Saturday, May 21, 2011

Fargo Marathon

EVENT: Fargo Marathon ("Go Far" Challenge)
DATE: Saturday May 21, 2011
LOCATION: Fargo, ND / Moorhead, MN
FINISH TIME: 04:48:49

This is a long one, but here we go!

When offered a "challenge" in which you run a 5K Friday night and a marathon Saturday morning, I am one of those weirdos who takes it on. If you need proof, see my San Diego Marathon weekend last year as an example.  With three medals possible, a flat course, two tech shirts, good food, and free lodging (courtesy of "The Ukrainian"'s relatives)? I totally bit!

The whole Fargo experience is very low-key.  I am going to write a separate post about my impression of Fargo, North Dakota.  But let it be known that they have really good bread, with samples!  (Breadsmiths)

"Marathon multigrain" (fifth from the top), LOL. :)

Here are the (epic) marathon shirts.  We didn't wear these to the race, but they were fun to model!  Yes, they actually had different colors for each gender...

The Race: As for the race itself, well, my primary comments fall into three areas:

1) WHY does my body always use all its energy to generate heat instead of using it to run?!  Most people I know don't get flushed in the face and drip sweat after just three miles -- in the gym or outdoors.  The weather was humid as heck, and as always, I sweated profusely = dehydration.  Not enough water stations (in my opinion, because I'm spoiled and need them pretty much every mile instead of every 2-3 like they had) didn't help.

2) The race was pretty much flat, and I really could have done much better had it not been for #1 and lack of training.  Still, not too bad considering the hypothermic marathon episode just two months ago...

3) Thank goodness I am so used to calf muscle twitching/cramping that I was able to recognize the signs early and prevent a serious pull this time.  I held on for about 10 miles!  So salt/electrolyte pills and hyper-hydrating also didn't help.  I think I'm just an impossible case.  But at least I adapted.  I'm just no good at this marathon thing.... even after 9 of them.

I was going to give splits, but to spare myself (and you) of the replay of my deterioration, here's how it generally went. Started off very conservatively (9:40-ish pace) Miles 1-3: humid, sweating; Miles 3-8: feeling good, picked up pace; Miles 10-13: drained; Miles: 14-19: a struggle, walk/jog by then; Miles 20-23 walk/jog (more running than the earlier miles, strangely); Miles 24-25.5: NO energy left (which has never happened during a marathon before); Mile 26: managed to run to the finish.

By the way, finishing a race INSIDE the Fargodome was the most awesome thing EVER.  People watched from the stands, and we got jumbo-tron treatment.

So you want to run Fargo?  DO IT!  My overall impression of the race was that it was really organized, and really, the water station spacing was my only real gripe about it.  The weather they could do nothing about -- in fact, it was forecasted to pour and thunder all weekend, and in both the 5K and marathon, we lucked out with just brief drizzling.  The scenery was mostly residential, but as I will blog about later, the houses in Fargo are lovely, so overall, entertaining enough, along with the copious bands.  The cheering crowds were really great in some places but really died down during those last few miles unfortunately.  And I wish some spectators handed out oranges, but at least I snagged a mini-Otter Pop!

Speaking of the 5K... yes, I did feel as though it affected the marathon, as my legs always felt that I was three miles ahead of where I actually was.  Then again, it could have been purely in my head. I really, really just need to train properly for the 10th marathon in November.  I am NOT one of those runners who can just wing it (if you are, I don't hate, but I envy you!).  Although I am a little disappointed by my performance, I guess I am satisfied due to my unenthusiastic running lately.

So I wasn't the best photographer on race day, but I did manage to get a few shots:

Above: The disposable timing chip!  They really pulled all the stops here!

Above: Three medals: 5K+Marathon (left); Marathon (middle); 5K (right)

Above: One thing I didn't mention in my review so far is the EXCELLENT post-race food.  I was SO out of energy by the time I crossed that even as "The Ukrainian" was walking around with me for food, I didn't have energy to speak for 5 minutes.  I was too busy guzzling fluids and eating food.  Multi-grain rolls, chocolate milk, bananas, COOKIES, THE BEST CHEESE PIZZA EVER, and this COOKIE DOUGH all made their way down my gullet.  Hands down the best post-race food ever.

Above: To end on a less-than-pleasant note, the Midwest has been flooded for months, and although they did a great job of cleaning everything, there was a lot of muddy ground, as you can see from "The Ukrainian"'s legs.  I dropped my hat in the mud, and it is forever not as white as it should be...


  1. North Dakota! Who knew they had races in North Dakota? ;)

    I'd definitely take that challenge, too.

  2. Wow what a fun adventure this will be!

  3. Fargo? As in North Dakota? As in NoDak? Why would anyone want to go to NoDak?

    Do you follow Jeri or Jean ? They are both from the area (Jeri from SoDak and Jean from Minneapols) and have run Fargo.

    And of course - you've seen the movie right?

  4. Oooo...nice medals and shirts. I even kinda like that highlighter green one. That's even brighter than the LAM one. Hey and you came in under 5. I hope that was what you wanted, not sure if you had a time goal. At least it didn't rain and you kept the cramping at bay.

  5. Why don't all your posts show up in my google reader? I'm so confused!

    Sounds like they put on a good show over there - I'm sorry it didn't feel better going through it. Maybe it's worth checking with a sports med doc about the dehydration/cramping issues?

  6. I am so glad you enjoyed the Fargo Marathon! They do a fantastic job with this event, and finishing in the Fargodome absolutely rocks. The weather can be weird up there - when I ran the marathon in 2009, the temperature never got above 40!

    Amazing how this event has grown over the years, but it is easy to see why. Congratulations on your race!

  7. oops! i guess i've been gone for way. too. long!

    congrats on another marathon, 5k, and those three beautiful medals :)