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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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Grandma’s Marathon – 32th Anniversary Edition

Comments (14)

I spent the weekend in Duluth, Minnesota with Amy knocking off Marathon #11 in my quest to run a marathon in all 50 states.  #11 was Grandma’s Marathon, consistently one of the best regarded marathons in the US.

After a couple of frustrating marathons, including a steadily escalating personal worst, I put some effort into training for Grandma’s.  My goal was modest – break 5 hours.  Since my PR is currently 4:05, this felt achievable. 

I started off strong.  Too strong.  Rule #1 of the marathon is to hold plenty back at the beginning so you have it left at the end.  I went through the halfway point (13.1m) at 2:20 which put me on track for a sub 4:45.  I lost it a few miles later – tightening up at mile 15.  I slowed it down a notch and thought I still had a shot at sub 5:00.  At mile 19 I went down another notch and was now slogging through 13 minute miles.  At this point I knew I wouldn’t break 5:00 and my goal shifted from "break 5 hours" to "finish this fucking thing."  I did in 5:09:21.

image

While I didn’t beat my time goal, I’m pleased with the result.  Finishing is always my key goal (I’ve finished every marathon I’ve entered – no DNF’s yet.)  While 5:00 would have been nice, the course was tougher than advertised (it’s known as a flat course; I’d describe it is "a mild undulating hill for most of 26 miles.")  It was also on the warm side – this eventually took its toll on me. 

I saw Amy cheering me on just as I crossed the finish line.  I was completely used up so I was a little confused about where to find her since they shunted the marathoner finishers off in a direction away from the crowd.  I stumbled around for a few minutes until I luckily ran into her.  I was claustrophobic and a little freaked out feeling so I missed the finisher food and water as I rapidly (as rapidly as I could manage) headed out away from the crowd.  We’d covered about 200 yards when my left calf cramped up and I went down hard on the ground.  Amy was great – worried – but patient with me as she worked out the knots.  Someone passing by gave me a Coke which helped a little; we were in front of a Subway so Amy went in and got some more Coke and some potato chips while I laid on my face on the sidewalk.  While I was lying there, the other calf started cramping, resulting in me thrashing around like a hooked fish as people wandered by.  A few stopped to help, which was nice, although fortunately none of them knew how to perform a leg amputation which was what I imagine I was crying out for.

Grandmas Marathon - 2008 023

We eventually made it back to the hotel (a 10 minute walk took us about an hour) after which I slept the rest of the afternoon.  Mexican food for dinner, a very chilled out day today (e.g. lots more napping), and Indian food for dinner tonight has me mostly back to normal, albeit with two very sore calves.  Once again, Sherpa Amy was phenomenal to have along.

My big (yet obvious) lesson is that I just haven’t been doing enough long runs.  I consistently do 14 to 16 mile training runs, but I’m not doing enough 20+ training runs.  My next marathon is the Mesa Falls Marathon in Ashton, Idaho on August 23rd – I plan to do at least three runs of 20+ between now and then.  I’m ready to set my goal for Ashton, ID at 4:45 – if it has been a little cooler, I’d held back a little more in the first half, and had done a couple of 20 mile runs, I’m confident I would have been under 5 hours yesterday.

We’ve had fun in Duluth – it’s a cute little town at the very west end of Lake Superior.  Grandma’s Marathon is apparently the biggest event of the year in Duluth; by Sunday evening there was nothing going on in downtown on Superior Street.  We did – however – manage to find a good Indian restaurant.Grandmas Marathon - 2008 024

  • Craig

    Way to go, Brad!

  • John Windsor

    Congrats, Brad. And if you can't get in several 20+ mi runs before your next one, just make sure you do one of 20-22 miles about three weeks before. Worked wonders for me.

  • http://www.coloradostartups.com David G. Cohen

    Congratulations! I was thinking of you! http://twitter.com/dgcohen23/statuses/840395722

  • http://www.hugelead.com Scott Dalferes

    Congratulations Brad.

  • Steve Bergstein

    Congratulations, Brad. I'm in awe of anyone who can run 26.2 miles even once, let alone thinking about 50. I've been lucky to remain healthy enough to complete a few halves – but distance running seems now to be in my past.

  • http://www.2-speed.com Will

    Congrats Brad! Sounds like a painful but rewarding one. I admire your ability to think about the next one in a couple of months while still writhing in pain from this one.

  • http://me.dium.com/from/5d48c tobias

    >At this point I knew I wouldn't break 5:00 and my goal
    >shifted from “break 5 hours” to “finish this fucking thing.

    oh man, i've been there. it sucks so badly… but it also shows incredible mental strength to slog it out and get over the line. 99% would give up instead. nice job.

    And if you need a recommendation for a PT who works wonders on calf muscles, Bobby at Boulder Center for Sports Medicine is the man. He's kept me on the road when i've had no right to be out there.

