Monday, May 12, 2014

Fargo Marathon Review

Lovely, typical Fargo neighborhood
We three have done 82 marathons now, and we enjoyed Fargo as much as any.  The weather helped too, 48 degrees and sunny at the start, 65 degrees and cloudy at my finish, with enough breeze to make it interesting.  I crossed the mat at 5:31:56, just two minutes over my best-hope time considering that I had run a marathon just two weeks ago.  If I hadn't stopped to chat with a few homeowners along the way I might have been under 5:30, who knows?

The Fargo Marathon:

Special lane to allow fast runners
to pass slower ones.  It didn't work,
I bet they'll do it better next year.
Fargo, North Dakota and Moorhead, Minnesota seem to be one town, Fargo on the west bank of the great Red River of the North and Moorhead on the east.  Even the street-naming and numbering seem mostly consistent from one side of the river to the other.  The combined population of the metro area is almost a quarter million and growing rapidly.  We parked our car in Minnesota, started the race on the bridge between the states, ran parts of the race in each state, and finished in North Dakota just a few blocks away from our car.  For 50-states purposes I suppose a person could claim either state (not both!), but I consider this my second North Dakota marathon.
No shortage of cute kids in
the Fargo neighborhoods

The race is flat.  We runners joked with each other about that a few times as we climbed up a bridge or out of an underpass, but the joke was over pretty quickly and we were back on the flat.  This is a river valley, but it's a river that spreads out very wide when floods come.  From the top of a stepladder you can see ten miles in any direction.  I like flat - otherwise it's called "challenging," and 26 miles is challenge enough for me these days.

The race is well organized, too.  We ran it in 2006, the marathon's second year, and it was well organized even then, presumably getting better every year since.  We liked the expo, the packet pickup, the start, the finish, and especially the course.
Motivational couch, beer included

We ran through the downtown, along the river, and through neighborhoods with lots of cheering spectators.  Never once did I feel any threat from vehicle traffic.  The race is almost entirely on roads, closed to traffic, with the route clearly marked on the pavement in white spray paint.  Fargo calls itself "City of Parks," and indeed we did run by several parks and right through a couple.  We also ran smack dab through Concordia College, a main-line Lutheran college that's close to Ardis' heart as a Lutheran pastor.

Other stuff:

  • Shirt: "It seemed like a good idea 4 months ago."  
  • Shirt: "Toenails are overrated."  
  • Shirt: "I thought they said RUM."  
  • Sign: "Worst parade ever!"  
  • Couch occupied by men drinking beer, labeled "Motivational Couch."  
  • Table & chairs with people drinking beer, labeled "Drinking Team with a Running Problem."  
  • A whole band of bagpipers.  I love bagpipes (I'm partly Scottish by birth and definitely by affinity.)
  • Lots of other bands, though some had their loudspeakers turned up painfully high.  I think there were as many bands in Fargo as there were in Nashville, a "Rock n Roll" marathon.

These two have great sisters
Along the way we ran through a neighborhood where dozens of lovely and expensive homes on the Fargo bank of the river were being destroyed or moved out to make way for a bigger, stronger, multi-million-dollar dike.  Those homeowners had "taken the buyout."  Others hadn't, and their fate is unclear.  Will Fargo assert eminent domain and force them to move?  I spoke to several nervous homeowners in their yards, as they watched the marathon and chatted with their neighbors, pondering their future together.  You guys need a lawyer?  Kidding.

My Race:

Quite near the finish, actually
This may have been my best marathon of the five so far this year.  Certainly it was my best finish time, and I enjoyed it as much as any and more than most.  I'm surprised, actually, that I could finish so soon with just two weeks rest after the Nashville Marathon.  I started with a run/walk ratio of 1 to 2, and was able to sustain that most of the way.

My legs did feel a little fatigued already at mile six, which is too early in the race, but I suppose that was from the short two-week recovery.  On the other hand I felt a resurgence of energy much later in the race, after twenty miles, which is quite unusual but most welcome.

Happy Don in the last mile
Whining: Very little!  In the last third of the last mile of the race I started to cramp up, forcing me to walk without running for just that short way, and around that time I also noticed just a little of the back pain that I had been so concerned about before the race.  That close to the finish, neither of those problems was much bother.

Splits: 12:18, 12:17, 12:10, 11:50, 12:15, 11:57, 16:55 (nature break), 13:01, 12:00, 24:00 (2 mi), 13:29, 11:43, 12:21, 12:19, 13:31, 12:11, 12:39, 11:51, 13:57, 12:01, 12:52, 12:37, 12:45, 12:15, 13:36 (cramping), 3:10 (0.2 mi), total 5:32:26 by my watch,  5:31:56 by the chip on my bib.  Why the 30-second discrepancy?  I dunno - my old watch seemed to work perfectly, and I think it's correct, but I won't complain.

My Sweeties:

Despite Ardis' painful joints, she and Sarah finished their half marathon within their time goal and had an enjoyable race.  I hope they don't get tired of running marathons before I do.

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