Pre & Post-race and ATMs installed in horse trailers – SAY WHAT?!?!

I apologize, my friends. I promised this pre and post-race blog several days ago. You have to forgive me. I went back to work this week and my mom is coming to visit up from FL next weekend, so any spare time I have has been devoted to totally deep-cleaning my entire house. It has been NUTS around here.

If you haven’t seen my race recap of my the Fargo Half Marathon (my first ever), you should probably read this post here. But I wanted to quickly touch on the other fun things we did while in Fargo. I got to meet up with internet strangers and blogger friends I’ve been online stalking for a year and a half, there was a post-race concert at the fairgrounds, fabulous post-race food devoured, etc etc.

Let’s get on with it, shall we?

Let’s start with some things about this race week that you DIDN’T know. There were a couple of factors that week that I chose not to really “voice” very loudly for fear that I would focus on the negative too much and create too much pressure on myself for this race; more than was already there.

Monday of that week, I woke up with body aches and a head FULL of green snot (sorry TMI) and my ears were popping and painful. I was working on a nasty sinus infection. I spent all of Monday doped up on cold meds, mucinex, drank almost a gallon of water, and spent hours with a neti pot. By Tuesday I was feeling much better and seemed to have avoided a near-catastrophe.

That was until Wednesday morning. I had to work a 12-hour shift at the hospital and got my first 4 hours in before it hit me; the full-on stomach flu. I felt perfectly fine the entire morning until out of nowhere I had severe abdominal pain and I just got up and ran to the bathroom and was sick. I have never ever ever had a stomach bug come on so quickly like that. I was literally in the middle of a conversation with a co-worker when I just ran away from her to the bathroom. I was sent home around noon that day and had to stop twice along my drive home at fast-food restaurants. I spent the rest of the day on the couch in and out of sleep and in the bathroom multiple times. 3 days out from my first half and I’m puking. “Awesome.” I got notice later that evening that the girl who replaced me at work that afternoon was also sent home sick.

Thursday came and I planned to take the day off of work months in advance, so I was thankful for the extra rest day. I took my time just getting some final things in order, I did a short work out (felt like DEATH), and continued to not freak out over this stomach thing. Thankfully I think it was just 24-hours as my stomach wasn’t nearly as bad, but I was majorly weak from the events from the day before.

Friday morning I got up at 5:30 and was out the door by 6 to do my traditional pre-race 2-mile shake out run. Thankfully I was feeling pretty good by Friday morning and was able to get it in no problem. By 10AM (and a quick stop to Target to pick up my whole wheat bagels I was spazzing about), we were  officially on the road for the 4-hour drive up north to Fargo!

You know what’s not fun? Continually finding yourself stuck behind THIS GUY on Interstate 94…

We made a bathroom stop somewhere about 2 hours in and there were tons of runners standing in line; all of us on our way to Fargo. Seeing others started to really get me pumped up!

We decided Subway sandwiches were going to be for lunch, so we made another stop in Alexandria and I got a good phone chat in with my running coach, Speedy Sasquatch, to set up the pre-race and race-day plan I was to follow. Always great to get a good talk in with my coach. I felt good about the plan and just a bit more calm.

After lunch we were back on the road for our final 1+ hour of travel. Lemme just say the road to Fargo is SOOOOOOO boring. I’ve taken many road trips in my day, but this was out of control. There was nothing to see but this. Not even a single cow for 4 hours.

We FINALLY made it to Fargo and to our hotel, the AmericInn. This room was NICE. The staff was super friendly, they had signs up for Marathon weekend welcoming runners, and they started the continental breakfast at 4AM on race day for all the runners! How nice is that? I really liked our room. Bed was comfy, it was very clean. The WIFI was fab and it was insanely quiet. I plan on staying here every year we go run Fargo if possible.

We wanted to get to packet pick-up as soon as possible to ensure I’d have enough time to get in a proper dinner and some time to wind down before attempting sleep. We headed over to the FargoDome to get our Expo on.

The expo and marathon weekend was put on by Scheel’s and co-sponsored by Under Armour and Swanson’s health products. There was lots of stuff to look at, but I wanted to get my bib first and foremost.

I’d never been in this line before!!! It felt so foreign and yet so exciting! I was standing in a Half Marathon packet line. How freaking crazy is that?

As soon as I turned around after getting my stuff, I saw the finish line for the first time; and I may or may not have started to totally cry. I’m kind of an emotional freak in case you haven’t figured that out yet. Look at all the medals! My life was going to change right there under that sign 15 hours later.

We walked around the expo for a bit and checked out some of their gear and info signs. I bought a Fargo Marathon grey hoodie and t-shirt combo at Scheel’s and picked up some more sport beans. While in line, I ran into my twitter friend, Dave and his wife and two daughters! It was so nice to see a familiar face and to meet the rest of his lovely family! Dave was planning on running the full marathon and informed me that he had a massive knee-pop during the TC 1 Mile race two days before, so was nervous about what was in store for Saturday morning. YIKES! I’m happy to report that he made it! You can read his race recap here.

My fellow blogger friend, Heidi, and I have been at several of the same races over the past year, but have never been able to ever connect before. Since she lives in Colorado now, and the chances of meeting as often are few and far between, we made sure to meet up FINALLY in Fargo. This girl is a ROCK STAR. Not only did she complete the 5K Friday night in 90+ degree heat with her mom, she pulled off a massive full marathon PR on Saturday by 48+ minutes!!! You can read her Fargo Marathon recap here!

