Fargo Forever


Over the course of the last four and a half months, I ran 434 miles. Last Saturday, all of that training culminated in me running — and I do mean running — the Fargo Marathon. I did it! I ran the entire thing! I never stopped, except this one time (we’ll get to that).

First things first, I will never do it again. I will never run another full marathon. My body just isn’t meant for it. In the last few days of recovery, I’ve felt like an old Volvo whose frame was just sprung in an accident. Everything was rattled and pounded and jarred and thrashed. I’m back to walking, but I’m pretty sure I’ll never be able to squat down to unload groceries into the refrigerator ever again. My knees are talking to me, telling me the deep secrets of their souls. My left glute is permanently crimped. I descend the stairs backward like a toddler, using my hands for balance, butt in the air. Nay, I say to thee: I will live the rest of my days in a safe, padded cocoon, treasure my cartilage, and protect my joints like the precious gifts they are.

But am I sorry I did it? Not a chance.

My sister Sarah drove up from Kansas City – 9 hours! – to be race support

The morning of, standing in the chute waiting for the race to start, even before they starting playing “Eye of the Tiger,” I was already tearing up. I couldn’t believe it was finally here, all of the hard work come to fruition. It’s true what they say: the training is the real achievement, and the race is just the victory lap.

A reeeeealllly long victory lap.

The first 20 miles went better than I could have ever dreamed. When I did my 20-mile training run, it took me 3 hours 40 minutes; when I hit the 20-mile mark on race day, the time was 3 hours 15 minutes. I was flying! (You know, for me.) Up until that point, I was running 9:55 minute miles, and having a great time.

Still feeling good with 7 miles to go — I was so young and innocent and had no idea what was coming

But then I passed mile 20. And you know what’s past mile 20? Hell. Except hell is made of a billion tiny knives stabbing you simultaneously. And then those monkeys from The Wizard of Oz fly in and rip you limb from limb. And then what’s left of you is set on fire and left to burn in a dumpster.

I’m trying to find a strong enough word for the pain. Agony? Excruciation? I could feel every cell in my body individually dying — probably because they literally were.

Somewhere between mile 22 and 23, I reached downtown Fargo. This is the iconic stretch of Broadway where you run past the Fargo Theater, and tons of people are out to cheer. Earlier in the morning I had had visions of reaching this point, and how surely it would result in a euphoria that would carry me to the end.

But do you know what happened on Broadway?

I stopped, put my hands on my knees, crumpled to the ground, and curled up in a ball. I curled up in a ball in the middle of the road! There were no thoughts going through my head except one long “Noooooooooooo.” No to running. No to pain. No to life. I heard footsteps around me as runners passed, and figured it was only a matter of time before someone yelled for a medic.

I was down for about 10 seconds before I felt hands under my arms and I was hoisted up — but it wasn’t a medic. It was a fellow runner. He was wearing a National Guard shirt and looked like a real BAMF, you know? He stood me up, steadied me on my feet, looked me in the eye, and then shook his finger in my face and yelled, “YOU GOT THIS!” Then he high-fived me so hard my hand hurt, and took off.

And you know what? It worked. I started to run again. I ran through the pain all the way to the end, because, in the words of modern day wise men Rascal Flatts, “When push comes to shove, you taste what you’re made of.” And it turns out I’m made of grit. Who knew?

Our sage prophets

When I crossed the finish line, I immediately burst into tears. There was my sister Sarah, and my dad and Nicole, and our friends Scott and Stephanie, and I didn’t have to run anymore, and it was over, and I had done it. I had done it! The thing I had never been sure I could do. But I did it anyway.

I earned those ugly tears

I finished in 4:27:14, faster than even my secret stretch goal. And I will love Fargo for the rest of my life.




  1. Michael on May 25, 2017 at 11:19 AM

    True grit! And TBTG for BAMFs who pick us up and say “you’ve got this!” in a way that is unmistakably a command, but also recognition of a fellow warrior. I know someone like that. I’ve yet to meet him in person, but I call him Popeye because he is Popeye. After a particularly ugly existential crisis the other night (which of course I posted on Facebook), he sent me this note: “Hey brother, just wanted to say tie your damn shoelaces and love you!” In the words of the poet, “wake up every single morning, will your feet to hit the floor…” I am so proud to be a faithful follower of someone so determined to live! Love, M

  2. jodie on May 25, 2017 at 11:43 AM

    who knew? i knew. without even knowing you irl. i knew.

  3. Laura on May 25, 2017 at 1:27 PM

    Um, you look like a BAMF!

  4. Laura on May 25, 2017 at 1:28 PM

    Also, your hair looks crazy good for just running a marathon.

  5. Peg Achterman on May 25, 2017 at 8:18 PM

    You are a stud-ette and a BAMF. Love people like that.

  6. Andrea on May 25, 2017 at 8:41 PM

    Annie, you are such an amazing bad ass. Congratulations!

  7. Kaia Kegley on May 26, 2017 at 6:52 AM

    Annie – you are such a joy to know, making us laugh, inspiring us with your attitude and wisdom, and now, today, like that BAMF runner guy, motivating us in just the right way. Congratulations on this milestone, hooray to your bad ass self, and thank you for just what I needed today.

  8. Molly McDonnell on May 26, 2017 at 7:43 AM

    You have to find that man and thank him!

  9. Christina on May 26, 2017 at 8:14 AM

    I’ve been waaaaaaiting (all of, like, 6 days, but still) for this marathon post and it did NOT disappoint — I love your writing and have missed it so. This is an amazing marathon story and yes, I KNEW. AFP, I always knew. And yet there seems to be no end to the ways in which you amaze me.

    Also, child birth won’t be such a shock to your system after miles 20-26.2 – just sayin’.

  10. Lan | MoreStomach Blog on May 26, 2017 at 12:14 PM

    i knew. i never doubted it.

  11. Mrs. Chesney on May 26, 2017 at 2:43 PM

    Love this. And you. xoxo

  12. Leigh Kramer on May 26, 2017 at 4:49 PM

    Again I say: I’m so freaking proud of you!

  13. Mark Allman on May 28, 2017 at 10:16 AM

    Awesome!!! I am proud of you getting up off the mat and saying is that all you got to the race and moving on!! You deserved every tear. What a major accomplishment physically and emotionally!

  14. Mark Allman on May 28, 2017 at 10:17 AM

    Great pictures too!!

  15. Hope on June 1, 2017 at 5:13 PM

    Totally cried over your BAMF cheerleader. I LOVE marathon stories! We carry each other! (But also, you pulled an effing Herculean effort.) Congratulations! Fun fact: Tim has said that it’s his last marathon after all 7 of his marathons. ;)

  16. [not the] Best Blog Ever on June 5, 2017 at 11:11 AM

    As I contemplate starting up little ol’ C25K *again* (contemplate, mind you – not even actually starting – hah!)… you are pretty much my inspiration and my younger spirit animal.

  17. […] Fargo Forever […]

  18. Patty Bradley on June 16, 2017 at 4:04 PM

    Way to go, Annie!!! SOOOOOOOOO proud of you!!! As competitive as I am, I could never do what you just did!!! You’re my hero!!!!!!!!!!!

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