{State #19} South Dakota

Every race teaches me something about myself.  With each race I learn that I am stronger than I thought I was in new, often unexpected ways.  I learn more about the power the mind holds to keep us moving forward during difficult times.  I learn new coping strategies to push through challenging parts.  Sometimes I consider what makes me love marathoning is not just exploring new places, but exploring more of myself.

The Brookings Marathon had a lot going for it.  First of all, it was FREE!  In honor of the Brookings Marathon’s 50th anniversary the first person from each state to register received a free entry.  I found a surprise refund check in my bag when I explored my race expo bag at my hotel.  Free marathon…yes, please!

The race was a small race which makes the expo, race day parking, navigation and finding where things are much simpler.  The race expo and race were extremely well organized and staffed with volunteers and organizers.  The event was clearly planned by runner(s) with runners in mind as it showed in so many of the details.  You would think this would be obvious at most races, but it is not always the case.  There was a stepped up bag, a quality shirt I actually liked and will wear (I’ve worn it three times already), and a map on the back of the bib.  The race course had tons of volunteers, close water stops, lots of restrooms and awesome signs put out throughout the entire race by organizers.  And did I mention this race was free for me.

Coming into this marathon I was more exhausted physically and emotionally than I can remember being before a race.  I was still getting used to eating normal meals after the nasty bought of food poisoning I had less than two weeks before that caused me to barely eat for days, not drink my morning coffee for NINE days (no coffee at all for FIVE days) and lose five pounds in five days.  Physically I did not feel I had full strength yet.  Emotionally I was so exhausted due to the passing of my son’s friend that week and attending the visitation the night before I left.  Consequently, I went into this race feeling pretty empty.  I guess that put me in the perfect spot to do some struggling…er, learning.

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The morning of the race, I woke up in good spirits framing my mind about what I knew would grow difficult at some point.  The marathon, no matter how many you do, I feel always hits a point or points where things get hard.  You just know it is going to happen.  Mentally preparing for it helps me to stay calm when this hits and know that I can work through this because I have before.

Mile 1-9:12
Mile 2-9:04
Mile 3-9:34
Mile 4-9:15
Mile 5-9:25

This race definitely taught me about my own strength as is was not very scenic.  Like at all.  Small parts went through parks and areas I’m sure the organizers tried to highlight, but alas it just isn’t in that scenic of an area.  Without the mental distraction of beautiful sites, this race was a bit of a slog fest for me.  The course also had lots and lots of turns.  Running tangents is something I think all marathon runners know about, but with some almost 100 turns I read someone say that brings it to a new level.  It was very distracting in a not great way to turn so much.

Mile 6-9:30
Mile 7-9:14
Mile 8-11:01 (Bathroom stop)
Mile 9-9:19
Mile 10-9:13

The roads were also not closed to traffic as it was a small race.  This was kind of new for me.  Even in smaller races I’ve done before, roads were closed or partially blocked off to provide runners space and peace of mind that they could focus on their race and not worry about the person who is not paying attention or looks down at their phone and sideswipes a runner.  This may seem like a small detail, but when my mind had been working on focusing on the task of running a marathon and working through those details, focusing on where I was in relation to traffic on some busy road stretches is NOT what I wanted to be doing.  It was extra tiring.

Mile 11-9:04
Mile 12-9:32
Mile 13-9:30
Mile 14-10:06 (change shirt and moved race bib to tank)
Mile 15-10:01

Despite these challenges, each race reminds me of things I often forget about.  In regular day to day it is easy to forget about the power of physically pushing your limits to exhaustion and the accomplishment this invites.  The power of people to encourage, uplift and inspire.  The power of a comment or phrase at just the right time.  The power of positivity in changing mindset.

Mile 16-9:37
Mile 17-9:35
Mile 18-9:37
Mile 19-9:33
Mile 20-10:14

The friendly people I chatted with on the course saved me.  Two in particular were both working on their 50 state goals also.  I got to meet and run with a woman who quit teaching after ~ten years to open a running store.  She is working on her second round of running 50 marathons in 50 states.  Her first round she completed by age 40.  She also told me about her recent running adventure of running a marathon in Antarctica followed by a week of exploring.  Later in the race when I swore I just didn’t want to talk to anyone came along a friendly mom of teens working on her 50 states goal.  This was state number 30 for her.  She was from Ohio, recommended the Flying Pig Marathon and invited me to stay with her when I run Ohio.  She was exactly what I needed to see and talk to at that exact moment in the race.  I was uplifted, encouraged and inspired by these people so much.