After shooting out some texts, emails, and tweets, we met up at the expo prior to the 5K! I was also able to meet my new twitter friends, Amy (@AmyMarie58) and Jen (@merunningfree). Jen’s blog is AMAZING. You should read it from beginning to end. She is one inspiring chic who has lost 70+ pounds, gone from a total couch potato in September 2010 to DOMINATING the full marathon in Fargo. Absolutely astounding journey. You need to read it. AND follow both of those lovely ladies on twitter.

So we all got to chatting away about running, and the heat, and the races, and our goals, and etc etc. Some would think it would be totally awkward meeting “internet strangers” in real life, but I can honestly say that is just not the case; and it never has been for me. A lot of the time I feel I really know the people when I follow their day-to-day musings and read their blogs. I might know more about them than people in their routine life! I was happy to meet these fabulous chics!

Just to give you an idea of the on-course entertainment, these were the bands/djs helping us take our minds off the fact that what were doing on the course isn’t what most people on planet earth will ever attempt in their lifetime. This list does not include the tons of people in the Fargo community rocking out with their huge stereo systems on their front lawns.

We went outside to see the 5K start/finish and the heat was OPPRESSIVE. I had thought about doing the “Go Far” challenge and walking the 5K the night before so I could get that extra medal. Heidi and her mom did it and I heard it was a giant mess. The heat and humidity were out of control and the weather dudes on TV were saying Fargo was one of the hottest places in the country that day. I believe it.

They had the main band of the whole weekend, the Arch Allies, out playing on a stage at the 5K finish line.

The weather was so bad that despite the top two males and the top female finishers, the rest of the elite runners came WALKING into the finish shoot. I have never seen anything like it. It was kinda scary. I was counting my lucky stars that it was going to rain cats and dogs that night to cool the place down prior to the half and full marathon starts on Saturday.

While I was up in Fargo all weekend, my running bestie, L-Jo (as she has come to be known as on this blog) was texting with me back and forth. My dear friend, due to work and other commitments, was  not able to be there with me that weekend, but she definitely supported me 100% She has run several races with me now and she keeps me grounded. When I’m out there yelling things really mad-like or getting super nasty in my head about how “slow” I’m running or how “crappy I feel,” she puts me in my place like any good friend would. I was happy to get this text from her. She was right. I “heard her” a lot during those 13.1 miles the next day.

The hubs and I headed over to Noodles & Co. for my traditional pre-race dinner of their Whole Grain Tuscan Linguine with Grilled Chicken. I had made sure we called our order in before leaving the FargoDome as I just had a bad feeling the place was going to be packed. It was. The line was out the door. Thanks to our thinking ahead, the hubby went straight to the front of the line and we were on our way back to our hotel with pasta goodness in 3 minutes.

Obviously we didn’t eat at Green Mill, but the idea of carb-loading was clearly on the entire community of Fargo’s minds as well…

And this brings me to the end of Friday night. I got to bed around 10PM and laid there all night listening to the thunderstorms.

Then the race happened. You’ve already read about that…

Saturday, after going back to the hotel for a solid session with my foam roller and a hot shower, we headed over to the local mall to get some much-needed food. We ended up at Grizzly’s restaurant and devoured some of the cheesiest cheese curds I have ever had in my life. Nothing tasted better than that big pile of cheese and grease right there. Not gonna lie.

I decided I wanted nothing more than a really big cobb salad (my favorite) and made sure they had one on their menu for me to chomp on. SO GOOD!

We walked the mall for a bit just to keep my legs moving and I called L-Jo to give her the entire scoop from start to finish on the race. I was starting to feel kinda pooped, and I knew we still had the post-race party at the fairgrounds that night, so we headed back to the hotel to rest.

Yes, that is me in my Fargo Half Marathon race swag tee and my medal around my neck. Don’t judge. The idea of strangling myself in my sleep with my medal didn’t even phase me.

That night we headed over to the local fairgrounds to take in the Arch Allies again in concert and check out the scene. Unfortunately there wasn’t much of a “scene” to be had. I kinda felt out of my element. While the band was fun, the crowd there had just run some pretty hard races and I just am not sure the runners really knew how to let loose or really wanted to at that point. I was pretty pumped to dance around to a Bon Jovi song once, but then lost some serious energy after that.

Check out the dude’s ponytail.

Here’s what happens when you’re wiped out post-race…you go tweet your friends at a picnic table out back.

While I thought the Arch Allies were good, I think the whole party scene would have been more fun if I’d had a group of fellow runner friends there.

We decided to head on out and take in some of downtown Fargo by ourselves and get some more relaxation in. But I couldn’t pass this gem in the parking lot of the fairgrounds and not take a pic of it for ya’ll.

Yes, that is a HORSE TRAILER turned into an ATM.

I hit the sack kinda early that night as I was POOPED and knew we had a long drive home the next morning.

Sunday morning I was filled with enormous sadness. I literally wanted to savor every second of that weekend and I knew it was quickly all coming to an end. We decided we needed a nice big breakfast prior to leaving, so we headed over to the Fry’n Pan Family Diner that had rave reviews all over the internet. GREAT place. I may have had one of the spiciest omelets of my life, however, but I definitely had the best bran muffin ever as well. So good! This is definitely going to become tradition as well.

We were home by around 12:30 that afternoon and I was overwhelmed. The weekend I had worked SO hard to get to was officially over. I was finally a Half Marathoner after 18 months of blood, sweat, and tears and two failed prior attempts (3rd time is the charm, eh?).

I don’t think there will ever be a way for me to put into words what this whole experience meant to me. All I can tell you is that Fargo Marathon weekend is already etched in STONE on my 2013 calendar. I will be back!

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