The 2009 Fargo Marathon was such great race for me!
Where should I start? I guess I’ll start with race day morning. I woke up 2:15 to race time, quickly dressed, and headed down to the hotel’s continental breakfast. It’s pretty cool to see so many runners congregated in one spot :). Breakfast was great, and I think I ate exactly what I needed: 2 packets of plain oatmeal with a big scoop of brown sugar and a bagel with strawberry jelly (both very carb-loaded). I can’t remember if I nibbled off of my brother’s/husband’s banana or not. I was comfortably fed.
Back to the hotel room. It’s only 6:15am. I wasn’t planning to head over to the start of the race until about 7:00. So, I decided to lay down for a quick 30 minute nap :). Great decision. Woke up again at 6:45, put on my last few items of race gear and left the room.
We’re a block away from the start, which is SOO nice. We walk into the dome, amble around trying to find the bag drop (wasn’t inside), went to the bathroom etc. At about 7:20, we walk outside to the start line to see what’s there. It’s actually a pretty nice day, especially compared to the night before (where winds were 20-25 mps). It’s just 38 degrees, with a 10 mph wind, but that suits me really well. I am not a good runner in the heat.
I did my first warm up at about 7:25. 2 minutes out and then back. .43 miles, I think. I actually felt good! Wow, what perfect timing, considering how tired my legs and lungs felt earlier in the week from the cold/sinus infection. I’m smiling to myself: this could be a really good day!! Then stretch, put on the race shoes and socks, go to the bathroom again, all the normal pre-race stuff. At 10 minutes to go I headed out for another short warm up (per my book’s recommendation), but kept it to 1:10 out and back.
The gun went off. I started off with my training partner and Nate (my husband), which was really nice. It’s nice to know the people around you and how they race/run. My goal was to negative split this race. I had no idea by how much — my goal was to do that based on “feel”. Our first mile was in 6:58, which was perfect. Nice and relaxed. My only goal for the next 1/2 marathon was to run evenly, using as little energy as I possibly could.
Nate took off at 10 miles. I took off my long sleeve (getting a little warmer at this point), handed it off, and away he went. Pretty funny to see this big guy up ahead running in a singlet with a hot pink shirt tied around his waist :). Jenny and I began to work closer together at this point. It was definitely a lot lonlier without Nate there! We went through the 1/2 marathon at 1:29.40, which was perfect. At that point I didn’t feel like I had used much energy at all (in contrast to Houston).
Jenny started to pull away at 14 miles. Hmm. Is she feeling good, I wondered to myself? I know I’m a good closer, so I just waited behind her. I knew I was running 6:45s at that point, which was plenty fast. She had to be splitting 6:40s. I told myself to save my fastest miles for the last 10K. That’s one of my strengths: my ability to be patient. So, I sat behind until mile 20, inching my way back up to her and her group. At 20 I caught her, and tried to convince her to come with. I asked her how she was doing, and her response was: “OK”… quite different from her answers earlier in the race. I was feeling great — my legs still had plenty of energy. I decided to start picking it up.
The next 6.2 miles I ran alone. I passed a LOT of people at that point. It’s very rare to negative split a marathon, and I think a lot of people were surprised at the pace I passed them at :). Because we were running the 1/2 marathon course twice, we were passing a lot of the half marathon walkers and running the opposite side of the street as the running 1/2 marathoners. So many of them cheered for me!! It was super encouraging. There were a few times when the walkers would block the road or wouldn’t allow for an easy water stop, which was a little discouraging… I don’t mean to be rude (at all!!), but please… if you’re walking a half-marathon, don’t take the inside corner with three of your friends all walking side by side. There were a couple of others that were surprised by me, and would literally stop in their tracks, turn around, and just freeze (after I had yelled: “Inside!! Inside corner!!”). I think I ran into at least 2 people. I really apologize, but I don’t know what else to do!!
6.2 to go. I decide to let myself to at this point. My legs feel great. I think part of that is that I started out smart, and the other because I have good glycogen stores because of my carbo load. I grabbed the last Gu at 20 miles and just carried it for a while. I had already taken 4 during the race, plus 1 right before. That’s quite a few. But, I always have problems getting dizzy at the end of long races. So, I ripped off the top and just took sips from it for the rest of the race. That really helped — I will definitely do that from now on.
1 mile to go. I can see the Fargo dome! I’m a little dizzy at this point, but also a little nauseated as well (probably because I ate so much during the race). I have no idea where to go, though. There’s a confusing turn by the dome — probably for the marathoners — and a bunch of people were turning that way. Good thing there were volunteers to help direct runners. At .3 or .4 to go, bicyclists joined me. At first, there was just one. Then the second came and said, I’ll take this one!! I was scared. Was there a woman right behind me that he was talking about? No! That made me pick it up :). We circled the dome, and I made my last turn in. I start the charge to the finish. Except, my feet get caught in a storm sewer grate — and I fall – HARD. I am completely sprawled out on the ground, stomach first. What? My bike escorts yell at me: get up! quick!! I am lucky to have enough energy to pick myself up quick and begin running again. It takes me a couple of steps to get back into it (I think my legs liked the few seconds of rest!!). Apparently I was swaying a bit at that point. Within a few meters, I was back in it, trying to pick it up to the finish.
It’s pretty cool to finish in the Fargo dome :). The whole crowd is cheering and the announcer is going nuts : “This is the second woman coming in!! On your feet, everyone!!”. So cool :). I finished in 2:58.11, which was well below my 2:59.59 goal. It was an excellent race for me and a definite confidence booster. Fargo was a great city to run in — the crowd was amazing (the best I’ve run in), and I’d recommend it to anybody. Pictures of the top 3 (I was 2nd):
Now… I’ll give it a few days, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to try for a fall marathon :). Wait for the post a few days from now :)!
P.S. My parents came up to watch me run, which was really encouraging. I love it when they come watch (my dad doesn’t particularly enjoy it, I think, because there have been a few times where I’ve raced beyond my limits that he’s watched…). Me & my dad, who is my absolute hero/idol:
P.P.S. 11 minutes off of the Olympic trials standard. Too far off to be get-able????
P.P.P.S. Both Jenny’s and my Garmin’s said that the course was .2 miles LONG. That’s about a 1:10 minute difference. I’m fairly sure we took the inside tangents and didn’t run long — the course was just long. Everyone was saying that the course was slow, so that makes sense. Given that, I’d have run sub 2:57… hmm, we’ll have to see the next time around, won’t we?? (My training partner was bummed because she ran 3:00.50, and her goal for the last 10 years has been sub 3… which she would have done without those extra .2 miles!)
A HUGE thank you to everyone who has followed me and my blog. What amazing support! Thank you, thank you!!!
(halfway in 1:29.40)
(20 mile mark, I let myself go at this point)
Last .2: ???