Race Report: Fargo Marathon 2023

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!

Here we are - writing the race report that I don't even know how to start. Training for Fargo went very well and I was able to run (and enjoy!) higher mileage than I ever thought possible. When I thought that training for Fargo in 2022 was the coldest, snow-stormiest I had ever experienced, I was then humbled by 2023. This training cycle included A LOT of speedy treadmill workouts and even treadmill easy-efforts and long runs. It was just cold, icy and snowy forever! 

Somehow I managed to not get sick at all in this training cycle (after a run-in with influenza over Christmas). That's a miracle for any parent-runner! 

The mileage progression went as follows: 
01 - 45.0
02 - 55.1
03 - 60.1
04 - 64.1
05 - 55.0
06 - 70.2
07 - 70.4
08 - 75.0
09 - 70.3
10 - 60.0
11 - 41.7
12 - RACE WEEK: 42.8 
So then we get to race week. On Monday, May 15th, we received the very hard news that my mom has a large brain tumor. With only fairly minor symptoms noticeable to family and close friends, this was a major shock - honestly, it's felt devastating. We are trusting God through it all, praying for miracles and making the most of the time that we have together.

The kids and I went to my parents' farm to spend time with family while my husband finished out the work week. I packed my running things and planned to taper and attempt to carb load as usual, and then decide if I was going to race or not when the day got closer. One of my brothers and his family picked up my race number on their way to the farm, which was super helpful as there is no race-day number pick up for Fargo. I asked mom if she thought I should race and she said she wanted me to, so I went with that. 

I was able to run as an "elite" for this race and the initial plan was to stay in the elite housing on the NDSU campus again and make it an anniversary weekend with my husband. In the new situation, I figured that if I wanted to race, it would be best to leave super early in the morning - run - and come home, to not miss out on any more family time. 


I did decide to race so my amazing sister-in-law and I left at 3:30 AM to get to the race on time. It was about a 3-hour drive and we showed up just in time to hit a slight runner traffic jam pulling into the Fargodome, though I was able to get to the elite locker room with plenty of time to get ready. 

After getting ready and doing a light warm-up down the Fargodome locker room halls, it was time to go. The plan was to fuel like I had at CIM, taking about 6 gels in and alternating that with sports drink at non-gel-taking aid stations. On race morning, I didn't feel quite right - like I still hadn't grasped that I was actually going to race and my stomach felt unsettled - but what do you do? Just keep going. 

I took a Clif Mocha caffeinated gel prior to the race, again mimicking the fueling strategy from CIM in December. I tried not to drink too much fluids but felt very thirsty all morning; despite hydrating well, I thought, during the race week. 

At around 7:45, we took off. Goal was to sit around 6:45 and then drop down to 6:30 later in the race. Leaving the Fargodome always goofs up the watch but I did have a nice group of guys that I stuck with for the first half. Looking back, my paces were a little speedier than they should have been but pacing slower likely wouldn't have changed the outcome this time. 

Gels weren't going down very well but I did manage to get three in over the course of the race. My stomach was sore and "sloshy". I felt like I had tunnel-vision from the start of the race and a tingly face (usually something I only feel during hot long runs or races?), and then hit a hard wall at around mile 16. That wasn't ideal and was wayyy to early in the game to feel that way! 

From around mile 18 and on, I couldn't get any gels in without gagging and I decided I better do what I can to enjoy the race.  I backed off on the pace and walked through aid stations while sipping sports drink and dumping water on my head. The 2nd place pacer bike was so kind and we were able to chat on and off throughout the end of the race. My effort actually felt conversational to parts of my body, while the rest of me was struggling to keep running at all. It was a weird disconnect! 

The biker gal announced "second place female!" to all the fans as we ran by and in my mind I was thinking, "for now at least! just hold on." That became the goal - just hang on to second, which was a better alternative than dropping out (I did consider that option as well :s ). 
We were in the final stretch where the course does a slight wrap around the Fargodome and I still had my semi-comfortable just-finish shuffle going on. Then I saw another bike pull up by us? Ahh it was the 3rd place bike and when I peeked over my shoulder, the 3rd gal was running alongside me. I took whatever was left in my Bambi-like, wobbly legs to sprint that last leg to hold my place. Per my watch, I pulled off a 5:51 and didn't trip over my own feet. I was happy with that. 

3:04:14. It's hard not to be satisfied with a finish time when you know you gave everything you had. On paper, I don't like the way the race execution looked but I am happy that I didn't give up when I wanted to and am proud that my mom is proud of me. She gets my medal for this one - ran this for her :) 

Being met at the finish line by a great friend from highschool and then my "cheer squad" sister-in-law Danielle was really wonderful. We grabbed coffee and giant burritos and then blasted down the interstate to get back to the family. I couldn't have done this 3-hour drive / 3-hour run / 3-hour drive road-trip without Danielle! 

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26

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Relive the Race | Handcrafted Coasters Review

Disclaimer: I received a personalized Handcrafted Coaster in exchange for my review 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!

Running is an odd sport or hobby, if you would call it that. For the marathon distance, you put in months of training, run your face off on race day and then, after grabbing your finisher's medal & some food, you head home.

