Race Report: Fargo Marathon 2022
Disclaimer: I received free entry for the Fargo Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!
We're all thankful Spring has finally arrived up north. That's where I'll start!
This has been the coldest, snow storm-iest and longest-feeling training cycle that I have ever had. I did what I could, running outside as much as possible and especially on the weekends. The treadmill was a huge help for speed and some tempo sessions, and also when my husband was recovering from his time in the hospital and I needed to keep an eye on the kids 24/7.
All in all, the training got done and I really enjoyed the variety that Heidi @ G Training set me up with. This is the most strength training and pilates sessions that I have done before! These sessions kept training fresh, I felt much stronger and it kept many of the "niggles" at bay. (Usually I'm a tight hamstring runner but pilates helped with that especially)
For a quick recap of training mileage, here is a breakdown of the weekly volume:
01 - 40.202 - 25.25 (a brief intermission for the stomach flu)03 - 28.02 (recovering from stomach flu)04 - 52.005 - 42.006 - 52.407 - 60.1 *My highest mileage EVER!08 - 56.009 - 53.110 - 56.311 - 35.412 - RACE WEEK: 43.3
That's 544.07 for this training cycle - not counting that I had been averaging 30 miles per week since January 1st. No wonder my white Altra Escalantes need to be retired now! (I didn't believe Strava at first). This was a solid increase in average weekly mileage, going from 36.4 mpw in the previous training cycle to 45.3 mpw in this one. I would say that is a win. I have been a low-mileage marathoner and need to gradually increase to hit those goals I'm chasing - it takes patience!
Enough of the nerdy numbers.
On to the race experience. Leo and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary on May 19th and this ended up being a great weekend to get away, just the two of us. Thanks, grandma & grandpa!
|Resting up for race day with the littlest bubba
We left on Friday, went to the race expo to pick up my race stuff and then stopped by "our apartment" before going to eat. Yep - apartment! Fargo Marathon offered a free race entry and complimentary "housing" to elite athletes. So maybe it wasn't super romantic, but they had me at "free" :) And the apartments were across the parking lot from the Fargodome, which made race morning super easy!
I felt super nervous for this race. Maybe because it was my first of the year, after the Spring Thaw half changed to virtual, or maybe because my "A" goal was pretty aggressive. I'm not sure! After 15 marathons, you would think it would take the edge off just a little.
Per the usual, I set out my "flat runner" self the night before:
I wrote James 1:2-3 on my arm for this race: "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance." I also wrote the words Smooth and Strong (hard to read in the pic). Those were the goals - persevere, stay smooth, stay strong.
When my alarm went off early Saturday morning, I got my running get-up on, munched on banana + peanut butter on bread (no toaster!!!) along with sips of water and read my devo. I did pump this morning, possibly for the last time that I will need to before a race. With our youngest weaning, I didn't want to feel "heavy" while running even though supply is dwindling.
I headed over to the Fargodome a little early - again, probably the nerves. I wanted to check out the Elite locker rooms and staging area. When they let us in, the locker room reminded me of high school hockey days! Lockers side by side, one bathroom, a group shower. Haha. Yep, definitely high school hockey.
I finished a Honey Stinger Salted Caramel Waffle, tied up my shoes and did some warming up down the hall. It was pretty slick, so I took it easy to avoid biffing it right before the race.
Half marathoners took off and then finally it was our turn to go. It was about 35 degrees outside when we took off - definitely a chilly one!
I took off with the front pack, planning to stay just ahead of the 3:00 pace group, aiming for 6:50/mile for the first 16 miles.
Turns out, there wasn't a 3:00-hour pacer there that day and I was going wayyy faster than goal pace anyways. I let myself be carried away with the herd and it wasn't a good thing. When I saw 6:29 on my watch at mile 5, I thought "oh crap!" better pull back a bit. I took non-caff vanilla Clif Shots at mile 5 and 10 - felt gaggy but I was able to keep them down.
While we had a nice sub-3 pack going for the first 13 miles or so, we spread out mid-race, some going on ahead and some pulling back. I went from running with that group momentum to... nada!
My mental game started to decline when the group split and, then around mile 16, I could tell I didn't have any zip left to negative split like I was supposed to. Took caffeinated mocha Clif Shots at miles 15 and 20, again feeling gaggy but forcing them down.
Miles 18 and on were pretty gross. In a way, this is where it helps to have previous marathon experience. I have put myself in "death march" situations before and mentally used those tricks to just stinkin' finish the race. I knew the sub-3 wasn't happening and was questioning whether a PR was possible. Running into a headwind for the last 6 miles (?), I was regretting throwing off my gloves and sleeves. It's at this point where I thought "maybe I should stick to half marathons."
Death March Tactics: Sip sports drink at aid stations and walk while drinking for a morale boost. Mentally break up the miles into 2-mile chunks - 22 miles. Okay, now we're at 24. And now 26... almost there! This certainly doesn't lend to a fast finish but it gets the job done.
I had a little kick to finish off in the dome but didn't even make it to goal race pace for that .5 mile stretch! Just zonked.
I was sure happy to see 3:05:27 though.
Even in a poorly executed race, a 5-minute PR is something to smile about!
Overall, I was very disappointed with how I paced myself. Heidi recommended that 6:50 goal to mile 16 and then buckling down to finish faster from there, and I basically did the OPPOSITE of that! No excuses. Let it be a lesson learned and don't repeat this mistake again.
On the positive side, training went extremely well minus some weird long C@vid health issues and a bout of the stomach flu. I want to keep building on that training experience this year!
This PR served as a great stepping stone, now to keep the training momentum. I didn't execute the race strategy (at all) but I did finish, and that's something.
I had an amazing weekend with my husband, who is healthy and here with me - that is an absolute miracle of a blessing from God, in and of itself! We went out to supper, went thrifting (yep, that's very us!), to an art museum, coffee and just enjoyed time together. The kids were pretty good for my parents, minus the youngest not sleeping.
You live and learn. Every race is a new learning experience and I'm thankful for the gift of health to do this!
I hope to be back at Fargo again next year. It's probably my favorite race! Close to home, tasty post-race food (think donuts, chips, choco milk) and free race photos are a huge perk, too. They keep me coming back for more!