My trip to Duluth for the 35th running of Grandma’s Marathon was an excellent learning experience. The race came a month after winning Pittsburgh, and 2 weeks after pacing 30K of the Ottawa Marathon. I was not worried about my time, race splits or trying to be top American– I was only running to win. I remained patient early on and worked into a good pace with the other top Americans, Matt Gabrielson and Tyler McCandless. By 18 miles I had pulled ahead and joined the lead group, which included several athletes I ran against in Pittsburgh (I may have heard the Swahili phrase for “Sh*t not again!”). I threw in a hard surge near a water station to break up the large group, and we went from a dozen to 6 athletes. 2:07:06 marathoner Charles Munyeki was one of the surprise casualties. Around 21 miles I fell off the front. A Flagstaff-based training partner from the previous week, Teklu Deneke Tefra, stayed in contact and narrowly missed victory in a sprint duel with Kenya’s Christopher Kipyego. After they pulled clear, I soldiered on to the finish in 2:13:12, a 57-second personal best and also currently the #3 U.S. performance for 2011. I also kept my record of negative splitting in tact, despite the pace variation once I joined the leaders. I cannot be too disappointed with a race in which I took some risks and come out with a new personal best–but it leaves me hungry for more and I am confident I will only get better. I look forward to demonstrating that next in Daegu, no longer a rookie in the marathon.
Stay tuned for more comprehensive updates! –JDE