Sunday, June 07, 2009

Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon 2009

Sunday, June 7, 2009:

I’m whipped! I don’t recall feeling any more beat up after a marathon than this one. But so far (barring a late-reporting injury) that’s the only bad news. Except that Sunshine and Sweet Pea decided not to try the half, because of injury and weather, so they didn’t get a half marathon in South Dakota. That’s bad news too, especially for them. But I did finish the marathon. Everything is sore, especially the right hip flexors and both calves, but getting better already.

I loved this marathon! Organization was faultless, volunteers were superb, and the venue was without peer. There is also a half marathon and a marathon relay.

The Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon runs on almost 26 miles of the incredibly beautiful 100+ mile Mickelson Trail. The trail surface is mostly packed limestone, almost as firm as blacktop when dry, if not quite so today. For people who need a little extra cushion, it would be perfect. It also gives up a lot of little rocks, though, and my shoes collected quite a few. Pebbles poured from my shoes afterward.  The whistle is normal size. See the photo. That biggest rock appeared at my toes (how did it get all the way up there?) at about mile 18 or so, and it hurt, so I considered stopping at a bench to take off the shoe and remove it, as I had done once before. But my calves were saying they might cramp up if I did that, so I motored on and the rock eventually found an out-of-the-way place to stay. I talked to one guy who had some very light and colorful gaiters over his shoes, from Dirty Girl Gaiters he said. When she gets back from fishing (!), I’m going to check out that web site again. I knew that rocks would be a problem, but I forgot that I wouldn’t be able to stop and shake out the shoes without other consequences. I have heavier gaiters for snowshoeing, but never even thought of using them to keep out rocks instead of snow. Duh.

Within a couple of miles of the start in Rochford, the trail goes uphill at about a 2% steady grade, eventually climbing almost 1000 feet before topping over and heading downhill again at about mile 14. It’s an old narrow-gauge railway right-of-way. The descent is a bit steeper, a lot steeper in a few places, taking us down about 1700 feet to Deadwood. I had anticipated going slowly up to the top and then faster on the way down. But the second part didn’t happen - I was so wrecked from the climb that I really couldn’t take advantage of the downhill.

Eventually I finished in 5:10:00, 302 of 367 overall, second of six in my age group, almost an hour after the first in my age group. Age group award He could have showered and been sipping a cup of tea by the time I stumbled across the line. The award is a cute railroad spike. They charge $5.00 if they have to mail the award, and now I know why. It's a real iron spike.

Weather was an issue. The forecast said low 40's for the whole distance, moderate crosswind, and rain likely, perhaps even lightning. 40 degrees doesn’t bother a Minnesota runner, in fact that’s a lovely temperature for running. But a hard rain can quickly turn it from nice to miserable, even dangerous. Happily, it rained right before the race and after I was done, but it never rained on me! Just a little mist and occasional fog. I carried a jacket around my waist, just in case, but never needed it. The trail was wet though. Most of the way that was no problem, because the packed limestone had absorbed the rain nicely. But for two or three miles the limestone was in poor shape and we ran on a thin layer of mud, maybe a quarter to a half inch, enough to make me choose my footing carefully to avoid a slip. The temperature varied too - in a couple of places along the trail I noticed frost on runners’ caps or shoulders - frozen sweat. My shoulders were like that too. But only my feet ever felt cold.

The Mickelson Trail is scrumptious. The waterfall in the photo is not actually on the trail (I didn’t carry a camera), but it is typical of scenes we saw on the way. Most of the trail is away from all signs of civilization, often traveling along and Waterfall near Deadwood, SD above an ancient brook or small river. The grade tends to be steady, but the trail winds a lot. Forests, fields, spring wildflowers, interesting rock formations, even caves. We ran on wooden bridges and even through a tunnel. The trail parallels a road here and there, but never a major highway, and it occasionally passes by a rural (VERY rural) home or ranch. It goes through the ruins of the mines that once gave purpose to the original railroad. I’d love to bike the whole 100+ mile trail. In the entire 26 miles we saw only four parties on bikes who were not obviously connected to the race; perhaps they were doing that. Be sure to bring a fat-wheel bike :-)

I don’t need an excuse for running so slowly, but if I did, what would it be? (1) I ran a marathon 7 days before, (2) The trail surface is slightly soft and absorbs a little extra energy from each step, (3) I carried a little more stuff (jacket, gloves, knee warmers...) than usual, (4) The race included more than 1000 feet altitude change, up first, and (5) Altitude reached about 5200 feet (a mile high), and that’s enough. Definitely a masterpiece.

I am SO impressed by Mr Dan Kuch, from Arizona, who finished this tough race in 2:46:33. Whooee.

Splits: 9:21, 9:17, 11:09, 12:04, 11:46, 13:08, 11:36, 17:19 (porta-potty & emptying shoes), 11:36, 11:23, 11:50, 11:46, 12:12, 11:30, 10:04, 10:48, 11:04, 13:06, 13:18, 15:02 (porta-potty), 12:43, 10:35, 11:34, 11:10, 11:22, 13:20 (1.2 mi), total 5:10:00, average pace 11:49. I’ll take it. My 36th marathon, 22nd state.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009:

NSPCC. I ran a mile, felt some pain in the left ankle, and stopped. The elliptical machine felt fine so I used that for a while.


Beth said...

Congrats on a great race, and so soon after your last one! It sounds like a beautiful race and the weather was perfect for running. Great job!

Jean said...

Don, congratulations to you! I have often thought the Deadwood Mickelson would be a beautiful race. And wow, two marathons in two weekend. VERY nicely done. Keep running strong!