Oct 17

Race Report: Grand Rapids Marathon

Well, I’ll get the exciting news out right away and keep you from waiting in suspense.  I finished the Grand Rapids Marathon this morning in 3:26:35 – an 8 minute PR!  I had a great race; the weather was gorgeous, the race was well organized, and most importantly I had fun!

Now, if you want, you can continue on and read the long version with all of the photos and details.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you!


As of my last post, I was “cautiously optimistic” going into this race.  There was one primary reason why I was being cautious that I didn’t mention before; I had to travel for work in the days leading up to this race.  On Wednesday, I flew out to Las Vegas for a work meeting with our customers.  I generally travel for work once a year or so.  Last year, I flew out immediately after the Grand Rapids Marathon and this year, it was before the race.  I worked Thursday and Friday and took the red-eye back to Grand Rapids Friday night getting home around noon on Saturday.  Let me tell you, spending 3 days eating out with almost no exercise and then spending the night on a cramped airplane is not the greatest way to taper.  I would not recommend it.

I’m a huge fan of Ocean’s Eleven, so seeing the Bellagio and fountain was one of the cooler aspects of the trip. 

I did manage to get a 6 mile run in while I was in Vegas.   It started off horrible as I tried to navigate The Strip (where our hotel was); dodging the drunks and inhaling copious amounts of second hand smoke.  However, after 2 miles, I finally found some open road and ended up at UNLV.  Running on the campus was heaven compared to the The Strip.  I even saw other people exercising instead of doing whatever you want to call what the the people on The Strip were doing.

Overall, the work aspect of the trip wasn’t that bad, but I have absolutely no desire to go back to Las Vegas.  Definitely not my kind of place. 


After I got home on Saturday, it was off to the expo.  I had hoped to run into The Redhead and Spike, but we ended up missing them.  As always, they put on a great expo at the YMCA.  It was a little crowded though because they had a Halloween party going on, but it was well organized.  I bought a pair of calf sleeves, a GR Marathon Hat, and some running socks while Jennie found herself some new running socks, a hat, and a water bottle.


Jennie also won some rice from a booth where you could spin the wheel to win something.  The rice was the best thing on the wheel – maybe she should try Wheel of Fortune next!

Race Morning

We were up and going around 6:00 this morning for the race.  It is only a 15 minute drive, so I didn’t need too much time to get ready.  I had a PB&J and yogurt for breakfast, got dressed, and we were off.  We left at about 6:45AM.  We got downtown, but were immediately running into closed roads.  The “problem” was that the race has a “velocity challenged” (their words, not mine) start at 7:00, so the roads were closed very early. 

As we were trying to find away to the parking lots, Jennie looked at me and said, “Do you have your contacts with you?”  $hit.  I still had my glasses on.  I can’t believe I forgot to put my contacts in.  I must have still been asleep.  Because it was still early, I turned around to get them.  I thought about running without my glasses, but I am fairly blind without them and I hate running with glasses on.

Going back home was actually beneficial for two reasons other than just getting my contacts.  Number one, I got to visit the throne one more time, and number two, it gave us a chance to drive downtown via the expressway instead which made it easier to bypass the road closures.


With the detour back home, we didn’t get to the race until about 7:40.  So, it was a quick hug and kiss for Jennie and I was off to the start corral.  I lined up with the Baldwin Racers – the 3:29 celebrity pace group.  I ran into a couple of people that I met at one of the beer runs and started with them.

In the picture above, you can see Jennie’s bike in the background.  This is the first marathon where Jennie was going to try and bike to different parts of the course to see me.  It actually worked out very well. Not only was she able to get to more places on the course, but she also stayed busier having to bike around rather than sitting around and picking her nose waiting for me.

The sunrise was beautiful this morning.  Even though it was a cool morning, you could tell that it was going to warm up quickly once the sun rose.

Miles 1 to 5

After the singing of the Canadian and US National Anthems, we were off.  I felt great right out of the gate.  I settled in behind the pace group.  It stayed fairly crowed for the first 5 miles so I am glad that I started in a good position because it would have been hard to weave in and out of the crowd. 

