Bowron family takes on Grandma's

By Sara Quam

For the Bowron women, togetherness means more than picnics with potato salad.

LuverneÕs Jeanne Bowron and her four daughters found their version of togetherness in running 26.2 miles together. They are signed up for Grandma's Marathon in Duluth this Saturday.

"It's a unique mother-daughter thing," Jeanne said.

The decision to run a marathon wasn't easy, but Alison put out the idea last Christmas. "She kind of set it as a challenge. She said, 'Let's do something as sisters and mom," Jeanne said.

Alison said, "Running a marathon has always been on my life's To Do list."

Jessica, on the other hand, said, "It took some convincing for me."

Although the girls were in sports, distance running was new to them. And Jeanne took up walking for fitness a couple of years ago but certainly never trekked 26.2 miles at once.

Jeanne said each of them had obstacles in training that they had to overcome. Alison is a medical student doing clinical rotations; Emily has two young children; Jeanne works full time (and is 54 years old); Johnna was a new accountant who had to work through the tax season, and Jessica was a student holding down two jobs while planning a wedding.

The fact that it wasn't a simple undertaking made it special to them.

"It was real camaraderie," Jeanne said, "a lot of e-mailing inspirational messages and support back and forth."

Alison said it was nice to have a similar goal. "We've been living in different stages of our lives in different areas. It brought us back together," she said.

They aren't exactly worried about Saturday's marathon - completing it is the main goal.

"We're going into it saying, 'We are going to give it our all and see what happens,'" Jeanne said.

Mostly, they're happy to share the undertaking together.

"It takes them to become adults to come back and do this with their mother," Jeanne said.

Shaping up

More than 9,000 other runners are signed up for Grandma's Marathon. They've trained all winter and spring. "We did a lot of running in the cold," Jeanne said.

They used a training program set up for beginning runners. Things like appropriate water intake and stretching exercises are crucial in a marathon.

The closest the Bowrons have come to running a full marathon was Memorial Day, when they took part in a 20-mile run. Completing that told the women they could handle just six more miles.

Alison said supporting each other over walkie talkies helped. "I was surprised how mental running is," she said. "It seems like when we ran five miles the last one was really hard, and when we ran 20, the 19th was hard."

Jeanne agreed. "It's a real mindset when you know how far you can go and set yourself up for that amount," Jeanne said. "We know that if we stay healthy and injury-free we can do Grandma's."

The 20-mile experience took Jeanne about five and a half hours to walk and her daughters about four hours to run.

Even though it was shorter than the full marathon that they now face, they learned valuable lessons.

Jeanne said, "You try to ignore what hurts and focus on short goals like the water stops or the mile markers."

Alison said, "It will just be neat to say we all crossed the finish line."

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