Monday, September 14, 2015

Dick Beardsley Marathon Review

Saturday, September 12, 2015:

Now I have finished 89 marathons since the diagnosis of myeloma 12 years ago.  The Dick Beardsley Half Marathon in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, has a 20-year history, with many people who like it and come back every year, but this was the very first full marathon.  We chose it partly because I'm slowing down and it was advertised as having a seven-hour time limit.  The girls ran the half marathon and finished in good time.

My Race:

I had walked a marathon in 6:03 just three weeks ago in Edmonton, for an overall pace of 13:51 minutes per mile, and hoped to do almost as well here.  I finished (yay!) but didn't do nearly as well as I had hoped, finishing in 6:41:28, for a pace of 15:19.  This course was hillier than Edmonton, to be sure, and for that reason I had made a special wristband for a 6:10 finish, but obviously fell far short of that expectation.

Analysis is demanded here, because the upcoming Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) also has a seven-hour time limit, but more importantly a requirement to "beat the bridge," the 14th Street bridge at the 20-mile marker, which closes to pedestrian traffic at 1:15 pm, 4 hours and 57 minutes after the last runner (possibly me) crosses the start line.  That calls for a pace of 14:51.  Then the finish line closes at 3:00 pm, actually six hours and 42 minutes after the last runner crosses the start line.  Based on my finish in this race I would get there with 32 seconds to spare.  Much too close!

What caused the 38-minute time loss between the Edmonton and Detroit Lakes marathons?
  • The course is hillier but not really hilly.  7 minutes lost?  The MCM is just as hilly - nothing to gain there.
  • Our hotel was right on the race course and I stopped there twice, on the way out to drop no-longer-needed clothing, and on the way back to take an Aleve and pick up my water bottle and carrier.  More later.  12 minutes lost.  At MCM I will just toss the clothing.
  • I stopped 12 times to take snapshots and text them to my team (see ), once for a volunteer to take a short video of me running, and four times to receive texts.  10 minutes lost?  12?  I loved doing it, but will do much less of that at MCM, if any. 
  • For some of the distance I simply didn't run/walk as fast as I did in Edmonton.  Eh?  Focus, dude!  
  • I may have been slowed by the pain in my right foot.  More later. 
  • More than once I arrived at an aid station unprepared - it was time to take a gel or salt tablet (and wash it down with water at the aid station) but I didn't have the gel or tablet ready because my head was somewhere else.  Tsk. 5 minutes?  Again, focus! 
  • Weather was not an issue at either race, Edmonton or Detroit Lakes.
Near Mile 9, photo by Ardis,
who was going the other way.
At the start I was a little chagrined to see that I was already the very last runner - no other walkers at all.  In the first mile I did catch up to three very experienced marathoners who were doing a run/walk at about the same speed as my walk, and ran with one of those three, Henry Rueden, for most of the first nine or ten miles, enjoying the conversation and companionship.  I mostly walked and he mostly ran, but at about the same speed.

Henry is 65 and has run more than 1000 marathons, including as many as seven in seven days. This was a Saturday race and he was headed off to another marathon the next day, either in Sioux Falls or Sioux City - he wasn't sure which.  I checked - the Sioux Falls Marathon was the next day, Sep 13, so he probably drove to South Dakota rather than Iowa.  I lost him at a porta-potty and never caught up - I think he had been slowing a little for me.

The other two of the three were Jim Simpson, 73, who was the first in the nation to run 1000 marathons (Henry was third), and Bettie Wailes, 71, with over 300 marathons.  Bettie and I chatted briefly early on, and when I told her I was still working toward my 100th marathon, she advised me that her 100th was very sweet and I should really look forward to mine.

Together these three have more than 2300 marathons to their credit. They finished almost together, about 21 minutes ahead of me.  In fact Bettie and Jim finished in exactly the same time.  Jim lives in California and Bettie in Florida, but I understand that they are running partners in the race and sweethearts outside of it.  How cool!


I have a plantar wart on my right foot which really hurt a lot in the race.  I had prepared it by sanding it down ahead of time, but it wasn't enough - the wart is especially tender right now because of the myeloma and its treatments.  On my second trip past our hotel I stopped to take an Aleve (naproxen sodium) capsule, and that did help a lot.  I rarely (never?) take naproxen or ibuprofen in a race, because it can mask an actual injury, but in this case the risk seemed outweighed by the benefit.

NO other whining.  Nothing hurt, and nothing seemed unusually stressed after the race.  Obviously I can go faster than I did this time - just need to focus.  MCM is a much bigger race and I will be surrounded by other runners the whole way, making it easy to focus, whereas in this race I fell behind and never saw another runner after mile 11.  Not one.

The Dick Beardsley Marathon:

They did it!  The very first Dick Beardsley Marathon.  I salute the volunteers, the police, and especially the kids at the aid stations and along the course.  

It's a pretty course, in view of Detroit Lake for much of the way.  I would do this race again.

Two issues this year: (1) Right-side running, and (2) Early closure of the aid stations:
  1. Almost all of the marathon course was on the right shoulder of a road or street which was not closed to vehicle traffic, which meant that (a) if the road was crowned, the slant was always the same way; and (b) vehicles always came from behind.  Runners don't like either of those things.  Happily the slant didn't bother either my knees or my hips this time, probably because I was walking instead of running.  Also, vehicle traffic was mostly light except for four miles on County Road 22.
  2. At Mile fourteen I discovered that the aid station had closed down early, before the last runner (me) had passed.  No water.  I decided right then to pick up my water bottle and carrier from our hotel room just a mile further down the road, and was glad I did.  For the rest of the race, aid stations were unreliable:  Two were still manned, at least two were abandoned but with a few glasses of water left on a table, and some were simply gone - porta-potties yes, but nothing else.  This is unacceptable - a seven-hour race needs to support the last runners who are on pace to finish within seven hours, or they actually put those runners at risk.  I hope the race organizers understand this next year.
Happily for me I had picked up my own water carrier, so I had water the whole way regardless of aid-
station support.   Also a very dear man on a bicycle rode with me for several miles toward the end, even taking my picture at the 22-mile marker.  He had water for me, and he did refill my bottle from that, and he only left me when there was less than an hour to go and he saw that I could finish OK.

The finish line was still open when I crossed it; they kept it open for me and were very gracious.  I got my medal, my time, and a water bottle - marathon completed.  Thank you DB Marathon.

Splits:  26:59 (2 mi), 14:47, 27:54 (2 mi), 15:13, 14:05, 14:50, 17:28 (nature break), 13:34, 22:43 (hotel), 57:30 (4 mi), 35:46 (2 mi & hotel), 44:35 (3 mi), 47:19 (3 mi), 46:11 (3 mi), 2:34 (0.22 mi), total 6:41:28, the last 0.22 were faster - that was downhill!

1 comment:

peter said...

Way to go Don! Excellent write up as usual.