Date: Saturday, May 22
Location: Fargo, ND
Results: Half-Marathon Results, Full Marathon Results
Goal: 1:29.59 (6:51 per mile)
Actual: 1:29.12 (6:49 per mile)
Overall: 76 (6032 total); top 1.26%
Overall Males: 66 (2363 total); top 2.79%
Overall Male Age Group (45-49): 5 (216 total) top 2.31%
The alarm woke my up at the ungodly hour of 4AM. But that is what separates athletes from the "oh, just grow up already" adults who want to party all night and are just getting in at the same hour. Like the Marines say, "I'll do more before 6AM than most people do all day."
At 6:15AM I found myself sitting in a parking lot and having a very eerie Déjà vu moment. I then turned to my left and recognized the dormitories of Reed-Johnson Hall. These were the dorms I stayed in for the first two years of achieving my B.S. in pharmacy at North Dakota State from 1979-85. Thirty-one years later, here I was again. So many forgotten (repressed?) memories came flooding back at once that I almost teared up.
There was the old NDSU Fieldhouse. I could recall the indoor state track meet where two people had boxed me in during the 400 meter finals until I elbowed my way through and made my own opening. There was the outdoor track that always seemed to have a gale force wind blowing down the backstretch. There was Sudro Hall that took every waking hour of my five years on campus in order to secure that pharmacy degree. My God, so many memories.
But I was here for the Fargo Half-Marathon. And this would start outside a building that had not existed when I was on campus: the Fargo Dome. We would finish inside of it. Very cool.
The forecasted gusty winds never materialized. The winds were still 12-14MPH but were virtually non-existent and I only found myself looking for a big bodied wind break once early in the race. But it was overcast and by the time I was thinking about lining up for the 7:30AM start it was a steady rain. The shoes were already soaked through. The nice thing about the Nike LunaRacers is they sort of glow when wet. So as the race went along I received many, "Love your shoes!!", comments from the crowd.
It was less than five minutes before the gun and I was looking around for familiar faces and recognized Steve Aesoph from Jamestown, NoDak. Steve is putting on a XTERRA triathlon later in June. If you have the date open...sign-up! I'll be there and looking forward to the mountain bike and trail run along with the swim where you have to exit and return to the water. Very cool. Steve and I had enough time to exchange pleasantries before the race started.
The first three miles were easy. I was just flowing along reminding myself every few hundred yards that no matter how good I felt:
- It was a long race and save the gas in the tank as I knew I would need it
- I had experienced a bad right calf cramp the Saturday before coming off the bike at the Park Rapids triathlon. It had been sore all week but was in serviceable condition. I was estimating mile six or seven before it would bark....if it was going to
- I had not run this distance (13.1) in over twenty years...even in training leading up to this event
I hit the 5K at 20:24 which was a tad faster than I wanted but again, it felt pretty smooth. And just before I continue....it seemed that all the mile markers were just a tad off. Something that many fellow Garmin users talked about after the race. So my splits, which you can view at Garmin, aren't always on the mile. Sometimes I hit the split per Garmin and others per the actual road course. I was never too sure. And the course felt a tad long....and it was by one tenth of a mile. Here are the splits below:
Miles four through six started to become work. I was trying to keep contact with a group of gents while navigating around huge puddles and slippery corners. A few times my hand would gently find itself on the back of someone. The easy feeling pace of the first three miles was now feeling like work.
Between miles six and seven is where the right lower leg was becoming compromised. This was my make or break moment. I either coast in so as not to cause any long-term damage to the Achilles and calf. Or, relax a bit. Compose. Know that between miles seven and eight the Boy®, the Well Kept Wife™, and Grandpa Maas are waiting with the bottle of fuel (Hammer Perpetuem/Hammer Gel). I waited.
Precisely between miles seven and eight there was the Boy® waving a Minnesota Vikings flag. There was the Well Kept Wife™ already with arm outstretched with the bottle. I grabbed, said something like "right calf" and I was gone. I milked that bottle for the next 1/2 mile and dumped it outside the aid station at mile nine. And I was good to go.
Miles nine though eleven went well. I had some renewed energy and confidence. Yes, the right leg seemed on the verge of seizing up at any moment. But I was running through streets and avenues that I had frequented during my NDSU training days. The trees seemed the same. The houses the same. And just as earlier in the day, all those memories came back. Days of running fast miles through these very same streets. The feeling of invincibility that all youth has. I tried to remember those days, those feelings of just loping along. And it worked. I started to reel in people who has left me at mile six.
With two miles left, I knew if I stayed with the pace....I would have my goal of sub 1:30. It was really starting to be a struggle. And to get through that, I buddied up. I came up with another runner who had passed me very early on in the race and was now laboring. As I passed him I mumbled something like, "Lets go. We're so close." And he went with me. We would match strides for the next two miles. Picking off more runners along the way. Silently encouraging each other if the other started to lag.
The big Fargo Dome finally loomed. Man, it was going to be close to go under 1:30. I wanted to walk. I just wanted it to be over. A half mile to go. Legs were screaming to just stop. My form was non-existant and probably looked like a lumbering Neanderthal. People must have been trying to be nice when they were shouting, "Nice form! Nice stride! Looking good!", because it certainly did not feel that way. The watch was ticking ever closer to 1:30 and the Dome seemed so very far away. I....must...pick...it....up!
All I recall near the end is the watch read 1:28 and the entrance to the Dome and the finish could be seen. I sprinted with all I had left. I passed three people and the roar of the finish line crowd was something I will remember. I finished and must not have looked too good. I was noticeably wobbly and someone put a hand on me and asked if I was alright. I replied, "Yep, just old." A ton of handshakes from people who had either carried me or I them. I had done it. I went under my goal of one hour and thirty minutes. 1:29.12.
I spied Mike waiting on his wife to finish. Mike looked fresh as a daisy. Steve found me while sitting in a chair. Steve's feet were not pretty. He had gone sans socks. He figures it will be a week before he can run again.
Back at the hotel I iced for three hours straight. Then napped. when I got up I was sore but surprised I could move fairly easily. Success all around. A great road trip. A great event. But honestly, I won't be thinking of any races that exceed a 10K for a little while.....at least not in June!
Next event: Liberty Triathlon, Oly distance. Small chance I could do the Buffalo sprint the week before but I'm in no hurry to make that decision.