Mile 21-10:06
Mile 22-9:49
Mile 23-10:24 (Bathroom stop)
Mile 24-9:31

Since I ran a marathon six weeks prior without maintaining the training I’d hoped to (I know we’ve all heard that story before from me :), I did not have a set time goal in mind.  I needed to simply run and not have any extra pressures that day.  This was a slow marathon for me.  Even though I knew I didn’t have the training or the mental/physical state to push it, it is hard for me to know times I have ran in the past compared to what I’m running during this busy season of life.  I try no to dwell on that too much though.  I also like to remind people we all have our fast, slow and in between paces.  We all know what it feels like to run each of them.  The numbers really don’t matter so much as the sense it brings us in knowing what we are capable of running versus what we actually run.

During the last mile and a half of the race I was just so ready to be done.  At the halfway point of mile 25 I passed a sign that said I can and I will.  This became my motto for the rest of the race.  Every ten steps or so I would say out loud to myself, “I can and I will.”  Over and over again.  It got me to the finish.  It kept my mind on the task at hand.  It kept the negative out.  It kept me running when I wanted to stop.  And in the end, even though I was talking to myself and probably looked slightly crazy, I did it.  I can and I did.

Mile 25-9:44

Mile 26-9:00

Finish Time-4:13

The Brookings Marathon was mentally challenging to my already taxed brain with its extra challenges, focus zappers and negative distractions.  Had my headspace been better prior or had I had some companions, I might have viewed this a bit differently; take my description with a grain of salt.  I was so proud to have finished this race with only half my head and body in the game.  Not easy for me for sure.

No matter how a race goes running wise, I never forget that part of my goal is also to experience a state or city when crossing a state off of my list.  I did know going in that this wouldn’t be possible with every state to the extent I wanted it to be.  South Dakota was one of those states.  Since I had already taken a trip to South Dakota a few years ago to visit the Badlands (see below), Custer, Mt. Rushmore, etc. I was okay with this being a quick trip.  Let me be honest though it was not easy.  A six hour drive Friday, running a marathon, driving home six hours and getting home to put my kids to bed while the husband was gone all in the same day was very tiring.

 

I did squeeze in some quick hiking in Garretson to visit Devil’s Gulch on Friday, a post-race celebratory brew at Eponymous Brewing Co. and stretched my legs in Sioux Falls at Falls Park on Saturday. The drive home took an extra shot of espresso in my coconut milk latte from Starbucks AND a stop at Caribou along with lots of singing to the radio.  Whatever it takes to accomplish this goal of mine.

As I finish this post two weeks post-marathon I still don’t know what my next running goal is exactly.  I’ve got some ideas, but no plans for sure.  It is both lovely and terrible to not have committed to what’s next, but it is also fitting for life right now.

Sarah

{Friday Fab 5-Portland Edition}

Currently in the land of no wifi or cell service, this post comes to you having been written last Sunday en route to the beautiful and so-worth-no-technology Glacier National Park. Being without technology has its perks and really makes you reevaluate it’s influence in your life.

But, who am I kidding? I’ll be back to my tech dependency in a matter of hours upon returning to civilization I’m sure! Seriously, how did people live without the internet?

Last weekend we spent the weekend in Portland after I finished state number 15 by running the Foot Traffic Flat Marathon. We had lots of time to walk around and explore and eat AMAZING food. I’m not one to totally love and enjoy meals I eat, but Portland made me realize how you could. Probably a good thing since my waist band would be tighter and my pockets significantly emptier if we had those kinds of delicious eats where I live.

So what did we do and what are these great places to eat that I speak of? Here’s a look at our Saturday!
{#1-Voodoo Doughnuts}
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Voodoo has been mentioned on the Food Network and after tasting five of their flavors (Memphis Mafia, Miami Viceberry, Raspberry Romeo, Voodoo Doll and The Loop) it is easy to taste why. Their unique decor in pinks and purple (loved those colors my whole life) and their amazing flavor selection and taste make Voodoo a must stop if ever in Portland (or Denver.) We ate at the original and waited in line for 40 minutes. After we left the line was much longer so be prepared to be patient for your doughnuts. The wait is worth it though! No hexes needed!

