{Fargo Marathon} …the clouds aligned

Friday’s Workout Wanda: Another legit rest day!
Saturday’s Workout Wanda: A nice, leisurely hike straight up a mountain side!

Last Saturday I ran my redemption marathon. This Saturday I made my first attempt at summiting a 14’er {we got disoriented and kind of climbed the wrong mountain, but that’s a story for another day}. Next Saturday I plan on…doing nothing. Or maybe attempting to climb another mountain of sorts? Or is Chris has his way there will probably be lots of mountain biking.

Now, about that marathon…

Yes, this will be a wordy wall of text, I apologize, but it was 26.2 miles of running that was 16 weeks in the working & I have a lot of thoughts to throw out there – partly to refresh my lacking memory down the road & partly for your reading pleasure!

Back in December I started contemplating the idea of running a redemption marathon. You see, my first marathon sucked. I ran the Twin Cities full in 2009 and I did it all wrong. My training was less than stellar, my right foot was half maimed and I had given up on myself before I even got to the start line. Not a good race…

My training leading up to Fargo definitely wasn’t perfect but it was fairly solid. However, I did manage to stay 100% un-injured and while I did occasionally hate the commitment I made to running I never hated the actual act of running. Not perfect, but it could have been worse. Heck, before it had been worse. Fargo was shaping up to be a suitable redemption marathon!

Even so, I was in denial. I was nervous about getting everything packed so I made all sorts of lists but beyond that I was feeling indifferent. I knew I could go the distance and being free of injury I was pretty much guaranteed to PR. Besides, I made a deal with myself, if I didn’t beat my last time I could quit. I told myself and anyone who would listen “if my Garmin hit 5:17.10 before I crossed the finish line I was walking off the course”. How’s that for positive thinking?

But again, enough babbling, onto the race…

Race morning rolled around and I rolled out of bed. I ate some breakfast, took a shower {yes, pre-race…don’t judge!} and got myself all dressed up to run a race. Then I headed outside to scope out the weather and promptly added a t-shirt and sleeves.

Friday’s weather was insanely hot with a bit of humidity – Fargo actually broke a record high by hitting 97*. Yes, 97*. And yes, I was glad to be in denial about the race while we were walking the 5K on Friday night – if the heat stuck around I would have died during the full. But the weatherman must have a crush on me because come Saturday morning the clouds rolled in aligned for a perfectly cool-ish, overcast morning. There was still humidity but at least I would only become a sweat puddle, not a boiling sweat puddle!


My outfit as perfectly completed with my nicely named bib! During my trip to visit Lisa she gave me a cute Fargo card that basically said I’d rock {runner mojo!} and a Sharpie marker. She had run Fargo in 2011 and knew there was a place on my bib to flaunt my name! Turned out to be an amazingly thoughtful gift, I loved having random spectators call me by name!

We cleaned out the hotel room and headed out to the Fargodome. I’d convinced my mom to battle the traffic and drop me off at the entrance. Royalty treatment for this chick! I’d also given her a big map of the course with little notes of my expected times at different places throughout the course. Even at this point I was feeling pretty indifferent – meh, I had a race to run so let’s get on with it.

Before long I was at the start line and things were getting real. At least for me, not so much for my Garmin. I jacked with the screen settings earlier in the week when I decided I didn’t like the numbers the Garmin was spitting out and hadn’t used it since. Super smart plan. Not. My Garmin wasn’t finding satellites and when it finally did the screen didn’t look remotely familiar {turns out it was on “biking” mode and the “running” mode was just fine, glad I figured this out a week later…}, crap. I decided to just wing it and hit start as I crossed the timing mats.

…overcast skies + cooler temps = perfection…

My redemption marathon has officially started. I had no idea where the water stops were, where the course took me or what to expect from myself, the spectators or the course. Talk about being prepared. Oh yea, and my Garmin hated me {otherwise known as “I’m a technical idiot”}.

Mile 1 – Mile 3 {unknown paces}
I was expecting chaos and elbows to the ribs at the start of the race like at TCM but it was not like that at all. I guess a more relaxed start can be expected with only 2,000 runners! From now on every marathon I run will be smaller. Wait, every marathon?! Nevermind, I’m never running another so I don’t even have to worry about it…I’ll recommend smaller races to friends!

At about 1.2 miles into the race I realized my Garmin wasn’t auto lapping like usual {usual for “running” mode, not usual for “biking” mode, again, glad I figured that out now…} so at Mile 2 I blindly hit what I thought was the lap button figuring I’d just average my first two miles.

