The Spearfish (SD) Canyon Half Marathon was held on Saturday, July 8, 2017. This was my second year in a row running this event. It is an absolutely beautiful course, a small race (275 half marathoners) and well organized. Spearfish is one of my favorite places to visit and it coincided with my mother-in-laws 70th birthday. That’s all it took for us to make it a long weekend of running and celebrating – myself, my husband and in-laws.
This road half marathon was two weekends after the Black Hills 30k. After the finish of the 30k and being pleased overall with that run, I felt really good about the half marathon prospects. BUT, that was short lived. I got sick after the 30k. The tingle in my throat turned into a full blown summer cold. Nothing major, but it really wiped me out. I missed work for three days even. Which has never happened to me. I slept about 12-17 hours each those three days. I was wiped out. Obviously, health is the most important. I was signed up for the half and figured I’d do it with no time expectations – but just finish vertical.
We left bright and early Friday morning so we could get to Spearfish for lunch, grab my packet and head over to Deadwood for the evening. My MIL likes to gamble so we wanted to get there in case she was feeling lucky!
We ate at our favorite Spearfish restaurant, Dough Traders for pizza. A great pre-run meal. Their pizza is thin crust and they don’t go too crazy with the toppings or too much cheese. It took me approximately 20 seconds to get my packet and we were off.
Once we got checked into the hotel, we went out and about for some drinks and so I could try to find a healthy place for dinner. I try to eat fairly healthy before a run and thought I might have trouble finding something light in Deadwood. We did find a salad place kind of like Subway where I got a great salad. HOWEVER, I might have went a little too hard on the beers. The weather was just fantastic and we were having a great time. It’s hard for me to say no. In retrospect, I think sometimes I can kind of self sabotage my performance by doing things like this but whatever, life is short. Have fun.
Regardless, I was home and to bed early. I had an early wake up call. The bus left for the 7am start at 6 am from Spearfish park. The streets of Deadwood are very quiet at 5:30 a.m. I felt pretty good, at this point my cold was gone but I did have a lingering cough. I was concerned a bit about that, and more so about the 95 degree forecast.
Once I boarded the bus, we took off for the 30 minute or so drive up Spearfish Canyon. I sat with a lovely woman named Priscilla from Spearfish. She had a hip replaced and still runs. She was nice to visit with and gave me a spot to check out in Deadwood.
Once to the start line (it is no fuss – literally just a white spot sprayed painted on the road saying start) we had 30 minutes to wait. A lot of people felt cold and I had some goosebumps but knew I’d be wishing for that cool weather shortly!
After a 3-2-1 air horn start, we were off. I started out conservative and just tried to find my pace and place in the pack. Everyone quickly spread out. The road is still open to traffic but at the early hour, there aren’t many cars or motorcycles out yet. The first 4 or so miles I felt great. I thought to myself I was going to really crush this race. I should know better to ever think things like that so early in the run. In fact, I should have been suspicious as my best miles are usually the middle ones. Around mile 5 I started to get a pit in my stomach. Like the one where you need to go to the bathroom. I had PLENTY of time before the run so I thought I wouldn’t have this issue. It felt serious and like I needed a bathroom. I tried to wish the feeling away and think about anything else other than my gut. At one point I had to stop dead still in fear I would have an accident in my pants. BUT, when I started back up, I felt pretty good.
I rushed along quickly and tried to focus on the scenery but quickly that tummy ache came back. Worse. I tried to think about anything else but all my thoughts went to poo. Sorry for the crude talk, but runners know. I thought of my dog. But then I just thought of how much he poos. I thought of the lovely trees but it made me think of their leaves and if I could use them as toilet paper if needed. I had to do another stop and actually CROSS MY LEGS in fear. FINALLY, around mile 6 I spotted some porta potties. This was the first time in a run I’ve had to use a porta. I said a quick thank you to God and was in and out in no time.
I shot out of that porta quickly trying to make up for lost time. I don’t know if my cadence was off or what but I got the WORST side stitch. I get them on occasion and I don’t know why it happens. My liver was probably crying mercy from the night prior. Haha. But it was pretty bad pain on my right side and I was forced to walk. I kept trying to run but it was bad – walk/run, walk/run, walk/run. I didn’t know what to do or how long it would last. It was horrible getting passed by people and I felt my hopefully awesome time go out the window.
At the next aid station, I completely stopped and drank two glasses of water. I decided to run again and just like that, the side stitch was gone. I was apprehensive at first but kept running until I found my stride again. After a small pity party, I decided I would just have fun. There aren’t many spots for spectators but they are people dotted along the route. I made sure to visit with them and took my time getting water and thanking volunteers at the other aid stations. You can paint a stroke on a piece of artwork at one aid station and I did that. I decided I knew I wasn’t probably at my physical best coming into this run so just let it go and have fun. And I did.
My toughest mile actually ended up being at the end. We were in the full on sun, it was heating up and we were on cement. I told myself after all my little mishaps to not stop and walk to run to the finish and I did. I am proud of a strong finish! It was awesome to see my in-laws at the finish and have my hubby cheering for me. The race starts and ends early so after I got some water in me, we were off back to Deadwood so I could shower, refuel and party with the fam!
1:51:17 | 8:29/mile | Countless smiles (at least for the 2nd half)
And I am still super happy with that time. I’ve come a long way from my first half marathon in 2015 where I had a 2:08+ finish and no idea what I was doing. Not that I am much better having a clue now, but I know my body cues much better!
If you ever find yourself in the Deadwood area, I have a few recommendations and not to miss places. We love this area and I seriously would love to live here. Maybe one day!
I know how to refuel from a run!! Seriously though, a salty Bloody Mary is a great refuel option. Hit. The. Spot.
I hope he isn’t mad I put him in the blog but here I am with my honey. I appreciate his support and encouragement in all of my fitness endeavors. It was a wonderful weekend with him! Let’s go running!