Monday, May 24, 2010

26.2, Fargo

So this past Saturday was a new measure for me. I was able to finish a 26.2 mile run, with a little walking of course.

My first marathon.

Our family trip was a nice weekend away, with a fantastic stay at the Governors Inn in Castletown. Once I had entered the marathon, I couldn't find a hotel anywhere in Fargo so we found this place just 20 miles out of town. Unfortunately all they had at the time was a smoking room, which we took, but asked if there was anyway possible if we could have a non-smoking room that would be great. They had our room switched before we got there! (Thank the Lord!) They also have a great little water park, fantastic for our 3 year old and for our 9 year old. It is a hard mix of ages to satisfy, sometimes the pools are too old (too small with not enough shallow end) for one or both our kids, but this one was just right! Then they even helped us get a better room for a second night when we decided last minute we would stay. As well, they stored our things for us from checking out of room one until the time we checked into room two. All with a smile! The front desk ladies all knew what was going on from shift to shift. I was really impressed.

Now back to the run.

The marathon began at 8 am. The forecast was for sunny and hot, but (after a little prayer, on my end at least) the race began wet! We had a nice rain to start our day and to keep some of the heat from hitting us as we began. I was really glad for the rain, but later found that it may have caused another annoyance for me, but we will get to that. After spending the few days before wondering why I was so nervous, I remembered..... I have never done this before! Then as we began to run, it all seemed to just seep out from my pores and I tried to just enjoy the day.

The first 5 miles were easy, just a nice Sunday type run. Although I noticed that I was out there a bit faster than I was planning, trying to pace myself on race day is so tough. I was keeping up with the 5 hour pace runner (pacer Tom is what he called himself) Thanks Tom! He was very nice and I was sad to let him go at around mile 8 when I realized what I had done by letting myself go out a bit faster than planned. I was wondering how it was that we were running a 10:45-11:15 min mile when we were suppose to be running about an 11:27, later to realize that there would be an eventual slow down.... I will get this figured out!

I was running in my Vibram Five Fingers. Yes! My new VFF'S, the ones I bought the day before. Scheels in Fargo carry them. They were just a touch narrower than the men's pair I have been in, and I was so excited. Next time I will remember to use the glide on my feet as well. A bit of chaffing is what I noticed at this point. A bit of an annoyance and the rain at the beginning of the race probably added greatly to this situation. I almost took off the shoes at this point then thought that I could recover from chaffing just fine, but an infection from stepping on something might be a bit tougher to come back from, and the damage was done at this point anyways. It was only another 18.2 miles to go.

There were so many people out in support of the runners! I am looking forward to being a spectator for my husband next week, just to add to the event here. There were at least 3 live bands along route, drums, cheerleaders, and just so many people from their homes. I don't think there was a single block that did not have supporters on it!! People even came and turned their hoses and sprinklers on so we could keep cool as the sun did come out and there was a nice warm day to carry us though.... I'm not sure just how long the sun was out, as I was just enjoying the whole experience. There was also a nice wind, which I enjoyed to cool me down, although the paper the next day was saying how fast the wind was going (30-40 mph) and I'm glad I was oblivious to that as well.

I was happy to make the half way point in my average time of 2:34. I met a nice man just after this half way point who said he hadn't the time to properly train for his leg of the relay, but as I thought about it I find it interesting that he stopped to walk a bit then caught up a little while later. I have a hard time catching up after I stop to walk. He was very encouraging though as we talked when he told me how fresh I sounded. My response was "scary huh?" And it was scary, I was feeling really great! Halfway through and I had lots left.

Going into this marathon I had little idea what to expect, but the plan was..... run for the first 15 miles, then maybe a walk break every 5 miles or so. I decided the night before that I would also give up the security of my back pack and rely on God providing the water stations when I needed them. (this was really hard!) At the 15 mile marker I felt that maybe I should walk through the water stations while I was drinking. To start up again...... well that was something altogether different. There was something feeling a bit heavy at the bottom of my hips, oh yeah... my legs! So I decided not to do that again if I didn't have to. At mile 17 I had a really short walk while drinking some powerade and water, then got back to moving before I could feel my legs get heavy again. Although they did, I made it to 18.5 before they started to scream at me louder than I could ignore. Not that they were hurting, just really heavy. The thing that really surprised me though was my breathing, I was not huffing and puffing, just had heavy legs. This is where I had to walk quite a bit, made it to the 19 mile marker for a gel, powerade and water station.

With this quick pick me up I made it to mile 20 at 4:11:09! 6.2 left to go.
I met a really nice lady, Cindy, around mile 20 or so and we chatted a bit. This was her 21st marathon! Wow!! She was coming back early from a pulled groin (ouch). She was great company as I really needed to walk, my legs were once again heavy, and I was not able to get them to move much faster than this. Thanks Cindy for the company, it was really inspiring to be able to chat with you along route.

I found it interesting to see the medical drop out at mile 21. I thought that I should see if they had some gauze to wrap my feet in, then I changed my mind, what is done is done. I'll take care of it later, besides, once these shoes come off, there is nothing going back on.

I took it pretty easy until mile 23 where I felt like I should be able to run it in from there, again I was surprised to find my legs with some added weight around mile 24.5.... I figured I only had to get to mile 25 where there would be some more fuel, and there was! This time there were even some really nice juicy oranges! What a treat!

1.2 miles to go. What a great day this has been. I really feel I have been well watched over. I have not been thirsty, hungry, left wanting for anything along the way. A bit of chaffing, but what is a bit of chaffing anyways? Something has to be there to remind me what it's all about. A bit of uncomfortable for the journey, nothing I wasn't able to live with or get over as it is really superficial. Only on the surface, "and this too will pass" comes to mind.

There was a really great end to this for me as I was able to pass through the finish running! Thanks for the down hill there, at the end, as we ran into the Fargodome!

My husband and kids were there to greet me. What an awesome feeling to have such support from my family.

The lessons we learn from these endevours are things that are revealed to us as we are able to digest them. I look forward to remembering and learning from this experience. As well I think I need to check out more about lactate acid threshholds/ anerobic energy/ speed work, and some other things...... and for now I will enjoy the finish.



  1. Congratulations Nicole on completing your first marathon. You never forget the first one. The weight in your legs was lactic acid building up as you furiously burn through the remaining glycogen in your muscles. Isn't the finish line sweet!? Take it easy today; put the Vibrams away for a couple of weeks. cheers. Mike

  2. Congratulations on running your first marathon! It was great reading about your experience. We hope to see you again next year!

    Matt L.