The Sioux Falls, SD marathon is in the books! I had two goals that I was tinkering between going into this race. Goal A – run a 4:00 marathon; goal B – run a PR. A PR would be anything better than 4:09, my finish time for Grandma’s Marathon in June 2013. Since running the Grandma’s marathon last year, I struggled to finish my marathons strong and earned some slower finishing times. This told me it was time to reevaluate my training.
I had previously used the Grandma’s Marathon Intermediate training plan to prepare for my races. After doing a lot of research, I eventually settled on the Jack Daniel’s running plan. Jack Daniels created a formula where runners can use the results of recent competitions to find their VDOT value. The VDOT formula is designed to calculate your optimal training paces based on actual performance. The theory is that training at VDOT paces based on actual performance will get you to race faster, and subsequently improve your VDOT. Using the VDOT calculator, you can input your recent performance and it will tell you the paces you should be running the various training runs at – Easy, Marathon, Threshold, Interval, and Repetition runs. For more information check out this article, or his book Daniels’ Running Formula.
Once the training plan was in place, it was time to revamp my nutrition. I wrote several entries on how I changed my nutrition that you can read about in other blog entries. In summary, my diet just needed tweaked, and cleaned up a touch. I started to think about fueling my body for the work it was going to be doing, aka meal and macronutrient timing. I cut out artificial sweeteners – even my beloved sugar free gum, and nearly all processed foods. I experimented with several options for fueling my long runs. Practicing long run nutrition is in my opinion, extremely important. I settled on a product called Tailwind. It’s a powder form of carbohydrate that gets mixed with water. My stomach doesn’t handle gels well so this was a logical shift.
After sixteen weeks of training and experimenting, it was go time! I was lucky to have some great support accompany me to Sioux Falls. We stopped first at the expo so I could pick up my packet and race bib. I actually forgot to get a picture of me with my bib this time. The expo was small; probably about 20 vendors. This can be good and bad. If you forgot something, there was little chance they had it there for purchase. The flip side was that we were in and out relatively quickly and no crowds to fight.
Now that we had copies of the course map, and a little time to kill before dinner, I talked the crew into driving me through the course. My husband and mom’s boyfriend did the navigating while mom and I tried to back seat drive. 🙂 If you’ve ever tried to follow a course map while the run is not actually in progress, it’s really pretty difficult, even in the smaller towns. In this case, a good portion of the run was on the bike trail. We did our best though, and got a pretty good idea of the course.
The course starts off at Howard Wood Field track, and is pretty flat, with the exception of a few rolling hills in the first 6 miles. The first half of the course is in an open, industrial type area – nothing too scenic or great. The second half of the run takes you to the bike trails. Sioux Falls has some pretty nice bike trails available. The trails are blacktop paved and relatively flat with a good amount of shade in most parts. One of the highlights of the course is when it starts to wind into the downtown area and through Falls Park. This is truly the highlight of the course, and is around mile 18.
Race morning weather was perfect! We really couldn’t have asked for a better day to run a marathon. This was welcomed, since I had read about the prior year’s heat wave. My support crew drove me to the track where there were ample parking and restrooms. Being a smaller race, they were able to hang around with me until just a few minutes before the start. Along the course, they offered ample water spots and the volunteers were amazing. My support crew was able to be at several locations of the course to cheer me on. This is one of the benefits of running a smaller venue in a smaller town. Crowd support in the first half of the race was fairly sparse, but those that were there were did an awesome job of cheering everyone on. The course was clearly marked and easy to follow. If you’re looking to PR this course is designed with you in mind!
The finish area of the run was a little spread out. The post-race food was not inside the finishing chute as you might expect and have seen at so many other races. They did have a massage tent available, which I ALWAYS take full advantage of. I’m not sure what else was available since I didn’t walk through it all. At this point I was most interested in getting a shower and a meal in my belly.
Overall I would rate the Sioux Falls marathon very well and recommend it to any of my friends looking for a fall race.
And finally – my results. Yes – that is a shiny new PR, by 3 1/2 minutes!
Finish line – I’d like to note that it took me 13 marathons to finally get a good race picture!And just for fun, one of me at the falls the day before: