Night Before the Race: Fargo Marathon

I spent Monday through Wednesday in New York, learning the ropes at my new client. On the one hand it’s nice that I can sleep in my own bed and sometimes even cook dinner in my own kitchen; on the other hand, it’s a lot used to working long hours if you’re traveling and just going home to an empty hotel anyway. On Wednesday night, I tried to get out early so I could get a good night’s sleep, but I ended up stuck at the office till 9:30pm or so, waiting for one of my client contacts to send me a file. Yuck! Since I had to get up at 5am for my early morning flight to Chicago, this meant that after packing and eating a quick dinner, I didn’t get much sleep.

I had to be in Chicago by 10am for our semiannual All-Hands meeting, which was a lot of fun. However, I found myself woefully unprepared for the crazy night that was Thursday. We had a social at the Shedd Aquarium (what a cool venue!), but I had not rested up nearly enough for what turned out to be an all-night affair. Being two nights before the marathon, it was the critical night for me to get some rest; however, being my first All-Hands, it was also critical for me to prove my drinking prowess and stay out as long as possible (while still showing up for meetings on time, bright-eyed, and bushy-tailed on Friday morning). I made it until 1am and then was yawning so much that I figured it was probably more detrimental than helpful to my coworkers’ impressions of me if I stayed! Six hours of sleep was a lot more than most people got though – the partner I’m currently working with said he was out till 5am.

Still, I woke up on Friday feeling terrible. In addition to having not enough sleep and more than enough food and alcohol, I had developed some kind of flu that had me feeling pretty crappy. I barely made it through the day of meetings before heading off to the airport in the late afternoon to catch my 8pm flight.

Unfortunately, when I said “8pm flight,” what I meant was “scheduled for 8pm but keeps getting delayed indefinitely”. While I was able to use the delay to be productive and catch up on e-mails, I also spent it stressing out. This was the last flight of the night to Fargo, and if they cancelled it, I would be totally screwed. The only other way to get to Fargo would be to make the 11 hour plus drive from Chicago – something I was not at all feeling up to in my current state. However, I didn’t think I had much choice in the matter – the next North Dakota marathon isn’t until September, so it would really mess up my 50 state timeline if I missed this one.

Luckily, we were able to take off by 10pm, which brought me into Fargo at midnight. I was staying with a very generous marathon friend, who didn’t complain at all about having to pick me up from the airport at that hour (though I offered repeatedly to either rent a car or take a cab). As it turned out, Mike lived only about 5 minutes from the airport, so at least it was a quick trip to his house. Once there, I fell into bed and went to sleep almost immediately, hoping 6 hours of sleep would revive me enough to get me through the race.

I woke up feeling a lot better rested, but after a rocky sleep of nightmares. Remember how in Wisconsin, I got to the start line just after the race had already started? In my dream, the situation had been that I was at mile 1 when the race started, and that I just jumped into the race from that point on instead of going back to the start. Meanwhile, I dreamed that the race directors had figured this out and e-mailed me a notification that they were pulling my results from the official list since it turned out I had cheated. The odd thing was, in the dream I was much less worried about the fact that I had cheated (yikes!) and much more concerned with the fact that I would now have to find another Wisconsin marathon to run, and it was going to screw up my 50 state finish. I woke up feeling pretty bad about that – have I really gotten so obsessed with this “youngest woman to run a marathon in all 50 states” thing that I don’t care about doing the right thing? Thank goodness that was all just a dream instead of real life!

I got dressed pretty quickly, and was pleased to see that when I checked the weather on my phone, the forecasts were “partly cloudy” but no rain till later that evening. However, when I came upstairs to the kitchen where I could see out the windows (the guest bedroom where I was staying was in the basement), I discovered that it was actually pouring out. Ugh! Between that and the nasty feeling in my throat and stomach indicating that I was still sick, I was not looking forward to this race.

Mike had thoughtfully made some pancakes that he left for me to microwave up for breakfast, and when I took a taste, I discovered they were actually banana pancakes. Yum! In other good news, despite the rain, it wasn’t too cold out – so while I might get a lot wetter than I had in the misty rain in Wisconsin, I didn’t think I’d be too chilled to the bone. Throwing a trash bag on over my body and wrapping a space blanket around me for extra protection, I headed out for the 5 minute walk to the start (convenient!). Whether I liked it or not, I need to get through the race and finish my 49th state!

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