Pace: 8:00, 7:48, 7:46, 7:47, 7:39

Miles 6 to 10

Miles 6 to 10 included two, yes two!, Jennie sightings!  The first was at about 5 and the second was at about 7 miles. 


Here I am entering a park for a quick loop.  I was still feeling really good and didn’t feel like I was working too hard.  I took my first water at the 5 mile aid station.  I skipped the first two because I generally don’t start drinking right away and they were pretty crowded any ways.

After I exited the park, I saw Jennie again.  Then, it was off to the hills of Butterworth.  They are really the only hills on the course and they went fairly well.  They aren’t very big, but there are about 5 or 6 of them, so they wear on you.

Jennie also caught a picture of Josh Miller, a runner I know from college.  He ended up taking 3rd overall in the half marathon with a 1:10:54 – a smoking 5:25 pace!  His wife ran her first marathon today as well and qualified for Boston. 


Pace: 7:51, 7:39, 7:37, 7:40, 7:41

Miles 11 to 15

I still felt good for the next 5 miles.  I took a Gu at mile 11 with some water.  However, immediately after taking it, my stomach started to feel a little queasy.  Not enough to be much of a bother, but enough to prevent from taking any more Gu on the course.  I didn’t want to make things worse.

Pace: 7:37, 7:29, 7:40, 7:40, 7:41

Miles 15 to 20

Miles 15 to 20 are an out and back.  I have learned to enjoy out and back courses over the years.  I used to hate them, but being able to turn around and see the rest of the runners chasing you is a good motivator. 

For the record, that is a shadow from a tree on my shorts and I didn’t really piss my pants even though that is what it looks like.

On the out, I saw the leaders go flying by in the other direction. As they went by, there was a female in the overall lead!  She was getting a ton of cheers.  It would have been awesome to see a female win overall.  Unfortunately, the guys caught her and she ended up taking 5th overall.

Jennie got a picture of the overall leader getting over taken around the 22 mile mark.

My hamstring tightened up on me a bit, but again, not bad enough to slow me down.  My quads were getting sore too, but thankfully I didn’t have any knee issues like I have had in the past.

Pace: 7:43, 7:46, 7:41, 7:51, 7:47

Miles 20 to 25

This is where I usually hit the wall.  Thankfully though, it seems as though race committee removed the wall from this year’s course.  I did slow down a bit and I was hurting more, but I never got to the point where I was mentally defeated.  I saw Jennie 2 more times during these miles.


I was surprised to see Jennie at this point.  I didn’t think that I was going to see her again until the finish.  This was just a mini-out and back (about .5 mile each way) before heading back downtown.

IMG_8385 IMG_8389

I can’t believe I have a smile on my face.   Must have been an accident (or gas).  I was hurting at this point.  As I ran by, Jennie yelled “I love you.”  I didn’t have the energy to turn around, so I gave her the runner’s equivalent of a “Love you too” – a thumb’s up.

After the out and back, we crossed back over the river and headed downtown.  The worst part of this portion is another loop through a park.  It is a mentally hard portion of the course because you can see everyone ahead of you.  I could feel myself slowing down, but at the same time, I was still passing people so I didn’t dwell on it too much.

Pace: 8:09, 7:49, 8:07, 8:23, 8:30

Final 1.2

The final 1.2 mile went great.  I tried to pick up the pace as much as possible and fight through the pain.  It really flew by and in no time, I could hear the announcer at the finish line.


As I ran down the final stretch, I knew I had a PR in the bag, so I stopped to give Jennie a hug.  A spectator had the gall to yell at me, “You’re not done yet, you have to keep running!”  Seriously?  Thank you for cheering, but that is not motivational cheering to me.

Pace: 8:12, 7:53 (final .2)

Post Race

After crossing the finish line, I got my medal from Becky, a friend from high school and fellow runner/triathlete.  I gave Don, the race director, a handshake and thanked him for another great race.  He is at the finish line every year and tries to shake hands with every single finisher.