…me = green tshirt, black sleeve, black running skirt, middle of photo…
…near Mile 2, headed out for a mini out and back…

By Mile 3 I realized I had instead hit the stop/start button and wasn’t recording anything. I frantically reset the Garmin and decided I’d just pretend the first 3 miles never happened. Gah. On top of this it was spitting out a pace in miles per hour, not minute per mile so I was all sorts of confused. I was also forced to not focus on the numbers, a blessing in disguise! Aside from my Garmin drama these first three miles were relatively uneventful, and untimed.

Mile 4 – Mile 11 {10:16, 10:27, 10:08, 9:46, 9:59, 10:04, 10:02, 10:09}
I was still cruising right along when I hit Mile 4. I wasn’t pushing the pace, I was just running comfortably, keeping my breathing calm and putting one foot in front of the other. I saw my mom at Mile 2 and knew I’d see her again on the loop back in at Mile 6.

The tshirt felt like a good idea at the start but by Mile 4 I was hot. As I neared my mom I striped down a layer and handed it off…then asked her to have some ibuprofen on hand the next time I saw her. My uterus was starting a battle with my pain receptors and I was not letting it ruin my marathon although I didn’t explain that to my mom – I think I concerned her a bit begging for pain meds so soon in the race!

…near Mile 6, handing off a layer…

At this point all of the miles started to blur together. At some point I saw Jen on the course and we chatted for a while. She was rocking her first marathon with the walk-thru-water-stations method – which I highly endorse! I considered hanging with her but talked myself to hold off on any and all walking until the first water station after Mile 20. I lost Jen at the next water station and just let all the miles meld together.

Mile 12 – Mile 19 {10:17, 10:10, 10:14, 10:08, 10:14, 10:18, 10:34, 10:48}
By this point I was anxiously awaiting any ibuprofen my mom may have. My biggest ache was my girly issues but as I ran my legs started to bother me. First my shins hurt, then my knees, then my arches, then…well, the dull ache moved about my legs and was annoying but probably wasn’t going to kill me. I’d just try not to think about my aching shins because I knew before long they would be fine and my arches would start to hurt. Honestly, it may have all been a mental thing as I doubt the pain moved around, equally in both legs, without a change in pace/effort/course.

I was also fighting with myself to keep on running. I wanted to walk. By Mile 16 I wanted to walk so darn bad. But I’d made myself a deal – no walking until after Mile 20, and even then, not until a legit water station. My goodness, that was the longest 4 miles of my life! But I just wanted to walk, I didn’t want to quit…just walk.

I hated these miles {miles 16-19}. These miles just plain sucked. I wasn’t having fun, my legs hurt, my body was tired, I was hungry, the course wasn’t super interesting and I just wanted to be done…so I could never, ever run another stupid marathon. Running wasn’t stupid but running 26.2 miles was rather idiotic. When I think about running another marathon these are the miles I need to remember…the ones I had to fight for, the ones I hated, the ones had me righting off the distance forever.

…near Mile 19.5 after a quick power walk for ibuprofen, oranges and fresh water…

About half way through Mile 19 I spotted my mom on the sidewalk searching for me. I nearly missed her but was so glad to see her! She had ibuprofen which meant I got to walk at least 30 seconds to get those pills from her hand to my mouth! She had an orange all peeled and in a ziploc bag too…yum. I was so hungry. I swear I ran 90% of this race hungry, the other 5% I was eating. And I ate a decent dinner and breakfast, promise!

I had been carrying one of my throwaway gloves as a sweat rag and handed it to her saying “I’ve stopped sweating” as I swapped out water bottles. I really just meant the humidity was no longer making sweat pour off my face but once again I think I worried her with that comment! Not sweating at this point in the race usually means dehydration but I wasn’t dehydrated – I’d finished my 10oz bottle of water and was run/drinking at each water station. That along with Operation Pee-A-Lot on the drive to Fargo had me set.

Mile 20 – Mile 26 {10:57, 10:49, 10:25, 10:53, 10:05, 10:01, 9:25}
This last stretch was my favorite part of the race.
After my 30 seconds of speed walking by my very own personal spectator it took me a while to get back in my groove. I was fighting to catch up with the people who had passed…including the 4:30 pace group.

Yup, that’s right. I was hanging with the 4:30 pace group, well, until now. My goals for the race were pretty lax in terms of numbers. My primary goal was to have a good race and enjoy it as much as possible, or at least more than my TCM race. I started near the 4:30 pace group and kept them in my sights – a 4:30ish finish would be a massive PR!

