Monday, May 23, 2011

Fargo Marathon 2011: Race Report

This year was another great time at the Fargo Marathon race and weekend. This was the 3 year that I have run an event at the Fargo marathon and it has always been a great race and fun weekend. I signed up for the full marathon, but was not too set on running too fast of a time simply because I had not been doing really any speed or tempo work leading up to the race due to my ultra training.

The weather report said 70% chance of rain and temps in the low 60's so as long as it didn't pour on us I'd be happy. It turns out that the weather was not too bad, it didn't end up raining at all and the temps slowly climbed to around 70. It was a bit hot out and sort of muggy but overall not too bad. The full marathon was set to start at 7:30am and we arrived at 6:45am to the Fargo Dome to get ready. Three other friends were running the half marathon as well and a few friends doing the full. One of the great things about the Fargo marathon is that despite it's rapid growth in numbers having the start and finish at the Fargo Dome allows the runners to utilize all of the facilities there. This mean plenty of bathrooms, which is such a great thing for those of you who have not had to wait 30 mins in line at the port-a-potties.

I figured I could run a sub 3 hour marathon, so I was targeting a time of 2hrs 50mins to 3hr. This is 6min 52 sec to a 6 min 29 sec mile minute pace. At 7:30am we all toed the line and got ready to go, a few of my friends from the run club and high school were at the start cheering me and other runners we knew. Another great thing about the Fargo marathon is that I have a lot of friends and family from that area so there is a lot of great fan support and fellow runners. The horn blew and we were off, the first mile at Fargo always seems fast and I usually run in too fast and this year was not different. I ran a 6:17 first mile, but I do like to get out and away from the pack right away. There is often a lot of congestion at the start of the race and I'd rather not get caught up in it.

The first few miles felt great and I was averaging about a 6:25-6:30 pace which was faster than I planned, but I felt good and was running with a few other runners that were targeting a 2:50 time so I wanted to try and stick with them as long as I could. The first half I did try and hold back a little bit because I was feeling good but didn't want to burn myself out in the first half. Around the the 14-15 mile mark I past the few runners that were targeting the 2:50 time at a water stop and never saw them again. One advantage on them that I had was that I was much faster through the aid stations than they were. Having done a number of race now I have had plenty of practice snatching those little paper cups and getting not slowing down while trying to drink and run. I cross the half way point at 1 hour 24 mins so a minute ahead of my goal of a 2:50 time and I was still feeling pretty good.

Now around mile 16-17 the course looped back and all of the half marathoners were running on the same course as the marathoners. This is my one complaint about the race, there are simply too many runners to try and weave through if you are running in the first 1/4 of the marathon pack. This means you really have to dodge a lot of slower runners as well as watch out for runners who are out doing a bit more fanfare. I had to stop and jump out of the way of slower runners and people cheering and high fiving runners at least three times. Other than this the race is very well organized and all involved do a great job.

The last 10 miles I was starting to feel that my legs were straining a bit and my right shin actually started to ache a little bit, but overall still felt good. I decided to start pushing a bit to see what I could do, it wasn't much of a push but as we were weaving through the half marathoners I lost the small pack of runners that was right behind me and caught one of the runners ahead of me. As we made the turn towards the dome and the home stretch I got a wave of energy and decided to lay it on the line. With a bit over a mile left I decided to kick it in and see what I could do, the crowds of people near the dome helped a lot as well as having a separate lane for marathoners. Running through the parking lot of the dome there was plenty of crowd support and I was feeling great, I even was waving my arms to get the crowd even more pumped up which only fueled me to go faster.

Down the home stretch and into the Fargo Dome for one of the best marathon finishes that I've down. Every runner, no matter what race finished in the Dome with a massive screaming crowd and your image on the big screen. I think I was running about a 5 min pace the last few yards and I was pumped. I crossed with a time of 2:49:26 only about 4 minute off of my personal best, and 17th place overall. All in all I had a better race than I thought and had a great time after the race celebrating with friends and family. Yep I'll be back next year.

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