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Fargo Marathon RR- Warning! (It's long.)

Urlea2010-05-01 14:06:10 +0000 #1
When training for a race I often visualize in my mind how the events of the day may transpire. Partially to get myself psyched for the day & also to prepare myself for what may go array so that I am ready to encounter the obstacles ahead.

Since January I had been compiling pieces of this vision only to have it beautifully dissolved this Saturday. Very few things were as I had envisioned, but I still consider it a great race.

The alarm was set to go off at 5a.m. allowing me enough time to eat & debate my choice of hat or beanie for the 100th time in a 24hr period before heading to the Fargo Dome. After a night of tossing, sleeping & turning the alarm was not needed. I was awake early, not the least bit nervous, but excited to embrace the challenge I had trained over 5months for.

Arriving at the Dome I met up with my running buddy Maggy who I planned to run most of the race with. She was calm, collected & excited. We chatted for about an hour until finally the Announcer motioned all of the runners to start lining up. We quickly found our 4:30 pacer "Bill" who gave us an enthusiastic debriefing on how he paces a group & what to expect. The man has obviously done this before & loves to. It only added to our "Lets do this!" attitude.

The starting line was packed with 13,000 shivering runners. The national anthem was sung, a prayer lifted up to the Lord (one of the day's highlights for me), then the crowd jolted as the gun went off. That jolt was followed by a 6minute walk for our group to actually reach the first timing pad.

The weather other than being a bit on the cool side was nice. By mile 6 I was warm enough to exchange my beanie for the cap & ditch my gloves (thanks Sweetie). We continued onward into my favorite portion of the race course. Hearing the sounds of thousands of runners echoing between the buildings in Historic Downtown joined w/ the trumpeting pep-band was momentous.

I was blessed with an ambitious pacing group primarily composed of 1st time marathoners with a few seasoned athletes mixed in. Chatting with them, listening to the crowds & bands who came out to support us even in the literally freezing temps made the first 10 miles pass with ease.

For a while there I thought a sub 4:30 marathon was in store for me & Maggy.

Then I reached mile 11, a brick wall. Having run several 1/2 marathons I knew hitting the wall was normal so I kept to my pace, despite quads that were starting to growl. Around mile 16 it felt as though I was starting to break my way through it. This was an illusion. If the brick wall wasn't going to come down, I was going to push it. And push it I did. I fought all the way to mile 18 before I was unable to keep up with my pace group after slowing through a water station.

From miles 18-22ish I was still consistently running, just at a slower pace. My pace group was still within view 1/2 mile ahead. At this point I was between pace groups, the 1/2 marathoners had finished thinning the amount of runners on course & most of the spectators were cold and kind of weary of cheering. Since I choose to split my training between group runs & longer runs alone, this didn't effect me poorly, but it did make me wish I had my ipod.

Jesus was my companion & conversation. I requested strength to keep pushing/moving the wall and that my family would still be there cheering me on at the spot I had chosen even though it was taking me a while to get there. The struggle kept me focused & in prayer which I remain thankful for.

My prayers were answered at mile 24 as I rounded the corner to see my parents cheering, Loudly. There is no way to express how much I needed that. To have the incentive of them being there & the encouragement they provided once I reached them.

Not long prior to reaching them I had started a run/walk approach. Only allowing myself to walk 20 quick seconds before running again until I could no longer run. Rinse, wash, repeat.

Every water station from then on I topped off my water bottle & used it as a reminder to drink! When it's cold I have a hard time hydrating. Race-day was no exception. Feeling light headed also reminded me to gel. Unfortunately the cool weather had turned my gel into paste which would not squeeze through the nozzle of my flask easily. So I started to unscrew the cap and pour it out instead. I popped a few shot-bloks in sporadically.

Miles 24-26 were crazy difficult. My quads felt as though they were trying to eat themselves or turn to stone and my back began to hurt which worried me. It felt like my kidneys. Still sort of light headed, feeling my organs & starting to get chilled by the now falling misty rain I decided to take a stop at a fire hydrant that had a sign post near it to crack my back & do a mental check to see if it was actually dangerous for me to continue on.

Cracking my back helped take some of that pressure off & just standing for a few minutes was refreshing. Then came the realization when I tried to stretch my legs and could not lift my knees to hip-height that my muscles were running out of time and I needed to keep moving in order to finish. Passing my mental check-list I got back on the road.