I wanted to catch them. Along the way I would pass them as they walked water stops and they would catch me half way to the next one. It was a game of leap frog and now I was behind them. I was feeling pretty good but I was afraid to push it…I was afraid of the inevitable wall that pummeled me somewhere around Mile 22 to Mile 24.

…are we there yet?!…

When I made it through Mile 23 without any issues, death wishes and happier legs that I had at Mile 16 I decided I put a little more effort into this race. I had 3 more miles to go, I had this. Since my Garmin was all jacked up I had no idea what my final time was going to be but I kept passing people who I’d recognized from the 4:30 group…not walking off the course for me!

Amy and her friend Katie were on an overpass near Mile 24. They must have eagle eyes because they spotted me way out and cheered me into their bubble. My first words yelled up to them was “I’m hungry’”. Amy replied “there is pizza at the finish, for real!” and I booked it! I was so hungry. I’d been randomly popping Honey Stingers, had eaten countless orange slices, Jolly Ranchers and even had an icee pop but pizza sounded like heaven on my tongue!

I was yet to see the actual 4:30 pacer so I kept moving myself forward, throwing in a little more effort. I became the girl every runner hates at the end of a marathon. If I spectator called me out with a “keep it up Heidi” I was quick to reply with “thanks!” and a big grin. I thanked all the police officers and UPS guys holding off traffic and veered across the road to high five small children. I remember hating these people when I was hating life during my first marathon…this time I was that person! And I was loving it!

The middle miles of this race may have sucked big time but at the end when most people are fighting a wall or dying I was rocking at life. Seriously, I was shocking myself, impressed with my body and cruising toward the finish line of my redemption marathon! If every marathon was guaranteed to finish this way I’d run one every month! But…I must remember those horrible middle miles!

Mile 0.2 {7:29}
Yes, the last 0.2 miles deserve their own blurb – this last stretch took for-freaking-ever! Initially I’d considered not even touching my Garmin for my Mile 26 split just because I didn’t want jacked up photos {oh yes, I’m that vain}. Well, in case anyone is wondering 0.2 miles is quite a long ways. I had plenty of time to hit the Garmin at Mile 26 and I even slowed down a bit after the mile marker – I was wondering where the hell the finish line was and my legs didn’t want to move while my brain was processing the layout of the Fargodome!

Then I saw these two ladies in pink up ahead of me. We’d leap frogged the majority of the race and I was not going to let them beat me. Nope. I’d done way too much rocking in the past few miles. I picked it back up and as I approached them I heard a familiar voice – the 4:30 pacer! After 6 miles of chasing I’d finally caught the 4:30 pace group at Mile 26.1 {literally, it was at the Mile 13 marker for the half marathon}. Now I had to beat them too.

We ran down a little slope, through a weird back entrance and into the Fargodome. I immediately spotted the clock at the finish line ticking away the seconds. Actually, I saw no second, I just say 4:30. I knew I’d started a short bit after the gun so I hauled ass – if the gun time clock said 4:30 chances are I could break it…if I ran fast enough.

…I’m the chick in blue – excuse the blurry photos kidnapped from brightroom, just pretend you can see a smiling face, perfectly done hair, smooth abs and ripped runner legs…or something similar to that caliber of awesome…

I sprinted, full out. Its been a while since I’ve done that and it felt freaking awesome! I heard my mom up in the stands and then I was across the finish line. I wanted to sit on the floor…then go home and sign up for another marathon. Instead I moved to the edge and stopped with my arms on my knees trying to catch my breath – a volunteer got worried and helped me up and I almost hugged her…I’d dominated my redemption marathon!

No worries about that “another marathon” comment, I kept reminding myself to think back to the middle miles that I completely hated and moved around the dome to the pizza and chocolate milk. Delicious. Seriously, any food after a full marathon is amazing but warm, gooey, cheesy Papa Murphy’s pizza post race? It was phenomenal!

…I was so thirsty and that chocolate milk was fan-freaking-tastic…
…poor dude behind me, I was oblivious to the world at this point, all I saw was food…

I forced myself up the stairs and out of the Fargodome to met Amy at the concourse. We talked about our races, swam about in a pool of runner’s high and contorted ourselves into odd positions while calling it stretching.