This is the best I have ever felt after a marathon.  I felt great after my last marathon, the Martian Marathon, because of my big PR, but I was much more sore than today.  Today, not only did I run a great race, but I wasn’t terribly sore.  Jennie even mentioned that I looked better after having run the race than I did after flying in from Las Vegas yesterday afternoon.  I looked (and felt) like hell then.

IMG_8416 IMG_8420

We headed over to the beer garden after making my way through the finishers’ chute.  They had 3 varieties of New Holland Beer available, Sundog, Full Circle, and Mad Hatter (details here).  They were supposed to have a 4th variety (The Poet), but the half marathoners drained that keg.  The Full Circle was okay, but not great, so I switched the the Sundog which is always good.  I had a couple glasses of beer, some chili and some frozen custard. MMMMmmmm.

While trying to enjoy my post race, I was verbally accosted by a douche bag overly opinionated runner who felt the need to bug the hell out of me talk my ear off.  He came up to talk to me because we had been going back and forth all race.  He was super talkative on the run.  Not necessarily to me, but it seemed like he was talking to everyone whether they liked it or not.  When he found out I was a triathlete, he said, “I don’t know why anyone would do that to their body.  The training is so bad for you.”  Ummm… what?!?!?!  At least to me, training for a triathlon is far easier on the body that full time running.  He then asked what the 70.3 on my hat meant.  I told him about the Half Ironman distance and that after racing for 5-6 hours, I always feel better than after a marathon.  His response… “Well, the bike ride is like taking a rest isn’t it.”  I wanted to hit him at this point.  Yes, the bike ride is a nice leisurely stroll through the park.  Sometimes it is so relaxing that I just fall asleep on the bike.  He made some other comments that made me want to drop him like a bad habit.  We eventually stood up and walk away to look for some other runners I knew running.


Sadly, I was unable to find The Redhead and Spike after the race.  However, they are only an hour or so away from Grand Rapids, so I am sure that we’ll connect at another race in the future.  I did see a ton of people from college that I knew as well as some other familiar faces from the Beer Runs.  I had hoped to see Ryan (the guy I ran the 20 mile training run with).  I passed him at the 23 mile mark and he was struggling bad.  He ended up finishing in 3:41 which is a great time for his first marathon.

Notable Runners

The first place finisher, Nick Zendler, not only finished in 2:42:27, but also complete his first marathon ever.  Holy cow!

Katie Jazwinski, the female winner who was the overall leader for most of the race, finished in 2:44:59 and qualified for the 2012 Olympic Trials.


Overall, I am super happy with how the race went.  My primary goal was to PR (3:34) and my secondary goal was to go sub-3:30, so mission accomplished on both accounts.  Outside of my time, I had a blast at this race.  I know I am biased as a GR native, but this is hands down my favorite marathon.  If you ever have the chance to run it, I highly recommend it.  This was my 8th marathon and I have been consistently getting faster and learning how to train better.  I’m still a ways away from BQ-ing (3:10:59), but each race brings a renewed confidence that I will get there.

I have to admit, that I am still a bit irked at the opinionated guy’s comments about triathlons and “proper” training.  I didn’t have the right frame of mind argue with him at the time.  Little does he know that I PR-ed with a single long run of 20 miles in my training.  The rest was short tempo runs, bike rides, and swimming.  I am just going to add it as fuel to fire to motivate me to train harder as a triathlete to prove him wrong.

My season is pretty much done now.  I’ll some 5k’s here and there, but now it is time to rest and recover before 201Ironman training begins.  Jennie found a 5k she wants to do called “Yule Run, I’ll Walk” (She loves the name of the race).  It is a 5k that runs through the Nite Lites show, Michigan’s largest Christmas Light Display.  Should be interesting.

Thanks for sticking around and reading.  I leave you with a picture from a sign at the marathon.  Enjoy!