Encouraging other runners has always helped keep my mind off of a tough portion of a race, so that's what I did. I passed a few of them, but my pace group at this point was no longer within view, let alone reach. Not that I had the energy to rejoin them anyway.

Finally the Fargo Dome was within view. I attempted to pick up the pace. No idea if I actually succeeded, but I tried. Rounding the corner & entering the downhill chute the hammer finally broke through the wall I had been pushing for the last 15miles. The crowds were loud & I wanted to finish well so I used every ounce of upper body strength & energy I had left to thrust myself into a sprint and over that finish line. Yes!! I made it & I was under 5hrs!!!

Unlike what I had envisioned all my months of training there wasn't this overwhelming feeling of accomplishment when the finishers medal was put around my neck. I needed to find my husband in case my legs would not carry me any more, I needed to find Maggy & I needed some chocolate milk.

It is true what they say about not truly being able to enjoy your experience post an endurance event until about 3days afterward. When I reached home & looked up my time. 4:38:36 I was thrilled. A 10:38min/mi pace even with the wall. But I still wasn't totally jazzed. More tired & sore than anything.

Today is day 3 and I can now say that I have all of the emotions of accomplishment & jazz I expected to have at the finish line. I pushed the hell out of that wall,mentally held it together when my legs were hashed, somehow sprinted across the finish line & also PRed my previous 1/2 marathon times. There is a lot to be proud of there!!

Since the race I have traded text messages with Maggy who did get her sub 4:30. (Yay Maggy!!!) Both incredibly sore, we can't wait to run our next race. I spent the first 10miles of the marathon "encouraging" her into the Lean Horse 50k this August. Now it is something she wants.

Yesterday I had a peaceful recovery walk. It felt great & even though getting up from a seated position, stairs and putting on my socks hurts like mad making my legs twitch in muscle spasms afterward, I attempted to run. Why? Because I absolutely love to run!! Was I able to, no, my muscle memory hasn't come back yet. But I am hopeful it will soon.

Until then, icebaths, recovery walks & swimming.

What do I think went wrong? I didn't get the amount of fuel in I thought I had. After unloading my race belt & setting my gel flask flat on the counter it revealed that I had only ingested maybe 2.5 gels. That is less than I typically take during a 1/2 marathon and only 40% of my goal fueling for this race. Not good. I should have started unscrewing the cap of the flask earlier, but that is a lesson learned.

I was also still babying a bruised knee & tense legs from a fall with the bicycle Thursday.

What's next? T-minus 32days until 70.3!!! Hoping for a quick recovery. I'll keep you posted.

alpinerabbit2010-05-01 14:21:22 +0000 #2

Originally Posted by Urlea

are you saying this is cold water???? You are one tough chick...
Urlea2010-05-01 14:45:49 +0000 #3
Well the last time I tried an ice-bath it was pure torture. But I'm sore & want to recovery quick so I figured I'd try it again (even though I said I never would.)

Upon my friend's suggestion I wore a lighter pair of tights, three top layers & a hat. Drank tea while I was in there. All of these things made it much much more doable. I also got into room temp water and gradually cooled it down.
spindizzy2010-05-01 14:50:20 +0000 #4

Your ability to mentally and physically push through is nothing short of amazing. You will always have that race to serve as memory of how to push through that physical your stick and brick pictures!!

Good for you having a plan - I think that really helps with the "what ifs." You were able to reason out a plan..see all that thinking does help!!

Congratulations wonder woman. You've completed your first marathon. What a sweet accomplishment.

Kudos to Maggy as well!
limewave2010-05-01 15:07:25 +0000 #5

My tip for ice bath. Get in the tub first then start the cold water. It's alot easier than jumping right in.
michelem2010-05-01 14:51:37 +0000 #6

What a great race report. You are such a gifted writer. Thanks so much for sharing.
Susan Otcenas2010-05-01 15:20:47 +0000 #7
Congratulations Urlea!! All that hard work and training paid off for you. I love that you are smiling in every picture - you may have been in pain but you look carefree and very happy.

kacie tri-ing2010-05-01 16:44:46 +0000 #8
Love that race report! Great job!!!!! Recover well!



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