{#2-Forest Park}

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After putting ourselves into a sugar-induced coma it was time to get moving! We headed to Forest Park where miles of trails awaited. We enjoyed the shade and scenery and were passes by many runners. Oh, how I’d love a place like this to run!

{#3-Grill Cheese Grill}

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After hiking we were hungry again. The Grill Cheese Grill was a food truck that I’d heard great things about online. Grilled cheese seems to be one of those childhood favorites that can be made more adult yummy by what you add to it. This place had awesome food. I had the jalapeño grilled cheese which had jalapeños (duh!), cream cheese and cheddar cheese. It was delicious as was their tomato soup. The husband ordered The Cheesus, which was a hamburger that had a grill cheese on the top and bottom to replace a bun with your standard fixings. We shared half our sandwiches with each other. I’m now inspired to get a lot more creative with this childhood favorite when we get home.

{#4-Salt & Straw}

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After walking around the Alberta neighborhood filled with unique and fun places to eat we worked up a hunger for a snack. When we saw Salt & Straw I knew I wanted to try it as I had read about it somewhere previously. They specialize in homemade ice cream using natural and organic local ingredients (ok, so who doesn’t in Portland, but…;). I had the strawberry with cilantro lime cheesecake and the husband had the summer cucumber and raspberry sorbet. Both were so yummy and refreshing. The best version of this iconic summer treat I’ve tasted.

{#5-The Red Tavern and Kell’s Irish Pub}

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After strolling our way through the Alberta neighborhood we headed to downtown Portland. Our visit included Pioneer Square, drinks at The Red Tavern and dinner at Kell’s Irish Pub. At The Red Tavern I had their signature drink made with vanilla vodka, black raspberries and citrus. It was perfect. After drinks we headed to dinner at a place the husband’s aunt recommended. Here I crossed two new beer flavors off my 30 beers bucket list, and we enjoyed yummy Irish fare and music. What a fun place!

If ever in the Portland area all of these places were awesome! Anyone have other Portland area food recommendation?

Happy Weekend!

Sarah

{Friday Fab 5-Go West: Part 1}

By the time you read this I will likely either be running my Fourth of July marathon or be done. Because we are on the road and pictures do a lot of talking, we are going wordless on the fab 5! Here are some trip highlights to fill you in. We live in a beautiful country. God bless America!

{#1-Badlands National Park}
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{#2-Grand Canyon of Yellowstone}

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{#3-Grand Prismatic Spring-Yellowstone}

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{#4-Hiking around Jenny Lake-Grand Tetons}

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{#5-Multnomah Falls}

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Any one else racing this 4th of July? Have a safe and fun weekend!

Sarah

{Friday Fab 5-Kansas City Edition}

This weeks edition is about fun things from Kansas City!
{#1-Views from the tower}

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While visiting the national World War I museum you can go in this tower and overlook the Kansas City area. Pretty!

{#2-Beer Kitchen}

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I had one of the most delicious and unique burgers here. The smokestack was a burger with smoked Gouda cheese, pickle relish, jalapeño straws, whiskey BBQ glaze, and chipotle aioli on a potato bun. Amazing!

{#3-Boulevard Brewing}

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Beer Kitchen specializes in unique, hard to find beers, but also carries some local beers like this yummy wheat! When a sign that says Buddy the Elf-what’s your favorite beer greets you at the bar, you know it’s a fun place.

{#4-Nelson-Atkins Art Museum}

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Unfortunately we only had a chance to walk around outside the museum enjoying the warm weather. Next time!

{#5-Cupcake Ala Mode}

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Here I had the best cupcake I’ve ever eaten! I had the Chocolatte and saved the Red Velvet for later. Ryan ate the Caramel Apple saving his Marshmallow Fondue for later. All were amazing, but now I’m craving cupcakes everyday! I suppose there are way worse problems I could have!

Happy Weekend!

{Friday Fab 5}

This week photos are all from my lovely trip to Utah to complete state number 13!

