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Up Topic General / Letters and Opinions / Bismarck Marathon Race Report
- - By blazer85 [us] Date 2018-09-20 1:06 PM
RACE STATS:  51st race of marathon or beyond, 34th state

In honor of my 34th state, I have made 34 notes about the Bismarck Marathon weekend.

1.  Three years ago, during the first month blazergirl was away at college, I went into a deep funk.  This is the first month BOTH blazergirl and blazerboy are away at college. I really didn’t expect to feel the deep funk again, but I kinda am.  So as one does, I planned a trip to Bismarck, North Dakota to pep me up.

2.  Most 50 staters head to the Fargo Marathon. One word everyone uses to describe that race is WINDY.  Since a flight to Bismarck was about the same price as one to Fargo, I thought a fall race with “colors” was preferable to a windy, spring race.  There weren’t any fall colors! :sad:

3.  A mid-September race works well in the racing schedule as I am planning on doing one in both mid-November and early January.  There is JUST enough time between races to sorta recover and sorta build back up while checking off states. That said, a mid-September race is not optimal for someone who has to train during the Dallas summer.  #sofkkkingHOTT

4.  In preparation for when the final season drops, I rewatched last season of “House of Cards” on my flights.   I am glad I did as I forgot a ton except for the fact, it will be easy for Frank Underwood to be dead. #goodriddance  

5.  I managed to convince Carolyn to fly in from Denver as Frontier flies round trip from Denver to Bismarck for about $100.  She hates flying Frontier, but $100 is like a free flight, so she couldn’t pass up the deal.  That would be like throwing money down the drain, right?

6.  Carolyn and I are what some people like to call “Bitches”.  We are snarky, sarcastic and rarely stop speaking unless it is to drink a beer or shove food in our fat faces.  The perfect foil to our presence is our good buddy, the nearly non-verbal Chris Stores.  Chris is the RD of the Black Hills 100 Miler and lives in the rocking town of Belle Fouche, South Dakota.   As virtually EVERYWHERE Chris goes is about 68 miles from his house, the 180 mile drive to Bismarck wasn’t a big deal for him.  

7.  Bismarck is in the western part of North Dakota (you are very welcome for that geography lesson), so I assumed it was in the Mountain Time Zone, like Rapid City, SD (also in the west part of its state).  The time zone map is whacky for ND and it turns out Bismarck is in Central Time.  I traveled 1,140 miles with no time zone change and Chris drove 180 miles and he lost an hour of his life.  He is ten years younger than me, so I guess he can afford to lose an hour every now & then.

8.  I was not expecting much along the lines of Stuff To Do in Bismarck, but was I wrong!  It was the weekend of the Bismarck Downtowners Street Festival which has been voted the “Best Street Festival in Bismarck”. (I shit you not…..it is advertised that way. :laugh:

9.  As this is a very small race, there is no expo, just a simple packet pick-up.  But don’t worry, there were free samples of unknown cheeses and wine samples at the street fair for us to enjoy the day before the race.

10.  We made a note of food we would try after race, for fear they may be detrimental to our constitutions.  One of those items was called Monkey Balls….because you HAVE to eat something called that.  They were delicious and worth the wait!

11.  The three of us stayed in an old, three bedroom Victorian house near downtown.  The stairs were SO STEEP, Chris could barely get upstairs as he is a bit of undainty giant. The stairs were also a challenge to Carolyn and me after a few beers.

12.  Of course like all very old houses, there was small, extra room inhabited by creepy dolls and a miniature rocking chair, which was likely haunted.  #atmosphere

13.  The entry fee for this marathon was only $60!  Since I run smallish races, the entry fees tend to be in the $75-100 range.  For my $60, I received very decent swag……a pullover-hoodie thing made of a unique, but wearable material, a winter hat and a small backpacky thing made of sturdy material. BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!  (teaser for later)   

14.  I have had bad luck with September marathons.  Last September, I had my first DNF in Omaha and three years ago, I crashed & burned in magnificent fashion at Clarence DeMar for no reason at all on that lovely NH course with perfect weather.   As such, I was a bit nervous about my third attempt at a September.

