Garry Bjorklund Half Race Recap

It took me over a week, but I’m finally getting my race recap up! I’ll try not to ramble on, but I apologize ahead of time if this gets long.

Race day started off with a very early wake-up call — 3:15 a.m. That’s the downside of a race that starts at 6:15 a.m. Hyedi, John and I got ourselves ready and headed out the door at 4 a.m. to get to the shuttles. (You can’t drive to the start line.) We were plenty early and got on a shuttle right away.

We got off the shuttle and had some time to hang out at the start. One upside of a race that starts at 6:15 a.m. is we were treated to some nice sunrise views over Lake Superior.



We made our way into the very crowded corral just after 6 a.m. I found a spot between the 2:00 pacer and the 2:15 pacer. Before I knew it, we were moving and I crossed the start a couple minutes later. I was surprised that I didn’t have to do much weaving in the first mile. The road is pretty wide, which I think helped. I focused on trying to run a steady pace and aimed to not go out too fast. My watch beeped at mile 1 and it said 9:33 — right on pace.

Even though I was running the pace I wanted, I was disappointed that my legs didn’t feel very fresh. Felt like they were heavy and weren’t warming up. This was messing with me mentally early in the race. I spent a lot of the first 4 miles in my head and not as much time as I would’ve liked enjoying the pretty scenery with the lake to our left. It was peaceful and serene in these initial miles since there aren’t many spectators.

The other issue I noticed in the first third of the race was how much I was sweating. It wasn’t very hot yet, but it was HUMID. They had water stops every 2 miles initially and then every mile starting at mile 6, and I took advantage in order to keep replenishing my fluids.

Around miles 4-5, my legs were feeling a bit better, but the temperatures were increasing as the sun rose higher. I was a bit better mentally in the middle of the race, but still not my best.  The increase in crowd support as we got closer to Duluth helped a little.

At the mile 8 water stop, I ate two Chomps and grabbed some water. I also grabbed a sponge. This is an awesome thing Grandma’s Marathon/Garry Bjorklund Half offers. It’s a sponge dipped in cold water. You just grab it and dump that cold water all over yourself. Felt so good!

I knew Lemondrop Hill wasn’t far away (between miles 9-10). When I first saw it in the distance, it looked scary big. As I got closer, I saw that it was just an optical illusion, and it’s not a big, scary hill. I got through it (and one more tiny hill beyond it) and made my way into the last few miles of the race.

At this point, I was hot, tired, and ready to be done. We started into downtown Duluth where there are several turns in the course. I was back to a bad not great mental place where I just kept counting down the miles until I was done.

Around mile 12, when I was really feeling it, I got a boost when I heard friends shout my name and give me a wave and a cheer. (Thanks “runner support!”) I tried to see if I had anything left in the tank to pick up my pace near the end, but I just really didn’t. I focused on keeping my pace around 9:30 just to try and make my goal.

All of the turns near the finish are deceiving when you’re not familiar with the course (and when you’re tired). I had two moments of thinking I was approaching the finish line only to see that I still had more to run. Finally, I saw the actual finish line and gave it everything I had.

I crossed the finish and stopped my watch. When I looked down, I knew I had met my goals!

Goal 1: Finish – check! It was a tough race for me mentally, but I crossed the finish line.
Goal 2: Run a sub 2:10 – check! I finished in 2:05:21. Not only a PR, but I shaved 5 minutes off my previous PR!!
Goal 3: Run a 9:30 pace – check! (Pretty much, my official time said avg pace of 9:35, but I’ll take it!)

gb medal

I made may way through the crowd to grab water, food and get my gear bag. I found Hyedi, John and our personal cheer squad. We sat in the grass for a few minutes to relax and celebrate our races. We also had to figure out how we were going to get back to the house since it turned out my car was blocked in at the hotel we parked at until the marathon was over. We came up with a plan and headed out to relax and enjoy the rest of the day.

post race selfie
All smiles since we both PR’d!

So happy with my time, but not happy with my mental state in this race. I can’t put my finger on why this race was tougher, but I think one of my goals for my fall half will be to work on having a better mental race. And now that I’m so close, I might have to go for a sub 2:05 half. 😉

Ok, that was kinda long — sorry.

