Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Fargo Marathon Race Recap

From the day I signed up for the Fargo Marathon I had thought about what I would say after the race.  Would I be glad that I did it, would I say I am never doing that again...the one thing I always knew that I would NOT say...I wish I had finished.  I knew from day one of training that I was going to finish the marathon - no matter what that meant, I was finishing. 

I knew that I put the appropriate time and effort in to my training - even though I may have second guessed myself coming down the stretch.  I arrived in Fargo (with my mom and husband at my side) on Friday May 18th ready to take on the 26.2! 

We arrived in Fargo, headed to the Fargodome, picked up my packet, perused the expo wares and chatted with friends.  Rob's cousins were also in town for the race and we ran in to them which was awesome - they have both been inspirations to me over the last year as I started running and could not have been more supportive of me - Mike and Mary, thank you so much!  I was also lucky enough to run in to some new Internet/twitter friends at the expo - such great girls and I am so fortunate to have met them in person!  Courtenay and Heidi were much better about getting recaps up and you should run not walk to their sites and check them out! 
Melissa and Travis were in town as well, Melissa was taking on the Fargo Half Marathon (her first!).  The five of us went out for dinner, some fro-yo and then headed back to the hotel to settle in for the evening.  The boys ventured across the street for some cocktails, while us ladies got ready to get some rest. 

I woke up the next morning feeling ready to go.  It had been a long 18 weeks and it was all for this day.  I had all of my gear laid out, shirt, shorts, sparkle skirt, garmin, belt, etc.  I got dressed and sent Melissa off (the half started an hour before the full) to her race.  Thankfully, the sweltering heat that Fargo had been experiencing the night before had dissipated and the weather was perfect on Saturday morning.  It was overcast and almost chilly as we headed out the door to the Fargodome.  My mom agreed to take me to the dome and drop me off, then she was going to go back and pick up the boys so they could get to their places on the course to see Melissa and then me as I came through.  I really had no expectations of actually being able to see anyone, not knowing what the streets would be like. 


I made it in the dome and sat in the stands for a bit watching the 10K finishers come in to the dome.  I found myself getting very emotional as I sat there alone, cheering on the runners.  I had to get up and go out to the concourse.  I made a few visits to the bathroom and found my friend Jenny who was also running her first marathon.  She was actually in my Learn to Run class at the Running Room last year - she is a great athlete, she was battling an injury so didn't know what to expect - but I knew she would be awesome. 

We made our way to the start line.  There was a lot of people - but in comparison to larger marathons - there were "only" 2000 marathoners.  I found the pace group I wanted to start with.  They sent the elites off, the wheelchair racers, and then the gun went off for our race.  We actually were able to start running a lot sooner than I had anticipated - usually its more of a shuffle when there are that many people!  I crossed the start mat and hit "Start" on the Garmin.  I was off - I was running my first marathon!

Miles 1-6: (9:59, 10:27, 9:59, 10:23, 10:56, 9:36)
The first 6 miles I felt great - probably too great.  I stuck with the 4:30 pace group for most of this first part of the race.  It was a bit ambitious but I knew that I could back off if I needed to.  I held my own for awhile.  I ended up seeing Heidi on the course, we ran and chatted a bit.  I was taking the "walk through water stops" option at this point - so I ended up falling behind Heidi - she was on a redemption mission so I was glad she took off! (And redemption was had for her too - seriously, check out her blog!)

Miles 7-12: (10:02, 11:10, 10:31, 9:47, 10:47, 11:48)
I was still feeling pretty decent - I knew I was going to have a pretty decent half marathon time.  My longer mile splits at mile 8 and mile 12 were when I was taking in some Gu.  I had brought my own stash not knowing what they would have on the course (after being burned at Get Lucky, I learned my lesson) and I had gotten some advice to take them early and often - which I did.  At this point my legs were still feeling great, I was having ZERO hip pain.  I mostly was anticipating getting to see my husband and my mom.  I knew that there were aiming to be at the mile 12/19 area.  I looked up and could see my mom in the distance - with her cowbell - it was sweet relief to see a familiar face! 

Mile 12(ish)

Seeing my mom and Rob was the shot in the arm that I needed.  I knew I was already pacing pretty decently but as I approached the half marathon mark - I noticed that I had just run it in 2:16 - which is not any world records or anything.  But I suspected it might be a little slower than that.  My Get Lucky finish - which was not my best half mary showing was 2:15 so I was pleased.  But I also knew that I needed to dial it back just a smidge if I was going to go the distance and go the distance strong. 

