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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