The Best Half Marathon Story Ever

Race day.

Gary Bjorklund Half Marathon.

Duluth Minnesota.

June 16, 2018.

Wake up at 3:40 am.

Catch a bus to the middle of nowhere.

Run 13.1 miles.

Cross the finish line.


But it wasn’t mine…..

It was my husbands. Yes, you read that right. Luke, the guy who has been injured with debilitating shin splints for months, hasn’t ran more than 2 miles a handful of times since April and arrived in Duluth with a nasty hangover and NO intention of running the race. If your jaw is on the ground right now, believe me, you are not alone. And the story gets better.

Back in October, Luke and I signed up for the Gary Bjorklund half marathon (his first) with the intention of running it together. And in true Luke fashion he set the bar high by claiming that WE would be running it in an 8:06 pace, which would be a PR for me and an incredible first timer finish for him. So I followed his lead and agreed to “Go Big or Stay Home”.

Our training started out great. He was increasing his mileage and staying on track to meet his goal and then in April he started dealing with shin splints and unrelenting knots in his calves and they kept getting worse. By May running was no longer an option. He would have a few good days and could push out 2 miles max, but his dream of us running Grandmas together wasn’t going to happen. But it didn’t stop him from toying with the idea of stilling trying to run it. And as his wife it didn’t stop me from telling him what a bad idea that would be…multiple times…a day.

We arrived in Duluth on Friday and got our race packets. (And here is where we get a little personal so bear with me because, well, I’m human and this is what marriage is all about sometimes) I was very pissed at him for being hungover and making me drive the 3 hours while he slept the whole way up when I didn’t get any sleep the night before, so he was getting the silent treatment. And since I was giving him the cold shoulder, I was positive that his running around buying all the gear to run (shoes included) and picking up his race packet was his way of messing with me. And long story short, I got over being grumpy but I still wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of bringing up his last minute shopping spree.

Before I left for the bus in the morning, Luke had downed 2 small bananas and was half dressed lying in bed. I went over to kiss him goodbye and gave him his final warning to NOT run and he looked me in the eyes and said “I was really thinking of trying to do it, but my calves hurt just lying here.” I sighed a huge sigh of relief and off I went. And I remember several times along the route wishing that he was there with me running the race. If only I had known that he was.

After I had left, he told my parents (who were up there with us too to run the 5K) that he couldn’t at least try to run. The weather was great, the rain had held off, he had what he needed and he would regret it if he didn’t. So at the very LAST minute he caught the LAST bus, scammed a granola bar off a fellow runner with a whopper of a fib and was the LAST person to cross the start line.

When I finished, I hopped into a porta potty to change. I called Luke to tell him I was done and got no answer. I called my parents and they broke the news to me that he was out on the course running. I WAS SO MAD, SO WORRIED AND *secretly* a little proud, and I’m sure I sounded like a crazy person to anyone standing outside of my porta potty.  I won’t share with you the four letter words that came out of my mouth, but I rushed to get dress and find my family. I opened the runner tracker app on my phone to find out that he was at mile 12.1 and he was cruising! We got to the finish line with a few minutes spare. When my dad saw him coming, my heart skipped at least 7 beats. Because I am so short, I couldn’t see him right away. I was so nervous to see him! What if he hurt himself? What if it was a huge mistake? What if he was one of “those runners” and he pooped himself? UGH! But then I saw him. He looked like a runner should look with only a few yards left. Sweaty, tired but still moving AND I CHEERED!!!!!! He turned to me, smiled, pumped his fist in the air and finished STRONG! HE DID IT! HE FINISHED! And he finished his first half in the worst circumstances possible in 2:12.

When I found him, I couldn’t have hugged him any harder. We embraced and the conversation that occurred was just for us. Once I knew he was ok (and he didn’t poop himself LOL) I was so proud of him. I AM so proud of him. Most people wouldn’t have the heart or passion to do what he did nor would they have the courage to try. But not my Luke. He ran the whole race and since he didn’t have his music to listen to, he was able to really experience the amazingness of the crowd (a cool experience I had in 2016).  The cheers, the sights, the laughs with other runners and the moment he crossed over the line to become an official half marathoner is something that he will always hold close to his heart. Your first big race is always special and man does he have an awesome first timer story to tell.