Have you ever had a bad race mentally? 


Garry Bjorklund Half Training – Week 12

The final week of training was pretty relaxed and definitely fewer miles to give my legs some rest before the big day.

Monday – rest

Tuesday – 26 minute elliptical 

I usually meet up with Hyedi and Kate for our Tuesday run, but storms were headed our way in the evening, so we cancelled. Sad not to do one more training run with them, but I had been planning to do an elliptical workout in place of a run this week anyway. The rainy evening made it easier to do that on Tuesday.

The storm did pass and the sky was actually very pretty before sunset.

after storm

Wednesday – 3.02 miles (9:25/mile)

Thursday – 2.07 miles (9:42/mile)

Meh. This was not a good run. I was only planning to do 2 miles, so thankfully it was short. My legs were super tired and heavy the whole time. It was just a struggle. Sort of disconcerting a couple of days before the race, but I held out hope that a rest day in between would be enough.

Friday – rest

I took the day off of work since I’d be heading up to Duluth. I got some errands done in the morning and then headed out around noon. Hit some lovely traffic at one point — thanks summer construction. Luckily I didn’t have to be in it for too long. I made it to Duluth and headed straight for the expo to get my packet.



Then I met up with friends where I was staying and we ate some spaghetti to carbo-load for the day. Three of us were doing the half and one was doing the marathon. Two others were our runner support for the weekend, and they were awesome!

Saturday – Race Day!

A full race recap is coming, but the short story is I finished and PR’d!

gb medal

We spent the rest of the day relaxing and spending some time outside. We celebrated our races with a little bubbly, too!


Sunday – 2.5 mile walk

My family and I headed to Lake Nokomis to celebrate Father’s Day, so we took a leisurely walk around the lake before firing up the grill for lunch. It was a hot day, but there was a breeze that kept it comfortable. We grabbed some ice cream later in the afternoon to help keep cool. 🙂

All in all, I’d say this was a very good training cycle. I’ve already got two half marathons under my belt for the year and one more to come in the fall. I’ve got a little bit of a break from formal training right now, which I’m kind of looking forward to. I’ll still run, but won’t have to follow a plan until later in the summer. Gonna do my best to get outside an enjoy the MN summer!

What races do you have this summer? What are your summer plans?

Garry Bjorklund Half Training – Week 11

This was the last big week of training before race day! The pre-race excitement has started already. I’m always a little more anxious for races I haven’t done before since I don’t really know what to expect, but I’ll have friends there who know their way around, so that helps.

Monday – rest

Tuesday – 5

Run with Hyedi and Kate. After a tough 11 mile run on Sunday, I was hoping my Achilles/calf would be ok after a rest day. I was also wearing my new shoes. Luckily I only felt it a tiny bit at the start and then I was good to go!

Wednesday – 30 minute elliptical

It was a nice night, so I felt bad staying inside for a workout, but I wanted to do something low impact just to give my leg a break. Plus, I was short on time since I was headed to book club after. Felt good to get in a solid workout and then go eat some pizza on the grill and drink wine with friends.

Thursday – 3.05 miles (9:27/mile)

My Achilles was a little sore when I started out, but it warmed up fairly quickly.

Friday – rest

Saturday – 10.01 miles (9:35/mile)

It was going to be a hot day, so I got up early to get in my long run before it got too unbearable. I made it to the lakes by 7:30 a.m. I had 12 miles on my training plan, but I was planning to do less just to give myself a small taper before the race. I was hoping to get in 10, but was prepared to make it shorter if I needed to.

I started around Lake Harriet and was feeling pretty good. After one loop, I headed over to Lake Calhoun and made a pit stop at the Twin Cities in Motion water stop. They had a free station set up for people with water, Powerade, Clif shots and some goodies. I tried a little Powerade as a test in case I’d want some during race day (I normally just do water). I also grabbed this fun sticker and air freshener. I wasn’t done with my run yet, so I had to stuff them in my spibelt, but they held up!


I headed back to Lake Harriet for another lap around the lake to get to 10 miles. I could’ve done a couple more miles, but it seemed smarter to just go ahead and stop to save my legs.

The temperature was rising, so I decided to treat myself to some cold press after my run.


