Marathon Route 20: Brookings Marathon – Brookings, SD

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A Tale of An Unintentional Personal Record

For those of you who are unaware, I built up a great deal of consistency with my running by pacing some races last year with a company called Beast Pacing. What does a pacer do? Essentially I put aside any time goals I have for a race and run a consistent pace so that other runners can gauge their running with mine and so hopefully beat a time goal they may have. As a pacer, you usually run at least 15 minutes slower than your usual pace for a half marathon, a half hour slower than your marathon time. This should give you the ability to breath and the ability to talk while you are running to support those around you. I personally find that running that consistent pace leads me to a meditative run, where my breathing is steady and I can elongate my flow (the feeling of running in good form with an elevated feeling).  I feel like I really got it down to a science for the half marathons last year. I have yet to do this with a full marathon.  I have yet to be able to run a consistent pace for a full marathon.  My times per mile can vary by minutes instead of seconds, my first half is almost always faster than my second, and no matter how much I have slowed down, there has been a bleeding of time, a point where my best effort only generates minuscule returns. So, of course, my goal for this race became consistency.

This should have been a fairly easy task. I had a good week of recovery runs, running hills and consistent paces over 3-5 miles.  Brookings Marathon is a flat course.  It is at low elevation. There are no scenic monuments that require a five minute photo opportunity.  I had been warned of the wind.  When it comes into town, it blows strong, and there is no telling what direction it will take, so that was a random factor.  This was their 47th year holding this race, so I was expecting the race support to be a well oiled machine.  Essentially I felt this was a smaller version on next week’s Fargo Marathon.  I was hoping to run a slow, evenly paced race and utilize this experience to build up my foundation for the following week and a new personal record.  Despite the tough-go I had at the trail run in Montana, I felt that marathon and the subsequent support runs built up my strength and endurance and I was ready to harness that power.

Race Review

This is a flat course.  After doing all those many hills on the trails of Montana last week, any hill except the climb at mile 9 seems unimportant.  There are some dips and rises, but overall, if you do any hill training at all, this will be a breeze.  We also lucked out, the wind was either at our back or hitting us at an angle so that I never felt we had significant drag holding us back. The well oiled machine was in full swing and I felt safe and protected at all street crossings.  In fact, the second half of the course was filled with volunteers from the National Guard.  No offense to the many teenagers giving their all in volunteer positions, cars are more apt to pay attention to a military person in full fatigues in the middle of the street than a 70 lbs gal (soaking wet) with a tiny orange flag. Another thing that made this race stand out energy wise was the the intense enthusiasm of the relay racers and their support teams. Every time I ran through a relay transition area, I was greeted with a wall of sound and a roar of support.  So many high fives and low fives that at the first transition point just past the stadium of South Dakota State University, I put out my arms like an airplane crashing into a tropical jungle and the love continued for 80-100 yards. Again at mile 9, at the only real hill on the course, relayers and support were chanting in a rhythm that for my pace made it very easy to power up and over the hill.  Since I’m slower, the pure volume of support diminished since teams were further ahead and moving to support their faster runners, but it was an amazing wave of support.  Water stations were also well manned, organized, and helpful in every way possible. Right around the half marathon mark, you do run on a gravel road but it can’t be much more than a mile.  However, I did get some stones in my shoe, so you may want to consider wearing guards on your running shoes.The neighborhoods and bike trails you are running on for the a good 8 miles from miles 14 to almost 22 are flat and well paved.  You start to see the dips just before mile 22, running down into an underpass and back up the second largest hill right on the other side of that.  The next three dips are all through some very cool rifle barrel strafed viaducts that cut under roads in miles 23 and 24 but there can’t be more than 4 of them. The final stretch brings you back to where you started, Pioneer Park, where members of the National Guard were hanging our finishing medals around our neck.  The Finish Line Party was great with ample food and beverage supplies even for us slower runners and the icing on the cake was a bag of freshly made to order burgers from local mainstay, Nick’s Hamburger Shop.  All in all, a fantastic day running.

Lessons Learned

Even A Small, Smooth Pebble Can Rip You Apart

Remember how I mentioned that gravel road?  I got some small stones in my shoe, but after a few moment of running they had settled and were quite comfortable.  After ten minutes, it was like they weren’t even there. Unfortunately, after another two hours, I not only knew they were there, but I also realized the impact they had on my foot.  There was now a huge bubble on the bottom of my right foot and I could feel it bounce with every footfall. In the last mile when I was desperately trying to make each step count, I felt that bubble pop and the stones had a field day like the chain from a chainsaw tearing up my foot.  Next time, i know it will be better to take the extra minute and clear the pebble one I get back to a paved area.