…no idea what its called or if I’m doing it 100% right but it hurts so darn good, I love it…

Mom force fed me water as I told her she must {I forget to drink after my first post-race gulp and things never end well in the GI department, not good when a 5+ hour drive is looming ahead of you!} and then we sweaty, stinky runners headed down to the open locker rooms in the dome for showers.



Oh, and my final time? Amy had been tracking me online with her phone so she was the first with the official results… 4:29.18. I broke 4:30 and ran myself a 48 minute PR! My redemption marathon was officially a success and I’d never, ever have to run another one!


In other finisher news – Amy ran her fifth {I think?} half in 2:35.12 giving her a PR, Courtenay ran her first half in 2:22.48 {read her full recap for all the details!} and Jen dominated her first full marathon in 4:44.38, another solid finisher at Fargo! And Katie did run her first 5K on Friday with only one walk break, although I don’t know her exact time…but only one walk break in 97* heat is amazing! Fargo obviously delivered all sorts of awesome last weekend!

My legs were shocking me. I was feeling surprisingly well. My legs didn’t hurt, my stomach was bothering me and I was in scarily good spirits for having just run a full marathon. And on top of that I got to shower and change into clean clothes…by the time I made it up to the concourse I was a whole new person! A whole new, very hungry person!

Our next stop was Granite City. With just those two delicious words Amy and Katie had talked us into staying in Fargo for lunch with them before starting out on our 15 hour drive back to Colorado {5ish hours post-race, 10ish hours on Sunday}. So glad we did. I don’t even remember what I got – probably a burger – but it was amazing. Katie’s broccoli was also amazing as were Mom’s onion rings…I had become a bottom less pit!

Funny story – from our booth at Granite City we had a view of the entrance…and who walked in but Jen. No freaking way. Amy randomly saw her at a rest stop, we intentionally met at the expo, we talked on the course and now we picked the same post-race meal. Its destiny I tell you, Twitter dating at its best!

After stuffing our bellies we were on our way. Nothing like 5 hour drive looming ahead of your to get you to sit in a booth and slowly eat every last french fry! Then order dessert to go so we could eat it in the car…and it held us over until our next stop for food, my beloved Culver’s!


But that is all I have for the moment. You better believe I’ll be back with my thoughts on the race itself and little tidbits that I learned about myself, running and racing…sometime. Right now I have to go be an adult and head to work for the first time in a week and a half, on a holiday weekend while everyone else is home. Hogwash I tell ya!


{Fargo Marathon} …the clouds aligned — 13 Comments

  1. Pingback: Pre & Post-race and ATMs installed in horse trailers – SAY WHAT?!?! | I Swear My Legs are on Auto-Pilot…

  2. What a great story!! You can be so proud. 😀 That’s an awesome picture of you by the theater, and I LOVE your face as you’re drinking that chocolate milk!

    I think you’re fully redeemed, but if you’re thinking about #3…. Maybe another date with TCM this fall?? :-)
    Lisa recently posted..It’s Calving Season!My Profile

    • The chocolate milk people should sponsor me based upon that photo alone! 😉

      And don’t tempt me with TCM…it comes with a dome and everything. And the capitol ending really is awesome. Crap. No more marathons! Enabler…

    • Thanks!
      I know, the last part is supposed to suck…I mean it did on my first, but then all 26 miles sucked on my first so that might be a bad comparison. Maybe I’ll have to run another and see which part sucks the most on the third try…

  3. Just catching up, and I’m sorry it took me so long to read this post….

    What a HUGE PR!! Redemption for sure. Congratulations! So….have you signed up for another? :^)

    Oh, and I ALWAYS shower before a race. Especially an important one like that.
    Terzah recently posted..Impossible to Be SadMy Profile

    • No worries, sometimes it takes me weeks to actually comment on posts I’ve kept “unread” forever!

      Another…may or may not happen. Its the training that kills me, such a time suck!

      Showering ensures my hair goes where its supposed to and makes me feel like I’m ready to take on the day, glad I’m not the only one!

    • Thank you! :)

      I’m avoiding active.com and any other “click here to register” site for a reason…part of me is saying “you’re in marathon shape, why not run another next month” and I’m having trouble talking myself out of it!

  4. Heidi! This recap is awesome! Sorry it took me so long to get over here and comment! This race was so great – but one of my best memories of Fargo will be of meeting you, Amy and Courtenay – and getting to run a little bit with you – so awesome!
    Congrats on a great race! I am *this* close to signing up for TCM this week – I want to do it again so much! I don’t think I will be satisfied with just one!
    Jen Hendrickson recently posted..Two Days….My Profile

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