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Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon - Echoguy Race Report

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Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon - Echoguy Race Report

Post by echoguy on Thu Jun 05, 2014 11:44 am

Deadwood, South Dakota is the town where the marathon ends. The Mickelson Trail is the converted rail trail that the race is run on. I guess that it is technically a “trial marathon”, but it is not technical trail like you might expect for a Black Hills race. The trail itself is a wide, mostly pea gravel trail with some spots of asphalt and some of dirt. No rocks or roots or severe inclines to worry about.

I picked the race because it is close to the high point of South Dakota, Harney Peak, and I hoped to finish the marathon and climb to the high point during my stay to add to my state collections of both.  This trip had enough interesting stuff around that Martha was game to come along and take in some of the sights as well.

We flew into Rapid City on Thursday morning.  The weather report called for a significant chance of storms every day but Thursday, so we decided to go ahead and knock out the highpoint right then.  The climb to the peak was a very pleasant hike of seven total miles to a very cool abandoned fire tower. There are two different paths to the top that start from the same spot making it possible to hike up on one and return on the other.  The scenery was wonderful, only a bit marred by all of the dead pine trees that had fallen to the Mountain Pine Beetle.

Friday we spent the day hiking and driving among the prairie dogs, bison and bighorn in Badlands National Park. The highlight on Saturday was Mount Rushmore followed by a short hike on the Flume Trail near Sheridan Lake. With all of the hiking I obviously was not doing the standard marathon taper. As a matter of fact, the marathon was kind of a secondary activity for the trip and I hadn’t really paid much attention to the course or devised a plan for how hard I planned to run. Knowing that the race was on a rail trail, I guessed that I would finish in 3:45 – 4:00.

The course is a point to point on the trail, so the bus picked us up from the host hotel at 6:15 and dropped us off at the start at about 7 am for an 8 am start. We drove through a downpour on the way to the start, but we were very lucky that we did not get rain at all while we waited in the start area.

Section 7- The Start  - 1.9 miles -15:24 (7:57 pace) Ave HR 131

The start had about 450 runners on one lane of a two lane road with no pace teams or markings of any kind, so I just walked back from the line until I came across some folks who looked like they might run in the 8-9 minute per mile range. We started on a significant but comfortable downhill on pavement that turned into a gravel road after about one mile. When we hit the gravel I immediately began to sense sand in my shoes. Drat!! I have great gaiters back at home for exactly this situation and it never occurred to me that I might get dirty on a trail marathon.  What was I thinking?? I started planning on taking a few minutes sometime later in the race to empty my shoes.

Section 2- First Hill – 11.9 miles – 1:41:14 (8:32 pace) Ave HR 137

When we turned onto the trail itself it was a very nice pea gravel surface that was quite comfortable to run on.  Like all rail trails, it appeared to go slightly uphill all the way to the horizon.  I convinced myself that I was seeing an optical illusion.  The scenery in this part was stunningly beautiful. I began to wonder if I would tire of seeing sprawling pastures with babbling streams. Just as I thought it might get boring, we would run through a grove of Aspen or through a tunnel and my senses would come alive again.

The weather ended up being perfect for this part. Low 50’s and cloudy. I have a very narrow temperature tolerance, so I knew this would be one of my few opportunities in the next several weeks to actually run hard and I started thinking that I would.

After four or five miles I finally had the courage to ask one of the other runners if they knew if we were in fact going uphill, and if so when would the uphill be over.  He mentioned the course gained about 800 feet over the first 13 miles, and then went about the same downhill most of the way to the finish except for one more hill around mile 18. Well isn’t that just an interesting piece of information??? I am accustomed to running on rolling hills of Ohio, not a gentle grade for miles and miles.  So…I just settled in to what felt like a usual marathon effort and let the time fall where it may.

I hit the half marathon split at 1:50 and for the first time started thinking that maybe I could dip under 3:40 if I could run a negative split race. I tried to think of a race that I ran with a negative split. Hmmmmm….couldn’t think of one. Well, there can always be a first! But, I told Martha not to expect me before 3:45…oh well, I’ll find her somewhere.

Section 3- First Down – 4.6 miles – 33:17 (7:18 pace) Ave HR 141

After nearly 12 miles of consistent uphill, hitting the peak and running down was exhilarating!  I actually had to hold myself back a bit to keep my pace slower than 7 minute miles. This wasn’t just downhill, it was gentle downhill. As in no breaking, lean a little forward, and let it go without even thinking about it downhill.

