I have photographed the Fargo Marathon for the last few years. The experience of quickly moving from location to location to photograph runners and the stuff they go through is amazing. What is more amazing is the expressions on emotion on their faces. I have seen people go from smiling and cheery during the first part of the race and then see them on the way back to the Fargodome on the brink of defeat (no pun intended… well maybe). I have also shot at the finish line and that is one of the coolest places I have ever been and photographed. If you want to see emotion… that is the place to be.
Shortly after the 2012 Fargo Marathon I decided I needed to set a lofty goal! One that would destroy me if I didn’t complete. I was going to Finish the Fargo Marathon! I will admit I feel like I was getting a bit on the heavier side and with my family and being a photographer I needed to be healthier! The “I need to workout to lose weight” goal never works for me. I knew I had to work and work hard if I wanted to finish my goal of completing 26.2 miles on my feet!
First thing I did was posted on Facebook that I was going to run the Full Marathon… I needed to be held accountable. I got a lot of “likes” so I knew people saw it! I do not like to fail at anything and now people know my goal.
I will tell you training for a marathon is horrible and very time consuming. Your friends and your family suffer from it as well because you are out running. Also training for a marathon in Fargo, ND is the closest you will get to Hell freezing over! I didn’t even do my training as well as I should have and it still took forever! Some people are made to run… I do not think I am one of them unless its under 400m (pausing while I remember my High School days).
This is already getting wordy so lets skip May 17th 2013! The Fargo Force had their first game at home for the Clark Cup Championship. I knew I had to get to sleep early that night because I had my marathon the next morning. I was not going to miss our team playing in that game! It went into Overtime and I eventually got into bed around 12ish which is still fairly early for me. Not good considering I wanted to be at the dome at 5:30am.
May 18th 2013.
Big storm through the night and I was up for most of it with nerves etc. I got up and ate my breakfast which was a whole wheat bagel with Peanut Butter and honey drizzled on it. Made my way to the dome, parked my car, and walked inside to see the 10k runners getting pumped up to start their run. I found a nice little corner and just sat down and relaxed (breathing exercises to calm the nerves). I heard the 10k start. Breathing. I heard the half marathon runners called to the line. Breathing. I started to see a lot more bibs with “MARATHON” on them walking towards the front… It was time!
I had done my warmup that I had learned from doing “Insanity” and then stretched for a bit. Walked around and saw some familiar faces. Walked out to the start line with Josh who happens to be one of the first people to tell me that its worth it to do the marathon. I was out photographing his family and the whole time we walked to locations we talked about his Marathon experience! Thank you Josh. (More “Thank You’s to come)
There it was… The sign I had photographed so many times. “START” . I was about to run under it for the first time! The Canadian Anthem was sang and then ours. There was a moment of silence for Boston. The wheelchair marathoners were off and then the elites and there it was… “START” right above me! 26.2 miles to go!
The first 3 miles I wore a GoPro for the FM CVB and I dropped it off at the end of the Broadway stretch. I saw her but she didn’t see me until I ran right up to her! (I think I got that on video)
The next few miles were enjoyable! I kept a decent pace and was doing well. Enjoying the huge amounts of people on the side cheering every single runner on. I had asked myself “why do I need to put my name on my bib?” Hearing these strangers on the side of the street cheering me on… ” GO MITCH”, “You can do it Mitch”… I now know why
A little more on the community and volunteers! WOW! I was offered fresh cut fruit, gummy bears, high fives, water if I needed sprayed on me to cool me down. It was amazing! Everyone out there was so proud to see the runners go by and knew what we were going through.
Mile 12 was coming up and I was feeling very sluggish. Drinking nothing but sports drink was getting to me and I felt so hungry! Then I saw Melissa and Jack! Jack with his Fargo Force hockey stick cheering me on!
My time wasn’t a big deal to me so I stopped to see them. Thankfully Melissa is a great mom and packs snacks for Jack that Daddy can eat when he is about to pass out during the marathon. I had a nutrigrain bar that made me feel great. I knew Melissa was already worried so I didn’t tell her that a cramp was starting in my right thigh. I also was trying to stay positive because I had another 13-14 miles left! This part wrapped around so I got to see those two one more time! By this time my leg was fully cramping and I could barely run. Stopping to stretch every other block basically.
Mile 15 – I was pretty much alone and in pain. I hate to say it… I was about to give up. I started to tear up a little bit and then had to do it… I slapped myself! I started to run a bit more and you think it will be like the movies where that is the defining moment and I run until the finish line… nope.
I think it was around Mile 16 where I had my defining moment. I was walking and I saw Dan and Krysta walking on the sidewalk towards me. They both ran the half marathon that day. Krysta was wearing flip flops but Dan was wearing what he ran the half in and running shoes. They both walked with me for what felt like a mile. Probably was, I don’t know! Then Dan told me that he would stay with me and finish the full marathon with me. I was thinking to myself that I don’t want to fail and I really don’t to fail with Dan next to me. But then I was thinking… he isn’t going to let me quit. Krysta told Dan that she would see him at the finish and I knew Dan was staying with me.
For the next few miles it was a lot of walking, running, stretching, limping, and pain. Dan and I ever gained another in our group. His feet were killing him and he walked with us and we talked and we would set goals. Its amazing how you can set a goal of 26.2 miles and then during the marathon making it to the stop sign at the end of the block becomes your biggest goal! Around mile 23, Josh (the third guy) started to fall behind and unfortunately it was starting to hurt me more to walk so much. I could see Dan was pushing me more and more to run anything that I could. Josh couldn’t run anymore. I had to run and get to that finish line!
Mile 24 – Cramps in both legs
Mile 25 – I started to run a little further. Volunteers and people cheering me on and saying you are so close! Dan setting those little goals for me
I SEE THE FARGODOME!
Melissa, Jack, Krysta, and good friend Jase were standing by the parking attendant booth outside cheering me on. Dan stayed with them and told me that I only had a couple corners left!
Mile 26 – .2 miles left which is one left turn and the run down the ramp of the Fargodome… feeling the cool air coming from the dome was AWESOME!
Mile 26.2 – I heard my name called and ran under the banner that said ”FINISH”
The feeling you get when that happens is indescribable and for a brief moment I felt no pain whatsoever!
It was an amazing experience filled with every emotion and feeling you could think of. I finished my full marathon… and in my “toe shoes”!
I have to end this with my Thank Yous!
Of course I have to thank Melissa and Jack because they had to work around training and working out etc… Seeing them out there cheering was great and that Nutrigrain bar was KEY!
Dan and Krysta… wow what you two did for me, especially Dan for finishing with me and making me finish… is priceless! I can’t thank you enough for doing that!
My family and friends! My parents have been cheering me on and have been so proud of me! To my close friend Lindsay who has helped me with my diet and motivation throughout this whole thing… Thank you! Ben (brother in law) has been very important training wise and has been to let me know that I need to train and do upper body as well.
I have had so many people cheering me on and liking my photos a long the way about training that I will share at the bottom of this post… THANK YOU so much! You have all helped me to complete my Full marathon and I can now scratch this off the bucket list!
I apologize for the longest blog ever but had to share my experience! You should get a medal for reading this blog post!!!!