Sunday – 2.18 mile walk

I met my sister and a friend for breakfast at Colossal Cafe. Had some yummy biscuits and gravy (my favorite breakfast dish) and got to catch up while we ate al fresco.


My sister and I did a little shopping after breakfast and then I headed home for the afternoon. It was really nice, so I headed out for a walk to end the week.

I’ve been thinking about my goals for the race. My first goal is always just to finish and have a good time. My next goal is to get under 2:10. I was super close in New Orleans, so I know I can do it. My big goal is to run about a 9:30 pace. I’ve been doing it during training, so if conditions are good, I think all 3 goals are definitely achievable!

Garry Bjorklund Half Training – Week 10

We’re just under 2 weeks from race day! Feeling good except the Achilles has reared its ugly head again this past week. It had gotten better and has flared up again. Not sure why, but I might have to take a little extra rest the next couple of weeks to make sure it’s good when I get to the start line.

Monday – rest

Tuesday – 5.07 miles (9:31/mile)

Run with Kate and Hyedi. It was a good run, but this is when I started to feel my Achilles again. I don’t remember stepping wrong or anything, but I was feeling it on and off for most of the run. Some of the soreness/pain was creeping up my calf, too. Not what I wanted so close to the race.

Wednesday – 1.75 miles (9:58/mile)

I could feel the soreness in my calf most of the next day, but it was National Running Day (and beautiful out), so I headed out  to see how my Achilles/calf would do on a run. I was still feeling the soreness, so I cut the run short to be safe.

Thursday – rest

This was my planned rest day. I had a meeting with some folks at CCFA to help with planning an event in the fall. Then I headed over to Heirloom for dinner. It was a fantastic meal!

Ricotta gnocchi, interesting vegetables, meat pie, carrot cake
Ricotta gnocchi, interesting vegetables, meat pie, carrot cake

Friday – rest

I decided to take an extra rest day this week. I think one of the reasons my Achilles has acted up recently is that it’s time for new shoes. I picked some up after work and am starting to break them in. I went with my usual Brooks Glycerin (neutral shoe).

Love the color!
Love the color!

Saturday – 3.23 miles (11:39/mile)

Saturday morning was the Girls on the Run 5K! I got to the race about 8:15 and waited in a little bit of traffic to get into the parking log. I headed over to pick up my bib and t-shirt. The line was a bit long and I found myself getting a little impatient, but then I looked around and saw how excited all of the girls were and reminded myself to relax and have a good time.

I found the school I had been assigned to for being a running buddy. A few of their girls ended up not being able to make it, so they didn’t need another girl or I to run with someone. She and I started chatting before the race and it turned out she was training for Garry Bjorklund too! It will be her first half marathon. We ran the 5K together at a nice, leisurely pace to support the girls and talked about running and life.


There were so many people at the race! It definitely seemed bigger than the fall 5K. They had a beautiful day for the race — the sun was actually pretty warm. There was a lot of energy at the start and finish with all of the family/friends hanging out to cheer on the girls. This program just continues to grow!


I wore my new shoes and the Achilles/calf did ok. I did some good stretching when I got home and was hopeful it would be ok for a long run on Sunday.

Sunday – 11.02 miles (9:28/mile) and 1.05 mile walk

I met Hyedi for our long run around Lake Harriet, Calhoun, and Isles. We started out and after a few miles I could feel the tightness in my calf. I was wearing my old shoes because I was hesitant to wear the new ones on such a long run without breaking them in a little more.

We continued to make our way around all 3 lakes. I contemplated cutting it short, but it never got worse, so I kept going for the full 11 miles. Of course by the end of the run I wasn’t feeling the soreness anymore.


I got home and stretched, showered and relaxed for a couple of hours before heading to the Take Steps Walk for CCFA. I was volunteering at the walk, so I got there at 2 p.m. to help with some set up.


Handing out t-shirts and other incentives to people who met their fundraising goals was like my second workout of the day.

Then it was time for the actual walk to start. There were a lot of #IBDHeroes out there on a gorgeous afternoon to support finding cures for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Balloon arch over the start line

After the walk (my third workout of the day), it was time to tear down. I got home around 7:30 and was physically exhausted, but had such a good time!

Disclosure: I received a free race entry for the Girls on the Run 5K. All opinions are my own.