Tuesday, May 24, 2011

2011 Fargo Marathon

For Erin and I, marathon weekend began with packet pickup and the expo Thursday night.  After work, we headed over to Perkins for a quick bite to eat and then swung over to my parents house to go over the map and figure out where we'd see my mom on the course.  After that, we drove to the dome.  When we got there the parking lot was mostly full. The kids race was Thursday night and had finished shortly before we arrived. We went inside and quickly found our packets.  After verifying that our chips were working, we started to roam around the expo.  Our first stop was at the Swanson Health Products booth.  We picked up a number of free samples, most of which was stuff that we didn't really know what it did.  I was a bit disappointed because last year they were giving away some different protein bars. Being able to try some new things lead Erin and I to pick up some of them for our training throughout the year.  The rest of the expo wasn't terribly exciting.  There were a number of chiropractors and physical therapists there and a few booths selling running related gear.  After running for a few years now, I've seen most of the products and there wasn't really anything new to catch my attention. Around 8:00, Erin and I where scheduled to give an interview with Kim Baker who was doing a story on Rick.  I waited with Rick's sister Jodi for a while before getting a call from Rick.  Kim had just finished up interviewing Rick and was still in south Fargo at Rick's house.  With it already being a bit late, I told Rick we'd need to reschedule and Erin and I headed home to try and get a good nights sleep.

Friday morning started early.  All week our plan has been to get up early so we're used to the schedule and race day isn't such an early start for us. Throughout the week, we've gotten up and always had something to do.  A couple of days I went into work early, and a few we ran.  However, on Friday, I didn't need to go in to work until 8:00 and since we were taking the day as a rest day, we just bummed around the house for a few hours in the morning.  Of particular interest was the weather forecast. Earlier in the week it looked like we would have to run in some heavy rain, but Friday morning the forecast began to change.  It looked like rain in the afternoon on Friday clearing by the time the 5k would start.  We would get some more rain throughout the night but shortly after the marathon would start the rain would break up again.  It wasn't mid 40's and low humidity like I'd prefer, but it was certainly better then what we were expecting.

I got off work at noon and headed over to Rick's house.  Kim was still setting up for my interview so I went inside and had a chance to chat with Tim, another one of the local ultra gang, who was also there. After a few minutes Kim was ready and I went out to Rick's camper to do the interview.  I talked a little about running with Rick, the training class, and a little about the impact Rick has had on my life.  Then we got some footage of Tim, Rick, and I walking down the street before Tim needed to head back to work. Rick had volunteered to post some signs along the marathon route and I tagged along to help.  It took a few hours to place the 100 signs.  It wasn't the most critical job but we were proud of how well we had them spaced along the course. When we were done with the signs it was time to head home for supper.

When I got back to our house, Erin had supper started.  Her parents were already here and DeAnna was still on her way here from Bismarck. I helped get supper ready and just as we were ready to sit down to eat DeAnna arrived.  We had a carb heavy meal and then tried to figure out what the plan was for Saturday morning.  Eventually we settled on DeAnna going with my sister Steph and her boyfriend Jake.  They would be moving all over the course and have a bag of extra stuff with them in case Erin or I needed anything as we ran.  Erin's parents would join my mom near the middle of the course.  We wouldn't see them as much, but they wouldn't have to move around as much as the other group would.  After getting all of that straighted out we headed off to bed to try to get as much sleep as we could before the big day.

Not many cars but a few sprinkles when we first got here.
Marathon morning started at 4:30 at our house.  The alarm went off and we went over to the computer to check the weather and look at the radar.  It was raining, but it looked like things would clear up around the time the race would start.  We got dressed, made a last minute check of the things we'd bring to the dome, and the things we'd send with my sister and headed off to the dome.  When we got there the parking lot was mostly empty.  We parked next to Rick's camper and headed inside to eat breakfast.  Erin had a bagel and a banana while I had some oatmeal raisin cookies.  When we were done, we relaxed for a little while before more people started to show up. Chris was the next one to get there.  We chatted with her and her husband for a few minutes before Erik pulled up. A couple of minutes after that, Kristy arrived and we headed back into the camper to chill before the race started.  Erik joined Kristy, Erin, and I at the camper while Chris went into the dome to meet up with some other people.  As the morning progressed, more and more of Rick's family stopped by to drop stuff off and hang out before the race. Rick's sister Judy and Jodi's boyfriend Trent were making some signs to hold up along the course.  Some of the ones I liked were: "Worst Parade Ever" and "Mortuary ahead, look alive."  Hanging out there before the race, we enjoyed a fun atmosphere and a perfect way to pass the time before the start of the event.
Judy and Trent making signs

