Fargo Marathon – Race Recap

It’s hard to believe that I just ran my fifth marathon. An unplanned marathon at that. I’d like to say it went as expected, but that isn’t the case – both in positive and negative ways. Let’s back up a second.

We were in the car as planned at noon, headed to Fargo. Just over three hours later we arrived at the Fargodome to pick up my race stuff. The expo itself was small but the race gave out some nice swag. I got this awesome bag and long sleeved tech pullover.

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With race gear picked up, we met Jim and Nancy at the hotel. After getting settled the entire group went out for a tasty dinner. I was feeling great when we got back to the hotel. I knew I was well hydrated and I had eaten smartly all week. We all got in our pjs and got ready for bed…at least I was ready for bed.

Ella didn’t fall asleep until oh about 10 pm. Anderson, so sweet, decided he would not sleep unless he was touching me…all night long. I ended up sleeping for only three interrupted hours. It’s a good thing that I got a good night of sleep on Thursday night and took a nap on the ride up. At 5 am I was in the hotel breakfast room eating my toast. Being paranoid, I brought all my stuff with me: bread, peanut butter and jelly. We left for the race about an hour later.

The races all started inside of the Fargodome. I was really appreciative of this because it was only 28 degrees. We had just the right amount of time to hit the bathrooms, drop our bags and take a quick picture before lining up. I decided to listen to Josh and just start out with the 3:40 pacer.

Pre Race with Nancy

The first 10k

Starting inside meant that my Garmin wasn’t going to be quite right as far as mileage, but since I was with a pacer I didn’t care. I hit the lap button once we hit the first mile so I could see my mile splits. Our pacer was pretty amusing and made me think of guys that would live in Boulder. We spent the first 5k trying to get on pace after the slow, crowded start. We also made a lot of turns. I believe we turned about 11 times. We hit the 5k mark at 26:18 (8:28 min/mile).

I was feeling so good. I was even chatting with the pacer a bit. He said when he isn’t a pacer, he usually runs marathons closer to the three hour mark. No wonder he was so talkative. The only thing I really remember about this portion was thinking, man this is super flat and these turns are ridiculous (Someone told me that there were 70 turns total). My 10k time was 52:13 (8:24 min/mile). Woohoo for a negative split for the second 5k.

Miles 7-13.1

I took my first gel at mile 7. I didn’t really feel like I needed it yet, but during marathons I try to refuel every hour. It went down fine and I carried on. It was about mile 10 that I started to feel my hydration kicking in. Even though I only had a gulp of water with breakfast and a swig with my gel, my bladder was ready to explode. We didn’t get to porta-potties until just before the half marathon point. I really did not want to stop, but I had to, or pee my pants. I stopped as quickly as possible and carried on, but lost my pacer. I crossed the half way point at 1:50:58 (8:28 min/mile).

Miles 14-17

We were on a very curvy bike path but I could still see the 3:40 pacer. I was probably about a minute behind him when I took my second gel at 14. This is when the problems began. By mile 15 my stomach was telling me that it was unhappy. By 16 I had to take a few walk breaks in an attempt to keep it together until I could get to the porta-potty. Finally, just before the 17th mile marker, like a mirage, the porta potties appeared. Lucky me, there was one open. I’ll spare you all, but I lost a few minutes. I was pissed. I was cursing myself for not taking gels more often during my non-training training. I ran from the john and tried to regain my speed. The 3:45 pace group had passed me when I was taking care of business and I didn’t want to lose any more time. Josh called right about then and told me they’d see me in a few miles.

Miles 18-20

I was finally feeling normalish again. I was keeping a steady pace and feeling great energy-wise. Josh called again to tell me that I was going to see them in a few blocks. When I saw them I was so excited.  He yelled to me that I was only about two minutes behind the 3:45 pacer.

Jess Running

It gave me the boost I needed to keep  get rid of my sour mood and try to keep my pace below a 9 min/mile. I crossed the 20 mile point at 2:52:02 (8:36 min/mile). My overall pace was slowing but considering my porta-potty stop, not too much. I calculated in my head that I should still come in around the 3:50 mark.

Miles 21-26.2

The final stretch and the introduction of a nasty headwind! I took my final gel just after mile 21. I was nervous that my stomach would sideline me again, but to my relief it was feeling ok. The race had been pretty flat, with a few tiny hills up until this point. The biggest hills were in the last few miles. They were still small, but unexpected because someone did not really look at the course map. Josh called to see how I was doing about mile 22 after he had seen Nancy run by. He gave me some encouragement and told me they’d see me as soon as he could get to the Fargodome.

Around mile 23 my stomach started acting up again. Not horribly, but enough that I walked through a water stop drinking a cup and a half of water. That seemed to do the trick. I ran with a woman for a few minutes who told me she had seen me earlier in the race and congratulated me on doing so well. She must have seen me as I was questioning whether or not I was going to make it to a porta-potty. It was very nice of her regardless. I told her she was looking strong and I continued on.

I knew that there was one big turnaround at mile 25. When I could see the runners turning ahead of me I wanted to jump for joy. I looked at my watch and realized I was definitely going to come in under 3:50 unless I had to stop again. I tried to pick up the pace a bit, though my legs were getting tired. When I saw the Fargodome I kept telling myself to go go go. We ran partially around the dome before running down the ramp into the dome. As soon as I hit the door of the dome a wave of hot air rushed over me. I pumped my arms running through the finish line. I looked down and saw 3:47 on my watch.

As I hobbled towards medals and refreshments I found my father-in-law Jim. He was all smiles after running a great 10k.

Jess finish line

I stopped to take my finisher’s picture.

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Official Time: 3:47:12 (8:41 min/mile) New PR by 3.16!

Then grabbed chocolate milk, cookie dough and a donut hole on my way to sit down. Josh called as I was trying to get to a spot to rest and I was so desperate to sit down that I couldn’t even talk to him on the phone. Once I was down, I had to stay down for a bit.

Post marathon

After a little bit of stretching I went to get my bag. Walking around made me feel so much better. A little while later Josh and the kids arrived. Ella and Anderson enjoyed the pizza, cookies and chocolate milk while I had a beer as we waited for the rest of the group to finish.

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Nancy was a bit wobbly after her finish and was taken over to medical to be warmed up and checked out. She was fine, thank goodness. We all got together for a picture before we went back to the hotel.

Post Race Group

Little rest later we all went to out to dinner – I ate way too much. Another few pictures of everyone cleaned up with medals.

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Then ice cream… because you know.

The three hour car ride home was painful. I could not wait to get out of the car. I do not recommend driving home the same day as the race. I’m so excited for Chicago. I’m feeling good about the chance of another PR in October. Hopefully with a normal training cycle where my stomach can get used to gels again, will help me avoid mid-race GI issues. I’m coming for you BQ. It might not be my next race, but I’m going to get there!

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