15.  At the same time, it had been five months since I ran a marathon, so I was a bit excited to give it a whirl!

16.  I was about as prepared for this marathon as I am going to get these days……I had three 20’s, two 18’s and two 17’s as well as my regular Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday 10 milers.  Just about all my miles were run slow or slowish, so I expected a 4:30-4:38 time. 

17.  It was 55 at the start, overcast and there was a light wind… about as perfect of marathon weather one can hope for.  Of course, this meant any failure to finish or a crap-ass time would be the fault of the operator!

18.  Even though my goal was modest, Carolyn and Chris decided to slum it and run the race with me.  Carolyn’s most recent marathon was a 3:25, so when I say she was slumming it, she was truly slumming it.

19.  Carolyn and I like to yell MANBUN whenever we see a guy with a MANBUN.  NOTE:  We did not see nearly as many MANBUNS in Bismarck as we did in San Francisco and Portland, Oregon.  Go figure?  In fact, we did not see a single MANBUN, though we did see a dude who had ENORMOUS gauges in his ears, so that was a thing.   A gross thing.

20.  The race started and finished in park with ample parking.  We arrived at 6:30 for the 7:30 start and luckily parked near a secret porto in one of the parking lots.  Having a secret porto is like putting on a jacket and finding a $20 bill in the pocket…..few things are more exciting!

21.  The marathon had 148 participants, the half had about 300 and the relay had about 25 teams, so this was my favorite size marathon. 

22.  The race started on bike path in the park so it was initially crowded, but within a half mile or so, everything was spread out.

23.  The course is FLAT, like really FLAT, with the exception of the two bridges which we ran crossing the Missouri River.   

24.  We ran along the river a bit and were all surprised by the number of marinas…..who knew Bismarck was a boater’s town?

25.  Mandan is the city across the river.  The homes there were quite modern and upscale.  We ran through neighborhoods, country roads, on more bike paths, in parks and past what we all suspected was a meth lab….it had a real Walter White vibe going on.

26.  If you need spectators, don’t go to Bismarck.  There may have been only 30 or so over the course of the race.  That said, nearly every spectator we did see seemed to have a dog with them.  Chris barely spoke during the race, but every time we saw a dog, he exclaimed, “DOG!”  As blazerboy does the same thing, I found this charming as opposed to eccentric.

27.  If you want abundant aid stations and enthusiastic volunteers, this is your race.  Even though it was cool, I am in the habit of wearing my water belt, so I wore it.  There was no need to do so as this race had more than enough aid stations, even if had been hot.

28.  There were also NUMEROUS portos on the course.  At about mile 8, both Carolyn and I decided we needed to stop in the one we saw up ahead.  Would we be lucky enough for there to be two so we wouldn’t have to wait for each other?  No…..there were FOUR!  Does Boston even have four portos sitting side by side in the middle miles?

29.  When we were running on a country road, Chris was bored with whatever Carolyn and I were yammering about and was scouring the road for something to entertain him.  He suddenly bent over a picked up a coozie with a can in it, hoping there was beer in the can.  He was sad when he discovered it was an empty can of orange pop. That said, he was thrilled he scored a coozie which he immediately put in his pocket so he would not lose it.

30.  Before the race, I indicated my “best case” pace would be 10:10 .  We had a few slow-ish splits due to the single pitstop and the few times I refilled my water bottles at aid station, but ran rather consistently.  Official time was 4:26:39 (10:11 pace), with a 1:03 negative split. 

31.  This time was good enough for Carolyn to place first in her AG and for me to place third in mine.:roll::roll: The only reason I mention it is because we both received a nice, fleece jacket with the race logo embroidered on it, making my $60 entry fee even more satisfying!

32.  When reviewing my data on Strava, we had nine miles at sub 10:00, most in the second half.  My avg HR was 129 which is zone 3.5 for me…….whatever the fkkk that means.  Carolyn translated this to indicate I am a slacker and a loser who should be running faster.  :meh::roll:  In the final mile of the race, I saw some cool gloves on the grass, so I picked them up.  Carolyn noted that I should not be able to bend over and quickly pick stuff up with less a mile left in a marathon.  Should I try run faster?  Who knows?  Who cares?  State 34 is checked off and that is all which matters!

