Holy Crap. I Finished a Marathon!

I have to admit I’m feeling pretty good, all things considered.  Some of you follow me on Facebook and saw the pictures from Saturday. I will post them again for those of you who do not use Facebook. I want to tell a few stories and talk about the event so enjoy the long read.

  1. Starting a race in Fargo, in early May, indoors is amazing. The temp was in the low 40’s with a 20-30 mph north wind that day. The wind never died down but the temp did climb up a bit as the day progressed. Starting inside helped keep me warm before heading out into the windy prairie of North Fargo. I will admit, standing there with 2,000 other people in between metal guards felt more like watching cattle off to the slaughter, but it worked.
  2. The “fans” were fantastic. There were kids out in blankets and their jammies at 7:00 AM out to wave at the “worlds worst parade” as it made it’s way thru Fargo and Moorhead. I did my best to give them all high fives and say “good morning” and “keep warm” as I passed by. I spent a LOT of time waving back to people who were waving to us. I started to consider myself the “social” runner; out more for the conversation and high fives than the actual race itself. More on this later
  3. The music was good but not fantastic. I wasn’t sure what to expect with the Bands on the Run sponsored by BNSF Railroad. Most of the bands were pretty good. However, by the time I got to mile 18 – some of the bands were already packing up. I guess I need to be faster next year. Some streets had people bring out their personal stereo systems to provide music for the runners. That was amazing. I made a point to shout along with each band I saw. I sang along with the songs I knew. Each band responded with a shout out or a smile…and I loved it. Heck even the MSUM band was playing out under a canopy. I ran over and gave the director a high five and said “I’m a band nerd for life!” He gave me a huge smile. On my return lap some of the band members waved and gave me a thumbs up. Ahh- band nerds are awesome. I was very happy to have my headphones with me because there were a few stretches where no music could be heard and I did NOT want to listen to myself breathing.
  4.  The runners were unlike anything I could image. I will openly admit I am my father’s daughter. I can strike up a conversation with anyone, at any time and in the middle of a marathon is no exception. Let me tell you about a few.
    1. Before the race I had a quick conversation with a gal who looked like a newbie. I asked her if this was her first marathon. She very quickly said “nope- it is my 26th.” I asked if she would tell me her age – she said 19. I just smiled and wished her good luck.
    2. I met a guy in the starting pen with a marathon shirt from a race in Hawaii in 2013. He told me that was the last time he ran a marathon and “well that’s probably the last time I really ran.” I just smiled and told him today was my first. He wished me luck and disappeared into the crowd. More on this guy later.
    3. I got passed in the first half mile by a guy pushing a stroller. I just smiled and figured the kid watching was probably fast asleep with no idea what was going on.
    4. I found a couple early on who where pushing someone in a racing wheelchair. I was amazed. The man was just going along like it was no big thing pushing another adult in a wheelchair for 26 miles. I told them that they inspired me because honestly, if they can do it, so could I.
    5. After mile 4 or 5 or so – the 10K runners veered off the road, back onto their course, and the full marathon runners continued on theirs. I struck up a conversation with a nice young man (I say young because he isn’t even 30 yet). This was the ONLY person I talked to who was also running their first marathon. His wife and father-in-law were racing too but they were “very competitive and were a few miles ahead.” He and I chatted back and forth for the next few miles. I found out that his training hadn’t gone as planned as he and his wife had to move from Michigan to San Diego. I lost him at the half-way point but I’m guessing he finished well before I did.
    6. About a mile later I met a man in his late 50’s early 60’s who ran the Marine Corp Marathon right after 9-11. He said that was the toughest marathon he’d ever run…and he was very quick to point out it wasn’t physically tough but very emotionally tough.
    7. Mile 9 I told a young gal I loved her tu-tu. I found out this was her 4th marathon and she was 22 weeks pregnant with her 4th child. I about stopped right there. She and I talked off an on for the next 5-8 miles or so. I found out she had moved from Grand Rapids to Grand Forks about 6 months ago. She had 3 other kids and wears a tu-tu for every half and full marathon she runs.
    8. As I was taking plenty of selfies thru the Concordia College portion I talked briefly with a gal from West Virginia. She’d run 14 different marathons and hadn’t run in North Dakota before and wanted to give Fargo a try. I saw her off and on thru the rest of the race having to stop to stretch. I know she made it – just not sure if she will be back.
    9. I met a nice lady in her 60’s a few miles later who had a “walk-run” pattern down. She too had done more marathons than she wanted to tell me. She commented on my windbreaker. I had to tell her that it wasn’t mine but I had borrowed it from a “running friend who had run in Annapolis.” She said she loved running out there.
    10. Mile 16 I finally got to chat briefly with a couple I had been stalking since the start. I recognized his tshirt every time I saw it. I admitted to them that I wasn’t trying to stalk them, but they had been a “group” I wanted to keep up with. I didn’t ask but I think it was her first marathon but he had done one before. By the end they had caught up with me so we could all cross the finish line together. I had heard that they stopped several times because she was having blister issues. I will admit- I was happy to see them come across the line together.
    11. I met up with Hawaiian Shirt Guy around mile 15. He admitted he was done and was going to walk and “party” the rest of the race. I wan’t sure what that meant but he quickly jogged of. More on him later…
    12. I had noticed since the start there was a man on a bike rented from NDSU. At mile 17 or so I finally figured out what he was doing. He was following along with his wife. He had things in the basket that she could potentially need. It was sweet to see her wave him over- grab something- then he would break off until she needed him again.
    13. Around mile 23 I ran into Hawaiian Shirt guy again…for the last time. He had a keg cup in his hand and had admitted he was on beer 5 or 6 – he stopped counting. He said he had stopped trying to run and just wanted to have fun. He was telling me about people he’d talked to in other races. Eventually he jogged off, beer in hand, to join a man whose jacket I had fascinated me. It read “7 Continents and All 50 States – Marathon Finisher.”  He was probably late 60’s early 70’s – and had a great speed walk pace down. I will fully admit that I got “beat” by a speed walker and a guy drinking beer. Eh – oh well. 🙂
  5. My time was longer than I wanted but with good reason. I kept thinking I should finish by 5:30 or so and in all honesty I probably could have. However, as I noted above I went out of my way to give high fives to kids sitting along the road. I also gave high fives to the majority of volunteers who were standing along the intersections directing traffic. I made a point to get a high five from every law enforcement person I saw. I also thanked them for keeping us safe “Today and Every Day.”

I think I’ve bored you enough with my race experience. I’ll have another entry later about lessons learned and the future of my racing career.


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