That's it! Hundreds of miles, weeks of training and the "big event" is over in a few short hours. Then you're back to the regular daily life, where I literally talk about running maybe 1% of the time - not including the blog or IG, of course. (That's literally why I use those platforms, for an opportunity to talk running!)

If running does come up in casual convos, it's like "oh, you like to jog?" ... To which I would probably respond, "Yes, I guess you could say that! It's pretty fun." < envisioning the last workout that left me nearly throwing up, sweat dripping from my elbows - is this considered a hobby? >

Most marathoners have a pretty extensive collection of finisher's medals and all the training & racing memories to go with them. Some hang by the treadmill, maybe some are in your bedroom or the closet. As a BibRave Pro, I was given the opportunity to turn one of my most memorable medals into a beautiful, custom-made coaster from Handmade Coasters

Handcrafted Coasters is business owned and operated by woodworking and running duo, Joe and Kari VandeMerwe. I decided to send them my CIM 2022 medal because it was my first sub-3 marathon and an amazing girls' trip with one of my best friends. 

There are so many great memories tied to this medal and, as the Handcrafted Coasters' website says, this handmade creation is the perfect way to "Relive the Race" whenever you look at it.

I received an envelope in the mail from Handcrafted Coasters and selected the Walnut from the six different wood options. After mailing in, it took about 3 weeks for my medal to return.

My medal arrived safely back home, now as a coaster, and with a handwritten 'Thank You' note! These coasters are beautifully crafted - coated in epoxy, the back is sprayed with lacquer and cork pads protect the surface wherever you decide to keep your coaster. 

Whenever I'm reading in my bookshelf corner, seeing this coaster is a reminder of my amazing race experience at CIM! 

Check out more reviews from my fellow BibRave Pros: She Runs By The Seashore, Bluegrass BAMR, and This Old Runner.

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A Gentle Feast: Cycle 4 Term 2

We've made it through the holidays, a bout of influenza and a pretty solid chunk of winter. It feels like a relief to be within reach of Spring. Maybe a month or two more of this frozen business to go! 

One of the best things we have done this year was state testing at the mid-point of the school year. Two of the boys were required to test this year and I wanted to have the process slightly more streamlined that the last. 

We did a couple testing things different:
  1. Testing earlier in the school year so we aren't missing out on beautiful Spring days at the end of the school year.
  2. We used the untimed online CAT instead of the paper form. This was easier to navigate with two testers and two younger kids running around. Plus, the results are instant rather than mailing in and waiting! We will definitely go that route again in the future.

Morning Time is a messy ordeal though I do like having all of the kids at the table, even if it's just for a short while. Artwork to compliment the artist study is always a hit and the toddler man loves to color, paint, bingo dobber... etc. Anything messy! Having something busy to keep preschool man and toddler dude busy makes the day go better altogether. Watercolors, play dough, counting cars, math pegs, bingo dobbers etc. 
Kandinsky Concentric Circles: Lazy mom asked them to use crayons :) 

In a continued attempt to streamline school and extracurriculars, I made a "morning time" board in the kitchen - where we will ALL see it and stay on task.  Covering Latin using Prima Latina this year has gone really well and the kids learn a few vocab words each week along with memorizing The Sanctus right now. We do work on our Spanish a little bit here and there as well. If something falls to the wayside in a week, it's generally Spanish! Woops.

Schooling the boys in "pairs" is working really well currently. While the older two work on independent studies, I have a window of time to do preschool with the younger two. For my oldest and second born who learned along side him, I used God's Little Explorer's for pre-k and My Father's World Kindergarten. Now for the younger two, timewise it isn't practical to use a totally separate curriculum for them. 

Instead, they listen in (or just play, eat or run) while we cover the older kid subjects and then 5-year-old works on his 100 Gentle Lessons in Letters & Sounds and Earlybird Kindergarten Math with me later. Toddler dude joins in for some of the 100 Gentle Lessons and he is working on a short nursery rhyme to recite while the other boys work on poetry recitation! It's something for him to do and he's proud to learn. 

We had really fun hands-on chemistry experiments in Term 2, enjoyed by all! The highlight was probably our "rubber egg" - here's a link to the video :) 

Okay, one more subject we have really enjoyed as a family: Geography! Halliburton's Book of Marvels has taken us on an amazing journey around the world. We read the chapter together and then watch a video linked in the A Gentle Feast curriculum. Mizielinskis' Maps book is a nice additional resource that we have also used for this subject.

That's a touch on our school subjects and then there's always the chickens & outdoor time. This is the highlight of being out in the country again! I have missed this. The kids are in charge of chicken chores every day and are learning the in's & out's of a small egg business.

We enjoy the nice winter days while we can and also the ice at the rink in town, while it's still frozen! Intramural hockey was a great time for all of us because it made me stay disciplined to take the kids skating at least once a week. Now we anxiously await the arrival of green grass and SPRING!

Explore the A Gentle Feast curriculum here and feel free to email me or comment here with any questions! Disclaimer: This post contains my A Gentle Feast affiliate link. If you click it, and make a purchase I will receive a commission.