Last year for our vacation we went to Disney world which was great but we can’t afford that kind of trip every year so we decided to go on a road trip to Mt Rushmore this summer. This week was more about having fun and enjoying the scenery than performance. We left on Tuesday and spent the week camping, hiking and sightseeing before the marathon on Sunday. My favorite part of the vacation was the cave tour at the Jewel cave. At one point we were 400 feet below ground level, I am a little closterfobic so this was a scary and exciting adventure. It rained on us most days so I didn’t run much because I was conserving all my dry close for our daily activities.
We had a 45min bus ride to the start followed by 1hr of waiting for the race to start where I learned from the locals everything about the course. The first half is nearly all up hill, gradual uphill but un relenting The second half of the race was downhill one last climb around mile 18. I decided to run the first half at 8:30 pace and save some energy for the downhill. Also I wasn’t sure how my legs would react in the later miles. It has only been 13 days since I ran the Colfax marathon in 3:31, my shortest time between marathons.
0-13 miles (8:33 pace)
It was hard holding an 8:30 pace in the first half of the race and it was getting warmer with every mile. I was sweating like crazy and my hat was so saturated that it was dripping off the bill. A few times I went into the red zone and I was worried that I would be toast in the second half of the race. The scenery was beautiful we ran through the black hills county side on a dirt trail with zero civilization. The frogs in the creek were so loud at times and I saw deer more than once.
14-20 miles (8:12 pace)
After 14 miles of uphill I was very ready to run some downhill. My plan was to recover and just coast downhill the next few miles. My pace immediately changed from 8:30’s to around 8:00. During this time my cardiovascular system did recover, I didn’t feel so hot and I wasn’t sweating as noticeably. My stomach had been starting to hurt. It came on so gradually it’s hard to pinpoint when it started but I do remember some minor discomfort in the first few miles of the race. Once I went downhill the jarring really aggravated my stomach. The last hill on mile 18 was vicious it was over a mile long and on the other side the downhill was so steep that I had to put on the breaks. I could only run up and down this hill at around 8:30 pace. At the bottom of the hill my stomach was really in knots and my feet hurt from slamming into the ground.
21 – 26.2 (last 10k - 7:52 pace)
Now we were back to the gradual downhill and it was easier to pick up the pace. After looking at my watch I started thinking “I think I can get under 3:40”. This was the motivation I needed to get going and my pace dropped into the 7:50’s. Every water station I stopped at made my stomach hurt a little more but I was sweating so much that I couldn’t pass up any liquids. The last few miles I was afraid I would puke with every step. For some reason today I was mentally tougher than usual and I finished the race strong even kicking in the last 0.2 to the finish.
Because of the course being uphill the first half and then downhill the 2nd half I had a huge negative split.
1st Half Marathon – 1:51
2nd Half Marathon – 1:46
We didn’t stick around long after I took a shower and then we started our drive back to Denver. On the way out of town I bought a half gallon of milk. 2 hrs of driving later and it was gone! During the drive I also drank a Gatorade and some soda. By the time we got home I felt pretty good, I have some tired muscles but other than that I felt fine.
The entire race was on an old railroad line and in many places the rails were still visible.
Here the trail went through the old train tunnel which was very cool