Sunday, September 18, 2011

Bismarck Half Marathon (Race Recap)

Bismarck, ND
Saturday, September 17
Half Marathon #43
State #35
Weather - Chilly, Overcast, Windy

North Dakota is yet another state that doesn't have that many races. Since we were in China when the Fargo half marathon happened, the next biggest one, the Bismarck half marathon, became the obvious choice. L recently got a new job, and it just so happens that she is now working overnights... therefore, we had to wait until she was off work to head out. Which presented a tiny bit of a dilemma since packet pick up was over at 9:00 pm, and according to the Garmin, the drive was going to take 12 hours. With a loss of one hour with a time change... well, like usual, we were going to be cutting it CLOSE to get there in time.

L was still somewhat awake when she got home, so when we headed out at 7:05 (yes, I looked), she did the first leg of driving, until we got to Cheyenne, where we stopped for coffee. If you have never driven through Wyoming, it is NOT the most interesting place to drive through. It's boring. And once we had to get off I25 it was not only boring, but it was slow moving and on a two lane state highway. So also time consuming.

I was having a hard time staying awake, but of course that all changed when I entered the section in South Dakota of the Black Hills. Curvy, mountain roads! Definitely had to pay more attention... we stopped at Subway for lunch in Spearfish, and then the last leg of the SUPER LONG drive was about 150 miles (more or less), through North Dakota. We arrived in Bismarck with the gas tank nearly on empty, and got our bags with a little bit to spare. Pretty nice long sleeve tech tee AND a running hat. Nice for a $50 race! Phew. Always a relief to have a tiny bit of time to spare...

And then... off to our favorite place to carb load... I also had a salad, but forgot to take a picture (shame, shame):

Three Cheese Chicken Penne
Got dessert this time!
Headed to the hotel where L pretty much went right to bed. Can't blame her, she had been up practically forever. I walked to the gas station and got a beer. I stayed up about another 30 minutes watching Numbers on my phone, then took an Allegra, some NyQuil... no I don't have a drug problem. I've been suffering from a cold all week and the combination (yes, with a beer too), pretty much knocked me out. Lights out around 10:00, and for pretty much the first time EVER, I didn't wake up until my alarm went off. Just about the best pre-race sleep ever!

We got to sleep later than usual. Even though the race had a 7:30 start, we weren't that far away, and I really didn't think it would take long to get there. So we got up just before 6, planning to leave at 6:30. I stopped and grabbed a cup of coffee in the lobby on the way out. Directions from Garmin were a bit wonky, but like most races, we were able to follow traffic and get there in about ten minutes with no problems. It was CHILLY and WINDY and DREARY... but we both forgot our bags and tags, so no bag check. We parked only a block or two from the start line, and stayed in the car until about 20 minutes before the race started.

Heading to the start, we saw this SUV:

FYI. I knew for a FACT we had seen the vehicle before. In fact, I knew I had taken a picture of it. Not just because of the plate, but because they have race and running stickers ALL OVER their side windows too. In fact, this is a picture from the LAST time I saw this vehicle... at the Mississippi Blues race in January... yep, we're weird.

We walk over to the start, and I had L pose by this sign. Made by a company called "Awesome Signs" - and they are, aren't they?

So it's chilly, but not as bad as we thought. We lined up (optimistically) with the 2:10 sign. About 10 minutes until the race starts, and we are just chatting and standing around. I feel a string on my leg, only when I look to pull it off, it's really a daddy long legs. I scream. Loudly. The guys behind me find this hilarious. Meanwhile, I pretty much had a heart attack. Five minutes until the race starts.
L and Me - top is purple, lighting is bad
Start Line
We do the last ten seconds as a group countdown, then the air horn goes off, and off we go. The course starts in Cottonwood Park, and it's a whole series of back and forths. Path is paved, but not that wide, so there is some congestion. It is colder than I expected. Kinda wish I had worn sleeves or gloves. And it is only September...

L had not warned me in advance that she was going to run with me again, so it was a pleasant surprise when she didn't take off right away. I expected her to run ahead when the congestion cleared, but she never did. There wasn't really a clear map of the course with aid stations, it just said 10-13 along the course. Sounds good to me! There were a few sections upon leaving the park where the ponds had flooded part of the course. Still wide enough for 1-2 runners in most sections to not get shoes soaked, so that was no big deal. The aid stations were awesome. Just so there is no confusion, this was the BEST, out of EVERY race I have ever run in terms of adequate course support. Every single aid station had plenty of volunteers, water and Gatorade. And every single aid station also had port-o-potties. And not just one, there were at least FOUR at every.single.station.

The first stop was probably not even a mile in, and again, we didn't care. We stop and walk EVERY one, in EVERY race. My legs are TIRED. Not the normal left calf cramp I have been having the last few races, but super tight quads. I was already struggling, and it was still early. I also had to use the bathroom. Early. Thankfully, due to the BEST COURSE SUPPORT EVER, I only had to wait about a half mile until I found one. Somewhere around mile 3, L and I both stopped. We ran up the first hill, then turned the corner and headed toward the University of Mary. We could see the next hill... it looked MUCH steeper.

Mile 4-5 along a nice trail:

Mile 5-6? The huge ass hill. I haven't been walking hills lately. This one? I ran up about the first third and then said, screw it, I'm just going to walk. So did pretty much everyone else. Part of the way up the hill and we already see the front runners headed back. Man, they are FAST. I took this pic of a farm halfway up the hill:

L didn't walk up the hill at all - she is a badass, but she still waited for me at the top. By then, mile 6, we had arrived at the University of Mary, and while there were some pretty nice views from the top of that ginormous hill we had just run up, it was misting and I was suffering, and honestly didn't feel like taking any pictures.

