Saturday, September 19, 2015

August 22, 2015, Go Far Woman Half Marathon, State #24, Fargo, ND

Race morning came without incident, and luckily I got more sleep for this race than for the one in South Dakota. Not much more, but every little bit helps. I got myself together and brought all my breakfast stuff down to the lobby/restaurant area of the hotel. While I was having my breakfast, I met a woman who was also working on half marathons in all 50 states. We got to talking, and it turned out that she was from our neck of the woods...Massachusetts. Then I discovered that she was from my husband's hometown. She didn't grow up there, but instead in a nearby town...the town my father-in-law taught high school in. Lo and behold...she had my father-in-law as her chemistry teacher! We had a nice chat together about that time in her life and our running, and we ended up walking to the start of the race together.
The mood at the starting line was jovial, and all of the women were encouraging one another. It was a nice vibe, and the race director gave a very moving speech about the background of the race. The race was established to honor a woman who was a runner and doctor in the area who lost her life early. She was an ob/gyn in the area, and she was responsible for bringing hundreds of babies in to the world. She was a woman who loved life and loved her family. I felt privileged to be part of a race of all women running in her honor and to raise money for the local NICU department at the hospital where she worked. Next, an a-capella group sang the national anthem and then we were off!
National Anthem at starting line.
The weather was very humid and strong winds were definitely sweeping across the plains. It was only partly cloudy, but there was rain in the forecast for later in the day. I was hoping I would finish long before any rain showed up. As I mentioned in my last post, the area of Fargo where we were was so strange. New construction was everywhere, and the race circled through all these brand new neighborhoods filled with large, beautiful newly constructed homes. Many of them were occupied, but some neighborhoods were still under construction or had many homes available for purchase. All I could think was that it was like Wisteria Lane on steroids...for miles and miles around. It will be a gorgeous area when all is said and done. The neighborhoods are all linked with a walking path (largely what we ran on) dotted with playgrounds, ponds, even schools all built right in. I've never seen anything like it! I don't know where all these droves of people moving to Fargo are coming from, but I can tell you, there is plenty of real estate available.
The race was going well enough, I tried to stay with the 1:50 pace group as much as I could, and for the first 7 miles I was well in front of them, but the humidity and wind were taking a lot out of me, and the looping in and out of the neighborhoods made the race route seem tedious at times. But fans were friendly along the way, and I kept seeing these two women over and over again as I continued on the path. The person they were cheering for was somewhere behind me, so each time I passed them, and then their runner passed them, they'd hurry ahead to some other location further along the race, and I'd see them again. Eventually I started to joke with them that they should run the race next year because they were so fast. We had fun each time we saw each other, and those moments help a lot when you are hot and tired and losing steam.
By mile nine I was definitely feeling spent. I pushed on along the best I could, but running against the wind was exhausting, and there was a long stretch of straight-away sidewalk that required just that. We finally turned in to another neighborhood (with enormous houses in it!) which quieted the wind for a spell. The return trip back out on that straight sidewalk had the wind at my back, which was good, but then of course the humidity felt immense. As flat as Fargo was, it wasn't an easy race to run.
The last few miles for me were just about survival. The 1:50 group had long since passed me by, and I just wanted to finish in my overall "under 2 hours" range. Finally I could see the expo center where the finish line was, and I couldn't get there fast enough. It felt like I had sandbags tied to my legs, but I pressed on. I provided some words of encouragement to some of the walkers I passed as I made my way to the finish line. They were finishing the 5K and 10K races that they walked.
As I approached the finish line, I started looking for my fans. There they were off to the right hand side, my girls, my husband and my friends from home. I blew them all kisses as I crossed the finish line with an official time of 1:54:30 which I was really happy with. I thought I'd be much slower. Handsome firefighters were at the finish line handing out the medals. I collected mine and went to find my peeps. I ended up finishing 39th overall (out of 235) and 9th in my age group (out of 38). Happy to be finished I found my gang and told them all about it.
Hot & humid & crossing the finish.
As my family took some finish line photos for me, I spied my two fan friends who followed me all along the race. Of course, I went right over to them to thank them for their encouragement along the way and to tell them what great fans they were. We chatted for a bit and took a photo together as well. What a fun couple of gals!
Me and my new favorite fans.
I grabbed some water and a little bit of finish line chocolate milk for the girls and took a quick douse through the fire truck sprinkler that was running in the parking lot. That felt good after all that sweat! We walked back to the hotel, and I found out all about what the family was doing while I was running.
Finisher's medal, number & shirt.
I changed and took a rinsing shower and then treated myself to a soak in the hot tub while my girls swam one last time. After that, we said good-bye to our friends, as they were heading to a relative's cabin for the weekend, and we were heading back to Bismarck. As we were getting ready to leave, we bumped in to Sue from Massachusetts, so my husband got to meet her. We chatted for a few minutes and wished her a safe trip home. She was heading to the airport.
Sign at World's Largest Buffalo.
On our drive back to Bismarck, we stopped to visit the "World's Largest Buffalo" because when do you ever get that kind of opportunity?! 
World's Largest Buffalo, indeed!

Family selfie with giant buffalo.
We had a low key night in Bismarck and spent an extra day there before we headed back to the airport for our trip home. Mostly we just drove around exploring the area. Not much was open on Sunday, so we just went to the movies later in the afternoon. Monday we left for home.
What a wonderful trip we had! I don't know if we ever would have selected North and South Dakota as a vacation destination, but I'm sure glad we went there. You never know where running will take you!
North Dakota card.

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