When you want to Go Far, go to Fargo!

I knew that eventually, I would get out to North Dakota for a half marathon, I just didn’t expect it to happen this year!  When I got the call to work the race expo for the Fargo Marathon, I jumped at the chance to stick around to run on Saturday Morning.

As soon as I told some friends that I was going to the Fargo Marathon, everyone kept telling my how awesome the race was.  This was a favorite among many people that I talked to!

Before I sign up for a race, I generally do my research, learn about the area, the course and the expo.  Then once I start planning the trip, I head out with a list of places to stop, restaurants to try out and things to do.  Since I only had about 3 weeks before the race, and I was doing a long of traveling in the last few weeks, I really didn’t have the chance to research much about the race and expo. I was going in to this one blind.  I packed my car with everything for the expo and a suitcase full of Skirt Sports!

The Fargo Marathon is more than just the Marathon/Half Marathon on Saturday.  It is a week filled with events for the entire family!  Everything from a Cyclothon, Furgo Dog run and a kids 1 mile run earlier in the week, leading up to the 5k on Friday night (which this year they were going for 10,000 participants for the 5k) and then 10k, half and full marathon Saturday.  There is easily something for everyone in the family!  Part of my wishes I was around for some of the earlier evens, just to check them out.

This year, the expo was moved from the Fargodome, across the street to the Sanford Health Athletic Complex.  Since I was working the expo, I didn’t have a lot of time for shopping while it was open, but I took a walk through to see all the booths before the floor was open to the public.   I stopped by the Marathon Maniacs/Half Fanatics booth and was pleasantly surprised to find out that this race was part of the club series of events!  Apparently I have not paid attention to the HF website much lately, otherwise I would have known that.    I checked in and was given a wristband.  After finishing the race on Saturday, I’d be able to claim my extra medal!  Woohoo!!  Adding another state, PLUS EXTRA BLING!

I was also able to sneak over early and pick up my race packet. (it’s a little difficult to pick up a race packet during pick up hours, when you are working a booth at the expo!)  I can say with certainty that the Fargo Marathon does not skimp when it comes to race swag!A REAL sweatshirt (not just a t-shirt weight hoodie) and a heavy weight drawstring bag that won’t fall apart after it’s used a few times!  I don’t know about you, but I have enough race t-shirts that I never wear, and who can’t use a good drawstring bag!!!  The drawstring bag is also your gear drop bag and came with a nice laminated tag with your  bib number to hang on the bag when you use it for the race.  I swear, they thought of everything!

I know from past experiences, I can run a half marathon after working a 2 day race expo, but I know that it won’t be a fast race.  This was going to be all about the fun!  Since it was a Half Fanatic Series race, there were over 200 from the Asylum running the half and full marathons, plus the several dozen members of the 50 State Half Marathon Club, I knew I was going to be running with friends – even though I had never met any of them before!  LOL

Saturday morning, the alarm was not my friend.  Working the busy expo exhausted me and after not getting to sleep until close to 11pm, I really could have used a few extra hours of sleep.  Instead I crawled out of bed at shortly after 5am and looked out the window.  Temperatures were right about where I anticipated but I was not planning on the winds.  The winds were very reminiscent to the 25-40mph gusts from the Brew City Half Marathon last month.  My Long Haul Skirt and WonderGirl Tank were not going to cut it today!  I was already planning on wearing my Buff UV Arm Sleeves but needed an extra layer on my legs.  Thankfully I had my Holiday Capri’s that matched my WonderGirl tank.  No going out looking like a 5 year old dressed me (like I did in DC when I had to account for colder temps and wear whatever I had in my overnight bag).  I was actually going to MATCH today!

I thought I gave myself enough time to get to the Fargodome in time to catch the Half Fanatics/Marathon Maniacs group photo as well as the 50 State Half Marathon Club, but between traffic and having to walk from a nearby parking lot, I missed the photos.  I still was able to find them and chat with a few people before hand and start to mentally get myself ready for today’s adventure.

Having the start line inside the FargoDome was awesome!!  There was no need to wait in the cold wind and there were real bathrooms!  Unfortunately, this also can work against you!  Since you was not outside, you are not acclimating yourself to the weather.  Because of my chilly, windy walk from the car, I opted to wear my sweatshirt instead of putting it in my gear check back when I dropped it off in the Dome.

To keep things organized on the course, the Full Marathon starts about 15 minutes before the Half.  It was cool to be able to see the marathoners start and then walk about 50 feet to head to the start line myself.   As I mentioned, having the start line in the dome was nice from a pre-race, stay warm standpoint, but as soon as we started and came out of the tunnel, the wind hit my like a brick!  WOW  All I could think was that this was going to be an interesting 13.1 miles.

