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Learn : Half Marathon Story  

Running Background:

marathon photoI consider myself a beginner runner and I primarily run for fitness. I enjoy running for fitness, but find I'm much more committed to regular running if I have a goal, such as a race. I chose this specific race because I had read so many positive reviews of it, and it fit well with my personal and my training schedule.

Training:

I used Hal Higdon's novice marathon training program, but modified it slightly for the half marathon distance. My training lasted 2.5 months, and I averaged 15 miles per week.

The best advice I received was to stay consistent and just get out there and do your training runs.

Race Day:

The 2007 Deadwood Mickelson Trail Half Marathon was better than expected. What a race! The Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon and Half Marathon is run on a recreation trail through the Black Hills of South Dakota, and the scenery is absolutely stunning. If you've ever wanted to see the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore, put this race on your calendar and make a vacation out of it. You will not be disappointed.

This race is one of the best organized races I've ever participated in. I cannot think of a single criticism. The expo was well run, the pasta buffet the night before was excellent, transportation to the start of this point-to-point course was efficient, and the race director was at the end to congratulate each and every finisher. And, approximately 12 miles of this half marathon are down hill and the surface is a firm, yet forgiving.

Personally, my race went well. I beat my goal time by over 3 minutes, and I felt very strong throughout the race, with the exception of the last two miles.

Before the race, I was concerned with the elevation (over 6,000 ft at the start), but either I didn't notice it, or the down hill nature of the course made up for the difficulty in breathing. The miles seemed to just fly by amidst the beauty of the surroundings. I will say however, that the approximately 1 mile long hill that we ascended after mile 5 was an unpleasant surprise (even though reviews had warned me about this "sneaky" hill). The rest of the course was down hill, with only a few flat portions.

Because the race is run on a recreation trail in the Black Hills, there are limited places for crowds to gather and offer their support. At those few spaces, however, the crowds were present and were quite vocal or noisy. It was appreciated. As were the volunteers, who did an absolutely wonderful job.

The food offered at the finish was plentiful and the finisher's medal is unique. I highly recommend this race.

Overall, I felt very good during the race, and I'm very pleased with my result. I feel like I performed up to or slightly beyond my potential on this particular day.

Recovery:

My recovery wasn't bad. After the race, we walked to our hotel rather than taking a shuttle. I think that 15-20 minute walk helped immensely. I also took a brief ice bath and after that iced a sore ankle and stretched a fair amount.

What did I do to hinder my recovery? Sit in a car for a 5.5 hour ride home an hour after the race. I don't think that helped.

Running Gear Recommendations:

Garmin Forerunner 305
Great GPS-based training watch. Allows you to free yourself from predetermined routes, monitor your pace instantly, and pre-program workouts.
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GU
GU/gels are much easier for me to take on the run than the other forms of energy replacements that have been appearing recently.
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ASICS GT-2110 Running Shoes
I like the GT series from ASICS. I'm a large runner, and they provide me with a good balance of support and cushioning.
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Tips/Words of Encouragement:

If I can do it, so can you. If you're hesitant about doing a marathon or half marathon because you think you can't do it, go and watch the finish of a marathon or half marathon. You will see all types of people finishing -- men, women, old, young, short, tall, thin, not thin, good form, bad form. You will be surprised and will walk away inspired.

Plans to Run Another:

I'm planning to continue to run marathons/half marathons because running is my primary means of staying fit. I find I am more motivated to run consistently if I have an upcoming race. And, I'm eager to try to improve on my prior performances.

I feel like I have a good base built up now, so my plan for my next race is to keep this base up and add some speed work to, hopefully, improve my time.

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