Erin and Kristy's last minute preparation
Cassie and Trent before the race
Erik, Jon, Erin, Kristy and Rick before the race
Rick isn't smiling, it's almost like he knows whats to come
As usual, Rick was the last one out of the camper as we headed toward the starting line.  I made sure to keep him in sight so we didn't duplicate last year where Jodi and Heather got too far ahead and he couldn't find them.  Our group lined up towards the very back and anxiously awaited the start of the race.  Shortly before it started, I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned to see Cory.  He told me Maggie lined up with the 4:15 pace group, but they were far enough ahead that I couldn't see her.  It was nice to see another friendly face as the race began.  The first few steps past the starting line felt like I was barely moving, I checked the Garmin and saw my pace was around 10:00.  Way too fast for what I had scripted out.  I dialed the effort back a little to get to my warm up pace and tried to settle in.

Jodi, Rick, Cassie and I entering downtown
The first few miles went very smoothly.  There was a brief sprinkle of rain, but it was so light it wasn't of much concern.  I smelled something funky along oak street near the baseball fields caused by this spring's flooding. As we neared downtown, I saw my sister for the first time.  She asked how it was going and I told her well. There was a band across the street from where she was waiting and I thought to myself "at least she has something to listen to as she's waiting."  I found out later that the band was playing the same song over and over.  After a short run down Broadway, I turned towards Moorhead thinking I wouldn't see my sister again at our next checkpoint because she would wait at the first one until she saw Erin.  It turns out the timing worked perfectly as Steph arrived at checkpoint 2 just a few seconds before I did.  I smiled for a photo and continued on across the bridge into Minnesota.

The Minnesota side of the river smelled much better.  The lilacs were in bloom and very fragrant.  The course runs south in Moorhead before looping back on itself and heading into Concordia.  This gives runners an opportunity to see friends both in front of them and behind them.  I had a chance to see my coworker Matt who was running the first leg of the relay.  He was near the end of his leg of the race and still looking strong.  On my way back north, I saw Kristy and then Erik and Erin and finally Chris and Maria, all of them looking like they were having fun. When we ran through Concordia, I remarked to Rick that this is where it all began.  He and I have run a lot of miles together since first meeting up at that spot.  From Concordia we traveled back into Fargo across the Main avenue bridge.

Returning to Fargo
Shortly after crossing the bridge was the downtime Y and Steph was waiting to see us again.  I shouted for a towel and quickly wiped the sweat from my face before dashing off again towards Lindenwood park.  Around this time I started to feel a little tired, which wasn't entirely unexpected given that I've been running for an hour and a half.  I started to look forward to the 5 hour energy I would pick up from my mom at mile 9. Just before I met up with her and Erin's parents, I was passed by one of the wheelchair participants.  I'm guessing it was the leader of the half marathon by the speed in which he overtook us.  After I passed my mom and Erin's parents at mile 9 and enjoyed my 5 hour energy pick-me-up, the course continued south past the cemetery and into the neighborhood near the country club.  I was excited to see the O'Keeffe's out along the route and had a chance to high five Sam before he had to head off to practice. Just south of this point was a brief out and back that gave us a chance to see Kristy again before heading towards my least favorite part of the course.
Heading over to high five Sam
Last year, everything seemed to fall apart in the river drive neighborhood.  The sun came out, it got very warm and humid and I struggled with the conditions. This year the weather wasn't quite as bad and I was feeling much better.  I saw our next door neighbors at United Blood Services as well as Cory who was out along the course to cheer Maggie on.  As we neared the halfway point, I saw someone who was obviously not enjoying herself at the time.  I talked with her a bit and reminded her of how far she ran in training just to get to the race and told her she earned her spot here.  It seemed to help and after a few minutes I picked up the pace to catch back up to Rick.  As I was working to catch Rick, I passed another runner who was sobbing.  I tried to talk to her as well, but it seemed like she didn't really want to talk so I kept working to catch up to Rick.  On the way out of the river drive area there was a lady who had a hose and sprayer out at the end of her driveway.  As I went past I enjoyed a quick soak and thanked her for being out there.  At this point in the race I was drinking enough from my water bottle that it would be almost empty by the time I found the next aid station.  I found myself wishing that the aid stations would be a bit closer together.  When I passed the O'Keeffe's again Sam had left, but John was out on his bike.

