In my quest to run a marathon in all 50 States, once I finished the West Coast, I have found getting to races on a budget is tough. Airfare is not cheap, so if I have taken to getting together with a few friends when I can and driving to new states (if the drive is under 12 hours). The more friends we have, the cheaper and easier it is to road trip.
A few months ago, I looked into doing the Leading Ladies Marathon in Spearfish, South Dakota. My friends (and fellow Maniacs) Teresa and Sue had both run the race previously and said it was a blast. The only issue with this race is that it is a women's only event. That cuts down on any of my male running friends whom I might invite to share the drive with, so my friend Teota and I made plans to make the 12 hour drive ourselves. Unfortunately, Teota got called away on a work trip so I had a decision to make. 1) I could not go (not really an option); 2) I could fly ($500 airfare plus a rental car); or 3) I could try to make the drive myself. I went with option 3.
In the car and on the road!
My plan was to leave Friday night after work, but since I am not the best night driver and being alone, I decided to take the day off work and hit the road early Friday morning. This meant another night in a hotel room, but forking out a few more bucks for safety was money well spent.
I made it to Wyoming!
It took me about an hour and a half to make it to Wyoming and I was already sleepy. I was not sure how I would make a 12 hour drive, but after a 5 Hour Energy, I got a second wind and was wide awake.
This stuff saved me!
I stopped as much as I needed to and before I knew it, I had hit South Dakota around 7:00pm.
I made it to Spearfish!
Once I got to Spearfish, I noticed that downtown, the street had been blocked off and there was a stage with a band playing and people dancing and having a good time. I checked into a little hotel near there and then walked back to see what was going on. They have a fun little community street party every Friday night in the summer (I was told by one of the locals). There were lots of people drinking and having a good time. There were a few drunk guys trying to talk to me and at that point, I decided to head back to the hotel and get some sleep. I didn't want one of them following me back to the hotel.
I had heard that Mt. Rushmore was only an hour from Spearfish, so I got up early on Saturday and took a drive there. It is one of the National Monuments that I have never seen, but have always wanted to. It was really cool to see it in person.
Just hanging out with some Presidents!
It's a sign!! (insert inside joke here)
After I left Mt. Rushmore, I headed back to Spearfish to meet Andrea Amend, another fellow Maniac that answered my call for a room share. We met at the packet pick up where we picked up our bibs. We then checked into the hotel and then headed back to the pasta dinner.
When we got to the dinner, I realized that I was starving! I had had breakfast at the hotel at around 7:00am, but had nothing to eat since. Not eating or drinking enough the day before the race has always come back to bite me on the butt in races in the past, so I guess I over compensated for not eating all day and loaded my plate with food. I ate all of it! Yeah, that was kind of a mistake too!
You could really tell this was a women's marathon. During the pasta dinner they had young girls walking around modeling some of the latest fashions from one of the dress shops downtown. It was kind of funny and cute. I kept thinking what the guys would be thinking if this were a normal race!
The next morning Andrea and I woke up at 3:15am to get the bus to the start at 4:00am. The bus situation was a little confusing with the half marathon buses leaving from the same place and the bus drivers not really knowing where they were going, but in the end we got to where we needed to be and it was all good.
Andrea and I on the bus to the start!
Maniacs at the start!
The race started at the Lead Country Club. Once we got there it was pretty chilly, but not freezing. There were not a lot of port-a-potties so Andrea and I made that our first order of business when we got there. My large dinner was not sitting well either, so I wanted to be safe and beat the long line that followed us.
Since the marathon buses only had to make one trip, they let us stay warm on the bus until the race started, which was very nice! We waited until 5 minutes before the start, just enough time to drop our gear bags, take a Maniac photo and go!
The first mile of the race is uphill, which I hate as running uphill before I get warmed up sucks, but I sucked it up and somehow got in with the 4:10 pace group. I was a little nervous about that, but the pacer was going at a pace that felt quite comfortable so I just went with it.
I stuck with them for the first 3 miles, then my stomach started going a little crazy and I had to hit the bathroom and I lost the pace group. I was not worried though as I thought trying to stay with the 4:10 pace group was crazy anyway.
The mile 3 aid station! All the aid station volunteers were men (mostly)!
The course is one of the most beautiful I have ever run!
I just continued on my own going at my own pace being really careful to not burn out on the nice downhill sections of the course. I really did not want to blow up in the last 6 miles like I did at Sogo last month or at Big Cottonwood last year.
My stomach was still feeling weird so I ended up in the port-a-potty line 3 more times (the last time I had a 5 minute wait, but was at the point of not wanting to risk making it two miles to the next one (you runners out there get it). The nagging tendinitis in my right foot also started to twinge, so I took two Advil to try and ward off the pain for as long as I could.
By mile 11, my stomach issues were feeling better and the Advil had kicked in enough to keep me going with little pain.
The course from mile 11 to 13 is an uphill out and back. It was fun to see people running down the hill cheer us on as we ran up and I returned the enthusiasm when I hit the top at mile 12 and headed back down.
The trails here are beautiful! See the little hiker?
Once I hit the half, all my issues had seemed to work themselves out and my conservative first half paid off. I felt really good the second half. Between miles 15-20, I just tried to maintain a good pace without going too fast. I felt comfortable, but not kicking back either.
By mile 20, I looked at my watch and tried to calculate where I would finish if I kept my current pace, but everyone knows I can't do even simple math after mile 5! Where is Houston Wolf when I need him? Ha Ha! ;-) I really just wanted to break 4:30, but got excited and a little freaked out when I realized that if I kept focused, I would not only break 4:30, I had the potential to break 4:20!
I tried not to freak myself out and just kept running. The last 3 miles had warmed up a lot, so I stopped at the water stops and took a couple short 20 second walk breaks the last 2 miles, but for the most part, I just kept going. I really wanted that 4:20 now! I noticed early that the course was a little long and worried now that I was in the last couple of miles. .1 or even .2 miles over is expected, but .3 over can make or break a goal time!
When I came around the final corner and headed to the finish line, I was soooooo happy! I crossed the finish line, hit my Garmin and almost cried when I saw the time of 4:15:30!!
I can't believe it!!!
Now for some of you reading this, a 4:15:30 might not seem that fast to you, but for me as I get older, I almost gave up the notion of running a PR after 77 marathons! I am over the moon!
I was 5th in my age group with 1st and 2nd place going to the identical twins that came in 1 and 2 overall, which put me 3rd in the division!! Twin power!!
Of course I had to find more cute twins at the finish!
One must always relax on a stiletto chair with a rose after a marathon!
The Queen of Bling! Race Director, Elaine Doll-Dunn and I at the finish!
Andrea at the finish with her 2nd place AG award!
I LOVED this race!! My only suggestion would be to get better pacers next year. I ended up passing both the 4:10 and the 4:00 hour pacer when they bonked and heard that the 3:45 pacer was awful as well.
If you ladies want a good BQ course that is not in Utah, this is a good one!
My age group award is sooooo cool!
Hitting the road for the looooooong drive home!
South Dakota is in the books (or on the fridge)!
The sports writer of the Black Hills Pioneer (the local paper, interviewed me about my thoughts on the race. You can find the article here: http://www.bhpioneer.com/local_sports/article_a315d952-26e6-11e4-8e30-001a4bcf887a.html
Part of the article in the local paper the next day. The RD sent this to me with my age group award. So nice!