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? 


6 thoughts on “Garry Bjorklund Half Race Recap

  1. Congrats on your race and PR, Andrea!

    It’s all about the mental game! Repeating a mantra – believe, never give up, keep moving forward – helps me get through tough spots in both racing and training 🙂

    • Thanks! Yea, I’ve used a mantra before during a tough run and it has helped. I wasn’t really doing that during the race, so I might need to find a good one that I can tap into.

  2. Congratulations Andrea! So much of running is mental…It’s something I still struggle with, but I really try to keep repeating positive ‘thoughts’- you are strong, you are strong- really helps me.

    Looking forward to following along on whatever race is next for you!

    • Thanks! It’s true – running is so mental. Just as important as the physical aspects. Hope your summer is going well!

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