    • http://www.feld.com Brad Feld

      I'm feeling better this morning but still really sore. I might go visit Bobby – thx for the suggestion.

  • http://www.lakeplace.com dave g

    Brad, I wish I would have know you were in town (kind of). Grandmas Marathon is actually #2 in Duluth…the Bayfront Blues Festival is #1…at least for us lazy guys.

  • http://www.jessica-thoughts.blogspot.com Jessica Schallock

    Congrats, Brad! I can't imagine running that far at all… We're really excited to see you and Amy in Homer soon! I've missed you guys!

  • http://andrewhyde.net Andrew Hyde

    Congrats on the finish!

  • http://feedusblog.com rick

    Congrats! My calves were cramping as I read.

    Duluth is an interesting place. I hope you had a chance to check out the houses along the northshore drive. Amazing testament to Duluth's past.

  • http://yoherb.typepad.com/domino Herb Morreale

    crap, I hope I never have a finish like that. Ouch!!! But, like I've said before to you, I think it's harder to hang in there and keep going when you're slow then it is to be fast. A lot of people think they “know Brad.” Having been there with you at the finish, as a person, not Mr. Cool VS Guy, I saw what you were really made of (set your mind – do it).

    Yes, 20 miles at an average of 30 sec/mile slower than race pace, plus at least one tempo run of 5-8 miles per week.

  • David_

    Brad,

    Well done again, I like the idea of eating potato chips at the end!! Being so tired amd sore at the end you can at least be comfortable that you gave it your all – but you are right, nothing counts like “time with feet on the street” for preparation.
    In working up to the Sydney Marathon ( my first) I just did the Gold Coast Half, my challenge is having the courage to put on the pace at 3km out…however when I finished I looked with admiration at the full marathoners – a great battle of mind over pain and fitness to the fore…well done, keep it up..(See you in Oz!!?)

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/steve_bergs2127 steve_bergs2127

    Congratulations, Brad. I'm in awe of anyone who can run 26.2 miles even once, let alone thinking about 50. I've been lucky to remain healthy enough to complete a few halves – but distance running seems now to be in my past.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/dgcohen dgcohen

    Congratulations! I was thinking of you! http://twitter.com/dgcohen23/statuses/840395722

  • Will

    Congrats Brad! Sounds like a painful but rewarding one. I admire your ability to think about the next one in a couple of months while still writhing in pain from this one.

  • Craig

    Way to go, Brad!

  • Scott Dalferes

    Congratulations Brad.

  • tobias

    >At this point I knew I wouldn't break 5:00 and my goal
    >shifted from "break 5 hours" to "finish this fucking thing.

    oh man, i've been there. it sucks so badly… but it also shows incredible mental strength to slog it out and get over the line. 99% would give up instead. nice job.

    And if you need a recommendation for a PT who works wonders on calf muscles, Bobby at Boulder Center for Sports Medicine is the man. He's kept me on the road when i've had no right to be out there.

  • dave g

    Brad, I wish I would have know you were in town (kind of). Grandmas Marathon is actually #2 in Duluth…the Bayfront Blues Festival is #1…at least for us lazy guys.

  • John Windsor

    Congrats, Brad. And if you can't get in several 20+ mi runs before your next one, just make sure you do one of 20-22 miles about three weeks before. Worked wonders for me.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld bfeld

    I'm feeling better this morning but still really sore. I might go visit Bobby – thx for the suggestion.

  • Jessica Schallock

    Congrats, Brad! I can't imagine running that far at all… We're really excited to see you and Amy in Homer soon! I've missed you guys!

  • Scott Dalferes

    Congratulations Brad.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/David_ David_

    Brad,

    Well done again, I like the idea of eating potato chips at the end!! Being so tired amd sore at the end you can at least be comfortable that you gave it your all – but you are right, nothing counts like "time with feet on the street" for preparation.
    In working up to the Sydney Marathon ( my first) I just did the Gold Coast Half, my challenge is having the courage to put on the pace at 3km out…however when I finished I looked with admiration at the full marathoners – a great battle of mind over pain and fitness to the fore…well done, keep it up..(See you in Oz!!?)

  • rick

    Congrats! My calves were cramping as I read.

    Duluth is an interesting place. I hope you had a chance to check out the houses along the northshore drive. Amazing testament to Duluth's past.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/andrew_hyde651 andrew_hyde651

    Congrats on the finish!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/herb_morrea3697 herb_morrea3697

    crap, I hope I never have a finish like that. Ouch!!! But, like I've said before to you, I think it's harder to hang in there and keep going when you're slow then it is to be fast. A lot of people think they "know Brad." Having been there with you at the finish, as a person, not Mr. Cool VS Guy, I saw what you were really made of (set your mind – do it).

    Yes, 20 miles at an average of 30 sec/mile slower than race pace, plus at least one tempo run of 5-8 miles per week.

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