A Surprisingly Good Time
May 9, 2015 – Fargo 1/2-Marathon, Fargo, ND
What can be said about this year’s Fargo 1/2-Marathon? IT WAS COLD!
I followed the weather forecast for the whole week leading up to the event, and the forecasted high seemed to drop with every day we got closer to May 9. I got ready by cutting off the ends on some tube-socks to wear as arm warmers, and cutting a thumb-hole in another pair to wear as mittens. (This way I wouldn’t mind leaving them behind at a water station should I get too warm.) But, T-shirt? No T-shirt? T-shirt? No T-shirt? I could not make up my mind.
I still was undecided the morning of the race. I put on one set of clothing in the morning, but changed my mind again after the warm up and with only about 1/2 hour to go before the start. In the end I started the race wearing both pairs of tube socks but no T-shirt, just a tank top.
Race day temps were in the lower 30s (single digits above 0°C for my German friends), but with the wind factored in, the wind chill was in the 20s (single digits below 0°C). Luckily the start was inside the Fargo Dome this year, so we did not have to stand in the freezing cold in our running apparel while listening to the Canadian, and US national anthem.
I had lined up with the 1:40 pacer, Ed, planning to stick with him for the first 2 miles, check how the pace felt and then steadily increase my pace from there. Unfortunately, Ed went out way too slow, it did not help that the course funneled us onto a rather narrow road during the first mile. This slowed everybody down and made it really difficult to pass slower runners. So, I decided to separate myself from the pacer group already after the first mile and earlier than originally planned.
At the first water station, I realized that I had problems grabbing the water cups with my tube sock mittens. I decided to take off the left mitten, since during running my mild case of Raynaud’s phenomenon tends to affect my right hand but not my left hand. However, grabbing the cups and drinking using the left hand was somewhat awkward, and quite a bit of water ended up on my tank top – not too comfortable at these cold temperatures.
Overall, the race went surprisingly well. I say surprisingly, because with the hectic of finals week at Bemidji State in the week leading up to the race, I did not feel mentally prepared for it. And the Stride Into Spring 10K just three weeks earlier did not have a very promising result. But this time, I could hold a very solid pace between 7:25 and 7:30, with a few faster miles around 7:18. I actually ended up averaging the same pace for the first 6 and the final 7 miles.
For the last several miles 10K and 1/2-Marathon runners had the same course. They kept us on separate sides of the road for most of this parallel course, but suddenly about 1/2 mile before the finish line, after a 90° turn, we were all mixed together. I initially thought I had taken the wrong turn as I only seemed to see the blue 10K bibs around me. But no, there were some sporadic red 1/2-Marathon bibs weaving through the 10K runners like me. The 10K runners had started a half hour after the 1/2-Marathon runners, so my the time I returned to the Fargo Dome the 1+ hour 10K runners also returned. I felt like I was running a slalom race around the slower 10K runners.
Note to the race director: 7:30 pace 1/2-Marathon runners and 10:30 pace 10K runners do not mix very well!
I ended up with very stiff and cold fingers, a very satisfactory 1:38:08 time, and a 3rd place age group finish (just 5 sec out of place two, arrrg). I had missed my personal best, which I had established last year by way better conditions by a little bit more than one minute, not bad!
But no time to rest on my laurels, finals and semester projects were waiting to be graded!!!