Fargo Marathon - May 19 2018
My name is Bernadine and this is my story about perseverance and strength to accomplish my marathon goal.
Many months and miles of training had got me to this point, I was ready for the Fargo Marathon. My goal for this race was to achieve a Boston qualifier. For my age that would mean a 3:40 or less.
I have been in the sport of triathlon for almost 10 years and running has always been my "weaker" of the three sports. So, this year I had a goal. If I could get that coveted BQ it would mean I was fast enough. It would mean that all these years of working on my run would be validated. Yes! It was time.
My husband and I made our way down to Fargo the day before to allow us some relaxation time. We toured the expo, saw friends and soaked in the excitement of the event.
Waking up on race day I was surprised at how well I slept, because I usually toss and turn all night.
However, the good feeling was gone when we looked at the forecast..... 5 degrees celsius, ok I can work with that....... 50km/hr north wind..... that’s not so good.
So what do you do? You adjust.
The race course was like a rectangle loop. The first 3 miles were going north into the wind before turning east and enjoying 17 miles of a tail wind before the dreaded 20 mile marker. Now, where most hit the wall not only did we have to contend with that challenge but also the last 6 miles were headed due north back into the wind.
At the start line I was fortunate to find a pace group whose goal was to come in at 3:35. This was the same goal pace I had trained for leaving me some wiggle room.
With the winds being so strong, group running is key! I hid at the back of the pack to have the best draft. Waiting at the start there were so many people, the energy was invigorating, everyone was jittery and excited to start. The speeches were said and anthems sang, then BANG! Off we go.
The number one mistake marathoners, triathletes, cyclists make when racing is going out to hard. You always feel so good after a taper and full of energy, its actually really hard to hold back. I promised myself I wasn’t going to make that mistake. So, I made sure to stay with the running group.
The first half of the race flew by, it was easy, my legs felt good, I was almost gitty. Passing the half way mark I was on track with a 1:47. Perfect.
But, at mile 16 I noticed a twinge. My IT band was tightening up. Crap, that’s not good. Ok let's adjust and I slowed down just a bit. Which meant I had to let the pace group go.
This was a hard decision especially with the last leg of the race into a head wind.
At mile 18 I found my leg tightening up a bit more and my mind was wandering to negative thinking. "Why am I here?" Or "This sucks" are my go to thoughts at low points. It seemed like forever to get to mile 20 where the power of spectators boosted my spirits.
With just 6 miles to go, that’s when the course turns north and straight into a 50km/hr head wind. Since the course runs through down town its wide open. At this point people are spread thin, so there's no one to draft behind.
It was insane, the wind was blowing you all over the road and I was slowing down.
My legs were starting to hurt and my muscles starting to cramp. Some of the small hills seemed like mountains with the full force of the wind baring down on you which made my pace slow even more.
With 3 miles left I was looking at my watch and doing the math to see if I would still make my goal time when it happened. The 3:40 pacer passed me.... NO! I didn’t have it in my legs to catch up.
At this point I had a conversation with myself. "Ok self, if you want that 3:40 you have got to move your ass! Get up, get moving!"
So, even though I couldn’t catch the pacer right away I kept her in my sight. I pushed my legs, I ebbed them on even though they were now screaming at me. I needed to catch her.
With a mile and a half left the pacer noticed I was catching up and she started screaming at me. "Get moving! Hurry up! Catch me! We are almost there!" She screamed.
I grit my teeth, ignored my legs and got my butt moving faster. Then, a little bit faster.
Before I knew it, I had caught and passed her. I was now making the final turns into the Fargo Dome. Ugh! Its finally going to be over I thought. One last sprint and I got this.
Coming down the finishing chute was painful, but the feeling of crossing the finish line and achieving my goal was elating!
My final time was 3:39:20. My husband was at the finish line waiting for me and when I hugged him I maybe cried a bit.
Finding that strength to dig deep is hard, pushing yourself to your limit takes effort but that's what makes our stories great and gives us the confidence to do it again.
You can follow Bernadine on Instagram here.
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