Just 3 weeks back, I thought I’d knock off marathon #8 in Minneapolis but fate stepped in & I needed a June make-up race.

Late Friday nite flight, picked up my rental at Enterprise, then headed 2 ½ hours north to Duluth — tomorrow’s race destination: Grandma’s Marathon.  Easy drive; powered by Sirius Radio I listened to Country Classics – yep, the super twangy stuff from the 1950’s & ‘60’s 🙂  20 minutes outside of Duluth, heavy fog rolled in.  Pulled off momentarily, then realized it wasn’t dissipating anytime soon so dropped my speed to 35, hovered in the right lane & stayed über alert to other motorists and wildlife.

Located a safe stop to catch some zzz’s (no hotel this trip), then woke to my iPhone alarm 4 hours later.

Fog, accompanied by mist & temps in the low 50’s.  Surprisingly cold for June.  Boarded a race bus which ferried me & fellow racers to the Start Line in Two Harbors, northeast of Duluth.  Waited ‘til the last possible moment to shed the jacket & drop-off my gear bag – sooo late [that] I was blocked from joining my race wave, relegated to joining the 5:30 pacers.

Didn’t reach the official start until 6 minutes after the gun sounded, trudged thru a pack of runners, resulting in a super slow 11 minute first mile.  Music cranked up, I started to work my way around folks.  At mile 3 I passed the 4:30 pace team & at mile 6, I put the 4 hour pacers behind me.  Now the trick – run my race, stay loose, don’t panic.

For a guy who struggles to run in heat, this was my day.  Caught a glimpse of Lake Superior thru the fog & drafted closely behind a fast-footed runner with crazy long hair.  I matched him on hills (which better suits my Colorado training), then fell back on the long stretches. Goal: stay close for a half marathon – revised goal, I’m drafting thru mile 15.

Reached down for water & just like that, he was gone.  Thankfully, still felt strong.  No grabbing water again ‘til mile 19, then again at mile 21.  Felt the burn at mile 23 & punked another 11 minute shuffle.

Water, I need water.  Or air, maybe I can’t breathe.  Stopped at the mile 24 aid station & turned my head to see the 4 hour pace team pounding behind me.  Where did they come from?   I am NOT giving up on my first sub-4 with only 2+ miles to go.

Crowds lined the final mile thru downtown Duluth to Canal Park.  I reached deep & ran.  Pulled out my buds & let crowd energy breathe blood back into my legs.  I’m blowing hard now.  I can hear the race announcer, I’ve got to be close.

Almost 4 minutes under my marathon goal – boo-yah, first sub-4 marathon.

(Race Time) From Grandma’s Marathon sponsor, Verizon Wireless: K R Haga has crossed the Finish in 3:56:38

Slipped to the ground & was done.  Couldn’t stop shivering, finished in the medic tent.  Super low sodium but high hemoglobin numbers.  Released 30 minutes later.  Thanks Colorado for my high hemoglobin – high altitude living does a body good.

sub-4 – FINALLY!

sub 4 FINISH!

sub 4 FINISH!



next month Montana!

next month Montana!

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