Be Firm With Your Goals, Flexible How You Get There

The goal this year is always finish a marathon each week in each state. Today I set my mind on running smoothly and evenly at a comfortable pace. For the first 4 miles that averaged around 10:30 pace.  I was a little concerned at that point that I was running too fast, but then I ran the next mile under 10! I thought I need to get it together and slow down and even out.  The next 4 miles I averaged 10:40!  Miles 10, 11, and 12 I tried to slow down my breathing and run smooth.  I finally moved into the 11:30 average for those miles.  Unfortunately around that time, the 4:45 pacer caught up with me. From this point I played leap frog with her group for about a half mile, but I could longer keep up.  I did spend a little too much time just after the half bemoaning my lack of consistency.  Instead, I should have been focused on regaining that nice easy lope that took me through miles 1-9! There are so many things that can get in the way of your best time, hills, stress, heat, altitude that when the day comes when you are loving the run and running well, that you take the bull by the horns and hold on to the ride.  It was mile 19 that i realized that i may have failed at consistency, but I still had a shot at a new PR and you can see my mileage perk up. If only I could have made that choice 4 miles earlier, I may have broken 5 hours that day. I’ve learned to be flexible when the conditions are poor, now I need to learn to be mentally flexible when the conditions are ideal and my body is ready to fly!

Physical Review

You can see in the picture up above that after my blister popped, the pebbles in my shoe basically flayed my foot, leaving nerves raw and open and screaming at every mild pressure.  I had many questions on what I did to heal so quickly. Firstly, soak the foot in an ice cold foot bath.  Secondly, carefully dry the foot and slather with triple antibiotic ointment and let air dry.  Cover and pad it if you need to walk on it, but keep that to a minimum.  Next day, lukewarm foot bath with Epson salt, followed by an ice cold foot bath.  More triple antibiotic.  By the third day I had a layer of new skin.  By day four I could walk on it without discomfort. On the sixth day, I ran another marathon.  I did have a little bit of an issue with my right hip again but stretching through the week helped straighten it out. So mentally I was torn between screwing up my consistency goal and counterbalancing that by the thrill of a new PR. 5:12:38!  If you are running consistently and you are interested in pacing with Beast Pacing, running for free, helping others meet their goals, and running with the most amazing pacers around, please let me know and I will gladly put you in touch with the amazing Vanessa Kline who took a chance on me and initiated me into my Pacer Family.  Until next week, I am ever so grateful for your support.  Let me know what you think in the comments.  if there’s something about these races, some element i am missing that you would like to hear me comment on, please let me know.  After this race, we will see if I am able to hit my new goal of a marathon under 5 hours in Fargo, North Dakota!

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Halfway There!

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25 marathon distances completed in 25 weeks! During training I quailed at 3. After the first one in Florida, I questioned whether or not I could do another.  Yet week after week, I have continued to exceed that initial expectation. There were many who doubted or expected me to fail in this quest, deservedly so, because I was not always sure that this was an achievable goal. Yet here I am, almost 6 months down the line, having conquered the west and parts of the south.  There is still a long path ahead of me.  An extremely hot summer is starting to rear its ugly head. Many of my big, “destination” races are behind me.  But I think now is a great time to summarize my accomplishments and my challenges in order to approach the second half of my quest with fresh eyes if not fresh legs.

Miles Run

I have run more miles this year in six months than I have run in any two years previously. 838 miles this year.  655 miles in marathons routes. 183 miles in support miles.  It is tough to be disappointed in those numbers. Of course, I am.  My goal is 12-15 support miles through the week and had I hit that goal, my total miles for the year should be over 1000.  I have some good reasons for this.  I need to judge the wear and tear on my body as a day to day operation.  Although physical stresses have been at a minimum comparatively speaking, there have been days when running on damaged feet, legs, knees,hips may have been detrimental to the prime directive – a marathon a week in a different state.

Side Quests

I have been able to complete a number of side quests this year falling into three categories: 1. Running in State and National Parks 2. Volunteering at local races 3. Joining group and social runs. Some states I hit the trifecta and completed all three side quests.  Other states I failed to complete even one.  Partially, the same physical conditions that limited my miles in a week also limited my participation in local runs.  The other major factor was traveling logistics.  In some cases, I would get into town the day after a social run or on race weekend, my marathon fell on the day when other organizations planned their runs, if there were even any local races. There were also weeks that after running a marathon on Saturday, I did not have the energy to volunteer at a race on Sunday.  You can be sure this makes me very hesitant to sign up for a weekend Marathon double header.