The trail had some muddy spots so I started paying particular attention to my lines and tangents.  When I start doing that I am no longer running, I am racing. My effort was just where I wanted it and I realized in this section that I may have a good one going. My mind started to drift toward an age group award. Small, quirky races sometimes have really cool age group awards and I started wondering how many 50+ year old guys were up ahead of me.

Section 4- Second Hill – 1.8 miles – 14:52 (8:25 pace) Ave HR 144

This section seemed like a mountain! Again, I had no idea how long this hill would be, but I figured it couldn’t be as long as the first one so I put my head down and tried to maintain an 8:30 pace until we hit the downhill again.

In this section I started hitting the half marathon walkers. Even though they were actually walking in a different race, they were on the course, and every one I passed seemed to give me a small hit of endorphin. Occasionally a relay runner would come by me, but I probably only got passed by 2 or 3 people in the entire second half of the race.

Section 5- The Finish -6.2 miles -47:38 (7:41 pace) Ave HR 144

The first half mile of this section was the only steep hill of the entire race. Thank goodness it was a downhill! I tried to lean in and let it go, but I just couldn’t turn my legs over very fast at this point, so I had to break a little.  When we got to the bottom of the steep grade I noticed that the stream beside the trail was flowing with us. Yippeee!! Gentle downhill all the way to the finish line.

As the miles clicked away I started the calculations of how slow I could run and still finish under 3:40, then started thinking about 3:35. I was running comfortably hard, but felt confident that I was getting about as much out of the race as possible.

In the last mile I finally saw another person running among the walkers. He had an Ironman singlet on, but looked to be over 50 for some reason.  I worked to pass him and he did not respond with any speed when I went by. I was happy to learn after the race that he was in fact in my age group so passing him bumped me up to……. 4th. Crud, the dreaded one place short of the podium.

Finished in 3:32:19. The fastest of the three marathons that I ran this spring. A good confidence builder that my heart is tolerating the strain and I may be able to go a bit faster this fall with more speed training over the summer.

After the race Martha and I traveled 70 miles northwest of Deadwood to hike around Devil’s Tower (of Close Encounters of the Third Kind fame). It was by far the coolest thing of the whole trip! They have a very nice 3 mile hike around the tower that allows you to see the tower and surrounding area from all different angles.  

Here's a link to our Flickr photos from the trip. https://www.flickr.com/photos/13545606@N03/sets/72157644912306931/

Here's a link to my Garmin info that shows the elevation profile
http://connect.garmin.com/activity/512135045

Happy trails,

echoguy

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Re: Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon - Echoguy Race Report

Post by Dave Tuttle on Thu Jun 05, 2014 6:45 pm

Nice race Brian and I really like your race reports, it's almost as good as running with you... You and Martha sure know how to mix running with seeing the best parts of this country.

We're going to be in the Smoky Mountains next week and hope to get some good runs in but no races on tap.

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Re: Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon - Echoguy Race Report

Post by trishb on Fri Jun 06, 2014 4:51 pm

Great race report...and love the pictures!

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Re: Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon - Echoguy Race Report

Post by marathonman60 on Fri Jun 06, 2014 5:09 pm

You should have made a movie, great travelogue.
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Re: Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon - Echoguy Race Report

Post by Rachel August on Sat Jun 07, 2014 11:57 am

Brian - great race report and beautiful pictures!!!!

I loved reading how much faster you got towards the end - super run!!!!

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Re: Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon - Echoguy Race Report

Post by Marc Thayer on Sat Jun 07, 2014 4:37 pm

Congrats on all accounts..nice trip..awesome race...(or was it a run?) and an fantastic report.

I'm sure we all go thru similar mental wanderings as we do our 'thing'...but it's nice to see it written up so well.

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Re: Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon - Echoguy Race Report

Post by Guest on Sat Jun 07, 2014 7:50 pm

I love Brian's race reports.  Makes me want to run with him......train for another marathon and run it before I'm 60?  Who knows....never far from my bucket list.   Very Happy

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Re: Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon - Echoguy Race Report

Post by RoadKillBill on Tue Jun 24, 2014 5:11 am

Great trip and great race.  Way to put that Ironman guy in his place. Well done!  How many states to go?

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