||May 18, 2013
||Fargo Half Marathon
Race recap: CRACK! BOOM! Oh, no. At 4am we woke to the sounds of fierce thunder and lightning. As we laid in a hazy dream state we were scared to say what we were thinking – “do you think this race is going to be cancelled?” As we got ready for the race, the rain continued but the severity of the storm seemed to dampen somewhat. Thankfully, the race began at the Fargodome, which was open to keep runners warm and dry. Eventually we donned plastic garbage bags and headed out to the congested start line. After rousing renditions of both the US and Canadian National Anthems, we were on our way. Just out of the gate we ran past a long line of veterans and service members, as the race was being run on Armed Forces Day. The first few miles we tried to avoid massive puddles and keep our spirits positive. Although the course was fairly flat – only a few over/under passes - by mile 3 our legs reminded us that running a hard 5k the night before had its price. Similar to the 5k though, the crowd support was insane. Even though weather conditions were far from ideal, fans and supporters lined the streets and cheered like every single runner was an Olympic champion. Very impressive. The preverbal wheels started to come off somewhere around mile 5 when our bodies began feeling very fatigued. It may have only been 3.1 miles the night before, but our bodies were suffering. A few of the miles between 6 and 9 were a bit of a blur – we were actually pretty quiet and just working to stay mentally positive. Once we hit mile 10 we knew we had been in a more difficult physical/mental state and just lowered our heads and ran on. As we circled the Fargodome and ran the final few hundred yards finishing inside the stadium, we were pretty exhausted and relieved to have secured another notch in our race belt.
Highlight: Racing a 5k the night before the race and doing quite well, especially given that we rarely run races of that distance. The fan support for the 5k and the half marathon was outstanding!
Day 1 (Friday):
We decided the most fitting form of in-flight entertainment for our trip was the classic Cohen brothers’ murder/comedy Fargo. The movie climaxes with one of the characters meeting his unfortunate demise with a whoodchipper aptly named “Eager Beaver”, which was the first stop on our whirlwind tour of Fargo. After a few quick photos and a super brief walk around the “walk of fame” where we found some famous hand prints in cement we were off to our next stop.
While Grand Junction subs had filled our bellies with pretty tasty sub hours earlier, as we perused Scheels sporting goods we had to try the homemade fudge. This may sound like an odd combination – sporting goods and fudge – but Scheels is a pretty unique and fun place. Not only does it have all the traditional sporting goods you could want, a massive home goods section that rivaled Pottery Barn, an exhibit of presidential mannequins from Lincoln to Kennedy (ok, I really didn’t understand this at all), but it is also home to the first indoor Ferris wheel in the world (“Ruby”). The fudge was ah – wait for it – mazing. This is a truly classic shop and a must do in the Fargo area.
Highlight: The fudge was awesome, but riding an indoor Ferris wheel was pretty darn cool too!
A short drive away was the Fargo Air Museum. Maybe we’ve been a bit spoiled by some awesome air museums, like the huge museum just outside of Virginia Beach and the can’t miss double hangers full of military planes in Dayton, but this museum just seemed underwhelming. The few planes they had on display were fairly unique and we did gain some good insight into pioneering aviators, including the fact that Emelia Earhart wasn’t really the first pilot, she was just one of the first with the financial means to get a name breaking records racing planes. The location of the museum can’t be beat though, as it is literally across the street from the Fargodome, which is the site of the race packet pickup.
Highlight: Met Dick Beardsley (2:08:53 in the 1982 Boston Marathon). He was gracious enough to sign the shoe on my foot, which proved to be good luck as I wore them minutes later to a 5k PR!
Over the past few years we have tackled a double weekend (i.e. half marathon on Saturday and another on Sunday), but we had never attempted a 5K (3.1 miles) the night before a half marathon. While it might sound easier to run a 5K before a half, as we came to find out it was actually pretty difficult. The difference lies in the fact that we are much more used to “yellow lining” for ~2 hours than we are “red-lining” for ~20 minutes. Given that we don’t run too many 5K’s, we were both psyched with our PR performances, Kristin placed 2nd in her age group out of 677 runners with a blazingly fast sub 23 minute time and I came in just a hair over 20 minutes.
We decided to celebrate our accomplishments over some pre-race sushi (I guess technically since we had just run a 5K, it was also post-race sushi). Wasabi had some seriously good sushi rolls. We didn’t know exactly what to think of sushi in land-locked North Dakota, but we were both pleasantly surprised. Our rolls also paired quite nicely with a few celebratory Strongbows!
