Here we go, race big day!
I was ready to tackle another 26.2 miles and attempt a new PR and a better BQ margin. In May, I ran the Famous Idaho Potato Marathon in Boise, ID and barely squeaked by with a BQ of 3:34:40. I was ready to tackle this race and get a better BQ so I could toe the line in 2017! My training had gone well so I was feeling good about my goal!
After a restless night of sleep (the usual for a race night) I was up at 5 to get myself together and out the door by 5:40 for the 6:30 start. Got dressed, remembered to put on sunscreen and got my breakfast of peanut butter toast and coffee. Let’s do this!
It was chilly outside as I walked next door to the start line but it was the perfect start temperature. Again, being at the host hotel was a huge plus and made the morning so easy!
One interesting part of this race is that the start/finish line is inside. Yep, inside the area. This made the start kind of nice because we didn’t have to worry about wearing a lot of layers to stay warm while waiting in the corrals. We also got REAL bathrooms which was a real treat (it’s the little things people!).
The full marathon was starting a half hour before the half marathon and so the half marathon had to wait in the hallway outside the arena until after the marathon took off.
The national anthem was sung, a prayer was said and we were off!
The sun was just starting to rise but there was enough light and street lights to be able to see the road. There were good pace groups and they definitely had a group with them. I hung just behind the 3:25 pace group for awhile but eventually dropped back to get into my own groove.
The first 5 miles took us from the convention center to downtown Sioux Falls. We ran up a few hills which was okay early in the race and the downhills were even more fun on fresh race legs. I was able to keep my cool on the hills and not feel like I needed to charge up them. There were also LOTS of people out cheering which was super fun. Sometimes in races like this cheering is minimal but this was not really an issue.
The next 5 took us onto the multiuse paths and we crossed over the bridge in Falls Park that crosses the Sioux Falls which are beautiful and in the early morning light just looked magical. We continued on the multi-use paths, looped through some parks where I first met my cheering crew (more on that later) and then we went into the residential area.
So my cheering crew, well they weren't really there for me but for a racer near me and they were all over th course. Afterwards I saw them and they were cheering the woman that helped me in the last few miles and they said they went to cheer at 11 different spots, that's some intense spectating! It was fun to see them and make some new friends on the run. Anways back to it...
The residential area went on for what felt like forever. We zigged-zagged, kept climbing gentle hills and just wound around for a really long time. I had mentally made a note of the neighborhood loop, but this felt endlesss. The nice thing was that many of the residentss came out to cheer in a real way, not just spectate with coffee. It was super fun!
Finally around mile 16 we got back on the multi-use path to finish the loop around the city. I also got to see my boyfriend and puppy dog which was a much needed boost to my spirit. They were right next to the waterstop and so I took a little bit more of a walk break to say hi and refresh my mental focus. My dog was in the dog park that was near the path so I got to run “with” her for a little section and it was heart breaking to hear her cries as I ran away to finish up that race.
At this point the race took a weird mental turn. The racers were really spread out around me and it was hard for me to stay focused and keep on pace. I knew my goal, I knew what I needed to do but it was actually easier to tell myself “this is just a tempo run, just meet your paces” rather than focus on the race, because, well, it didn’t feel much like a race. At one point we were on the path and I didn’t see anyone around me and had that sinking feeling that I might be off course. I wasn’t but it was just that lonely out there. The last 3 miles were also not very interesting and pretty which made it even harder because by mile 24 I was kind of over it. I just wanted the race to be done, but I dug deep tried to stay focus and meet my paces. You just have to keep pushing!
The one saving grace was that a woman caught up with me in the last few miles so it got me back in the game and gave me someone to focus on staying with. It helped a ton and without her I’m not sure if I would have a new PR!
I finished in 3:32:01, beat my PR by 2:39 seconds, I have a nearly 3 min BQ buffer, 9th female and 3rd in my age group, woots! Fingers crossed it will be enough to get me into Boston this year!
At the finish we merged with the half marathon runners and ran back inside the arena through the finish line. Again, kind of weird to finish inside but kind of cool. I grabbed my medal and grabbed lots of goodies (they had SO many snacks) and grabbed my free beer. I then chilled for a bit but since we had the dog, my boyfriend couldn’t come inside and hang out with me so I tried drinking my beer a little too fast which was a mistake. I stood up and immediately realized my body/stomach really didn't like that (I think my body just has an adversion to Michelob Ultra at this point :P ) but a lovely medical volunteer helped me out and I'm eternally grateful for her kindness and her low-key spirit. I just felt so silly because it was not race related at all.
Overall I was pretty impressed with this race. The volunteers were awesome, the course was pretty okay and the swag was legit. I highly recommend checking this out if it fits into your schedule. It's a smaller race but is definitely well supported by race staff, volunteers and the city. The water stops were plentiful, had real cups of water and had water and gatorade at every stop. They also handed out GU at 2 of the waterstops too. Go check it out!
Don't think that it's Sioux Falls so it must be really flat, there were lots of rolling hills and my Garmin/Strava counted nearly 400ft of climbing.
Until next time - happy running!