2014 Fargo Half Marathon

Fargo, ND, May 10, 2014

Reports by Matt Backmann [click here] and Brandi Backmann [click here].

Fargo Half-Marathon race report

(by Matt Backmann)

So I skipped doing a race report for the Stride into Spring up in Bemidji a few weeks ago. Figured it was going to be more of a training day in execution and I didn’t go into it with the belief that it was a race. The intent of Stride into Spring was to run it at my half-marathon pace of around 7:05 – 7:15. That changed when I latched on to David Lewis and ran the first two miles at 6:35-6:40 pace. I did back off to my desires pace of 7:05-7:15 for the last 4 miles so it was a good day overall.

Friday night –
This was one of those rare instances where Brandi Griess Backmann was also racing the next day. The fun in that is there are two of us inwardly focused. Through our focus toward making certain all the training and physical prep was right we both failed to assess the Gu and energy gel situation. A quick run to Northern Cycle after work to get a handful of Gu’s turned into a $80 visit to get parts for my commuter bike. Oh well, impulse buying bike parts can’t be a bad thing, can it?

For dinner we had my quickly becoming traditional salmon with rice the night before. I love salmon with fennel and rice. Low bulk, very easy on the stomach, and all the good things that I need for the next day. I got my bag somewhat packed but there just wasn’t the same frantic behavior as would normally accompany the night before a triathlon. After all the race prep was done I retreated to the living room to watch a little Blackhawks vs Wild. Fortunately, I got a little disgusted at the Hawks when they gave up a goal so I went to bed at a decent time.

Saturday morning –
I love sleeping in my own bed, but there seems to be a cut off somewhere as to when it is best to get a hotel room and when it is ok to wake up a bit early and drive over. It seems 1.5 hours of driving is ok… Pretty sure 3+ hours is not ok. Got up around 4:30, had some granola and almond milk, finished up last minute preparations, and got dressed in what I planned to wear for the race. My wonderful Headwaters Tri Club shorts and my new favorite lime green running shirt.

I knew it was going to be cool this morning so I planned on leaving my jacket and track pants in the drop bag. It is really a nice feature of the Fargo marathon/half-marathon, they give you a bag and a number to put on it and that is given to the UPS volunteers for safekeeping. I logistics!

David Lewis and Nancy ended up parking in the same lot as us and we walked over to the athlete’s village for the half. We milled around there for a while before moving up toward the bridge for the start. Waiting for the start, after losing my warm clothes to the UPS volunteers was the longest 45 minutes of the day. 40°, a little sun, and a bunch on wind sucked the warmth right out of me. However, after we met up with Craig Peterson, Lisa Barnhill Peterson, and Christel Kippenhan before the bridge we settled into the mass of humanity on the bridge and found a little warmth.

8:00 the race started! And quickly I realized that even though I was in the 1:30-1:45 time area on the bridge, I had some work to do to maneuver through people that had no intention of running 1:30-1:45. Lost 20 seconds the first mile by dancing around feet. Luckily, I did not hip check anyone into the boards, so no two minutes in the penalty box for me.

Miles 2-7 were kinda routine. Heart rate was in check, breathing was good, I was a bit distracted by the noise some of the other runners were making. It sounded like a 5k race. I told myself to keep it in control and not worry about what others were doing or if I was pushing enough. This wasn’t my first go at this distance and I wasn’t going to fall into a trap of going out to hard. The first four miles were 7:20, 7:05, 7:11, 7:09. I had my first Gu at the four mile mark and followed with enough water to get it down.

I was kinda in the same group of people all day. Just enough people to keep it interesting but definitely less people that last year but not bad overall. The main thing going through the next four miles was to keep everything in control. I loved seeing all the support on the course and have learned, through prior races, that this middle sector can be the most mentally taxing. Ran 7:15, 7:17, 7:20, & 7:23 with another gel at mile 8 marker. I had some people surge to pass me through this sector but let them go only to find them blowing up 1/2 mile down the road. I also say Brandi through this sector at the underpass of 94. It was good to see her in good spirits.

I kept plugging away until we crossed into Moorhead where I saw Matthew Dickinson from the LAMS crew. It was awesome to get some personalized support. My favorite two moments came in the last 5 miles. One was running through the college, Concordia?, and the second was rounding the corner around mile 11 where Chelsea Dagger was playing over the speakers. Go Hawks! That gave me a mental boost to carry me through to the finish. Mile times were 7:22, 7:23, 7:30 & 7:30.

Talked myself into one last push the last 1.1 miles. I saw a couple people up the road and set my sights on them. Mile 12-13 was a 7:16 pace as I felt the finish coming and felt confident to catch the three in front of me. Got two of the three and the third, well… That is another story.

Crossed the line at 1:35:23, 6 seconds slower than last year on arguably a tougher course. Although I measured it .05 short; however, GPS and several underpasses can mess with the watch.

I saw pleased with the effort, pace, and control I had throughout the morning. I met up with David at the finish area, grabbed my bag and waited for Brandi and Nancy to get to the finish.

Is it normal to do a 52 mile bike ride as a recovery the day after a race? Well, I did and it proves to me that my run fitness is pretty good. I look forward to Liberty Half-iron and seeing what I can do there.

Thanks all for reading!


Fargo 1/2 Marathon Race report

(by Brandi Backmann)

Caution it is a little long.

How Never, turned into Maybe, turned into Training, turned into FINISHED!

A year ago if you would have asked me if I would ever do a half marathon, I would have looked at you, laughed, and said NEVER! If you would have asked me that same question in October of last year after watching the Blue Ox in Bemidji, I would have said, maybe, but not anytime soon. I was planning on running the 10K at Fargo this spring, but sometime between October and December my mind decided that I really could attempt the ½ marathon instead. I have never been a fan of running so this was way out of my comfort zone.

Once I decided that I wanted to do the half marathon I started to research training plans. I didn’t want a quick 10 or 12 week plan, but something a little longer that gradually built up the mileage while allowing for “rest” weeks. I finally found two different 16 week plans that each had aspects that I liked and I mushed them together to create my own 20 week plan. This also allowed me to continue to walk, bike, and swim one day a week. The gradual approach worked really well for me and I didn’t feel rushed.

The first 3 weeks of the plan focused on getting back into running 3 days a week and walking 1 day as I hadn’t done any real training since September. I think the first few days of run 2 minutes, walk 30 seconds, were harder than the long runs at the end!!

I did my final long run the weekend before Stride into Spring. It was hard, and I learned an important lesson on nutrition. One gel at mile 6 was not enough or you will BONK at mile 9!!!

I used the Stride into Spring 10K as a training day. It was good run for me and went better than planned! I even played sweeper to make sure everyone made it off the course safely I also used this race to set a goal time of 2:35:00.

Race week: The week was filled with work and after school activities for the kids, which didn’t leave much time to dwell on the race. So much so, that after swimming on Thursday, Matt and I realized that we were short on gels. A trip to Northern Cycle after work on Friday solved that issue! Thursday night after swimming was pancakes, and Friday was Salmon with carmellized fennel and rice. We decided that we would rather sleep in our own bed and wake up early to make the 1 1/2 drive than try and find a hotel room. (Thank you Nancy for picking up our race stuff for us!!) I spent the evening packing my race bag and my after race bag before going to bed at 9:00.

Race morning: Woke up and had a small bowl of granola and almond milk, and took a banana with to have on the ride over. 5:00 and we are off. We had picked out a parking lot the night before and as we were pulling in we saw the Lewis’s. This was a good thing as Matt and David could do their thing, while Nancy and I did ours.

We walked to the athlete village, stood in the huge line for the porta-potties, and then made our way toward the bag drop area. After dropping our bags we found fellow Headwaters Tri runners, and then tried to stay warm on the walk to the bridge. Nancy and I positioned ourselves close to the 2:30 pace group. The atmosphere on the bridge was amazing!!

And then the crowd started move and we were making our way to the starting line! WOW!!! This was really happening! My plan was to have a gel at mile 3, 7, and 10, and walk the aid stations for water. I was hoping to have an 11:15 pace but would be happy with anything better than 11:30. My fastest mile was 10:56, my slowest was 11:44 at mile 11, but I averaged 11:09 for the race. Finish time was 2:25:56!

I felt really good throughout most of the race. I saw Matt as at the underpass for I-94 and was able to give him a high five. The last 4 miles were the most difficult, but I just kept running, knowing that I was going to finish! It was very encouraging to have such wonderful crowd support throughout the entire race. I found myself not worrying so much about how I was doing, and more focused on the creative signs!

Rounding the last corner and seeing the finish line was amazing!! Crossing the finish line was awesome!! I still can’t process that I did a half marathon! Me! The person who doesn’t like to run and isn’t very fast!! I made my way through the finisher chute and found Matt after about 10-15 minutes. He saw me finish, but finding anyone in the crowd afterwards was tricky! I felt good about the race and how I did, and since it is 3 days after the race, and I am allowed to make race decisions again. I can say, Yes, I will do another half marathon race, and I will be faster!


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