Miles 13-18: (9:47, 10:56, 11:22, 10:01, 11:41, 11:03)
I had lost the 4:30 pace group before I saw my mom and Rob, but it was okay.  My realistic goal was the 4:45 group - and I had met them at the beginning of the race so I figured I would run in to them at some point.  They were behind me (which I would find out at mile 23).  This stretch from 13 to almost 19 was the most brutal part of the course for me.  There was a turn around - or so they said.  I swear I kept expecting it to show up and then FINALLY - the turn around.  Then I knew it would be only shortly before I would get to see my mom and Rob again! 

Water - Mile 19!
Miles 19-22: (10:40, 11:23, 12:36, 11:29)
As I came through the water stop around the mile 19 area I could hear my name and cheering.  All along the course the supporters were great but this was different.  As I rounded the corner I see my friends and family!  Husband, mom, Melissa, Travis, Troy and Jill - all yelling and cheering - it was AMAZING!  I stopped briefly (asking Missy and Troy how the half went) and then I was back on my way - I did still have 7 miles.  The last thing I heard as I ran away was Travis yell - "See you at the finish" - it gave me goose bumps.  I was going to finish this marathon - and they were all going to be there to see it!
This set of miles were tough - I am not going to lie.  There was some walking that happened outside of my water stop walks.  But I never once stopped moving.  I don't equate walking to failing so I was okay with the breaks - but I didn't want to become "okay" with it to the point that it really slowed me down.  They are not kidding when they say the last 6.2 miles of a marathon are the hardest - and I really think it was more mental than anything.  My body was tired, but my legs weren't done, they had 6 more miles in them.

Miles 23-25: (11:58, 11:02, 11:36)
Mile 23 I discovered my 4:45 pace group again - they had caught up to me!  I tried not to get too down on myself for having been caught because realistically this was a good finish time for me.  So, I made a deal with myself - you finish with these people, and at the end you sprint your ass off and make sure you get that sub 4:45 time.  The last few miles were loooong.  But the support on these miles were incredible.  I am sure it was written on most of our faces that we were done and the supporters responded accordingly.  I thanked them all - the "way to go", "you are almost there", "nice skirt" - whatever it was - THANK YOU!  It kept me moving - not always very quickly as you can my mile splits suffered the last 6 miles, but I was moving in a forward direction.

Mile 26 and .2: (10:55, 9:07)
As we came around the corner and were able to see the FargoDome I was not sure if I was going to be able to contain my emotion.  We ran past this huge big screen out on the street - as I saw myself run by it started to get real that I was about to finish my first marathon and I was going to be on two feet doing it!
The .2 in to the finish area seemed to go on forever!  As I came upon the straight away before the curve in to the dome I heard them - my crew!  I looked over and there they were (all but my mom, she was in the dome) yelling and cheering again!  It was all I could do to not break down in tears at that very moment - I had to take a deep breath in because I could feel the tears already. 

Fighting back the tears!

They waved me by and I turned the corner in to the dome.  I started down the decline in to the FargoDome - there were some folks that I had to jump and jive around but I made it in to the dome.  The moment I crossed over the garage threshold I could hear the people in the stands screaming, cheering on the runners.  At that moment I turned it on and started sprinting to the finish. I was so focused on getting there as fast as I could I forgot to look up and see myself on the big jumbotron inside the dome.  I looked up at the clock and saw the 4:46 tick off - and I knew that I had done it (based on how long it took me to get across the start line) - I had to be under the 4:45 mark. 

Sprint to the finish

Marathon FINISHER!

As I came across the finish - I just melted.  One of the volunteers came over to check on me, I told him I was fine, just emotional.  The tears started instantly and I could barely contain myself long enough to get my medal.  I walked up to the volunteer with the medals, crying, he was very gracious and congratulated me.  I made my way over to the food area.  There was a line up of chocolate milk (two, please), cookies, pizza (nasty), soup, fruit, and beer.  I opted for a banana, couple things of chocolate milk, and a cookie.  Pizza did not sound nor look good to me at that point. 

As I made my way through I saw Rob on the other side of the barrier.  I walked over and hugged him and instantly started bawling.  It felt so good to be done and on the other side of this race.  His hug felt amazing and solidified everything I had worked for the last 18 weeks.  Missy came in to the runner's area and helped me make my way out of there and found everyone else. 

My official marathon finishing time - 4:44:38.  BOOM!  I have so much more to say and things I learned.  But this is already mega long!  I will be back later this week with more!  Enjoy some pics!

Relaxing? Post Race

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