2016 Fargo Marathon race report. Slowest marathon in quite some time…but lovely course and fantastic volunteers

Time for a quick race recap for the Fargo Marathon. My apologies if things are a bit disorganized below – rushing this one out.

There were a huge number of volunteers and they were all very friendly and helpful. There was a huge number of spectators watching and cheering from their driveways and lawns – it was impressive to see how the whole community seemed to be behind the race. And I have to say I found the whole area to be beautiful – when I have been in Fargo before I have always been in the business/shopping areas and that didn’t prepare me for the feel of the neighborhoods and parks – fantastic big shade trees, well maintained and clean, and just lovely.

I was damned impressed with the whole experience.

With the marathon scheduled for the Saturday morning I drove down to Fargo from Winnipeg on Friday afternoon and after an extra 45 minute delay at the US/Canada border I made it to the Fargo Dome at around 5 pm. I was able to grab my race kit very quickly and did a short tour of the expo before heading out in order to beat the crowd that was gathering for the 5k race that was to start at around 6:30.

I was in and out quickly and back in the truck to try and figure out where the heck my hotel was. I booked my room a little late and wasn’t able to book into any of the hotels that I had stayed at before and since I was not willing to drop big dollars on the room for one night I ended up in a no frills traveller’s hotel.

Luckily I was able to find it quickly and book in around 6 before heading out to find supper and do some light shopping.

I did a light supper which is what I normally do before a race but by 9 I was getting really hungry and then I realized with the extra time at the border I hadn’t eaten a decent lunch so now I was getting hungry and unless I wanted to try to fill the hole with chips and sugar I needed to find something.

I ended up settling on grabbing a small cheeseburger from a fast food chain across the parking lot from the hotel hoping that it wouldn’t cause any issues.

Then to bed and up before 5 am to grab a shower, get dressed and reload the truck before grabbing a bite of a bagel and some juice. The hotel also had goodie bags for the runners which was a nice touch. And then back to the Fargo Dome to have a bit of a sit and wait for the signal to start the line up for the start.

I took the time to put on some sunscreen as the forecast was for quite a bit of sun and heat.

For a bit of a neat start the starting line and finishing line are inside the Fargo Dome – definitely something different!

And then it was time to line up – I got in line with the 4:30 pace bunny figuring that I would give that a try and back off as needed since I really had no idea where I would be pace wise.

Since there were so many Canadians down for the race they did both national anthems before the kick off. It was a nice touch.


Then we were off and I was making sure to watch my pace but before we even got out of the parking lot another runner tapped me on the shoulder and told me that he thought I had dropped a key back a little ways. I checked my belt pouch and a zipper had popped open….crap. So for the second time in my running career I ran backwards against the crowd…double crap.

I got back to the spot where the helpful runner had indicated but no key – asked some bystanders and they thought they had seen someone pick something up. Hopefully they drop it off at lost and found after…

Now I am literally at the back of the pack – no other runners behind me…not a place I want to be!

I looked down at my Garmin watch to see how much mileage I had wasted and it told me I was at 588 miles or so…ok…

At least after that initial glitch it watched my pace well but I had to sigh as that is now 2 races in a row that it has done something odd.

So…the smart thing to do at this point would be to set myself at my hoped for pace and slowly regain a spot in the middle of the pack. But the adrenaline spike said no way.

I was hoping for maybe a 6 mph pace – I hit well over 7 for a couple miles. It felt really good…like a lot of dumb things. I hadn’t felt that good running since the 2015 Dopey Challenge and I didn’t want the feeling to stop.

So I caught up to the 4:30 pace bunny…and then the 4:15 pace bunny and was probably a couple minutes ahead of that group at the hour mark while having done at least an extra half mile.

At this point the adrenaline is starting to wear off as I remember I clipped a second key to my truck in my backpack and I will still be able to make it home…

So I start to slow down and regulate my pace to where it should be, allowing the 4:15 pace group to go past. A co-worker passed me at this point and after a quick “Hey!” he was off.

I kept on at a decent steady pace and hit a decent 2:10 for the half way point (plus half a mile) and I kept on going…but now my stomach is starting to act up…I suspect the late cheeseburger…

The heat is really starting to kick in at this point. I was making sure to hydrate every 10 minutes from my hydration pack (having learned my lesson from Spruce Woods Ultra) and as I started to slow down I also started having extra water at each of the plentiful water stops. I also put a cooling cloth under my had and made sure to keep wetting it to keep my head cool.

First port-a-pottie stop was between mile 16 and 17 and I hit around 17.25 miles at the 3 hour mark. Then 2 more pit stops before mile 23 – very slow through this period as I hit around 21 miles at the 4 hour mark and continued slow until about mile 23. Then I must have had all the toxins out of my system and I was able to start pushing again. I haven’t had to use a port-a-pottie during a race in quite some time – was not impressed that I had to this time.

I was back up over 5 mph for the 24th mile and when I pushed I felt ok but at this point lack of mental conditioning was starting to come into play. I have mentioned in previous posts that I didn’t think I had done my run streak in a proper way to train for the longer races. My body was willing and capable at this point but I was not mentally able to make it do all that it could.

Anyway – around mile 24 I saw a runner sit down hard on a curb and when I tried asking her if she was ok I didn’t get much of a response but as I looked around 2 of the awesome volunteers were already running up to help out. I continued on my way knowing she was going to be looked after.

I kept on going doing run / walk cycles and finished the last quarter mile back into the Fargo Dome at a solid pace.

It did seem weird to come through the finish line and not immediately get a medal – I crossed the line and looked around and saw nothing and nobody said anything until I made eye contact with one of the volunteers who said “everything is up around the corner”. Oh.

So around the corner, got the big cool medal and a bottle of water before heading into the pit area to eat a banana and grab some chocolate milk. I decided to skip the pizza they had even though it looked pretty good.

I wandered toward the beer tent but stopped a volunteer along the way to ask if there was a lost and found – she directed me to guest services desk – I thanked her and continued my march to the beer. I was one of the last 3 to get a can!

I then had a sit and a drink before wandering over to see if my key had been turned in. Whoohoo! It was there – thank you anonymous runner! I then walked out the wrong door of the Fargo Dome and then back in and back out the correct side to get to my truck…

I wandered out to the truck and grabbed a bunch of water and towels I had in the back to wash off the sweat and sunscreen (was not doing 3-4 hour drive home being that grimy in the nice new truck). I did a quick change and headed out to start the drive home.

On the drive I had a lot of time to think about the race and about my performance and did come to some conclusions:

  1. I hydrated well – no headaches, no scary rapid heartbeats, no desire to quit – I’m not a tiny runner and I need to hydrate early and often. Between the Spruce Woods Ultra and this race that statement has been proven again.
    2. Having that fast food burger less than 10 hours before a marathon was not a good idea
    3. This is the big one actually – I did not train properly to build up my mental stamina – my body was strong and capable (if still too heavy) but I didn’t have the mental stamina to drive it properly to the limits. I need to do more high intensity training and more long slow runs to rebuild that. Basically there were mistakes on the run but I think I was physically capable of being faster than I was and that means my brain didn’t do its job. It is also possible that I was a bit spooked by my crash out of Spruce Woods and wanted to hold something in reserve just in case.

So I have more work to do to rebuild and that means getting back to basics. 5 days a week working up to 50 mile weeks. Once I am back there then I build further again.

Running motivation regained!

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