Official Results

Clock Time 3:27:19
Chip Time 3:26:35
Overall Place 244 / 1654
Gender Place 216 / 993
Division Place 35 / 97
Total Pace 7:53/M
Split 1 Rank 291
Split 1 Time 2:14:07
Split 1 Pace 7:51/M
Split 2 Rank 267
Split 2 Time 30:25
Split 2 Pace 7:36/M
Finish Rank 244
Finish Time 42:02
Finish Pace 8:15/M

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ironmanbythirty.com/2010/10/17/race-report-grand-rapids-marathon-2


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  1. Jeff

    Great Race Kevin and congrats on a very solid PR! You’d be able to hit the BQ time if all that wasteful and apparently easier triathlon training didn’t get in the way!

  2. Lisa

    Great job!! And I love the sign at the end…funny.

  3. lindsay

    congrats!! awesome time dude. great race recap-the humorous commentary is always enjoyed 🙂 is that orange shirt from a previous year? the leafy logo looked like it matches the background in the finisher photo. biking is NOT EASY. i used to think that too haha, but now i know better! the downhills are nice though… i did 30+ this weekend at under 14mph – feel so slow. is it bad that i am only riding like 3x/month? (i consider you my biking expert) anyway, congrats again on the pr!

    congrats to jenny on her rice. forget WOF, go for price is right!!

  4. Jon

    Awesome job Kevin! You have shaved how much time off of your Marathon time this year?

    I guess I should quit this hobby, since it is “bad” for me! haha! What a tool!

    Welcome to the off season 🙂

  5. Morgan

    Congrats on the PR!!! I was majorly bummed we didn’t get to see you out there! I looked but the finish was definitely a cluster. It was a beautiful day to race and I’m so excited that almost everyone I knew racing had a great race, most PR’d or BQ’d!!! We will definitely have to coordinate better next time, Spike and I were definitely looking forward to meeting you and Jenni. We will def be in the area for future races as Emma (Spike’s sister) lives in the area. I hope you are recovering nicely and basking in the after glow of a well run race!

  6. Viper

    Congrats on the shiny new PR. Sounds like a great race. (The Akron race director shakes everyone’s hand at the finish–pretty cool personal touch.) Cheers!

  7. Aimee (I Tri To Be Me)

    Woohoo! Congrats on an awesome race and a PR! It sounds like you had a great race, and the pictures look like you were having a good time too! That must have been nice to have Jennie support you throughout the marathon!

  8. Mandy

    Congrats!! That is awesome, a PR to boot! Very cool. It sounds like you really had an awesome race – you are smiling in all of the pictures. That waiver is hilarious.

  9. regina

    Wow! That is a great time…to me at least. NO, wait, it IS a great time!! what is the qualifying time for Boston?

    Those are some great shots Jennie got. My favorite is the beer shot at the end;well deserved.

    I’m inspired.

  10. Jennifer

    I think every race expo I have been too has had a rice booth…too funny!

    Is the orange shirt you are wearing in the race the race shirt? It’s VERY cool! I need to branch out to bigger/better races…the shirts around here are ho-hum boring.

    Great job on your race!! Enjoy the down time before IM training 🙂

  11. Bill


    Congrats on the PR. I was there at GR as well and ran very well as well. I have to agree with you that GR is a great marathon and I am not from the area. My #2 and #3 best marathon times were at GR out of the 25 I have run so far. Great course, friendly staff and a bonus nice medal.

    Good Luck with the Tri’s. I am planning my first next summer.

  12. BDD

    Congrats on the PR!!! Nice race!!!

    What did that person say about triathletes? I am curious, we dont get to run 5 days a week, we have other things to worry about? Your right, people like that fuel our fire.

  13. K

    Nice race report. Awesome job with the PR!
    I have mad respect for triathletes! That guy was obviously out of line in his logic. Some people just don’t know how to keep their mouths shut.

  14. Maria

    Congrats on the PR! Great race report, it sounded like it was fun!
    Props to you for putting up with the yakker, it would have been hard not to throw my beer at him, although I’m not sure if he would have been worth the wasted beer!

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