33.  Chris had brought some of his EXCELLENT homebrewed beer for after the race.  We were the only people celebrating with red solo cups, out of the back of a pickup truck, near the secret porto, post race.  It was a perfect time with great friends. :hug:   

34.  After I complete a marathon, I text blazerman and both the blazerkids with my time.  I am sure their initial thoughts to my text are always, (a) Oh, was she running a marathon today? (b) I wonder what state is she in as I only pretend to listen when she blabbers on about marathons and (c) Why does she think I care what time she ran? Even so, they all congratulate me which is nice……I appreciate when they feign an interest in me. 

Thanks for reading.  Next up?  Louisville Marathon in November.
Parent - - By Beastie Girl [us] Date 2018-09-20 1:32 PM
Pressing question: what are monkey balls?

Congrats on state 34 and the AG award! Sounds like a fun weekend all around. :grin:
Parent - - By blazer85 [us] Date 2018-09-20 1:37 PM
Deep fried, leftover dough topped with powdered sugar....your basic garbage food which eventually killed my stomach.:laugh:
Parent - By Beastie Girl [us] Date 2018-09-20 2:02 PM
That sounds amazing! :grin:
Parent - By redraider0528 (Fashionista) Date 2018-09-20 3:43 PM
OMG : pbbt:
Parent - By brneydrnnr (barney cougar) [us] Date 2018-09-25 10:01 AM
sounds like monkey bread just not smooshed together. I would eat them.
Parent - - By old turtle Date 2018-09-20 1:45 PM
Congratulations! This was a fun report to read. Love the beer on the back of the pick up truck. :laugh: Does sound like you got your money's worth on this one. :happy:
Parent - By blazer85 [us] Date 2018-09-21 8:48 AM
Thanks!
Parent - - By SRoo Date 2018-09-20 2:36 PM
This is one of my all time favorite Race Reports!  :cool:
Parent - By blazer85 [us] Date 2018-09-21 8:49 AM
Thanks!:cool:
Parent - - By redraider0528 (Fashionista) Date 2018-09-20 3:44 PM
I love your reports! I'm glad you still have states left!
:grin::grin:
Nice work!
Parent - By blazer85 [us] Date 2018-09-21 8:49 AM
Thanks!  And I am glad I can kinda see the end of my states!
Parent - - By Eric1970 Date 2018-09-20 8:40 PM
I love your race reports! :hug: Congrats on #34 and all that swag!:cool: Sounds like a fun weekend!
Parent - By blazer85 [us] Date 2018-09-21 8:50 AM
Thanks!  I think this was the most swaggy race yet.
Parent - - By Spingoddess [us] Date 2018-09-21 3:38 AM
:laugh::laugh::laugh: I laughed all the way through this report! Bismarck, who knew?!

Congrats on 34, and if it makes you feel better, I'm in a funk too since Isabella left. Our babies...
Parent - By blazer85 [us] Date 2018-09-21 8:51 AM
Thanks!

Shockingly, the boy actually speaks to me ON THE PHONE, so the transition has not been too awful.  That said, it has been four weeks since I've seen him and probably three til I do see him.
Parent - - By Mickeyd Date 2018-09-21 5:46 AM
Congratulations!  That was such a fun report to read.  :grin:
Parent - By blazer85 [us] Date 2018-09-21 8:51 AM
Thanks!:grin:
Parent - - By Ed [us] Date 2018-09-21 6:15 AM
Congratulations on state #43!
Parent - By blazer85 [us] Date 2018-09-21 8:52 AM
Thanks!
Parent - - By PoopedColt Date 2018-09-21 7:02 AM
This was awesome! Sounds like the race had as many Porto potties as people! My kind of race :blush:

