Marathons: Paul #41, Leah #31, State #25 : Sioux Falls Marathon 2014
7th September 2014, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, USA
Finish Time = 3:57:54
After planning to take Run with the Horses easy, but then not, Sioux Falls was our next in line to “take easy”. Our plan was to shift our focus slightly – running a marathon in all 50 States was originally the goal… well, running a marathon in 10 States was originally the goal in order to be elligible to join the club and wear the vest, but goals have a habit of growing larger especially when you mix with the Marathon Maniacs. Anyway, after discovering the 50 Sub 4 Marathon Club, whose goal it is to not only run a marathon in all 50 States but also doing them all in under 4 hours, this then became our new stretch goal. Especially given that only 60 people in the world have officially managed to complete this challenge so far.
We came to realise that our limit is around 1 marathon every 3 – 4 weeks at Sub 4. We know amazing people that are running them much more frequently in faster times, but for us with limited (or no) training during the week due to our work schedule, every sub 4 is a struggle and a toll on our bodies. We completed 3 marathons in 3 States within 2 weeks in March, all Sub 4 and it broke us, we still haven’t completely shaken off the injuries.
We figured we could keep running 1 State a month in sub 4 hours and it would take us another 25 months to complete the rest, plus a couple more months to clean up some States we didn’t run sub 4 at, before we had the goal. But due to some personal reasons, we don’t have 2 years to complete the challenge. We need a shorter time line and the only way to do that is ease off slightly in each race in order to have any hope of our bodies recovering in time for the next. A marathon is never going to be easy, the longer you’re out there the longer you’re in the heat (or cold), on your feet and pushing your body for longer. However, an extra 10 or 20 minutes onto the usual finish time can mean less muscle ache, faster recovery and a less likelihood of injury.
So our plan was to ease back slightly to try to fit more marathons into a shorter space of time. There’s still not going to be anything easy about it though. So Sioux Falls was the start of this plan.
We arrived on the Friday and spent Saturday exploring the town. After picking up our packets at the expo we drove over to Falls Park, walking around looking at the waterfalls and the views from the tower.
Afterwards we headed into the downtown area where they had a full German Oktoberfest, complete with food, beer and live German music. We carried on to the Arts Festival being held in the center of town before finishing up at Josiah’s for an amazing lunch with homemade sandwiches and soup.
On the morning of the marathon we made our way to the start and logistics were a breeze which is usual with a smaller marathon and so much less hassle than big city runs. We started in the football stadium and then ran out onto the roads. We got talking with another 50 Stater who was wearing the vest.
Find Yourself a Mike
A few minutes later a guy called Mike ran up and started talking to us. He had run 42 States, was a really friendly guy and loved to talk.. and use colourful language.. loudly. He was also running at a pretty good pace. We got lost in conversation with Mike and slipped into his pace too. He stayed with us, if we broke up at aid stations to get water a minute later he’d come running up again and carry on the conversation from where we’d left off. It made the miles fly by, we’ve never talked so much to someone in a race before, he was a great. My most memorable part was when he shouted out to us that he “hated f***ing relay runners”, right as we passed a relay changeover station. I asked him if he realised he’d said that right at the changeover station. It was intentional.
We hit half way in 1:55, under the time required for sub 4 and got to around 14 before Mike stopped to use the toilet. We carried on and we figured we’ve now already run this far at the pace required for sub 4, we might as well just keep it up! We got to 16 and stopped to use the toilets ourselves. When we came out, there was Mike, he’d seen us up ahead. We ran and talked some more up to 20 miles where we said he would need to slow down to a run/walk from that point. We said our goodbyes and pressed on.
The last 6 miles weren’t too bad, we had to dodge around some walking half-marathoners, and of course by about mile 23 we and our bodies just wanted it to be over and to stop. It was good to see the finish up ahead at 26, we ran through and pretty much just casually observed “Well, that’s another sub 4, let’s go stretch”. We definitely had Mike to thank for keeping us company for so many of the miles and at a faster pace than we’d planned.
So after 3 years of running in the US we have completed State number 25 and made it half-way. Now we only have a year to complete the other 25!
Perhaps the stretch goal now is to complete all 50 States running at least half of them in under 4 hours. Right now we’ve run 22/25 in Sub 4. We’re about to start a block of back-to-back weekends, so we’ll definitely need to be sensible with the pace and hope the injuries of earlier this year don’t come back, doing them so close together again. It’s going to be tough.
Elevation Graph from my running watch:
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