Ran through campus, mile 7 was the National Guard aid station, and I also apparently forgot to hit the Garmin lap button... mile 8 was the best mile of the whole course because we got to run back DOWN that monster hill. I was finally feeling good! Still cold, still dreary. We get to the base of the hill, and the fastest marathon runner already heading back up the hill (they did the half course twice). CRAZY. I had a few "rabbits" in mind, and would have probably passed them all, but I stopped and used the bathroom a second time. I was feeling bad for L, so told her to run ahead, but she didn't :D

I was starting to get REALLY tired and weak (blame the cold I've had all weak?) but man, I needed those stops. We ran by the Bismarck airport (where??), down some random side streets, behind a neighborhood, and then came around the other side of the park. We had to run about another mile through the park and then headed toward the finisher area. For some reason the marathon and half marathon runners went one way, yet a handful of runners got routed on a different path. We never did figure out why. We had about .2 miles to the finish line and ONE rabbit still in front. L took off (see ya!) and my only goal was to pass the half naked couple (chick in a sports bra and shorts and dude with no shirt and shorts) that were running the marathon. I heard them announce L "...all the way from Colorado, and I love your skirt" and then about 15 seconds later I cross "Rebecca also from Colorado... they must dress each other, they are wearing the SAME.THING." Heh.

We got shoved to the side so the marathon runners can keep going, head to the food/water. Pretty good food at the end, I really enjoyed getting a Rice Krispie treat! Yum! And a carton of OJ instead of milk was nice too. We got a random spectator to take our picture - too bad it was so dark, you can't tell how shiny we were!

We got TONS of compliments on our skirts. I would say more than any other skirt we have ever worn. I think my favorites were "You look like some sort of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" or "You look like disco balls!" Heh. Thanks Team Sparkle!!

Official Time - 2:18:49
Official Pace - 10:36
Overall Place - 286/419
Gender Place - 156/262
Divison Place - 35/64
Garmin Time - 2:18:49
Garmin Distance - 13.16 miles
Garmin Pace - 10:33
Mile 1 - 9:44
Mile 2 - 10:15
Mile 3 - 11:58 (bathroom)
Mile 4 - 10:29
Mile 5 - 10:45
Mile 6 - 12:27 (HILL)
Mile 7&8 - 20:02 (oops)
Mile 9 - 11:03
Mile 10 - 10:13
Mile 11 - 10:00
Mile 12 - 10:05
Mile 13 - 10:11
Mile 13.1 - 9:39

Medal is ok, but wish it said "half" on the medal somewhere instead of just the ribbon (better than nothing of course!)
So. How do I feel about this race? Actually, ok. It is much easier to accept a "bad" or "disappointing" time when I am running with someone else. Honestly, except the section I walked up the hill, I didn't take any unplanned walk breaks (but there were a jillion water stops and two bathroom breaks). Considering I felt tired and achy and was getting over a cold, I think the time is actually not bad. I later asked L why she ran with me again. She said that she doesn't think that getting close to a PR is not in her immediate future, and she thinks it is more fun to run with me than to try for a PR and burnout halfway through a race. I'm ok with that :D

We hurry back to the hotel, take a quick shower, and then we are back on the road. We plan on splitting the driving. L does the first part. This is some artwork off I94 - the gateway to the Enchanted Highway. The sculpture is called "Geese in Flight" - it's pretty cool:

We stopped for lunch at DQ since there was literally nowhere else. I had my first blizzard in probably a year. I showed GREAT restraint by only getting a MINI double chocolate fudge cookie dough...

We hit a major storm in South Dakota which SUCKED. Remember the curvy mountains? And two lane roads? Yeah. In pouring rain, driving behind semis? NO FUN. Storm finally ends. And... if you have never driven through Wyoming, this is what it looks like most of the time:

We arrive in Cheyenne, Wyoming (about 1.5 hours from home), in time to go to Godfather's Pizza for dinner. DELICIOUS.


  1. I'm glad you had a good race! We missed you for You GO Girl (can't believe it's been a year already) this weekend.
    Also, so very glad that of all your food pictures, you FINALLY featured my most favorite treat. ever.
    DQ Blizzard. Appropriate for all situations.

  2. Great recap. When are you coming to VT to do a half? THere's a good one at the end of April in Middlebury :)

  3. We did miss you guys at YGG, I even told Mel at the 10k point I remember L passing me in our team uniform and wondering who she was! A lot has changed in a year.

    Nice race report (as usual), I can't believe you've covered 35 states, so amazing.

    You had me at double chocolate cookie dough Blizzard. I now know what to order the next time I'm at DQ.

  4. guess i'm glad I didn't do this race (originally had planned to do it until my friend who lives in ND moved to Germany) If its any consolation, I heard from one of the pacers from this year that the Fargo one was crazy hilly. Yay for only needing 15 more states, holy crap!

  5. I'm totally impressed with running sandwiched between all that driving. Driving kills my legs, even when I make ample use of the cruise control.

  6. Check that state off! My dad was born in North Dakota and always reminds me how he has no plans to return. Wyoming ... when I drove through twice I also found it to be very boring. Major storm when I was heading East. And then when I was going west they said all the hotels were booked because it was "huntin'" season. I woke up and found it was all bare and couldn't figure out the challenge of hunting when there aren't even any bushes or trees for animals to hide in.

    Anyway, that was a long Wyoming rant.

    Congrats on your race! You two are so tough with always having your tank tops on no matter the weather!

  7. I seriously love yalls dedication (and outfits)! I don’t know if i would ever drive that far for a race. yall rock!


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