Congrats on #34! Your report almost makes me want to do another
Parent - - By blazer85 [us] Date 2018-09-21 8:52 AM
Do another!!  Where do you live? If I need that state, we could do one together!!
Parent - - By PoopedColt Date 2018-09-21 9:14 AM
Virginia or North Carolina. :happy: I'm on the border.
Parent - - By blazer85 [us] Date 2018-09-21 9:49 AM
I still need NC!  My plan is to run Tobacco Road in either March 2019 or 2020.
Parent - By PoopedColt Date 2018-09-21 10:18 AM
Interesting. I did it in 2014 maybe? It was one of the last races I did. Fantastic race. I did crappy cuz the crushed granite is murder on my ATs. But I think someone told me it's been paved since? I think old turtle lives close.
Parent - By Arimathea [us] Date 2018-09-22 9:57 PM
I need both Virginia and NC...do it in 2020 and we can do it together !
Parent - - By BoredTemp [us] Date 2018-09-21 7:18 AM
your average HR was 129? :shocker!:  wow.   I couldn't make it up a flight of stairs and keep it that low.  I bow down.

Congrats on a good race! :cool:
Parent - By blazer85 [us] Date 2018-09-21 8:55 AM
Thanks!  Honestly, my HR make to get 129 climbing stairs as well.:laugh:  There is just something about cruising along with good friends, with no pressure, which can keep one relaxed.
Parent - - By Xtreme Taper Date 2018-09-21 8:12 AM
Well done and thanks for the report. You scored some nice loot there. Sort of too early for fall colors? Bummer. Congrats on #34!
Parent - By blazer85 [us] Date 2018-09-21 8:56 AM
Thanks!  If had been hot in Bismarck until that week, so I suspect they may have affected the "colors".  The day after we ran, was actually fairly warm, so we lucked out on the weather.
Parent - - By nooner [us] Date 2018-09-21 8:46 AM
Congrats on #34! After Louisville and when you *only* have 15 left, the pull to finish will only get stronger.

It sounded like a nice smaller race that checks off the major things that we enjoy. I knew there had to be something good in the red solo cups from the FB pictures of you on the podium.

We could have used you or Carolyn when I met up with Chris for beers in SD, it was a lot of awkward quiet.

Congrats on the fleece! You’ve done pretty well with AG placements.
Parent - - By blazer85 [us] Date 2018-09-21 9:27 AM
Thanks! Chris' coconut porter was fabulous......you would have loved it.  I thought I was going to have to be polite as I do not like coconut nor any other coconut beer I have tried, but the taste was subtle and the beer outstanding.

I just outlined what could be the remaining schedule, which assumes at least four races in the next few years.  Ideally, I could finish in Spring 2022, but more ideally, I will have a college graduation in Spring 2022,:laugh: so it could get pushed to the fall.

  It looks like #50 MAY either be something in NJ or in Omaha.  Omaha looks to be the only option for Chris to attend as it is drivable for him, so I am leaning that way.
Parent - - By Beastie Girl [us] Date 2018-09-21 11:54 AM
Let me know when you do NJ! :grin:
Parent - By blazer85 [us] Date 2018-09-21 2:49 PM
You betcha!
Parent - By Arimathea [us] Date 2018-10-04 9:03 PM
Coconut porter? Sourced from the sweeping coconut plantations of South Dakota?
Parent - - By donnasaur [us] Date 2018-09-21 9:21 AM
holy shit girl, you cleaned up at this race. Congratulations! That is amazing.
Parent - - By blazer85 [us] Date 2018-09-21 9:29 AM
Thanks!

