Now that the Fargo Marathon 2009 is over, I wanted to share a little bit about the race.
I guess I should start with the only negative experience that I had with the race. When we got to the expo at the Fargo Dome, they were in the midst of running all of the kids' races. Unfortunately, this really ruined the expo experience for us. It was congested, little kids were running around everywhere, annoying announcers were screaming into the PA system. I usually love milling around the expo, checking out all of the booths and shopping. It was all we could do to get our packets, buy a sweatshirt and get out of there. If we do this race again, we will check when the kids' races are running and avoid them at all costs.
Now, on to the good stuff!
Above is the beautiful poster for this year's event. The same artwork is on the medal and the back of the race t-shirt. It really is a lovely piece of art that depicts one of the main streets on the course. I love both the shirt and medal and have given the shirt Favorite T-shirt Status.
Because of the flooding, the race was changed to a two loop course. The course could not have been flatter, which was wonderful. Last year, the course was packed with spectators the entire way. Given the weather conditions, it was good that they were only spread out over half the distance this year. I think some of the course would have been lonely if it had been one loop. The spectators were wonderful and supportive. The marathon was also a celebration of their victory over the flooding, and it was wonderful to see them smile and party.
I heard some other runners mention congestion during the first mile or so of the race. I started back with the 4:30 pace group, and this is the first race that I did not have that problem. It could be that the pacer with the balloons was effectively a breaker for the rest of the group. I also noticed a lot less pushing at the start. I think racers are getting smarter, knowing that if they hurry over the mats that they will just end up walking after their time has started. This year, we walked pretty slowly up to the start and only started running right before the mats. No problems with congestion for me this year.
There were plenty of hydration stations on the course. All of them had water and Powerade. There was a GU handout station, so we hit that twice. Lots of bathroom opportunities. There were also lots of medical personnel on bikes checking in with the runners. This marathon had excellent race course support and I can't say enough good things about it.
Finally, I am so glad that I ran with a pace group. I wish I had done this in earlier races. While I did chat with a few other people in the group, I really didn't socialize a whole lot. There were a few people that ran and talked with the pacer the whole way. They did not seem to be working hard at all and looked like they were just out for a fun, casual run. If you are looking to socialize during a race, the pace group would be a good way to go. There were plenty of us, though, that were just busy doing our thing and that was fine.
The pacer walked through all of the water stops. I really can't run and drink at the same time, so I was relieved when I saw that this was his strategy. Towards the end of the race, I tend to walk to much and procrastinate getting going again. Having to keep up with the pacer kept me moving.
The best thing was that following the pacer meant I could mentally relax through the first 20 miles. I didn't have to look at my Garmin and constantly adjust my pace. Since I wasn't looking at my watch, I didn't look at my heart rate and worry if it was too high. I just watched the guy with the balloons and kept up. The next half-marathon or longer race that I run, I will use a pace group again.
Fargo is in the books! I'm feeling good and recovering well. I've been in the pool and on the spin bike a couple times this week. Most importantly, I've taken a nice, long nap each day. My first run will be an easy 3-4 miler on Friday. I'm going to be interested to see how my legs feel. I'm excited about getting ready for my first triathlon. It's only 3 weeks away. Nothing like a little pressure!