Grandma's Marathon 2019: Not Just My Race

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I feel like I just ran my first race.

Not only am I more sore than I’ve ever been, but the experience of racing the marathon is like nothing I’ve ever raced before.

My whole running career so far has been about beating people. It’s been about passing the person in front of me, getting points for my team, or trying to make some money when I can. I love being competitive in this way, but running the marathon this weekend was different and I have never experienced anything like it.

At Grandma’s Marathon, the people running around me weren’t pawns in a game that I had to finesse. This weekend, every human with a bib running with me was someone that I was working with to finish this thing that we all psychotically chose to do. My bottles weren’t just mine, but were for anyone around me who needed some. My pace wasn’t just mine, but belonged to all of us in the group. After I got into a rhythm, I realized that this wasn’t just my race. During most races where I rely on beating others and placing well, I repeat to myself: “this is MY race.” This time, the experience belonged to all of us there on that day going for our goals. Even though we all had various goal times, places, and expectations, we were all going at it together.


In the back of my mind, the pace I needed to hit to get the Olympic Trials qualifying time was always there, but in the front of my mind were the views of Lake Superior, the sound of the footsteps around me, and the taste of salts and sugars. Not until after the race did I know that I was clicking off sub 6 minute miles in the last half as we flew down the streets of downtown Duluth. This time it wasn’t beating people that made it great, it was working with people.

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Running with others made the perceived effort less and brought more of my attention out of my own body and into what was going on around me. I held a consistent pace with a small group all along Lake Superior, and then picked it up once we had the energy of the crowds in town. Coach was right when he said the pain of the marathon is a deeper pain...it’s deep in the muscles of the legs when your lungs want more but your feet won’t move any faster. It truly is the crowd and the people around you that carry you through the finish when you start to feel alone.

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A few weeks ago, our team talked about the definition of the word “compete.” The root “com” means “together.” Without others, we don’t have a reason to compete. Whether the circumstances call for battling it out to the line with someone like you’re life-long enemies, or giving someone words of encouragement, without it, we wouldn’t do what we do as crazy-ass runners.

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run fast. be kind.




Tristin Van OrdComment