Since I was able to avoid the cold while waiting, as soon as I was out in the cold, my bladder woke up.  Yup. I was one of those runners that made a pit stop at the port-a-potties on the front side of the dome – a mere .2 miles into the race!  But it was fate that I stopped there, because as I was coming out and rejoining the runners, I ran into a fellow Skirt Sports Ambassador!  Well, in reality, I saw her carpi’s and yelled out “Hey Nice Capri’s!”  When she turned my way, I noticed the Ambassador visor!  Love finding Skirt Sisters when I travel!!  We made quick introductions, grabbed a pic and then I headed off.  I’m not ashamed to admit… 5 minutes after I started running, I couldn’t remember her name, so had to ask on the SS Facebook page who she was!  Thankfully Karla (and my other Skirt Sisters) understand the concept of not being able to think and run at the same time, let alone REMEMBER things that are said while running!

I knew that this was not going to be anywhere close to a PR race.  It wasn’t going to be fast at all.  After working the expo and being on my feet for 2 days, this was another “go out and just have fun” races.  I knew that was all my body had available for me!  I headed off with a smile on my face and a spring in my step!

This race, I definitely experienced a first.  After 34 half marathons, I can say that this was the first time I ran with a squirrel!

Yes, you read that right… running with a squirrel!

Apparently he’s about as good at Fantasy Football as me!  As a result, he had to run the half marathon dressed like a squirrel!  Seeing that and running with him for about a half mile made me realize that this was going to be another race to remember.

The course takes you through some amazing historic neighborhoods before meandering through downtown Fargo.  Remember that wind that I mentioned before?  Yeah, it was relentless.  When I hit about mile 3, I took my sweatshirt off and tied it around my waist.  I think I thought about putting it back on at least once every mile.  The wind would pick up, I’d get cold, debate putting the sweatshirt on and then the wind would quit and it would get warm.  Needless to say, I never put my sweatshirt back on!

I spent the next 13 miles  chatting with other Half Fanatics and 50 Staters, checking out the areas around Fargo.  We chatted about what races we did in different states, what challenges we were working on now and who knows what else!

One thing that was a change for me with this race, especially after the last few halfs that I ran… there were no hills!  It’s North Dakota… they don’t believe in hills!  The extent of the hills that we had to run was over bridges, underpasses and then a few small ones through the parks!  I think my watch had me at a total of 10 flights of stairs when I finished – and 2 of those were from when I was still at the hotel before the race!  No where close to the 60-80 flights I climbed in TN and KY last month!

As you all know, I rarely buy race pictures.  Not because I don’t like them, but because I don’t want to pay the crazy prices that many of the race photo companies are charging today.  If I bought ALL of the race pics that I actually liked, I’d probably end up spending just as much on pictures as I do on races (and that can’t happen!) The Fargo Marathon, once again, showed me that they care about their runners!  No, not free race pics, but pics that are priced reasonably so the I don’t feel like I am being robbed blind for wanting to purchase them!  For what some companies charge for 1 photo, I was able to download ALL of my photos’ from the race, as well as a video of my start and finish of the race! The post race party in the FargoDome, again had something for everyone!  Aside from the usual post race food, there was also pizza and chocolate chip cookie dough, as well as water and beer.  I grabbed a chocolate milk, some cookie dough and a water and wandered around the arena for a while.  Have the kids along?  Several inflatables were set up for those tiny humans to work off some energy!  I found more Half Fanatics and 50 Staters to chat with, picked up my bag from gear check and headed outside.  I stopped to watch a few more finishers coming through before heading to my car and timed it right to catch Karla heading into the stadium to finish her 13.1 miles.  I would have loved to head back into the stadium to find her after she finished, but I needed to find a shower and lunch before hitting the road back to Green Bay.

Post race reflections:
Overall, this was a fun race that I am glad that I had the chance to run!  As I said before, Fargo goes out of it’s way to take care of it’s runners with great race swag, a fun expo with plenty of shopping options,  fabulous course support and well stocked aid stations.  

When you hit the road for (what normally should be) a 7.5ish hour drive, be prepared to stop often to both stretch the legs and use the bathroom (that hydrating after the race can catch up to you quickly!).  As I drove from Fargo, I stopped at almost EVERY rest area along the highway and even hit a few gas stations.  Each time I stopped, I ran into other runners who were either wearing the race sweatshirt, or walking like they just finished running.  Apparently we ALL had the same idea and needed to get out of the car to stretch our legs!

Half Marathon #35
State #12 (+1)
Quest for Venus 5 of 13

Next stop:  Maritime Half Marathon, Manitowoc WI

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