top of page

Life Lessons from Running Grandma's Marathon: My Journey and Key Takeaways

Updated: Jun 25

This past weekend, I ran Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota. It was a grueling experience, but I learned a lot from it. This was my second official marathon, and the first one I completed without walking. The 20+ weeks of training taught me some major life lessons that I want to share with you all.


Celebrating running a marathon
A picture of my little sister and I celebrating the marathon finish

1. A Goal Can Only Get You So Far; Taking Action Is What Gets You to the Finish Line


In my first marathon, my goal was just to finish, and I did, but my preparation was inconsistent and sloppy. I had a vague desire to run a sub-four-hour marathon, but due to my lack of structured preparation, I finished in 4 hours and 51 minutes. This time around, I knew my preparation had to be better.


I did extensive research and created a training plan that I was determined to follow.

Setting a specific goal is the first step, but it's not enough. The next step is creating or selecting a structured plan. In the past, I often stopped at this point, lacking the discipline to follow through. Execution is the most critical part of the goal-setting and achieving process.


This time, I stuck with my plan and only missed one or two workouts over 20+ weeks of training. This consistency made a significant difference, allowing me to feel strong throughout the race and keep my legs from tiring prematurely—a significant achievement for any marathon runner.


2. It’s Not About the Achievement; It’s About the Journey


I know, this sounds cliché, but this experience has shown me just how true it is. Over 720 miles of running went into preparing for the final 26.2 miles. I sacrificed early weekend mornings for long runs and was meticulous about my nutrition and recovery.


Every action or inaction influenced the outcome of this race. This principle, known as the law of accumulation, applies to any goal. Each step in the right direction compounds your success, while steps in the wrong direction take you further from your goal. By analyzing every decision and action as either helping you reach your goal or hindering it, you realize that all the little things matter. It really is all about the journey because each small action impacts the final outcome.


3. Even If You Do Everything Right, It Might Not Be Your Day


The race went well for the first 16 miles. My legs felt strong, my heart rate stayed within my target range, and I was feeling great. Then, between miles 15 and 16, I started feeling sick. I threw up twice and had to stop at porta-potties three times in the last 10 miles. After that initial sickness, I couldn’t keep down any nutrition or fluids, making the last few miles incredibly challenging. I seriously considered dropping out of the race and seeking medical attention.


Selfie during the marathon after getting sick
A little selfie in the porta potty after vomiting for the 2nd time this race.

This was extremely frustrating because I knew how hard I had worked to prepare. Even though I wasn’t going to finish at my goal time, I gave myself one more challenge: to finish the race. The last six miles were a dogfight. The cold rain and wind picked up, and my legs started to tire. But I finished in 3 hours and 50 minutes, over an hour faster than my first marathon.


After the race, I was disappointed that I didn’t hit my goal time of 3 hours and 30 minutes. But when I compared my results to my first marathon, I felt immense pride in how far I had come. I learned to put things into perspective and give myself grace. Unexpected challenges are a part of any goal, and sometimes things don’t go as planned. That’s life. If we could predict everything, life wouldn’t be nearly as interesting.


I could have tried to be motivational and said, "Expect the unexpected," but that’s unrealistic. Sometimes plans A, B, and C all fail. That’s when you have to pivot and keep pushing forward because you truly don’t fail until you give up on yourself.


I hope you find these lessons as helpful as I did. As for what’s next, I plan to build up some strength and muscle before attacking the marathon again. Eventually, I will run it in under three hours. That’s not just a wish—it’s a promise.


My support crew from my marathon
My amazing support crew. I couldn't have done it without them.


Comments


Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page