{#1-Hiking Ensign Peak in Salt Lake City}
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{#2-Views of Salt Lake City from the top of Ensign Peak}
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{#3-and views of the Wasatch Mountains from the top of Ensign Peak}
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{#4-Trying new beer in downtown Salt Lake City-Red Rock Brewery}
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{#5-Enjoying PSL for the first time this fall while hiking Sunday around Silver Lake/Twin Lakes}
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Happy Friday!

{End of Summer Thoughts}

Back to school. Back to school to prove to dad I’m not a fool. Well, sort of. Today ,Yesterday Two days ago was the first day of school and the return of the crazy life. Before things get too busy, as you can see in the prior crossed out words things have already started to get busy, I wanted to take a few moments to savor my many great summer moments and memories while also reflecting on my 2013 goals.

This summer I had the chance to run some great miles in great places before and even after hurting myself. In June I was ramping up my mileage in what I was planning to be a new PR attempt in September. I was putting in some great mileage weeks and even ran a few two a days. I met goal #2 on my 2013 list by running my fifth half marathon this year; this is the most I’ve completed in a year. In October I will look to add on to this goal at the Honky Tonk Half in Wisconsin Dells. June also brought the chance to run in several locations in Houston, TX while visiting my sister.
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The month of July began on the road with chances to run in more beautiful places (with more great people) like…
Mustang State Park-Padre Island,

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Ocean Drive Corpus Christi,

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And…
St. Louis, Missouri!

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I got to visit some great places (and people) in Texas such as…

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and

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and

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I, well really we, but you know whatever Ms. K. wants is what Ms. K gets, so I got to visit New Orleans…

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And Memphis.

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Then came the injury of the summer during what would have been my sixth half marathon this year, the Dances With Dirt Half Marathon. Little did I know it wouldn’t be a simple two or three weeks off. I’m still dealing with swelling after each longer run and when standing on my feet all day. The injury though was responsible for me doing something I hadn’t done in far too long-biking!

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August snuck in faster than I care to admit, but brought more chances to travel and run in fun places such as NYC! My long run walk route is detailed in the photos below.
Midtown Manhattan to…

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To Union Square Park,

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to Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment, to…

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Greenwich Village to…

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the Hudson River Trail to …
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Battery Park to…
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the Statue of Liberty to…
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Financial District to…
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the Brooklyn Bridge to…
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Brooklyn to…
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the Manhattan Bridge to…
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Manhattan to…
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Chinatown to…
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the Subway to…
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eat this yummy cupcake for a famished runner!
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Then of course there was the miles of walking to take in the sites like…
Grand Central Station,

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Times Square,

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Central Park,

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FAO Schwartz,

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And so much more!

I have a lot to be thankful for. Despite the ankle, this summer was awesome! When life gets stressful this school year I need to come back to this post to remind myself that life won’t always be like that. There will be a chance to catch my breath, run in great locations, and visit amazing cities again.

Until then I’m gearing up as best as I can for my marathon NEXT (insert major freak out sound) weekend. I’m so unprepared all I can do is laugh and hope I don’t fall down the canyon to an untimely death. Or maybe at that point it will be a welcomed break from the pain this race is going to ravage on me.

What summer memories will you cherish in the years to come?

{Friday Fab 5-NYC Edition}

Since I am writing from New York AND had my first real run in four weeks yesterday, you’re going to notice a theme today people! Cue Alicia Keys-In New York…All photos were from my running route yesterday morning. New York City is an amazing place to run!
{#1-First stop-Carrie Bradshaw’s Apartment}
I could almost see Big coming down the street to pick her up!

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{#2-Onto the Hudson River Trail}
Breezy, city on one side and peaceful river on the other!

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{#3-Next Up-Battery Park and Statue of Liberty}
Look close; she’s in the distance!

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{#4-Headed to Brooklyn on the Brooklyn Bridge}

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{#5-Coming back to Manhattan via the Manhattan Bridge}

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That is pure elation all over my face at the fact that I was running again (literally in this photo). I was really running for the first time in four weeks. The location might have had something to do with it, too.

The rest of my run route details-to be continued…

Anyone else run somewhere awesome lately?

Happy Weekend!