Deadwood-Michelson Trail Marathon Race Report 2015

This Sunday I ran the Deadwood Michelson Trail Marathon – my 38th marathon, my 15th unique state. I have friends who’ve run this race for the past few years and finally managed to join them this year – and what a blast!

We had 8 of us who headed to South Dakota – 2 of us did the marathon and 5 did the half. We rented a big house just outside Deadwood and planned a nice long weekend. 6 of us drove up together and did some sight-seeing. We stopped at Carhenge out in Nebraska! And then on our day in South Dakota we visited some horses, saw a sod house and visited a fish hatchery. It seemed like a vacation, not just a race.

Deadwood Pre-race dinner

The night before the race we had a great homemade dinner and watched Spirit of the Marathon. It made me a little nervous but I told myself I was ready for the race. KJ and I had completed 3 20 milers in preparation for the race. Sure, I hadn’t been training like I did a few years ago, but I was definitely in better shape than when I did that silly Big Sur race…

I didn’t have great aspirations for this race: I wanted sub-4 definitely. 3:40 would have been great, but I recognized that this wasn’t exactly an easy course for it. If I did my conservative 9 min mile pace for the first half, I’d have to run 1:40 on the second half. That didn’t really seem likely. So I was really just looking for a gorgeous run that would check off another state.

Deadwood-Michelson Trail Marathon Profile

Elizabeth had been planning to run the half, but she broke her toe two weeks before the race, so she offered to drive us to the start so we didn’t have to take the bus. That was great! We could actually sleep in til 6am on race day and leave at 7 for an 8am start. We dropped off Erin, Aaron, Jed, Sara and Shannon, and then continued onto the marathon start. KJ and I had enough time to go to the portapotties and then line up. There were only a few hundred marathoners, so it was pretty small at the start. It was already in the 50s or so, but I decided not to carry water. Instead I just brought two honey stinger gels and lipbalm in my lululemon shorts. I wore new Brooks Ravennas and Injinji compression socks (two sock trends in one!).

I had told KJ I didn’t want to run with her as she’s definitely in better shape than I am, but we did start together. We both brought headphones and our phones for later in the race when we needed a boost.

The race started with a downhill, and we took off. We hit the first mile at 7:37!!! Way too fast. There was a small turnaround within the first mile or so, so we were able to count 7 women ahead of us. We ran together for around 5 miles before I let KJ pull ahead of me. I knew we were running a steady 1% uphill up til mile 14th and I didnt want to tire myself out too early.

M1: 7:37 (!!!!)
M2: 7:59
M3: 8:10
M4: 8:15
M6: 8:30
M7: 8:35
M8: 8:43

Once KJ left, I did turn on my headphones and listened to the Spotify station “deep focus”. It fit well with the GORGEOUS course. It was sunny (but not too hot). The black hills were gorgeous and we ran next to a nice stream for quite awhile.

Sadly, there was actually a decent headwind which was tiring. I did tuck behind some other runners to avoid the wind, but there were a bit slower than I wanted to go so I didnt stick behind them for too long.

We had discussed taking a half a gu every 5 miles, so I stuck to that. There were only water stops every 2-3 miles, which ended up being not as frequent as I would have liked.

I was really surprised that my left hip starting giving me troubles early on. Around mile 8 or 9 I stopped and stretched it, but it made for a harder run than I would have liked.

M9: 9:00
M10: 9:05
M11: 9:01

I kept my eye on my watch when it beeped at the mile markers, but I didnt let it bother me too much – the part of the course with KJ had put me well ahead of my 4 hr goal pace. I told myself I just had to get to mile 14 and things would look after themselves.

M12: 9:33
M13: 9:06
M14: 10:07

DMTMI mentally rebooted at mile 13 (although based on the splits above, it looks like it was at 12 or 14??). I stopped and walked for maybe a couple minutes, and changed my music selection to Taylor Swift. It worked, I felt revitalized. It helped that my friends had started running there a few hours prior. I was in the homestretch!

Around mile 14 I definitely felt the change in the course profile and took advantage of it – however short-lived that was. There was another female runner who had caught up to me and we cruised down the next few miles together. After a few miles though I stopped for a longer rest break at one of the water stops and she kept going. At this point I was playing leapfrog with a few other runners, and we were starting to catch up with half-marathon walkers.

M15: 8:01
M16: 8:18
M17: 7:34 (!!!!)
M18: 8:21
M19: 8:14

Miles 17/18 felt amazing and I was surprised how great I felt. I did basic easy marathon math – 8 miles meant between 64-72 minutes to go. My mile paces were super erratic due to my stops, but I wasn’t too worried about it., finishing between 3:45 and 3:50 seemed in the cards.

There was a hill at mile 20 and the guy in front of me stopped to walk so I did too. I felt pretty spent! But soon enough I picked it up again. At the next aid station I smelled some blue ice as I came up on a few walkers, so I asked the medics that were there if they had any. I stopped and got a glob of it to massage on my left hip before continuing. In many marathons I bring advil but I had forgotten to pack it this time, which was too bad.

After the super steep hill around 20 it was time to bring it in! I ran comfortable – really comfortable considering it was a marathon! Looking at my pace it did slow quite a bit but it didn’t feel like a crash. I just wasn’t feeling super motivated to kick it in.

M20: 9:41
M21: 8:33
M22: 8:36
M23: 9:03
M24: 8:18
M25: 9:22 (seriously, did I stop to change my music here?? Unacceptable…)

DMTM2I switched from Taylor Swift to some more upbeat music with a few miles to go, and then in the last 1.5 miles I figured I should try to kick it up. By this point there were few runners but quite a few walkers. They were really nice and cheered me on as I ran by. My watch had been off the mile markers for most of the course, but it’s always deflating when your watch says 26.2 and you keep running (in this case, for another .2!). One guy sprinted past me in the last 200 ft or so and I just called out words of encouragement and didn’t try to give chase.

M26: 7:57
Last ~.4: 7:37 pace

I crossed the line at 3:48:54, very happy to have finished well ahead of my 4 hr goal (and closer to 3:40 than 4:00!). Sara came and found me right away and all my friends were there, having cheered me on as a crossed the line (I hadn’t heard them :-/ ). I was rewarded for my effort with a bronze painted railway tie: I got 3rd in my age group! (KJ had come in at 3:40 and got 2nd in her age group). She was 6th female overall and I was 10th, so we really didn’t fall off our placement too much from that very first mile.


It was a great day for all: Aaron had broken his goal of 2 hrs, Erin ran 2 hrs and Sara came in at 2:01. Jed finished his second half marathon in a PR (even though he claimed it didn’t count because he’s run faster during a marathon). We got in the car and headed to Pizza Lab, a race-day tradition. We loaded up on pizza and I got a delicious orange soda 🙂

Sara and Andrea post-race

I was a bit out of it after the course but 6 of us rallied and went out to the town of Deadwood for a beer in a local saloon and then ate at Kevin Costner’s restaurant. We ended up back at the house playing cards on the back deck.

I have done a lot of races over the past 10 years, but this one was really special. The course was gorgeous (I wish I had more photos of the course to share!) but it was also special because of the camaraderie of my friends participating. Sure, we each ran our own race but it was great to have the experience of going to the event together (and all being equally limpy afterwards) to share. I’m very thankful to have found some race buddies here in Denver!

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