When a 4:26 gets an AG award, that isn't too impressive. :roll: But, the race swag was really, really nice.
Parent - - By donnasaur [us] Date 2018-09-21 10:14 AM
I was congratulating you on the fleece. It sounds really nice.
Parent - - By blazer85 [us] Date 2018-09-21 2:51 PM
It is a nice fleece! My first thought was "perfect to wear for watching soccer & lacrosse games in the winter."  But I don't have any more soccer & lacrosse games.:sad::sad:
Parent - - By Arimathea [us] Date 2018-09-22 9:58 PM
And this would be a bad thing...why?
Parent - - By blazer85 [us] Date 2018-09-24 8:50 AM Edited 2018-09-24 8:54 AM
After 18 years of nearly relentless kids sporting events, I miss standing on the sideline.:sad:  For the first handful of years we lived in Texas, Schantzie and I lived in the same city.....she was a the point I am now and came to NUMEROUS of my kids sporting events.:hug::hug:  When she first asked me where the kids were playing soccer and I mentioned the name of the park, she noted, "That is .67 miles from house, I'll stop by."  This was also when I knew I had made a REAL runner friend as only a true runner would say ".67 of a mile".:laugh:
Parent - By skigirl Date 2018-09-24 8:52 AM
:hug:  I can understand that.
Parent - By Beastie Girl [us] Date 2018-09-25 8:23 AM
:hug:
Parent - - By PoopedColt Date 2018-09-25 8:38 AM
I can relate 100%. I will miss it terribly. Our club admin's youngest DS is 21. She keeps doing it for the same reason.

This is why I'm seriously considering being a big sister/big brother (DH) someday. If you asked me my favorite things to do, it's taking our kids places and showing them what's out in the world. Mine will be all grown and hopefully no grandkids any time soon! But I miss the science centers, the playgrounds, the zoos, all of that already.

Now school music programs. Those I DO NOT miss!!!! :laugh:
Parent - By blazer85 [us] Date 2018-09-25 1:30 PM
Blazerboy is a singer.  We have an ENORMOUS high school which has 9 choirs.....he was always in two of them (the varsity and men's) but "luckily" he also made the show choir as a senior.  When they had choir concerts, the show choir was always first, the men's would be somewhere in the middle and the varsity choir always closed the show.  :roll::roll:  I will never miss those shows.  Ever.
Parent - - By Schantzie [us] Date 2018-09-23 1:31 PM
You'll have to make friends with some younger new-comer to the running community and stalk his/her kids' games :hug:
Parent - By blazer85 [us] Date 2018-09-24 8:57 AM
You better believe I have watched Amanda's daughter play soccer!  Sadly, she didn't want to play the past two seasons.....but she is only in first grade.  I hoping she gets back in a sport soon so I be just like you!
Parent - - By Arimathea [us] Date 2018-09-22 9:58 PM
Nice race!

At some point we really should get together. I would love to run with you.

I will be at Brazos Bend in December...
Parent - By blazer85 [us] Date 2018-09-24 8:46 AM
Thanks!

Which distance are you running at Brazos Bend?  That is almost six hours from where I live, but if you need a pacer, I would be happy to make the trip and pace you!
Parent - - By Schantzie [us] Date 2018-09-23 1:30 PM
Thank you for the 34-point report and congratulations on another completion!

I had never heard of Mandan, ND until last Wednesday when I learned that it was where the Lewis and Clark people spent the first winter of their expedition.  I say that as if you would care :roll:  It happens that I learn something -- a word, a song, whatever, and then hear it again within just a few days.
Parent - - By blazer85 [us] Date 2018-09-24 8:49 AM
Thanks!  Actually, I love learning that kind of stuff!:happy::happy:  When we ran along the Missouri River on the Bismarck side, there was a Lewis & Clark "park" or memorial site.  I also noted that along one road, there were sign noting the Lewis & Clark Memorial Route (or some such thing).
Parent - - By Schantzie [us] Date 2018-09-25 7:36 AM
One of my sisters lived in St. Louis for many years, so I was familiar with details about the beginnings of the trek.  I knew the expedition made its way to the Pacific, but I did not realize it was *right here* that they made the discovery.  In a non-reassuring documentary at the national park, the narrator said the the explorers were colder in the "incessant" rain on the coast than they had been while wintering in the Dakotas the year before :shocker!: I got Stephen Ambrose's book from the library yesterday. 

