Spearfish Canyon Half Marathon, 2016, Part II

Part I was posted Tuesday, you can read it here.

A few minutes before 0730, the woman volunteer said the start time is 0730. If you are further back in the pack, your official race start time is still 0730. I was OK with this since I’m not exactly going to finish near the top! Some of the faster looking runners were up to the front and I was about in the middle. My goal was to start out conservative and dial it up after 3-4 miles. It seems like it takes me a few miles to find my pace, breath, etc. There would be 5 water/Gatorade stops and 3 porta potty stops I believe. The road was open to traffic throughout the run. There was very few people cheering since there are few places to pull off of the main road. As we got closer to town, there were a few cheerleaders and a few signs. They were appreciated!


My goal for this run was to finish under 2 hours and to keep my pace at about 9 minutes/mile. The first 3 miles went as expected. I kind of tried to find my place in the pack, pass some people and was passed by others. I felt great in the cool air and downhill road. I took water at the 2nd stop and used one of the cups to thrown water down my neck/back. On the 3rd stop I only threw water down my front and back. I wasn’t thirsty. I usually do not run with water or nutrition so this was “normal” for me. Miles 4-9 were great. I felt totally in control of my breathing and felt the pace was just fine. There was a lot of shade and pretty much no wind. The road was winding so I did my best to run on any flat parts, usually the middle of or side of the roads.

My support crew was at the city park waiting for me to finish. Alayna & Kathy and Mark & Jeremy in addition to my sister, Jodi, the photographer!.

Mile 9 is where I could feel the heat starting to come on. It was getting more and more sunny with less and less shade. We were getting closer to town so the road was becoming more flat, not so much downhill. Around mile 9 was a water stop where you could grab a paintbrush and brush a stroke on a board to make your mark against child abuse. I thought this was really neat and made sure I swiped a big mark on the painting. There was water here and again I threw it down my shirt around my neck.


After the painting is where I really felt things start to unravel for me. Up until this point, I had continually been looking at my watch to see my pace and I was OK with it. I figured I could finish sub 1 hour 55 minutes which was thrilling to me. But most importantly, I just wanted to finish strong and healthy. I told my friends the night before that I was disappointed in my Fargo half from fall 2015 because my finish was so poor and I felt so awful physically. I wanted redemption!

With every step I felt like the sun was getting brighter and brighter, the temperature I was certain was rising every minute. It was hot! There was no shade anymore to be found and not a breeze. I made a bunch of tradeoffs in my head – don’t walk, keep it around 9:30 min/mile, don’t walk too long, keep it under 10 min/mile and so on and so forth. I think every runner does this? I would take a few quick walking breaks and then start running. I’d look down at my watch to see I was running 8:30 min/mile. I think coming off from going downhill and being in cooler temps, it was just hard to mentally take it down a notch. But I needed to. My breathing was getting very labored, it felt humid. I just wanted to get through these miles. Towards the end when we got into Spearfish, we entered the park onto a paved path. Thankfully there was some shade and I make sure to find it. I was a bit disappointed in myself as I saw the possibility of a sub 1:55 slip away. But I was still happy. I felt good actually, minus the heat. Towards the end, a pack of guys came through and said ‘finish strong, c’mon let’s do this’. I was grateful for their encouragement and kept running. As I neared the finish line, I was looking for my sister or husband. Pretty soon I heard my husband yell c’mon Sarah! I then felt relief and smiled. I was done. I knew I was under 2 hours too. Soon I saw my sister and then just smiled even more. I got my medal right away and my crew handed me some water that I downed. I sat down on a chair and just caught my breath. They all looked so hot and sweaty! We took a few photos and talked about the run.

The race had plenty of muffins, fruit, water and chocolate milk on hand. Pretty soon I thought some chocolate milk might be good. I stood up to get some and chat with my friends. As I was chatting though, I felt myself get really dizzy and light headed. I told them I wanted to sit down and I did. I drank some of the milk. It was cold but hard to drink that thick stuff in the heat. I called my sister over to get me some more water and I noticed that the sweat was just pouring out of me. It was like my body knew I was done and was just decompressing. Pretty soon I got the chills so I was worried about some dehydration or heat stress. I just kept chugging water and that chocolate milk must have kicked in because I felt well enough to move around. I just wanted to shower now.


Here are my overall stats:

My final finish online results (bib #676) are a gun time of 01:56:59.701, 94/278 finishers, 34/161 gender finish, 9/49 age group finish and an average pace of 8:55/mile.

Garmin Vivoactive stats:

  • 1:56:58 time
  • 13.20 miles
  • 8:52 min/mi
  • Elevation gain: 466’
  • Elevation loss: 1,736’
  • Max elevation: 4,953’
  • Min elevation: 3,676
  1. 8:51
  2. 8:45
  3. 8:40
  4. 8:27
  5. 8:28
  6. 8:28
  7. 8:30
  8. 8:14
  9. 8:27
  10. 8:48
  11. 9:15
  12. 9:47
  13. 10:19
  14. 9:53


Again, I am really happy. I wish I could have finished stronger but that heat was no joke. Also, the heat being 85 degrees at 0930 is NOT typical for Spearfish. But it is what it is. That is the thing about running. You can’t control so many things. Some runs are good, some aren’t. I did go into this run more relaxed. I had pizza and beer the night before, I wasn’t so strict with every single workout. I had a fun, busy summer up to this point. This was a big change from the year prior. I used Runner’s World 10 week sub 2 hour half marathon plan that I purchased online for $9.99. It was money well spent. They laid out each week clearly with what you needed to do. I followed it pretty closely, especially the track workouts. I adjusted the weekend runs as needed and I always doubled up my Thursday run distance as I didn’t feel the mileage was quite high enough. I also made sure to bike about 2x per week for cross training. And I stretched a lot to keep my foot healthy.

You might think an all downhill race is easy. Well, I’d rather downhill than uphill for sure!! But there is stress added to your body you don’t think about. One tip would be to wear thicker than normal socks as your feet take a pounding. Your legs (quads) will likely be sore the next day. I did see in Runner’s World Magazine a month or two ago that this half marathon is listed as one of the most beautiful. It is stunning and with a small group, it was just excellent overall. I prefer smaller groups and everyone was just great. I can’t say enough about this run.

It should be noted that I am a bit superstitious. I ran in the same hat for every run during training. I never washed it once. (I really need to wash that.) PINK was on the radio as we left, I saw a lot of birds and I had a 7 in my bib number. To everyone else these are probably weird or make no sense. But to me – it was all good!

I can’t wait to see what will be our next adventure as a group. Us ladies continued on south to Hill City to wine and beer sample and we met up later with the guys in Deadwood for fun. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate! These people have made summer 2016 the best! Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe and I Love Mine!

About Feisty Eats

I love to eat, entertain, exercise and try new life adventures. I am in my 30's and have a great husband, dog (Winston) and cat (Brinklie). I love to try or make new recipes and drink new beers.
This entry was posted in Exercise, Feisty Eats, FeistyLife, Healthy Living, Misc. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Spearfish Canyon Half Marathon, 2016, Part II

  1. Mr. FeistyEats says:

    You did an amazing job Sarah, we are so proud of you! You are one determined person! Keep up the great work. Love you!

  2. Kate Sutter says:

    I wish you could see you through my eyes and see how totally fantastic you really are. Love yoj keep working hard.

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