Saturday, May 19, 2012
My first attempt at the Fargo marathon was actually 2011. My boyfriend Andy had run his first Fargo marathon in 2010. That year he hadn't really followed any training schedule. He had been a runner on his own time, going out for a nice 13 miler once twice a week, continued to drink Mountain Dew like it was going out of style, and basically did everything you weren't supposed to do. He finished 2010 in 4:23 but always talked about how disappointed he was in his time and how miserable it was for him to hit the wall at 20 miles and have to walk the rest of the way. In 2011 I ran it with him...or at least started to. We followed Hal Higdon's beginner training that year, but admittedly cheated on most of the long runs because we figured we'd be fine and because the long runs always fell between 12 hour night shifts that we worked.
The night before the 2011 Fargo marathon we participated in the GO FAR challenge. The GO FAR challenge is unique to the Fargo Marathon. Friday night a 5K is held and if you complete the 5K as well as either the 10K, Half, or Full the next day you get a 3rd medal to confirm what a badass you are. The 5K went smoothly. We jogged slowly next to each other having easy conversation and finished just under 24 minutes. We were too excited/nervous to sleep much that night. I got about 2 1/2 hours and Andy might have gotten an hour. During that race I had to walk a lot...starting at an embarrassing 8 miles. At 18 miles, when I was of course walking, I figured Andy must be way ahead of me or possibly even finished.
Then he tapped me on my shoulder and caught up with me. He was having a very rotten race as well. We walked together for what we were sure was at least 4-5 miles when we looked up and saw the 20 mile marker. I was too tired to go on much longer and Andy had tears in his eyes and said, "I can't do it today" and hung his head. At the relay exchange point a few yards past the 20 mile marker we hopped on a bus and went back to our car. It was an embarrassing race and we'd had enough. We promptly went home and had a pity party complete with pizza and too much booze and vowed next year would be different.
The Fargo 2012 Marathon was to be held Saturday May 19th. Andy and I were signed up in October for the whole shebang. The GO FAR full marathon challenge. We followed Hal Higdon's beginner training guide again and this year promised ourselves we would not cheat on any runs. We sat down with a calander and figured out what would be required of us each day. The training schedule officially started in the middle of January so we decided that after going out on New Years we wouldn't have any alcohol till after the marathon (minus the first week in May when we would be with about 20 of our friends in a beach house in Florida for a buddies wedding). We also decided we couldn't have our favorite pizza, Duane's, till after we got home from the marathon when each of us would order our very own pie. Duane's pizza, by the way, is unique to Fargo/Moorhead. The pizzas are slightly smaller than normal, the pieces are cut in tiny squares, The crust is thin, the cheese is thick, and the grease is plentiful. It's the best thing to have ever touched my taste buds and probably the least healthy.
The expo on Friday was busy. We had run in Thursday night to pick up our bibs and chips as well as Andy's parents and little sister's stuff for the 5K. They decided to walk the 5K last minute and we decided to walk it with them instead of tiring ourselves out by running when we probably shouldn't. We finished the 5K in just under an hour with Andy's family. It was a nice relaxing stroll and thank god we walked because the temperature was about 95 degrees and high humidity. When we got home we each took a Tylenol PM to ensure we would actually sleep.
The next morning Andy's dad picked us up about 6am. We were feeling good. We got to the FargoDome about 7 and only had to pee about 3 times each. This was good because we'd been peeing like racehorses the past few days to make sure we were hydrated enough without having to use a port-a-potty every other mile. We lined up at the start. Both Andy and I started with the 3:35 pace group. The time I would need to qualify for Boston. I knew qualifying would be a long shot but I figured I could start with them and if I fell back, so be it.
The race started. I kept up with the pace group quite easily at first. An 8:12 pace is usually very easy for me on a regular run. The first few miles went quick. We crossed the 10K point before I knew it and I was feeling great. The pacer was dead on with the time and Andy was right next to me. At 9 miles we were both still together as we took a quick mile loop into Moorhead. Andy and I fell back a few steps from the pace group but were still feeling good. I was still on track to finish under 4 hours and that was good with me. At 10 miles I waved to Andy and he was able to take off a little faster. I still felt great. I crossed the half way point at about 1:53. I felt at that point my pace was very easy and I could go on like this for quite a while and still probably finsh under 4 hours.
