Sunday, May 22, 2011

My First Marathon Finish

I once saw a comedian who was pretending to be a movie critic. He said of the movie, "I laughed, I cried, it became a part of me." That pretty well sums up my first marathon experience. I knew it was going to be a difficult endeavor, and it certainly met my expectations and then some. In fact, I think anyone who finishes one of these things deserves a medal (ha, I crack myself up). All-in-all it was a very positive experience (notice I didn't use words like fun or pleasant?). Here is the breakdown. I'll apologize here for what might be a fairly long post.

Lynette customized my shirt with a "slow moving Norwegian" sign

While I slept very well on Friday night, Lynette didn't sleep a wink. She changed her plans of going to the start with me and instead went to get some sleep so that she would be ready to cheer for me along the course. I got to the Fargodome early and sat around visiting with Rick, Kristy. Jon, Erin, and some of their friends and family. Rick and Kristy had parked their motor home there as a place to hang out. Thanks for the hospitality!!! When I got there Rick was out running the half-marathon route as a warm up for the big race. He got back in time to change into dry running clothes and eat a bagel. Then we were all off to the starting line.

The theme for this year's race was Fargo Rocks so what better way to start than with the national anthem played on an electric guitar. Now the race was on. The weather forecast had called for rain and potential thunderstorms for the day, but it just stayed overcast with maybe a couple of very light sprinkles. The humidity climbed as the day progressed, and this would have a big impact later on.

I ran with Erin, Kristy, Chris, and Maria for the first several miles. Pretty soon Kristy pulled ahead of us. She has such a smooth running style I forget that this is also her first marathon. Erin and I began to pull away from Chris and Maria. It was a good sign that everyone was running their own pace. We cruised through the miles enjoying the crowds of cheering spectators. In keeping with the Rockin' theme, there were DJ"s or live bands all along the course. There was everything from high school marching bands to heavy metal bands to square dancers. It was a riot! They really helped keep the spirits up.

Kristy (in blue) and Erin (in yellow) meeting up along the course.

Erin and I kept plugging away at a nice pace. She saw some friends and family at various points along the way. Lynette, her sister Lisa, and Aunt Judy were waiting at about mile twelve. What a morale booster! I knew that I would see them again soon. The turn around for the course was just ahead. The next time I saw them I ran over and gave Lynette a quick kiss. As I stepped away she yelled "Happy Birthday!" A young woman running behind me asked who's birthday it was. I told her it was mine and before I knew it everyone around me was singing "Happy Birthday" to me. Of course only Lynette, Lisa, Judy, and Erin knew my name so when it came to that part of the song I think they just sang "marathon runner" in place of my name. It was really great!

When Erin and I got to about mile seventeen or eighteen I felt myself starting to overheat. I looked at my heart rate monitor and noticed that my pulse was pretty fast for as slow as we were running. I decided to walk for a bit to slow it down. Erin stayed at the pace we had been running and kept it up all the way to the finish line. She really ran smart and had a fantastic race. I continued to take some walk breaks and got a little second wind around mile twenty. By mile twenty two the wheels had pretty much fallen off. All I could think about was cooling off. Just as I rounded the corner of Broadway heading north I spotted a woman holding a garden hose and she was spraying people with cold water. I don't know who she was, but I couldn't thank her enough. I stood under the spray for about a minute. I was completely soaked and refreshed. Sadly, that didn't last long.

I finished the last four miles sort of hobbling along. At last the Fargodome was in sight. My pace quickened (from a snail's pace to that of a speedy turtle). I crossed the finish line! Lynette and Lisa cheered me on as I crossed the finish line, and Jon and Erin, with their medals worn proudly around their necks greeted me with hugs and congratulations. We grabbed some food and some more blue Powerade (uck! I don't care if I ever drink that stuff again!) while we waited for Chris and Maria to come in. They appeared on the Jumbotron and Jon, Erin, and I met them at the finish line. All of us Back-of-the-Packers had finished the race!

From left to right: Chris, Maria, Me, Erin, Jon, Kristy, Rick

We went back to the motor home for some group pictures. Lynette and I headed home. I had an ice bath and compression socks waiting for me. While my finishing time was about a half hour slower than what I would have liked, I'm so happy to have finished. Up until yesterday, my black belt test was the most mentally challenging and physically grueling thing I had done. This marathon forced me to push through so much physical discomfort and self doubt. It showed me the depths of my constitution. I will always be grateful for being able to experience this.

Finally, I want to again say thanks to everyone for all of the support and encouragement. It has meant a lot to have so many people rooting for me.

Next week I am thinking of comparing all of the things I did right and all of the mistakes I made as I trained for the marathon. Have a fantastic week everyone!


  1. Great Job! Hope you had a great birthday!

  2. You did great Erik! I'm so proud of you! That humidity was tough to run in. With all your hard work and training, you became a marathoner! Amazing experience!