I found myself working harder and harder to keep up with Rick.  He had gotten a few steps ahead and I just couldn't seem to catch back up.  I pushed a while longer trying to catch him before I made the decision to let him go and salvage what I could from this race.  Last year I had stubbornly pushed on toward my goal despite knowing I needed to adjust to conditions.  This year I wasn't going to make the same mistake.  I felt bad about not being able to keep up with Rick since he planned his race around what I was trying to do, but I think I would have gotten myself into a lot of trouble if I kept pushing as hard as I was.  After I slowed down, I continued to feel worse.  When I saw my family at mile 17, I had already gone through all of the Endurolytes I had with me and asked for some more.  Steph said she would dig them out and give them to me as I came back one block over.

Steph and I

Before I saw Steph again, I ran across a runner that I could tell was hurting.  He was on his cell phone yelling at his mom trying to figure out where to meet up with her. From what I could tell he started the race in a pair of Vibram five fingers and planned to switch shoes at mile 10.  He was still in the five fingers at mile 19 and it was obvious that each step he took caused a lot of pain.  I tried to offer a few words of encouragement, but it didn't seem to help so I tried to push on towards my next meet up with Steph where I could get some more Endurolytes.  There was a little miscommunication and it was actually 2 blocks over where I met up with Steph and Jake.  I took a walk break to swallow the pills and chat briefly with them about how things were going.  I told them I was hurting and I felt really messed up but that I thought I could keep going.  They offered some words of encouragement and I headed off.

Rachel found me on the course in about the same place as the previous year.  I told her how messed up I felt and that I thought I could at least walk to finish the marathon.  She joined me and did her best to get a little more out of me then I wanted to give.  When I walked she told me that I could walk faster.  When I went under a bridge she suggested I run the downhill.  I'm blown away by her ability to say what I need to hear when I'm hurting.  She was able to reassure me that I wasn't in too much trouble and that I just needed to get some more water in me as well as gave me a ginger chew to try.  After traveling a few miles with her, I thanked her for the company and told her I would be fine and that I would appreciate it if she would go back and find Erin in case she was hurting.  I continued to run/walk a few miles before I started to feel a little bit better and tried to sustain a slow jog.  It was harder then I would have liked, but I was able to keep moving without walking.  After turning onto 17th Ave N, I knew I was almost done.  I picked up the pace a little and continued towards the Dome.  Just before turning onto University, there was a guy dressed as the grim reaper holding a sign that said "The end is near."  The sign really helped lighten my mood as well as many of the runners around me.

Erin and I after her first marathon
I picked the pace up on the ramp leading into the Dome and finished as strong as I could.  Rick was still in the finish chute waiting for me. Steph, Jake, DeAnna and Erin's dad, Tony, were just on the other side of the barricade.  A lady who finished just a few steps in front of me almost collapsed but a couple of race volunteers caught her.  They were going to guide her over to a wheelchair, but she recomposed herself and was able to wander off on her own.  I wasn't feeling much better than this myself, but Rick put his hand on my shoulder to steady me and I walked around a bit until I felt a little more normal.  I chatted with everyone for a bit waiting for the rest of our gang to finish up.  I didn't have to wait too long before Erin was crossing the finish line.  I gave her a big hug when she finished and told her where she could get her medal.  A few minutes after Erin came in, Kristy finished.  Rick gave her a hug and they headed off.  We found out later that she was feeling a little hypothermic and needed to try and warm up as soon as possible.  We told our family that we would be a while because we wanted to see our friends finish and they headed out.  Erin and I sat on the floor in the finish shoot until Erik finished.  We both gave him a hug and congratulated him.  We followed Erik over to get his medal and meet up with his wife.  I was getting hungry so we stopped by the table with food and picked up some cookies and pizza.  After snacking and chatting for a while, we saw Chris and Maria on the displays on the dome.  We got up and headed over to the finish line to meet them as they crossed it. After some hugs and tears, we grabbed some more food and then headed out to the camper for some group pictures before everyone headed home.
Look at all those smiles after we finished

1 comment:

  1. Excellent recap & pictures! Nice running with you.