Sunday, May 18, 2014

Fargo Marathon Recap

In a shocking turn of events for us, marathon morning dawned clear and free from rain. Would this be our first dry marathon? Only time would tell.

Our hotel was kind enough to open breakfast an hour early so that racers could eat. There was a buzz of energy in the room. While it wasn't the best breakfast I've had at a hotel, there was a wide variety of options, including some hot food. The only really weird thing is there was no water other than from the tap, which was also used to wash trays.

After eating, we made the quick drive to the local mall to take a shuttle to the athletes village. I was a little worried how the new and relatively complicated shuttle system would work, and I did get a bit nervous when I saw the line, but the shuttles came quickly and in large bunches, so we were on in less than 10 minutes.

After what seemed like quite a long time, we were dropped at the downtown bus depot. We were told to wait in a line for another bus to another mall, though these buses took a lot longer to come. Some locals took off on foot, saying we were close, but there was a lot of chaos at this point, so we opted to wait. We crammed onto a short bus and arrived at the village.

I was excited to get to hang out inside for awhile before having to drop our bags and be a part of the growing excitement. We were maybe two minutes walk from the starting line, and we were supposed to be lined up at 7:30 for an 8 AM start. Even though we got to the village at 7, we were almost immediately told to leave for the start. I was a little annoyed at this, especially since we would have to drop our bags and wait in the morning chill. If the trains potentially blocking people from crossing to the start were an issue (and none even came by in that hour), I think the race should've picked a different spot for the marathon village.

We dropped our bags at the UPS trucks right outside the mall and went to wait for the bathroom line. It was the Indiana nightmare all over again, with four bathrooms for even more people, and this time there were two lines, so we made literally no progress. Finally, a bunch of ladies hopped out of line and formed a queue for some bushes. Once I had cycled through this line, Michael said his line had only moved when people left for the bushes. He was fine to bail at this point, so we crossed over to the bridge and the start line.

As soon as we started, I warmed off, and I probably took my hat and gloves off within the first few miles, though I'm so glad I had them for the long, cold wait. I realized too late I didn't really take any pictures of the course. Almost the entire thing was run through neighborhoods. It was pretty, though nothing noteworthy. It was great because people were out cheering almost the whole way, even for us stragglers near the back of the pack.

There were also tons of fun signs on the course, though it was hard for me to get many pictures, since a lot were at the beginning when it was still very congested.
Some day, right...? Also, the lady who took this picture was impressively drunk off mimosas.
I would for sure keep running if someone brought Faramir to cheer me on.
This race was also great fun because there were so many Maniacs to cheer on. While Crossroads was my first race as a Maniac, there were only a couple, and I don't recall even seeing all of them on the course. On the other hand, Fargo had a quite a few out-and-backs, so I tried to cheer every Maniac I saw. Running really helps reduce my social anxiety. (Side note: what do you say to someone wearing a 50 Stater shirt? I try saying Go 50 Stater, but that just sounds awkward.)

As we rejoined the half course, we noticed they had a special elite lane marked off. I thought this was a really nice touch to give leaders in both races clear areas to run. These were, however, empty by the time we rolled through.
Except for me, obviously.
We also had to make a pit stop at the aid station that immediately won my heart - it had tissues! I'm relentlessly teased for always having a supply of tissues at hand (though people mysteriously find this convenient when they suddenly need one).
My kind of place.
While we were going at about the same pace as at Crossroads, I mentally felt much better. I was more prepared on the fueling front, and I made a bigger effort to increase my sports bean intake, supplemented by aid station food along the way. I'm not sure why my previous fueling strategy of one bean per mile no longer is doing it's job, but it helped to be prepared for it this time.

The last few miles were again tough, but I was fine to keep pushing. If we hadn't stopped at the bathrooms around mile 25, I would've probably been able to push more in the last mile.
Though I pretty much wanted to collapse like this balloon arch.
I knew the finish was in front of the Fargo Theater, but I was again confused by crazy downtown Fargo. I knew we had to be close, but I desperately wanted to see the finish line. The course cruelly kept it out of sight until the last tenth of a mile.

Finally, finally, we turned and finished!
Thankfully being slow meant the chute wasn't crowded like the 5K!
Finish Time: 6:01:21

We were met by enthusiastic volunteers who put medals for the marathon and the Go Far Challenge (for doing the 5K as well) around our necks. Another volunteer gave us ponchos, though I didn't need since there was no line for bag drop. The UPS volunteers were spot on, even late in the day, and had my bag ready before I got to the table. There was a fairly good food spread. I had some Nutter Butters, which I normally hate, and they tasted like amazing.
Go Far Challenge medal
Photo: State four complete!
Marathon medal

Rocking my medals and the awesome race jacket that even fits my T-rex arms!
At this point it was about 2:30 and the shuttles back were only supposed to run until 3 (which seemed poopy, since racers had until 3 to finish). We followed the people who took our picture to try to find the buses. We wandered around the Civic Center, where the volunteers said the buses would be, but we could only find people who said they were waiting but hadn't seen anything for a very long time.

Three ladies sitting on the sidewalk had just about given up, and one of them was local. She said the bus depot was very close, and there would be free buses back to the mall where our car. We were so thankful to have found her, as we were able to follow the group to the bus station and get on the right bus. If we had had a flight to catch, this would have been extremely stressful, but fortunately we had all the time in the world. Big shout out to those women for helping us out.

After what was an extremely long bus ride, we made it back to the mall. We remembered our car was under a JCP sign by the Chili's. However, we soon realized JCP had signs on both sides of the mall (one of which was not where the store was), so we had to hobble through the mall to get to the car, during which we got quite a few odd stares.

We had been planning to take a nap before dinner, but after showers we were starving, so we headed out to downtown again to eat pizza at Rhombus Guys.

Sadly, our pizzas were not shaped like rhombuses. Michael loved his (T-rex with lots of meat), but my margherita was just okay. After finally feeling satiated, we went back for round two of mini-golf.

TripAdvisor has assured me their two courses were awesome and the best people had ever played at. While the course design was cool, the actual holes were uninteresting and difficult to the point of not being fun. The green was warped, and our balls constantly rolled back to the start of the hole. It was also incredibly windy as a storm brewed in the west, so we called it a day after playing one of the two courses.
Four states down, 46 to go.

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