Yeah, we see those L&C signs everywhere.   Guess I'll actually need to read them now.
Parent - - By Doughboy (spamkiller) Date 2018-09-25 7:44 AM
In a non-reassuring documentary at the national park,

Is that from the movie at Fort Clatsop?
Parent - - By Schantzie [us] Date 2018-09-25 1:25 PM
Yes indeed. :wink:  what did you think of it?
Parent - By Doughboy (spamkiller) Date 2018-09-27 8:46 AM
We loved Fort Clatsop. I can't say that I remember the movie from the VC, but we had a great time there. (I know the site is now Lewis & Clark NHP, but it was Fort Clatsop when we first visited. That was a while ago!) One of the indelible memories from that trip was attending a program in which the ranger indicated that Lewis & Clark ate "spoilt elk" for Christmas. That's hung on for years at our house. ("What's for dinner on Christmas Day?" "Spoilt elk.")
Parent - - By Doughboy (spamkiller) Date 2018-09-24 7:30 AM
A little disappointing to hear that the spectator turnout was low. After my experiences in Fargo and Sioux Falls, I have to place my Dakota marathons near the top in terms of spectator enthusiasm. I was stunned last month in Sioux Falls to see people out in front of their houses cheering at 6:45 a.m., pretty much before sunrise at that point. I don't remember Fargo being windy, but I do recall that it was warm the year I ran it. (Also, I showed up in Fargo pretty much broken out head to toe with poison ivy, but that's another story.)

All in all, though, sounds like a great trip and one more down! See you in Louisville.
Parent - By blazer85 [us] Date 2018-09-24 8:39 AM
My list of priorities for a race has "spectators" at the very bottom, so the very limited amount of spectators in Bismarck had zero impact on me.  I simply noted it this fact for others for whom that is important, so it looks like Fargo is a better option for those folks! 

Looking forward to seeing you soon!!!
Parent - - By skigirl Date 2018-09-24 8:52 AM
Great report!  It felt like I was right there with you.  Congratulations on picking up your 34th state!
Parent - By blazer85 [us] Date 2018-09-24 8:58 AM
Thanks!!
Parent - - By mkh (Mr. Fashionista) Date 2018-09-24 10:34 AM
Flat? They obviously changed the course from when I did the relay years back. There are "hills" all over so the fact they avoid them is nice. Congrats.
Parent - By blazer85 [us] Date 2018-09-24 11:33 AM
Thanks!

Yes, this was a super flat course! Strava indicates a total of 247 feet over the entire course. I honestly don't think we had more than a few feet up or down anywhere but on the bridges crossing the river.
Parent - - By foggydoggy [us] Date 2018-09-24 11:41 AM
Well done don't ya know!!!! (had to north dakotaize the wishes!)
Parent - By blazer85 [us] Date 2018-09-24 11:58 AM
:laugh::laugh: Thanks!
Parent - - By cowboyjunkie Date 2018-09-25 8:05 AM
Loved your report! :grin: Nice race :cool:
Parent - By blazer85 [us] Date 2018-09-25 1:31 PM
Thanks!
Parent - - By brneydrnnr (barney cougar) [us] Date 2018-09-25 10:05 AM
Congrats on your race! You make ND sound almost awesome :laugh: (I went to college in Jamestown way back in the 90s and my grandparents are buried just north of Bismarck)
the swag sounds awesome :cool:
Parent - By blazer85 [us] Date 2018-09-25 1:31 PM
Thanks!
Parent - By Tim [us] Date 2018-09-25 9:09 PM
Loved the report! Congratulations on checking off another state!

Creepy Victorian house, mountain man who gave up 3 hours of his life getting to you, another hour lost into the time-space continuum, and another 4.5 hours of his life running with you, cheap flight for Carolyn even though she probably had to fly out on the wing, beer, no manbuns. Sounds like a good weekend. By the way, I think of you two every time I see a manbun. They're starting to wane in popularity around here. Thank God.

Regarding #28: At Boston last year I made a pit stop around Mile 11, and I had to wait (in that downpour) for a port-a-potty because there was the same bank of 4 portos and they were all occupied. Yes, Bismarck had 4 portos for 350 runners, and Boston had 4 portos for 32,000 runners. Go figure.
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