After nervously looking at the forecast (again), checking on a few calves, and saying goodbye to JR, I hit the road for Fargo about noon Friday.
Yes, the forecast for race day was 80% chance of rain in a.m./p.m. with slight chance of thunderstorms. Highs 70-75. Yuck. But, I was still happy, excited, and proud to be running for World Vision. ( Thank you, thank you again to all who donated!)
I had mostly everything packed the night before, and I did a double-check for my shoes before I pulled out of the drive. The only important thing I forgot was my iPod nano… more about that later.
Upon arriving in Fargo, I was greeted by only light sprinkles of rain and a bustling crowd at the FargoDome. I happily and nervously picked up my packet.
I also bumped into Jeri, who along with her friend Megan, assured me nerves were normal. She was in green, just as I expected. 🙂
One of the positives of Fargo for me is that my best friend lives there. Best friends are good for marathon support I think! She was running the 5K on Friday, and I met up with her and cheered her along the crowded route. After the 5K, it was time for pre-marathon supper.
While I won’t recommend a giant burger as the ideal pre-race supper for everyone, a beefy burger covered in cheese and bacon with wedges was just perfect for my hungry tummy. 🙂 I actually had a huge bowl of pasta the night after the race, so I know I’m a bit backward with that.
Everything went according to plan except the wake up. We were planning to leave my friend’s between 6:00 and 6:15. Instead… I woke up at 6:02. Normally I’m jittery and up early on race morning, but apparently my body was tired.
My awesome friend toasted bread and slathered it with jam while I threw my stuff together and assessed what get-ready things I could do in the car on the way there. I suppose I looked strange slathering myself in vaseline as we sat in traffic, but whatever.
An item I was sure to remember was the new SpiBelt I’d bought at the expo. Remember I said earlier I’d forgotten my iPod? Well, I finally decided I would rather carry my iPhone than nothing. I wasn’t real keen on wearing something around my waist for 26.2, but I finally forked over the $20 anyhow.
The belt held my phone and earbuds plus some emergency skittles. It didn’t bother me or rub at all, so I’ve decided it was money well spent.
We hit the FargoDome by 6:45, and I had plenty of time to get situated for the 7:30 start. After a truly rock’n roll national anthem and some short speeches, we were off.
The early miles were awesome, probably because it wasn’t rainy and the overcast sky kept us cool from any sun rays beating down. I started just behind the 4:30 group, but didn’t want to get too close because it was pretty congested around each pacer. After a mile or so we spaced out, and I just felt amazed to be starting out on this adventure.
True to word, there was a band every mile or so. Some were official course bands, while I think others were just enthusiastic fans who brought a drum or instrument out to help cheer us on. At one point I heard a familiar tune being played on a trumpet. I soon realized it was the U of MN fight song… Go Gophers!
I didn’t snap many pictures during the race, but when we went over the bridge into Moorhead, MN the bells were tolling for us at Concordia College. So majestic I just had to capture the moment.
At this point, I was running in step with a gal from Iowa who had done several marathons. She offered a few words of wisdom, and we chatted easily until about mile 8. At that point, I couldn’t even see the 4:30 pacer. I knew I had to pick it up now if I had any chance of running under 4:30.
It’s hard to say if I should have run faster or not in the early miles. (You’ll see from my splits in a while that mile 4 was my slowest). But, maybe that slow early pace gave me the ability to maintain in the later miles?
I’d taken 2 gus by mile 10, and I was already sick of them. I knew I needed to keep fueling though, as it was getting humid and I was dripping and salty already. At both miles 8 and 15 I had a nice little break when I saw several of my cousins and uncle cheering for me. They have family in Fargo, and my older cousin runs cross-country and had been speedy in the 5K the night before. Totally fun to see familiar faces in the sea of spectators.
It was also awesome to see the lead runners whizzing by on some of the double-backs. Instead of being a reminder of how much further behind we were, it was truly motivating to see them racing along. We’d cheer, and even if they didn’t respond you could tell they were drawing energy from the crowd.
Somewhere between 12 and 13, I fell in step with another runner. She was also running her first marathon, in celebration of her 40th birthday this year. She had so much positive energy, and it was easy to run with her as we talked about this and that.
We were ahead of the 4:30 pacer until about mile 16 when we spied him coming by on our right. His group had dwindled to 2 people by then, so we joined in and picked his brain about racing strategy and his past experiences.
I was still feeling strong, but by mile 18 I just needed… something. A change.
