My final preparation race for the Fargo Marathon was today in St. Cloud. I ran the Earth Day Half-Marathon. It ended up being a pretty good test for me. The weather conditions were pretty good for a longer race like that. It was cloudy, upper 40s, with a light breeze coming out of the north. I stayed the night in St. Cloud so I wouldn't have to get up too early to travel. I was still up early anyway, like I normally am on the morning of a race. After a good warm-up run I was feeling very ready to get in a good race. My goal was to break 1:20:00. My P.R. was at 1:22:42 from almost 3 years ago so I was overdo for breaking that.
The race got started and I was out at a good pace early. I came across the first mile in 5:56, a little quicker than I had wanted but it felt really comfortable. I backed off on my pace a bit anyway because I wanted to try and negative split the second half of the race. At mile 3 I lost 20 seconds on my time because I had to make a pit-stop at a port-a-potty. Usually I don't have that problem in races like this but it was somewhat out of my control. Despite losing that time I was still running pretty strong and I made it through the first 7 miles in the top 15 and feeling well for the most part. On the 8th mile though, my left hamstring began to tighten up for the first time in a couple weeks. My pace slowed as a result of that and I didn't have the ability to push the second half of the race as strongly as I had planned. I maintained my place and was able to bring my pace down to 6:00 for the final 1.1 miles. The finish to the race was great, there were a ton of spectators and the finish line was on the middle of the football field on the SCSU campus. It felt a lot like the finish to a marathon.
I ended up 11th overall and 2nd in the men's 20-24 age group. I ran the race in a new P.R. time of 1:21:50, not as fast as I had been planning for but considering how my body responded I'm fairly happy about it.
There are now only 3 weeks until the marathon. I begin to reduce the mileage slightly next week and then much more the next two weeks. Due to flooding in Fargo, the course for the marathon has been changed drastically. It is now a two-loop course with the entire course staying in Fargo. The original course crossed the Red River into Moorhead, MN and back and it also traveled south of I-94. The two-loop course also stays on the north side of I-94. These are the roads I am also the most familiar with from days of running in Fargo at NDSU.