Tip: Service wasn’t wicked fast, but it’s worth the wait.
Day 2 (Saturday - Race Day):
CJ’s Kitchen was a real down-home diner. We had worked up quite an appetite at the race and were starving when we arrived. With a number of traditional breakfast options I gravitated towards the French toast and Kristin opted for the good ol’ ham and eggs. Nothing out of this world, just some good breakfast.
We learned a quick lesson that the Red River boat launch and kayak rentals (at the west end of the Hjemkomst Center parking lot) doesn’t open until Memorial Day, which ended up being ok, as we were both feeling a bit tired from the race. Right next door is the Hjemkomst Center, which is home to a 76 foot long replica Viking dragon ship built by a crazy Minnesotan who convinced an even crazier crew to sail the vessel from Duluth, Minnesota to Norway – a 72 day voyage. Oh, wait, I almost forgot this ship was hand built by the crew after studying Viking culture and ship design. Somehow these nuts survived the harrowing trip and to our shock was the fact that the crew claimed the toughest part of the trip was crossing the Lake Superior.
After a few quick photos we took a guided tour of the Hopperstad Stave Church, a 12th century Norwegian style church, built entirely of wood. The outside reminded me or an ornate coo-coo clock and the inside smelled like fresh cut wood at Home Depot. Not to sell this attraction short, it was pretty neat, but don’t expect a cathedral-like experience inside this church.
Fun Fact: On a nice day this area (Hjemkomst, Hopperstad and Red River) provides some great walking paths along the river. As we strolled the paths we learned a bit about the history of the area and discovered that erosion has uncovered a vast amount of old bottles from drinking establishments hastily erected on the Minnesota side of the river to entice North Dakotans to make the short trip from their dry state to enjoy some spirits.
All that learning made us hungry for something sweet – so we filled that craving with some delightful cupcakes from Angle Cups. This tiny little shop makes one heck of a German Chocolate cupcake, and while the vanilla buttercream was fresh it just didn’t compare to the decadent chocolate.
Fully energized with sugary goodness, we decided to take a drive out to Casstelton to visit the Maple River Winery. Even though the winery was a 45minute drive from Fargo, the door was decked out with a “Welcome Fargo Runners” sign, so we knew we’d made a good decision. The small shop was unassuming and even though most of the wines were fruit based, the owners treated us like kings! The service for our sampling was outstanding – the owner just told us to have a seat and walked over each tasting as he described the nuances of the vino to us tableside. The apple jalapeño was interesting, not so much as a drinking wine, but more as a cooking wine, but the real homerun was the rhubarb! We had a fantastic time chatting with the owners about everything from wine to running to the absurdly low murder rate in North Dakota. We came in strangers, but we left like family – complete with a few local beers from the owner’s private collection after he learned we also liked to sample local brews.
We took a walking tour of Fargo down Broadway avenue and stopped in a number of shops, including the Great Northern Bike Shop (housed in an old train depot), Unglued Market (locally made unique arts/ home goods) and a few other interesting shops. Somewhere along the way we both got super tired and decided to find dinner.
The non-stop action of the day had worn us down a bit, so we were hoping dinner would reenergize us. JL Beers – think Five Guys Burgers that has a decent selection of beers on tap – is a fairly small place, but we were lucky to find a spot on the tiny patio (2 tables) and enjoyed our dinner in the sunshine. Kristin’s Humpty Dumpty burger, complete with a fried egg on top, looked awesome and my more traditional burger with BBQ and bacon really hit the spot. There’s something oddly satisfying about enjoying a burger and beer the night after a race. While our taste buds were reenergized, we were beat and decided to crack upon a bottle of Rhubarb wine and relax at the hotel.
Day 3 (Sunday):
The weather on our last day was wet, windy and cold. This solidified the fact that we would not be doing a cool-down run today, and I think our bodies were grateful Mother Nature was not on our side. We headed to the super popular brunch locale “The Shack”. The line was a bit long, but breakfast/ brunch options are fairly limited in Fargo so we decided to stick it out. Our waitress was super nice and soon had our mugs filled with piping hot coffee. The biscuits and gravy were definitely decent and Kristin enjoyed her pancakes. The best part was that even though we were running a little late, The Shack was only a few minutes from the airport and our transport…home.
North Dakota Half Marathon Medals
May 18, 2013: Fargo Half Marathon