Here is the short and long of it all.
Summary (for those of you that don't care about the technical stuff)
Starting weather: pleasantly cool with a light rain (perfect)
Finishing weather: warm, sunny, and strong gusting winds (not perfect)
Goal time: 3:50
Actual finish time : 3:55:43
Overall place: 308 / 1878
Gender place: 471 / 1124
Age group place: 89 / 182
My goal for this race was to finish in 3 hours 50 minutes. After mile 22 I "hit the wall". My quads started to ache, my calves were cramping, and my right knee had a little bit of a twinge. At this point I believe all but the knee can be attributed to not taking in enough sodium. The knee I blame on not doing enough running specific strength training.
Overall, I felt great throughout the run until after mile 22, then it felt like the longest 4.2 miles of my life.
A marathon is such an interesting beast. You train 18-20 weeks for (in this case) 4 hours of running. Certainly there is much more to it than that, there are many mental and physical challenges along the journey. But the rewards are well worth it as well as the camaraderie of other marathoners.
Now for the good stuff!
I really feel like I learned some good information from my first marathon, and I am almost certain that # 3 will be even better. Here is what I have learned, the mistakes I made, and where things went well.
Before I talk about the actual marathon and training details I have to give a plug to the great DailyMile people that were at Fargo, I know there were more, but these are the ones I know and had contact with.
Jenn - I have spent many hours running with Jenn here in Sioux Falls. She has dramatically improved her running skills within the last year and will continue to grow. She's a great friend, keep your eye on her training, she will likely be qualifying for Boston this fall in Chicago.
Jenessa - This was Jenessa's first marathon. I had the great opportunity of first meeting her in St. Cloud for the Earth Day run where she PR'd her half marathon. She finished strong in Fargo and will also only get better. Way to go Jenessa!
Rob (aka Rob the Runner) - If your are on DailyMile you have got to check out his mileage. Rob is such a great spirit and inspiration on DM. In celebration of running Fargo, Rob was sporting the "mara-hawk" hairdo, check it out!
Emily A. - What a sweetheart! Emily and I had the same race goal and I had the pleasure of running with her for almost the first half of the race. She wasn't feeling it and eased off of the pace after awhile but she still had strong performance for the day.
When I first started training for Fargo, my intention was to use Higdon's Intermediate II plan. I quickly figured out that this plan was a little too aggressive for me and backed down the the Intermediate I plan. Not a huge difference but it did not have the 50 mile weeks. My running is a great mental release for me and I found myself overtraining and becoming injured three different times throughout my training. Between a hamstring problem, a knee problem, and tendonitis I guess that I am lucky to have even completed this marathon let alone PR it.
I am my worst enemy with my training and created my problems by not allowing my body proper rest among other things. I am going to use a well respected coach this time and see if I can have a more successful training period.
A lot of equipment for such a minimalist sport!
Fuel and Nutrition
During the Twin Cities marathon in October I made the mistake of not taking my gels or drinking enough water because I didn't feel like I needed it. At that time I was also hung up on using one type of gel, which was the orange GU with caffeine (another mistake). This time, after some experimentation, I switched to the Hammer Gels. So far I love them. They are the best tasting and easiest to consume gels that I have tried. What seems to work for me is to consume one gel every 4 miles (or about every 35 minutes). I also drank water at every water stop to keep hydrated and help break down the gels. The one thing that I will change on my next marathon is to take in some electrolytes. Once again Hammer Nutrition offers Endurolytes, an electrolyte replacement. I actually purchased these before Fargo, but had not trained with them and was not comfortable using them. Side note: For the second time, I also consumed a 5 hour energy drink moments before the start of the race. Does it help? I like to think so, but it's difficult to say for sure at this point.
Really nothing we can do about the weather. It's always the luck of the draw. Spring marathons are tough because you train through the snow and cold of winter, the nice cool spring days and then you hope it stays cool for your race. Leading up to Fargo it looked like it was going to be much warmer than what I had been training in. Luckily we caught a break on race day and had cool temps with a light rain, at least for the first hour. The clouds stayed out for the next couple of hours, then the last hour the sun and the wind showed up to add an extra challenge. I am glad that I was able to get a couple of warmer weather runs in pre-marathon so that I was somewhat acclimated to it.
The race actually finishes inside of the Fargodome, it's a great experience!
My game plan was to stick with the 3:50 pacer up until mile 23, then if I had anything left in the tank to give it some gas and finish strong. Throughout the race we were right on pace, even a minute or so ahead of goal pace at around mile 14. I kept falling behind the group at the water stops until somewhere around mile 16 when I actually found myself ahead of the pacer. This was not intentional but I went with it and did a decent job of maintaining about an 8:45 pace, at least until I finished mile 22. The pace group caught and passed me right after the mile 23 marker and I just didn't have it in me to keep up. My quads were aching and the last two miles my right calf started to badly cramp. I had to walk it off, I was afraid that if I kept running while it was cramping that it would get so bad that I might not be able to finish. I did a combination of running and walking to the finish. That last mile seemed like the longest mile ever.
In reflection, with better training and continuing to dial in my nutrition, I can realistically see taking another ten minutes off my PR for the Mankato marathon.
After the marathon with my running buddy Jenn.
The Technical Stuff
I have to say that I am very happy with my splits, they were pretty consistent until the bonk at 23.
Looking at my heart rate, it took a pretty good jump about 1:45 into the race and continued a steady climb afterwards. This is where I believe that electrolyte replacement would have greatly helped.
Lots of details, but to me that's part of the fun. Knowing that there is room for improvement is a great motivator!