NORTH DAKOTA - Bismarck Kroll's Diner
State #27
Finish time:  5:54:14
I had looked at this map a few times, but had just glanced at it.  After
leaving packet pick-up, I pulled the map out of the bag, and was sad to see
they had given me the half-marathon map.  Oh wait.  Dang.  This IS the
marathon map, I have to run the half-marathon route twice.  Boy, that is
gonna suck!  
I wasn't looking forward to the double loop, but I was still much less cranky
than I had been before starting Bozeman.  So, I put on my Marathon Maniac
gear, and headed to the start.  I knew several Maniac friends were going to
run this one, so I looked for them at the start.  (Why am I the only one who
ever looks cold at these things?  BRRR!
Cindy and I ran together the first 10 or 11 miles.  Usually I don't like to talk during my marathons, because, well, it isn't easy to talk and pant at the
same time, but I was trying to make these damn things get fun again, so I gave it a whirl.  Maybe it was just Cindy's great conversation, but it was
really nice to have someone to talk to.  The first 4-5 miles were through a park where we got to watch the sun come up.  Then, after some confusing
turns, we ran out onto a bike path along a highway.  Then, about mile 6, we hit a huge hill.  The picture just doesn't do it justice.    
After running back along the shoulder of the highway (which sounds awful, but
these last few marathons along the shoulders of highways haven't really been
that bad), Cindy hung back with some walkers, and I pushed on, hoping to keep
my under six hour streak alive.  After more confusing turns, I crossed the finish
line at 2:48:05.  Too bad I still had to do it all again!  A marathoner did pass me
and finish both loops before I had completed one.  But at least it was just one
fast guy.  I was almost to the part where I had to start climbing the hill again
when I caught up to a few maniacs.  They quickly left me in the dust, but I tried
to keep my eye on them.  Back up the hill, around campus again, and finally I
was looking down the hill once more.  It was prettier this time around.  
Finally, with only three miles left, I got my second wind, and was
able to catch up with the two maniacs I'd been tailing.  We
triumphantly crossed the finish together.  Everything is better with
maniacs!  So glad I was proudly back in my Maniac gear!  
I had signed Richard up to volunteer at the finish line, so for 26.2 miles I had
looked forward to getting my medal from him.  But, they had put him to use
directing, not medaling, so he simply directed me to my medal.  Oh well.