2023 Race Recap Grambassador: Jamie

The experience of crossing the finish line of Grandma’s Marathon is an incomparable feeling. You search deep within yourself to find the last bit of energy to carry you beyond the crowds of cheering people and past that infamous finish line. Feeling completely exhausted, you walk toward the volunteers to pick up your medal and then a bit more for some snacks. This is the moment I revisit in my mind when I’m training. This year I was selected as an ambassador or “Grambassador” for the race and was really excited about the upcoming year.


I began My training for Grandma’s soon after a race I completed in Phoenix, AZ this past January. I had plenty of time on my side and things were going well. I always have a little concern that I may not train as well as I need, but I work with a running coach, which boosts my confidence that my training is on track.


During my months of training I got to meet up with other Grambassador’s for some great training runs that allowed me to connect with some wonderful people along the way! I’m very much an introvert at heart but getting out there to meet new friends was priceless. I really liked the social media interactions and seeing what other runners were doing inspired me as much as as working with my coach. I felt like my training was strong. 


Fast forward to June 16, 2023. My fiancé and I arrived at the expo early. I was excited to meet some of the runners that I had been conversing with, attend Alison Mariella Désir’s keynote speech, meet the other Grambassador’s to have our picture taken, and run the William A. Irvin 5K with my fiancé. It was long day, but everything was exciting for me, and the day just flew by. After the 5K we headed home to Biwabik, MN to get some rest before heading out the next day for the race. We got back to the house a little later than I had hoped but I felt like I could still manage to get a good night’s rest. My brain had another plan. All the excitement from the day kept my mind whirling and I just could not seem to fall asleep. I managed to get about 3 hours of sleep and woke up quite groggy.


Race morning had arrived and even though I was very tired, I was still excited about running the marathon. I donned my race gear and made the trip to Two Harbors. Being that I live just north of Two Harbors, it makes the morning a little easier to drive towards the start line. Also, the drive to Two Harbors in the morning is beautiful. As I walked over to the start of the race, the excitement kept growing; any lack of sleep was behind me, and I was ready to race. Let’s do this!


The race started quite well for me. My pace was close to what my coach had advised. I made sure I stopped at each water stop and took in nutrition as I had practiced on my long runs. At mile 18, I started to notice some cramping and some light headedness. Some of this I was able to manage with my fueling plan, but not enough to feel entirely better. Some races you can plan each detail really well and still have the race go completely wrong. Somewhere around mile 20 the cramps kept getting worse and I had to try to find a way to combine running and walking to finish the race. When I tried to run, I could feel the cramps coming on. For the most part I felt fairly good. Don’t get me wrong, I was tired, but I felt like I had the energy to run the last two miles. Eventually, I decided that it was more important to preserve my long-term health and I started to walk. I knew I had some energy in reserve to keep running, but each time I attempted to run the cramps set in. I saved the last of my energy to run the the finish line, which was really important to me. In moments like this, rather than wallow in disappointment, I look for the lesson to learn and find gratitude that I am able to be out on the marathon course that day.


After I finished the marathon, we headed to Bayfront park to enjoy the rest of the festivities and have a beverage. The warm sunshine and all the happy runners helped me to feel inspired. All in all I’m happy that I made it to the end, completing my 4th marathon, and 2nd full Grandma’s Marathon. My race time wasn’t what I wanted it to be, but I know my training was strong and I did well with everything under my control. Most importantly, I had fun. Time for some much-needed rest. Until next year!


Jamie Vesel


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Favorite Grandma’s Marathon Memory: 2008 Running the Gary Bjorklund Half Marathon for the first time. The pure excitement of learning that I can be a runner!

Song that must be on your running playlist: Gold by Prince. I love finishing a training run OR race with this song playing.

2023 Running Goal: Enjoy the sights and trust the process.

Three words to describe your training, racing, or life: purpose, intent, enjoy