I was sick of the taste of sugar, my legs were getting tired, and it occurred to me that maybe now was the time to pop in some music. A stream of Pink, Lady GaGa, and Shania Twain revived me, and I was back on pace. Thank goodness for that SpiBelt!
Through about mile 22, I kept falling behind pace and then catching up again at water stops. After that, I just couldn’t make my legs catch up anymore. No matter what I did, I seemed to trudge along just out of reach of that “4:30” sign.
While there is nothing intrinsically special about a 4.5 hour marathon, it was my original goal. At certain points in training I had hopes of running faster, but with my knee issues the past few weeks I’d revised my goal back to 4:30.
In the last miles of the race, the pacer sign was almost like a lifeline. I knew if it got too far away, I would quit trying to catch it and my pace would fall apart completely. But as long as I felt like it was in reach, I still had reason to keep trying to run after it.
It was at this point that I also thought about how glad I was to be mostly on pace. Thinking about hours left to run scares me, but at mile 20 I let myself process that I only had 1 hour left to run. If that hour would have turned into more, I know the mental game would have been much harder.
The last few miles are kind of blur. I had forced myself to take one last gu at mile 21, but only got about 1/2 of it down. After that, my mouth was so chalky I could only handle the thought of water at each stop. I was so caked in salt, and it didn’t help that my “emergency skittles” had melted all over my phone and earbuds in a sticky mess.
I thanked God for helping me keep it together as I passed mile 25, and I tried to find an extra gear in my legs for the last 1.2. I didn’t have much left, but I can assure you I was still running (as opposed to walking like it looks in this photo..)
I felt a lot of things in those last few minutes. The overwhelming desire to be done was probably strongest, but it still didn’t make me run much faster. 🙂
I came toward the dome finish, passed a pack of 4 runners that I knew I should be able to beat, and then pretty much forgot to even smile for my finish line photo.
I was done! I knew I had either hit sub-4:30, or been extremely close.
Luckily I spotted my friend right away, and I stood on wobbly legs as I got my medal and grabbed some food. The chocolate milk tasted amazing, but food looked awful. I took one bite of my favorite nutter butter cookie and promptly knew I couldn’t eat it. 😦
For those that like details… here they are. No garmin for me, so these are just manual splits from my watch.
- Mile 1 – 10:07
- Mile 2 – 10:08
- Mile 3 – 10:15
- Mile 4 – 10:44 (slowest of race)
- Mile 5 – 10:27
- Mile 6 – 10:31
- Mile 7 – 10:17
- Mile 8 – 9:53 (Let’s pick it up!)
- Mile 9 – 10:20 (avg of 9-10, forgot to take a split here)
- Mile 10 – 10:20
- Mile 11 – 9:48 (fastest of race)
- Mile 12 – 10:05
- Mile 13 – 10:15
- Mile 14 – 10:21
- Mile 15 – 10:25
- Mile 16 – 10:36
- Mile 17 – 10:41
- Mile 18 – 10:01 (time for the earbuds)
- Mile 19 – 9:53
- Mile 20 – 10:12
- Mile 21 – 10:11
- Mile 22 – 10:24
- Mile 23 – 10:31
- Mile 24 – 10:39 (avg of 24-25, forgot to take a split here)
- Mile 25 – 10:39
- Mile 26 – 10:10
- .2 – 2:02
- Unofficial – 4:29:55 (Official 4:29:57)
Other stats and observations
- 13.1 Split – 2:14 (pretty happy with the overall consistent pace!)
- An interesting fact in the official results is they show what place you were at various points in the race. At every split I moved up in overall place, and from mile 20 to the end I passed roughly 100 people.
- Also, I haven’t been as sore as I was expecting Maybe I was just prepared for the worst? I think I pushed myself pretty hard, but I’ve got to wonder if I could have run faster. I’m sure every runner thinks this though…
Well, now that I’ve definitely written the longest post in my history, it’s probably time to wrap this up. Thanks again to all of you for your advice and support. It has meant a lot. A special thanks to my husband and family for putting up with me during this crazy training.
I loved this race (thank you Fargo!) and am already scheming to do another marathon sometime in the future. Maybe not soon, but it will happen! For more marathon fun, check out the blogs of these fabulous ladies who also raced their little legs off in Fargo. 🙂
And, this post wouldn’t be complete without a thanks to my fabulous friend Nicole. I don’t know what I would have done without you to wake me up on race morning, drive me to the start, and generally keep me sane.
Just to end this post with a question… How sore should I be after a marathon? Can I start running a few easy miles if I feel good, or do I need to wait until next week? 😉