Learn : Marathon Story  

Running Background:

marathon photoI consider myself an intermediate runner and I primarily run for fitness. I wanted to try a marathon, just to see if I could do it!


I trained for 4.5 months following an 18-week, 3 day a week running plan. It included 3 alternate days of cardio - other than running.

The best training advice I would share with others is to just stick to the plan, rain or shine, cold or hot.

Race Day:

The 2007 Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon was worse than expected.

Well, one more thing checked off the list!

My friend from college, Misty, and I, along with the family, took a trip to Deadwood, South Dakota recently to run our first ever marathon. That's right... 26.2 miles. Yes, I know we are crazy, and we definitely realized that about...3 miles into the race.

It was much, much harder than I think we had planned! It was in the Black Hills, which is beautiful! And, it was on a nice dirt trail, and not on paved city streets.

This is how it went:

  • 4:30 AM: Wake up and get ready for the race.
  • 5:00 AM: Hop on the trolley outside the motel.
  • 5:30 AM: Load the bus to take us to the start line.
  • 6:25 AM: Arrive at the start and hang out.
  • 7:50 AM: Line up at the start line.
  • 8:00 AM: Race Director at the start line: 'Well, due to the recent rains, expect to find some muddy trails between mile marker 19 and 23. We wish you luck.' BANG! and we're off. (Elevation 5,258 feet)

Mile marker 1: Misty and I look at each other and look at the watch, 8:10, not too bad of a time for a mile, I think we can keep this up, and if we do, we should do pretty good!

Mile marker 2: Misty and I look at the watch, 22:00, YIKES! That's a 14 minute mile. That can't be correct. Maybe the mile markers are off.

Mile marker 3: Watch says, 32:00. Well, that's a little better, a 10 minute mile. This is just crazy. We didn't know what to think. Misty and I decide to split up and go at our own pace. Sounds good to me, because I think I just 'hit the wall'. Just so you know, the entire first 13.1 miles of the race are up hill. (1,821 foot gain of elevation, and we felt it) Maybe I should have trained by running a few more hills, well, its too late now!

Mile marker 4-11: Misty is up ahead, and I hope to catch up to her on the downhill portion of the race. I run with a 50-year or so old guy from New York City, named Patrick. He was really nice, and worked for a newspaper there (New York Times, possibly). He had ran around 50 marathons, and flew out with his sister for the weekend to do the race. It was his first time here, and he really thought the uphill part sucked, too. (good, it wasn't just me!) We struggled through it together, and kept reminding each other that once we got to 13.1, it would be downhill and we would fly to the finish line. Now, it wasn't what I would call steep. It was just gradual enough of an incline to slowly kill you.

Mile marker 12: Where is mile marker 13.1?

Mile marker 13: Great, I finally made it half way. Time: 2 hrs, 19 minutes. I didn't think that was too awful. Last year when Zach and I did that half, we did it in 1 hr, 59 minutes. So, that is only 20 minutes different, and considering that was all up hill, I thought I should be able to make up some time and finish close to my goal of 4 hours.

Mile marker 14: I am exhausted. I thought the downhill would carry me through to the end. But, honestly, I was so exhausted and taxed, I didn't know how I was going to tackle the rest of the race.

Mile marker 15: Where is the next drink station? I'm ready for a drink....

Mile marker 16: YEAH! Water! and Powerade! I take a glass of both. I am exhausted. I decide to walk while I drink 2 full glasses of liquids. I start running again, whoa, there is still 10 miles left! My 4 hour goal is out of the question, and my mission now is just to finish this race and sit down for awhile. My back is killing me, although my feet, knees, hips, and everything else are in great condition! I take 3 1-minute walk breaks with some running between them.

Mile marker 17: Still exhausted. I think about jumping in the little creek that runs along side the trail. It is flowing very fast because of the recent rains. It is deep, looks nice and cool, and it is moving faster than me. And, it flows near the finish line.....hmmmmm.

Mile marker 18: I think I have thought of about everything there is to think about while running. And, the same few verses of songs keep running through my head, and won't leave.

Mile marker 19-20: Ohhh, here is the mud they were talking about. By then, I am so mad at the race, and my inability to run the thing, and the mud isn't helping. Last thing I want to do is get my feet, socks, and shoes, wet and muddy. But, there is no way around it, unless of course I hop in that creek. People around me stop and look at the mud too, and decide to just walk through it. Maybe it won't splatter as much, and maybe we won't fall on our butts.

Mile marker 21: A guy my age passes me, pulls out his headphones from his ears and says to me, 'This sucks', I said, 'Tell me about it!'. At least there was someone there to express my anger with.

Mile marker 22: I imagine my family is at the finish line, wondering where in the world I am at. But, its not like I can call them up and tell them I am running a little late! I hope that Misty is at the finish line, reminding them that I am a very stubborn person, and am determined to finish this race. I'll get there, sometime!

Mile marker 23: Ok, a 5K left. I can do this. Only another 30 minutes, if I run the entire time. I still alternate running and walking fast. I just want to finish.

Mile marker 24: We are getting closer to civilization! I can see people and an upcoming town!

Mile marker 25: Mom and Mike are there to cheer me on! And, like I thought, they were wondering if I was still alive and on the course. Yep, here I am. One mile to go!

Mile marker 26: I see the finish line! I have never been so happy to be almost done with something in my entire life!

Finish line: Thank goodness! That was the longest 5 hours and 16 minutes of my entire life.

I was happy to see that Misty had finished in 4:25, and won our age division! Way to go Misty! I was also happy that Dad was there to stand me up, when all I wanted to do was fall over! And, I was glad Aaron was there to save me 'medically' by making sure I got something to drink and something to eat. And, I was glad Mike and Niki and Mom were there to take some pictures of the event for proof that we did it. Zach's dad and friends also took a trip over to the finish line to greet us! Baby Avery was there too, just chilling out.

After the race, Patrick, the older guy I ran with at the beginning, came over to talk. We were both glad that it was done. Misty and I also met up with a couple we had talked to before starting the race. They were very nice people from California.

Thoughts after the race: Wow! I am glad I did it. I am NEVER doing this again.

Monday: My body was pretty sore! Luckily I made it to work. I'm glad it is a sit down job!

Tuesday: I woke up, and I was mad at the marathon. I haven't beat it yet. I have some unfinished business. I want to run the entire thing, without walking....


I didn't have any problems with my recovery. I just rested the day after the race. By the next day, I felt great!

Tips/Words of Encouragement:

This marathon was very challenging. It is UPHILL the entire first half. Be prepared. Beautiful scenery is a plus!

Plans to Run Another:

I want to do another one -- to prove to myself that I can do it -- without walking.

For my next marathon, I'm going to pick a flat, or downhill, marathon.

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