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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.