Sunday, June 6, 2010

Mickelson Trail Half Marathon - 1:31:17

I had a good race today at the Mickelson Trail Half Marathon in South Dakota. 1:31:17. A Half Marathon PR from (June 2008 1:31:32). I got 2nd in my division 42nd overall out of 1600 Finishers.

It was a really good trail. This might be my favorite race from a running perspective. Nice cinder trail the whole way, an old railroad that has been converted to trail through the Black Hills canyons. Gentle downhill most of the way with a couple of hills and only a few steep downhill parts A stream much of the way. Highly recommended from a running perspective. This was my kind of course. The race is not much from an expo, crowd or post race perspective, but it great for running.

Mickelson Trail Half Marathon Race Results

Garmin Watch Data For Race

Pre Race
We got to our campground on Friday evening driving up from Denver at 8:30 and stopping for Lunch and Mt. Rushmore (first visit). We went with Lisa and Greg, they drove a pop – up trailer. We camped at Lake Roubaix 15 miles southeast of Deadwood about 10 miles from the half Marathon start/drop off point. Nice campground with big lots spaced out a lake with a swim beach and hiking trails. Greg caught 5 trout in the lake and streams around the lake. The temperatures were in the 60’s 70’s with some light rain, overcast with some sun on and off throughout the day.

Greg, Lisa, Gina and Dennis at Mt. Rushmore

We had 6 dogs (4 of theirs, 2 of ours), so we went on lots of dog walks, relaxed and camped. I slept pretty well Friday night and OK on Saturday with some noise from the campers and my usual pre-race tossing and turning. We went into Deadwood Saturday and walked around a bit, then to the Lodge to get the race packet. New technology first time I ever had the disposable timing chip on the bib itself. With a little foam protector around it. The lady at the expo said to wear it above the waste. I usually put it on my shorts, but I did it on my shirt just in case. It worked although they did not have split detectors on the course.

Swim time for the 6 dogs at Roubaix Lake, SD

Gina and Lisa at Deadwood, SD. Rosy, Levi and Lucy

Web Album for Our Trip

Race Day
The race started at 8. It was 45 degrees at our camp site, cloudy, no wind and humidity in the 50% range. Great for running. Gina drove me to the drop off point (via dirt road ½ way). It was crowded at the start. People lining up on the trail and around the area, mostly runners but some family/friends. The porta-potti lines were not too long and there were lots of places in the woods which people were using. The trail is narrow (old railroad) so lining up on the trail they had mile pace markers. I headed toward 7:30. There were a lot of people around the 9-10 minute pace through about the 8 min pace (where the bag drop was). After that it was sparse. I had about 15 minute wait before the race start. There were only about 50 people on the trail ahead. A very timid start, people were really laid back. Not a big push toward the start, no gun or horn, just a guy at a computer looked at the closest runner and said Go.

Miles 1-5
Nice Start, did not have to jockey for position, despite the narrow trail. It starts with a ½ mile climb. A gentle climb at the start, which is good, keeps you from going out too fast. By the top of the hill though, I was ready for some downhill. First mile was 7:08. A little over pace but not bad for the uphill. I picked it up a bit for mile 2. I got in a group and we ran around the same pace for 3 miles in the 6:50 range. I pulled away from them at mile 4 where I ran a 6:45. I could not believe how easy it was to run that pace on the trail. I was running faster than my Boulder 10k pace and not working as hard. Which is good for a half marathon. I passed a guy at mile 5. Someone asked him how he was doing, he said not good. Then he told me he started out to fast and was paying the price. He looked around my age. He told me the hills were coming and it was going to hurt. I did mile 5 in 6:58, I lost pace a bit as we started up the hill. There were water/Gatorade stations every 2 miles. I got some water at 2 and Gatorade at 4.

Mile 6-8
Just before Mile 6 to almost mile 7 there is a big hill , pretty though, but it is kind of relentless. I did the Hill mile in 7:10, which was good. I felt myself draining a bit and knew I was overdue for a GU. At the top of the hill on a curve just past mile 7 was a water station. I took my GU and some water, slowed way down here, you can see the spike in my pace, after that was the steepest downhill of the race, most rugged trail too. Nothing like real trail running. This made for a slow mile 7 (7:28) my slowest despite the steep downhill. A kid passed me flying down this hill. I would pass him again just before the finish. I got back on pace for mile 8 as I worked my way through gorgeous canyon. The runners spread out quite a bit but I was picking a few off.

Miles 9-12
I started feeling good here. The trail gets really pretty and goes through Aspen Groves and canyon walls, very windy, on the other side of Lead and just before Deadwood. More crowds here and you forest roads and highways a couple of times. The bridges for the race are flat and wooden, easy to run. You cross several creeks, some great views. Temperature was nice. I was feeling good and starting to think PR was possible, sub 1:30 probably not but I would give it a shot. I ran 6:45’s through here, picking off quite a few runners. There were sections where no runners were in site, but not for long. I ran a 6:39 for mile 12.

The Finish
At Mile 12 you are on the edge of Deadwood and can feel the finish. Having driven around there the day before I knew where we were and kind of where the finish was. I knew I could have a PR or close if I pushed the last 1.1 miles. I did Mile 13 in 6:27, I was really pushing. At 12.5 the trail turns to concrete for the only time in the race. It felt hard, but it also made for a great kick. You run through some parking lot entrances and trailer parks, I passed the kid who passed me at mile 7, he was fading fast. The last tenth of a mile is downhill to the finish in a parking lot by the Home Store. I passed several people who looked around my age in the last mile. One guy (tall, tan) looked older but we got into a kick race at the finish where we passed about 5 runners. I crossed just in front of him 1:31:17. A PR. Yes! I was happy.

Post Race
I chatted with a few of the runners that I had passed in the last mile. It was fun. I looked around for Gina, not at the finish. I grabbed some post race refreshments (there were not many) and no Post Race Beer. After about 10 minutes Gina and the dogs showed up. She had missed the finish looking for the Camera. She had also packed us up and we were headed out of town after the race (instead of going back to camp for a couple of hours), no post race shower and 6 hours of driving back to Denver. But I was happy. I thought I might have done well or podiumed in my age group. When the results were posted I worked my way through the crowd to see. I could not get real close but saw my name and that I had 42nd overall and 2nd in my Age group. Yes! Ran back and told Gina and then we waited for the awards. It took a while, but rare for me to podium at a big race so we were definitely waiting. I got a railroad spike painted with the race info and 2nd Male 45-49. I love it. Cool.

Race Photos for Mickelson Trail

Great weekend, great race. Maybe my new favorite course for a half Marathon. Slacker in 3 weeks though. Can I break 1:30?.

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