Gary Bjorklund race preview

This weekend I will be running the Gary Bjorklund Half Marathon as part of the Grandma’s Marathon festivities in Duluth, MN.  I have heard a lot of good things about this race.  From what I understand, the entire town of Duluth is very proud of this race and they come out in droves to support the runners.  (I’ve also heard that it is very crowded and parking is a nightmare.)  Last count was over 17,000 participants across all events.  That’s a few people.

I’m excited because my mom is coming with me for the weekend and we are going to bring Jaden along.  My uncle and his wife recently moved to Superior, WI which is relatively close to Duluth, so we are going to stay with them on Friday night.

We will head up north Friday afternoon and go straight to the expo.  Because this event is so huge (it is also the USA Half Marathon Championships), the expo is going to be quite the event.  There are going to be more than 100 vendors, which easily makes it the biggest expo I’ve been to in…well, a really long time.

I’m a little nervous about the timing on Saturday.  The half marathon starts at 6:45 a.m.  That is really early for a race to start.  It is even earlier when it is a point-to-point course and I need to catch a bus to the start line.  The buses load from 4:45-5:15 a.m.  According to the website, if you arrive after 5:15, you will miss your ride to the start line.  No pressure.  I’ll be setting every alarm clock in my uncle’s house.

I know that my mom and Jaden aren’t going to want to get up that early.  I think it might be better for me to head out on my own in the morning, and for them to drive up a little bit later.  They might even just sleep in and let me run the race on my own.  Depends on the weather.

Since my last half marathon in Madison last month went much better than I anticipated, I have been giving some thought to what my goals should be for this race.  There are some factors to consider.  1) My fitness is probably better right now than it has ever been.  2) The course is almost completely flat.  3) The course will probably be very crowded for the entire race. 4) It looks like it could be raining for most of the weekend.

I think that I am capable of a PR.  I don’t know if this is the course or the day to attempt it.  There are pacers available.  There is a 2:00 pacer and a 1:50 pacer.  If there was a 1:55 pacer, I would stick like glue to that person and give it everything I have.  I think a 1:50 might be a bit out of reach (or, I’m not giving myself enough credit and I just need to wait for my Garmin to malfunction and I’ll surprise myself).

With all of that being said, I guess it is time to throw my goals out there.

C Goal:  2:06 (9:37/mi).  I ran this at Pine Line back in April. I ran it on tired legs.  Even on a crowded course, in the rain, I think I can pull this off.

B Goal:  1:59 (9:05/mi)  This is where I hope to be.  I would really like to know that I can be a consistent sub-2:00 half marathon finisher. 

A Goal: 1:55 (8:46/mi)  Like I said, I wish there was a 1:55 pace group.  To hit this goal, I have to take almost 3 minutes off my PR from Oshkosh


Those were my goals.  This morning, after my run, my left ankle started hurting.  I was hoping that it would get better after a while, but it has been bothering me most of the day.  It doesn’t feel like a muscle/tendon issue; more of a bone problem.  I really hope it isn’t a stress fracture or anything. 

So, instead of setting some aggressive goals, I am going to see how it feels on Saturday morning and go from there.


On to the weather…

Looks like it will be raining much of Saturday with some isolated storms.  There will be a drop bag spot at the start line, so hopefully, I can stay relatively warm and dry and then ditch my stuff right before the race starts.  I will take along my hat because I hate running with rain pelting me in the face.  I should probably take a garbage bag along too.  That will help keep my dry before the race starts.

I’ll be back next week with a recap.

Is anyone else racing this weekend?


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