Sunday, June 9, 2013

2013 Deadwood-Mickelson Trail Marathon Race Report

Planned back in 2012, I registered nice and early in January for the 2013 Deadwood-Mickelson Trail Marathon.

I am slowly working my way through 50 states of marathons, but the goal hasn't been to rush through, pick the cheapest, or the easiest to get to. I wanted a scenic pretty race, showing off a great viewpoint to each state.
THE shot. #nofilter Beautiful views at South Dakota's Deadwood-Mickelson Trail Marathon
With that, I headed off on my first trip to South Dakota. An hour outside Rapid City, on the west side of the state, Deadwood was an hour drive away. And by coincidence, I arrived to find out Hertz had dropped me right into the freaking middle of a Jeep ad. Beautiful... and it was also SUPER windy.

I drove to the tiny town of Deadwood up in the Black Hills.

I picked up my packet from the small expo. Pink shirt with black panels for the ladies. Nice of them to personalize the bib, even though I know it's not a high-spectator race so I would be folding it small to pin it anyway.

Then, I headed to the place you think of when you are a tourist in South Dakota: Mt Rushmore!
Four dead Presidents and ME
Stopped at Lake Pactola on the way. Beautiful!
Fast forward to race morning. Parked by 5:30, yawn. The shuttle to the start of this point-to-point race left about 6 am and dropped us at the start at 6:30. For an 8 am race start. I met a sweet girl from Wisconsin named Stacie on the bus. It was her first marathon. It was 45 degrees when they dropped us off, in a tiny little gravel/grass parking lot. An hour and a half of standing in the cold and, with my not-so-great circulation, numb toes when we started. :-(

I started the race with my new friend Stacie. We chatted about anything and everything. The company was really nice.

The first mile or so was on a road, and included a small out-and-back before we entered the trail. I saw my friend Cathy up ahead of me as she headed back toward me during this part.

Then, it was just gorgeous... the whole time.

We'd curve around small bends, always heading slightly uphill. The GPS in my Garmin went a little wonky on pace between two of the big hills once, as those hills rose all around us.

About mile 4.8 we came up to an aid station right before a tunnel through the rock. As I pulled out my phone and remarked that I *had* to take a picture, a sweet volunteer offered to take my picture. All the volunteers were great!

About mile 6, Stacie dropped back, and without a word, we're separated. I'd said from the get-go that we both just needed to run our own race, so I was glad she was listening to her body.

At mile 13.86 was the top of the hill. The 13 mile hill. That awful 13 mile hill. We were now 6000 feet up (race had started around 5500 ft). We could see the top of the hill. A teenager ran towards us, encouraging us that we were almost to the top.

See the trail is derived from decommissioned railroad line so the grade at any point in the race is less than 4%, but it also means every hill is a long S-L-O-W tortuous hill. In the end, with elevation corrections, for this point-to-point race, my Garmin measured 2,776 feet of gain, and 3,225 feet of loss! It adds up quick. (To compare, the "hilly" San Francisco Marathon is about 900 feet of gain/loss)

We got to the top of the hill, and we began the several hundred feet slow decline for the next 12 miles (except one uphill mile I'll get to). I was so excited. This is what I had been waiting for. I had counted down to 13.86 miles to where my dead, tired legs would change up the muscle groups in use, and my more skilled job at running downhill with my overpowering quads would be glorious.

Mile 14 to 15 I waited for the jet engine to turn on. And it didn't. Ugh. Everything was just spent and my legs felt exhausted. I felt exhausted.

It was warming up quite a bit on this virtually cloudless sunny day. And while we'd only hit the low 70s, the unshaded course made me realize that even with the sunscreen I was wearing, a point-to-point due south to due north course was probably going to result in a crispy Libby. And it would - on my right side and down the backs of both legs.

Mile 15, the breakdown started. I had kept an even, consistent 12:25 average pace up that 13 mile hill. With a 12:20 pace for my current marathon PR, and expecting faster splits on the downhill, I started the second half of the race with illusions of a potential PR on a hard marathon training run. And when I just couldn't get going in that second half? Ugh.

The next 4 miles had a lot more walking breaks as I just tried to pull it together and salvage my legs. Around mile 18, I stopped on a really pretty bridge and took a few pictures.

