group is based on a celebrity’s marathon finish time. So instead of shooting for a sub 4 hour marathon, you shoot for a Will Ferrel’s sub 4 (3:56).  We had the requisite National Anthem along with the national anthem of Canada.  Again, the race director gets clever.  He makes a wager that if he gets more registrations from Canada than he does from Indiana (which are essentially equidistant from Grand Rapids), he will play their anthem at the race start.  I guess Canada won.

The First Miles (1 – 10)

I felt great for the beginning of the race.  I really felt like I settled into a good pace.  I ran with different groups here and there while trying to keep an even pace.  Nothing really exciting happened, which I suppose is a good thing.  I really don’t want too many surprises in the first part of a long race.

Approaching the 11 mile mark.  Still feeling fairly good at this point.

The Second 10 (11 – 20)

The second 10 miles went fairly well also.  At about the 13 mile mark, I started to hurt a bit.  My left knee ached a bit, and I worried that I was relapsing to the knee problems I had 4 years ago.  Thankfully though, the pain wasn’t consistent and by adjusting my pace a bit, I was able to keep it in check.  I kept plugging along knowing that I was over half done and it was all downhill from there.  In my last marathon, the Sunburst Marathon in June, I hit the wall at the 18 mile mark.  I was determined to push further than that before walking this time.  I kept making deals with myself.  “Run until 18, then you can walk a bit.”   “Run until 19, then you can walk a bit.”  And then it was, “Run until 20, and THEN you can walk.”  I ended up making it through to the 20 mile mark without having to walk.

Can you see where the wall was?

The Final Stretch (21 – 26.2)

By the time I got to the 21 mile mark, I needed a break.  I was mentally and physically defeated at this point.  It was mentally the hardest part of the course, a short out and back that took us further away from the finish when there was an obvious shorter path to get to the finish.  I ended up walking for about a quarter mile before plugging along again.

My dad ended up catching up to me at the 22 mile mark on his bike.  He rode next to me from about 22 – 24 mile mark and then again from 25 – 26.  It really kept me going as much as I could when all I wanted to do was walk.  It was a huge help to get me to the finish line.

The Finish

I ended up finishing in 3:47:02 (8:40 pace), a PR of almost 2 minutes from my Sunburst time.  I ended up 39/80 in my age group and 497/1555 overall.  I really can’t complain about how it went.  With as little training as I did for the race, I did surprising well.  My longest run prior to the race was a 17 mile run about a month ago.  Other than that, I had been doing mainly 12 – 14 mile runs coupled with bike rides and swims.  Probably not the ideal training regimen, but with all the triathlons this summer, I didn’t have enough time to focus purely on running.

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Mustering all my strength to have a strong finish.

Post Race

After the race, I grabbed some ice cream and snacks from the finisher’s food.  They had the traditional chili and New Holland beer at the finish, but my stomach was too upset to even think about enjoying it.  While it was warmer than the  start of the race, once I stopped moving I cooled off pretty quickly and wanted to get home and showered.

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Relaxing and enjoying my ice cream.

Look at all this delicious beer… and to think, I wasn’t feeling up to enjoying it!

We stopped on the way home to buy a bag of ice for my post race ice bath.


As uncomfortable as it was to jump on a plane hours after the race, having the work meetings allowed me to have an excuse to take a couple days off.  In the airport, waiting for my flight, I ran into three guys who had also run the race.  They were brothers from Philadelphia and New York and all three qualified for Boston (one by only 20 seconds).  We chatted about the race for a bit and they gave me some pointers on how to improve my training and bring my time down in the future.

Any ways, after two days of recovery, I was itching to get some exercise in.  So, despite a head cold I picked up in Connecticut, I went out for a short bike ride today.  It felt pretty good and actually helped clear out my stuffed up head a bit as well.  I think my legs are pretty much recovered, but I will still take it fairly easily the rest of the week to make sure they fully heal and to fight this darn cold.

Thanks for sticking around till the bitter end!  As always, stay tuned for more of my adventures.

Official Results

Total Time: 3:47:02
Overall Place: 497/1555
Gender Place: 391/920
Age Group Place: 39/80
Total Pace: 8:40/min

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ironmanbythirty.com/2009/10/21/race-report-grand-rapids-marathon


  1. Krista

    You did great considering that you didn’t do too many extra-long runs! I think it shows how beneficial cross-training can be for endurance!

    I like beer as much as the next person but I couldn’t imagine drinking immediately after a race!

  2. Kenny

    What were the tips the guys gave you??
    And congrats on the race!!

  3. carol

    Great race report. Did you really take a nap before the race, lol!? How did you make that graph? I think I will do that after my first marathon, which is going to be in my Ironman! Yay for ice baths!!!

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