Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Day 3: Center of the Nation Series: Belle Fourche, SD- September 17, 2013

I am sitting at my desk staring at a ball of rubber bands. Having completed 6 half marathons in 6 consecutive days (5 of which were the Center of the Nation Series by Mainly Marathons), I have come to have a deep and meaningful relationship with rubber bands. You see, because each of the 5 races in the CONS were 2-3 mile out-and-backs or loops, you marked your progress by collecting a rubber band each time you returned to the start line. Rubber bands signify progress. They signify sweat and tears. They signify perseverance. And smiles. And good friends. And as I sit here preparing myself to write about my race in Belle Fourche, SD, It only seems fitting that I spend a brief minute contemplating what rubber bands REALLY mean to me.

So, If you haven't figured it out yet, this is part 4 (day 3) of a seven part (6 day) set of entries.

The next installments are coming, so stay tuned...

I have to start by saying that the race course at Belle Fourche, South Dakota was probably my favorite course out of the 5 races put on by Mainly Marathons. It wasn't really that pretty, and we ran on concrete pathways for most of the course, but it was fairly flat, and there was a lot of shade to be had. The course started next to the Belle Fourche chamber of commerce, ran down a path lined with flags from each state ("avenue of flags?"), and past the Center of the Nation monument. From there, we turned down a path along the river and the rest of the race continued either on this path or up a short street nearby. It was a 2+ mile out and back where half marathoners were expected to pick up 5 rubber bands and then do a victory lap.

What was different about this run than the day before was that runners all recognized on another and the comeraderie had grown exponentially. Runners high fived one another non stop, encouraged one another, smiled, cheered one another along, and really got into the running community spirit.

Fellow runner Sam stopping for a photo with me
I started the race a little sore, but I soon felt myself wondering if (as strange as it sounds), 3 half marathons in 3 days is EASIER than doing 2 in 2 days. I ran my 1/1 intervals. I felt slower than my pace at home, but I wasn't slogging through it either. I didn't have much heel pain, but my right foot was already double the size that it normally is, so I didn't want to take much risk. I kept remembering that slow and steady does it.

Up until this race I had always been acutely aware of just how long a half marathon was. I had always rolled my eyes thinking that there was still XXX miles left, and I still had so much more to do. This was the first race I have ever run where I suddenly looked down at my garmin and said "seriously? how did I already get to 7 miles?" and "wow, eleven miles, already????" It was like some kind of switch had been flipped, and suddenly a half marathon didn't seem so long. and an hour and a half of running would fly by like nothing. It was unreal.

I think passing the time was also made easier by pennies.

Brina, Oblivious to the fact I just dropped 3 pennies at her feet
Brina and I had decided to run the races separately during the Center of the Nation Series, although we have been running races together since March. One of the little quirks that I love about Brina is that she gets easily distracted by shiny things. She is always pushing me to do my best and be my best, but if there is something shiny, she always has to stop and check it out. She is also in love with collecting pennies on her runs. That's not my story to share about why, but she feels that she is getting a little extra oomph of good luck when she finds pennies while running. I have always lovingly teased her about how easily she distracts when she sees pennies on the ground, but I actually find it really sweet.

After finishing the Bowman race the day before, Brina had confided that she had a tough run and that she felt like she was struggling. She said she was looking for pennies on the run but hadn't found any and that maybe that might have made her feel more confident or stronger.
Me with only 0.1 miles to go

So Seth and I had gotten some pennies and each took about half a roll with us to the race at Belle Fourche and tossed them on the ground every few yards for her to hopefully find a little inspiration along the way. It made us feel good, and it helped pass the time... but we later learned that she hadn't found any pennies at all. Yikes. Where did they all go?

Anyway... It was a good run. I felt relaxed and in touch with my own body mechanics. I felt encouraged and strong. I loved the weather (especially after it went from jacket/gloves weather to tanktop weather), and I felt good. I don't really have much more to say about the actual race though. 

At Mt. Rushmore
My garmin said my finish time was 3:40:41 with a pace of 16.36 per mile. not bad for taking it easy. I don't feel badly about that pace because it paid off. I made it through day 3 without any pain. I was certainly swollen, but no pain.

And still enough energy leftover to visit Mt. Rushmore!

39.3 miles down, 39.3 miles to go. be continued...


  1. Sorry Brina. I took the pennies. I didn't know. I too collect pennies. I need a tee shirt that says "I Brake For Pennies" written on the back. I couldn't stop giggling at the pennines I found. It made my day. I felt so lucky and so good. I wasn't the only one, others found many pennies too. Amy I agree, I didn't feel badly about my pace, I took it easy too. I didn't know what to expect from my body, so I wanted to be sure I finished injury free. I kept my rubberbands after Nebraska. which by the way I did 36 minutes better than day 1. and I think it is because I took it easy. xoxoxo

  2. I suspected after reading your post that even if the pennies were found by someone other than Brina, they probably were magic to that person/people too! I think it's great that you thought to spread a little pixie dust even while battling your foot injury!