So many thoughts were running through my head leading up to the Fargo Mini Marathon. But the biggest? Would I be able to finish?
I didn’t last year and to be honest, it sucked. You can read about that experience HERE.
Since last year, I have been carrying around my bib number in the visor of my car as a reminder that I didn’t finish that race. It is the one and only time I have not been able to finish a race and had to step off the course. I know I shouldn’t have let it bother me, but it did. And it has for a solid year.
So this year, was my redemption year. I have been planning for this race all year. Not hardcore training for it per se, but just mentally gearing up for it. I had to run this race. I had to finish this race. I had to redeem myself. Stupid thinking? Perhaps. But it is what it is. It’s how I felt.
Let’s back up two weeks…to Sunday, October 9 and the Twin Cities Medtronics 10-mile race. As you all know, I have asthma and my asthma had been acting up prior to that race. I was put on prednisone a couple days prior to the race. I was NOT told I couldn’t run. So, I did. And I did okay. I ran the race, slower than normal, but I did it and finished and I was happy. My lungs were happy. But not for long. They got angry and I was having some major issues with my asthma.
So, long story short….I went into the doctor, got put on a second round of prednisone and the good ol’ Z-Pak because bronchitis had settled in and I was miserable. Running was out of the question. And I was not happy. I was angry. Furious really. And again, yes, I know it’s stupid. But it’s how I felt.
The Fargo Mini Marathon – the 13.1 mile race that I wanted to finish, that I needed to finish, seemed out of the question. I honestly didn’t really know what I was going to do up until the night before the race. I know I wanted to run, I know I needed to run. But…I also needed to breathe. Every day.
The doctor may have said that I should probably think about not running the race. Or maybe she actually said, “You shouldn’t run the race.” Maybe. Not sure. Maybe I really wasn’t listening. Maybe because I am a stubborn half-German, half-French who likes to not listen and do things MY way. Whatever. I know my heart was telling me to run but my stupid brain was messing with me. What happens if you can’t? What happens if you have a major asthma attack on the course? What happens if you have to step off the course AGAIN? Can you mentally handle that? What happens if you die? Yes, that thought ran through my mind. And I have to admit, three to four days prior to the race, I actually started having panic attacks. STUPID! It’s just a race. It’s not that big of deal.
But to me it was. It truly was something I HAD TO DO. I wish I could explain it better. But I can’t. I just needed this. I couldn’t let my asthma get the better of me. I couldn’t let it win. I had to beat it.
I was very happy to hear that there were going to be pacers for the half-marathon. I needed to run with a pacer. I had determined that early on.
PICTURE: This is the list of pacers from the Fargo Mini-Marathon website.
I knew if things were “normal” I would have picked the 2:20 or even the 2:15 pace group. But, because I didn’t want to push it or because I knew I needed to be smart about things, I opted to go with the 2:30 pacer. I knew that my lungs needed me to run slow and not put anymore strain on them then I was already going to do. So, the 2:30 group was it – Alyssa Oinonen was going to be my gal.
And, I couldn’t have made a better decision…Alyssa ROCKED IT! She was exactly who I needed. She was the perfect pacer. And there is no way I could have done this race without her.
PICTURE: The awesome pacer, Alyssa, and I right after we crossed the finish line.
Thank you to the organizers of the Fargo Mini Marathon for having the pacers there and a HUGE THANK YOU to Alyssa. You have no idea what you did for me and you have no idea how important of a role you had, but you filled it completely. YOU ROCK!
As the race started, I told Alyssa who I was and that I had asthma and wasn’t sure I was going to finish the race. I told her I wouldn’t be talking much because I had to conserve my energy, my breathing for running. I told her the facemask I was wearing was so I could breathe in warm air and not the cold, crisp air that greeted us that morning. Cold air and my lungs don’t play nice together.
And as we started the race, my body, my heart AND my lungs were telling me to run faster. I felt good. I felt great. I wanted to push it. BUT…my mind was telling me different. My mind was telling me to trust the pacer and even though it felt SO SLOW, it was what I needed. I needed a steady, nice, slower pace. Trust the pacer.
As we approached mile five, there were a few others who I realized were running with the 2:30 pace group as well. We didn’t do a lot of talking, but yet we did. It was the perfect amount. The pacer, Alyssa, talked the most. She let us know she was there for us and if we needed anything, to let her know. She told us when the water stops were coming. She told us about the port-a-potties coming up. She encouraged us to keep going. She let us know if there was a hill (slight incline) coming up and that we could do it. She was funny. She was inspiring. She was perfect.
Mile five came and went and I told the group that it was at mile five last year that I stepped off the course. They were so supportive and told me I was doing great. We hit mile six and I got emotional, although the group didn’t catch on how emotional. I realized then I was going to do it. That the race was going well and I was going to finish. Our group eventually got smaller and for much of the rest of the race, it was just Alyssa, myself and a couple, Leah Kramer and Ryan Thorson. They had lived in Fargo when they signed up for the mini marathon but had recently moved to Hopkins. I found out we had a few things in common. They both like craft beer, although I think they prefer IPA’s, where I am more of a stout kind of gal. We knew about many of the same breweries, both in Fargo and in the Twin Cities. They just seemed really cool and I am happy to have met them and able to run part of the race with them.
The coolest part, though? We are all biggest losers! Both Leah and Ryan had lost some weight. Okay, they lost quite a bit of weight. Leah has lost 60 pounds and Ryan has lost 80 pounds. Between the three of us, we had a combined weight loss of 200 pounds! Alyssa said that gave her the chills and she got a little emotional. Her group that she was pacing had lost 200 pounds and were now runners. It was kind of emotional and I think it helped each of us realized that we were going to finish this race come hell or high water. We kind of inspired each other. It seriously was so cool. And another really cool thing? This was Leah and Ryan’s FIRST HALF-MARATHON! And they were rocking it!
PICTURE: Ryan, Leah and I. I had to get a picture with them after the race. So happy to have met them.
Toward the end of the race, I was starting to get really tired. I wanted to be done. My lungs felt good, but my body was tired. My feet were tired. I hadn’t ran in two weeks, so my body was truly tired. I was “out of shape” so to speak. But, Alyssa kept me going. She told me to stick with her and she would get me to my goal of 2:30. She ended up carrying my water bottle for me after she filled it up at the last water stop. She kept telling me I could do it. She kept encouraging me and telling me how well I was doing. She had the personality, the spunk, the attitude, the everything I needed at that point to finish the race. The last mile was tough. There were a couple of hills. But Alyssa got me through it. Honestly, I would not have made my goal without her. I would have given up. But she was there encouraing me the ENTIRE way.
We crossed the finished line. I hugged her. We took pictures. And then she was off….to run the 5K as part of the Red River Double. AMAZING! She had just finished a half-marathon and then she jumped in line and ran a 5K…in under 21 minutes. WHAT? Yep, I’m telling you…she was/is amazing!
Thanks again, Alyssa, you were exactly what I needed to run AND finish this race.
PICTURE: I made the shirt I was wearing. It says it all…#asthamcantstopme!
After the race, after Alyssa and I took some pictures, I was able to be with my hubby, Al, and as he gave me a big hug I crumbled. I completely, utterly lost it. I sobbed into his shoulder and he just held me tightly, congratulated me and told me I did it. I finished it. I ran 13.1 miles and I didn’t die. I could still breathe. And I was going to be okay. Even though it was only a minute or so, it felt like I sobbed for 10 minutes. I finally stopped and pulled myself together. I have been emotional before after a race, but this one takes the cake. As I wiped the tears away, a friend of mine, Krista, and her husband, Adam, approached us. Krista knew how I felt about this race and that I was unsure if I was going to be able to finish or not and she grabbed me and gave me the biggest hug. She is THE BEST!
PICTURE: Of course, Krista and I had to get our picture taken together, too!
Krista also ran the half-marathon and totally, utterly, completely crushed her goal! She was hesitant to tell me her goal, but admitted that she wanted to do it in 2:10. But I could tell she really didn’t think she could do it in that time. Well, she blew that time out of the water. She completed the half-marathon in 2:06 – yes, TWO HOURS and SIX minutes. WHAT? Yep. Nailed it. So proud of you, Krista! You are friggin’ amazing. Way to go.
Her husband, Adam, and my husband, Al, both ran the 10K. Well, Al actually ran the 5K and then the 10K. It’s a great story, but I won’t share about it here….YET! Al is going to write about it and when he does, I will share it with you all. But it’s great. LOVE my hubby!
PICTURE: Post-race pictures with our medals.
PICTURE: This was actually taken pre-race with SnapChat…loved the filter on this one!
PICTURE: Of course, we ran into Arne Robinson. If you don’t know Arne, take the time to check him out. He is one of the most inspiring runners you will ever meet. He is determined and has the biggest heart of gold. Arne is the vision of a true athlete. An inpiring athlete. You can find out all about Arne by checking out his Facebook site, Running with Arne Robertson. Just click HERE.
After the race, we went stopped and grabbed some coffee and then went back to my son’s apartment and took advantage of the hot tub. It felt SO GOOD. And then, we got ready, went out for a couple of beers with my son, Brandon, and then headed over to our friend’s house for ribs and a few more beers. Thanks to Gary and DeAnn for the BEST supper of ribs, potatoes, corn bread and salad. They really spoiled us. And the ribs…..OH. MY. GOODNESS! They were exactly what I wanted. So friggin’ tasty. Best ever.
Here’s a few more pics from the day:
PICTURE: My splits according to my Garmin Forerunner 220. Several negative splits, which was pretty cool. It was a great race!
PICTURE: My overall time, distane and pace. I am very pleased with the results from this race. And, I am beyond thrilled that I FINISHED IT!!!!!