Then I started to get into south Fargo. Between miles 13 and 18 you are in a residential area of south Fargo where the course starts to become lot of nonsense. There are times when the road is divided in half and you have runners going head to head. If you lose your focus you get confused and can't really tell if the runners on the other side of the road are a few miles ahead of or behind you. I started to tire a little and could tell my pace had slowed down to 9 something per mile.
I met mile marker 18. I was still running, though pretty tired, but had a very encouraging thought. In the half marathons I had run before I had always got to about mile 10 and had to run/ walk a little bit. I would look around at other people still running with blank expressions on their face and think to myself, "These people must be robots! Aren't they tired? Why don't they have terrible pained looks on their faces right now like I'm certain I do? Why aren't they walking?"
I realized I was now one of those people, still going, still doing alright, and this was mile 18! The next two miles took what seemed like forever. When I passed 20 I was pumped because I saw the time was 3:05. I knew that my chip would send back the time I crossed that 20 mile point and my family would know I had made it that far. I only had a 10K left and normally I could easily run a 10 in under 55 minutes. Even if it took a little longer, I should be fairly close to 4 hours to finish.
Then, my legs really got tired. 21, my legs felt like cement. I'm sure people on the side of the road cheering me on couldn't tell if I was actally running or speed walking. 22. My legs burned so bad and the backs of my hamstrings curled up so bad that I could no longer bend my knees. My slow jog was now an awkward hobble with straight legs and locked knees. Only 4 miles left. I can walk 4 miles, but that would take an hour walking like this! The temperature dropped suddenly about 8 degrees and the wind picked up to 15-20 miles per hour. Crap, this sucks. The helpful spectators at the side of the road were now my enemy. I took all their encouraging signs and cheers as sarcasm. I'm sure they weren't but I didn't want to hear that I could do it or that I was almost there from somone just standing on the side of the road. An older gentleman in his yard good naturedly had a sprinkler in his hand spraying down runners as they went by. I'm sure they were very grateful when it was hot. It was not hot anymore.
I was not sweating, I had run out of sweat miles ago. I had nothing left. I was tired, cold, and covered in goose bumps. I hobbled along quickly as I could but the old man who thought he was still helping had a big smile on his face started to aim the sprinkler at me. I started to shout, "NO! It's too cold!" But he didn't hear me and I was drenched. Great. This SUCKS. I was at mile 24 when a woman close to my age jogged by with a big smile on her face she turned and looked at me. I noticed on her bib she had a number that was for the relay. Who does this chick think she is running only a 10K? She gave me way too chipper of an encouragement at that point, "Hey! Great job! Come on! Run with me! Come on! You can do it!" Suddenly, I grew fangs like a saber-toothed tiger. I jumped forward, pushed her to the ground, bit into her throat, tore it out in a gory bloody mess and spit it in her face....Not really. But the fantasy of doing just that definitely crossed my mind. Instead I gave her a cheesy smile and just kept hobbling along.
Just after that a marathon photographer got right in my face and started snapping pictures. I'm sure I cursed at him.
One thing that did work in my favor, however, is that after 22 each mile really did seem like just a mile. In races past, when I've hit a wall each mile always seemed like 5. Shortly after 25 a girl who was doing the same thing as me got beside me and we hobbled together in mutual understanding and pain till we saw the FargoDome. I turned to her and said, "that FargoDome is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen." She agreed and we laughed. We looked at each other and she said, "wanna run to the finish with me?" I said, "Lets do it."
My legs suddenly allowed me to run again and we ran through the 26 mile mark and into the Dome and across the finish. Done. I did it. 4:32. Nowhere near my goal time but, hey, I finished a marathon. Andy had finished far ahead of me at 3:44. Later on, when I looked up the leader of the pace group I started with I saw his time. 3:34:30. Wow. The pace guy even said he likes to finish 30 seconds before his pace and he was dead on. To the second.
I know I'm crazy now, because I'm already trying to figure out when I can sign up for next year's marathon.
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