I stashed my phone then looked up to see a guy with a fancy looking camera. I said, "Are you official?" He laughed and said yeah. I backed up 5 feet, then high-knees FAKED a run for the camera. I could not have had worse timing to run into the guy; however, the pictures were kinda awesome.

Mile 19 was a slow uphill which felt bigger since we'd spent 5 straight miles going downhill. This was also where we hit the official trail marker for mile 100 of the 108-mile Mickelson Trail. Cool to tick off the markers. And I loved the way these markers were a dominant presence but also managed to melt into the scenery.

At mile 20 was an aid station with mostly unhelpful teens. And WARM water. Like distinctly warm. Blech. Two minutes later a participant was walking back towards us, another gal asked what he was up to, and he said someone was hurt down the path. She and I ran a couple tenths to see if he needed any more help, but when we got there, two others seemed to have him situated, and I passed along that we'd passed the guy heading back for help.

A little before mile 21, and the second wind finally kicked in. I would run 9/10 of the mile and walk the last tenth the whole rest of the way. And had my fastest mile splits of the day those last 5 miles. 11:00-11:30 per mile run splits, and with the walk breaks, it would still average to 12:00 miles.

We spent most of the race by this creek, either on one side of us or the other. By the end, I was dying to jump into this creek.

The second half of the race I passed a lot of people. I thought it was just in my head that I was and that my impression was that a lot of people were walking. But of the 326 finishers total, I passed 17 of them in the second half. And a lot of people, both faster and slower than me, had 30 minute positive splits in the second half of the race. It made my 11 minute positive splits (2:47, 2:58) feel a whole lot more successful.

The last few miles I couldn't stomach any more Honey Stinger chews. I repackage a bag of 10 chews into 5 per small pill ziploc. So I had 3 of the 4 of those I had packed, amounting to 240 calories. Which is interesting because when I used to run more road marathons last spring, I would eat 5 GUs, totalling 500 calories. This time, as an ultrarunner, I'd become very used to "real" food, and Coach had taken away any GUs or chews on long training runs to increase my fat burn efficiency as my body worked to use what it had. It meant I wasn't accustomed to these unusual calories of "not quite food" and my stomach felt a little off from it the whole race from the first one I took about 6 miles in.

I chatted a couple miles out with a guy that it turned out would be running Bighorn in 2 weeks also, except the 50 mile to my 50K plan. A mile out we came into town, which was a bit of a shell shock to the beautiful remote outdoors. We wound by parking lots and alongside one of the hotels and crossed the highway with the help of some great police officers. Another guy that I had leapfrogged with some throughout the second half was even with me a mile out, and he said I looked strong and needed to go for it.

I slowly reeled in and passed several people that last half mile. Including a poor girl I scared out of her skin when I padded up alongside and gave my standard, "Good job!" She was very zoned out!

2 tenths from the finish. 26 miles done. Next 0.1 mile was 11:00 pace. The last 0.1 mile was an 8:41 pace. Great strong kick, it was almost too hard. I almost stuttered to a complete halt about 4 steps from the finish line to hold back vomiting at that pace, and then staggered across, completely spent.
Spent. "Don't throw up, don't throw up..."

5:44:50 chip time. I thought, "My PR is 5:21, and that's back of the pack. This has to also be the same!" I happened to look at results the next day. I was actually 98th out of 144 females. That's 68th percentile. That's midpack. Shocked, I'm just shocked. Later, my trainer pointed out, 68th percentile with altitude, killer long slow slight climbs/descents, and high mileage training week. Yeah, I'm pretty happy about all that.

Of course, for me, I was most proud of the mind over body results of those last 5 strong miles. I fought the demon miles 15-19, but ultimately I won. I don't care the finish time associated with that result. I know how my heart felt when I won that battle.

Finisher Medal
That afternoon I toured Spearfish Canyon. It's always good to keep the legs moving. Spearfish Creek was pretty and Bridal Veil Falls was a nice find.
Bridal Veil Falls

Spearfish Creek

The walls of Spearfish Canyon
And then headed home on a plane Monday morning. A great trip, an awesome introduction to the beauty of South Dakota, and marathon/ultra #19, marathon #9, and state #11 complete!

Next up: Taper then Bighorn 50K on June 15th outside Sheridan, Wyoming.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful pictures! Very proud of you! M&D