Sponsors

Although I haven’t had a company offer to pick up any race entries or traveling expenses, I have become an ambassador for two great companies: Salming and Spandits.  Salming is a fantastic international sporting company with a focus on shoes, equipment and apparel and Spandits is a wonderful company from my home state of Maine focussing on quality spandex apparel. As an ambassador, I am not a paid employee, more an enthusiastic fan dedicated to spreading the word about their phenomenal companies.  In return I receive product and discounts based upon referrals I make.  The more referrals I make, the more product and discounts I earn.  If you are considering trying either of these great companies, I have discounts to offer that benefit both you and me.  Please visit my Ambassador page to request current codes and current discounts.

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20% Discount. Submit Request on Ambassador Page

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10% Discount. Submit Request on Ambassador Page.

I would also like to take the time to thank a number of people who have contributed to my emergency fund. I do have a page set up through Crowdrise. that was designed to alleviate any unforeseen costs or situations that should arise.  Although, I have dipped into that account on a couple of occasions, that has not exceeded funds I had already earmarked and set aside.  So instead I have be using those funds to purchase additional race entries for the rest of the year. Starting with this week’s race in Iowa, you will start seeing shout outs to people who contributed to that site and made these extra races possible.  You can still contribute on my Sponsors page or
Click here for a direct link ——> GloboRun’s Crowdrise Funding Site

Interviews

The first interview was recorded before I started my trip but released in late February. Super Joe Pardo has made it a mission to help others make their dreams a reality and he has a great interview style. From what many of my friends have said, my interview begins at 25:01.

Super Joe Pardo’s Dreamers Webcast with Derek Zardus

The second interview was recorded just before my 8th marathon with an old friend, Chris Day.  Chris has been a passionate follower of inspirational stories that remind us that people are doing amazing things in our world, everyday. I was flattered and maybe a little embarresssed to be included in such illustrious company. I believe it was not only made available online but also on the radio in a couple markets. Released the beginning of March.

Writing
At times I have been overwhelmed with the logistics of traveling and aligning my many directives with my schedule. Due to Internet and data access issues, writing has been one of the first things to drop. I’ve kept somewhat consistent with the marathon route reviews (by which I mean I am only 5 marathons behind). Expect at least 2 posts a week moving forward, both catching up with the marathons and writing about my experiences on my side quests. I should also soon have a mini book on preparing for a personal marathon.

Thank you so much for following along on my journey. Constant words of support and care are delivered online, on the phone, and in person everyday. You can follow me on Facebook by name, though I also post many of the unfiltered and unfocused photos at GloboRun’s Facebook page. Also I am on Instagram as @derekzardus and Twitter as @globorun. If you haven’t already, sign up to get my updates via mail on the side of this page. Thanks again and we’ll see you later this week.

Are There Really Goodbyes?

Are there really any good byes?  Surely there is good riddance.  There is a relief in removing unwanted or unwarranted company. Some people are able to cast off those who seek to undermine or negatively effect their lives.  Even those of us who have a harder time letting go, eventually know the sweet release of removing a canker from our lives. “Don’t let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya,” as a good friend says.

How do we genuinely say goodbye to those we love? In a world of all-you-can-eat buffets and full season just-one-more-episode binge watching on Netflix, how do we find the will to end a good thing? Sometimes it’s the bartender ringing last call. On the really good nights, it’s the sun coming up and the recognition of a new day that brings things to an end. How do we personally end that enchanting conversation?  How can we let go of that comforting warm hug?  How do we stop dancing when music is still playing and the band is tried and true?

These last couple weeks, I have been wracked with anxiety. Packing up the remains of my life here in Maine has been like a death of a million cuts, Favored shirts, dog eared books, touristy tokens that trigger little movies in my memory palace, all steal precious moments from my final days here. Time is spent weighing the object’s emotional worth, physical size, and ability to weather 30,000 miles and a year on the road. Likewise, friendships have been put to similar tests over the past couple of weeks. Some friends have actively distanced themselves from me, to see if I would seek them out. Other friends have tested my resolve to actually leave in ways even my Jewish grandmother would have found unfair as far as guilt trips go. Others patiently make themselves available, hold on to hugs just a little longer, press their lips to forehead, cheek, or lips just a little harder.

I have learned that the best of friends just take up the conversations where we left off. Maybe the time and distance give us a better perspective or a more balanced view but the love and conversation has that wonderful rhythm which feels like home. Maybe when I hear good bye, my mind translates “bye for good”. I don’t like that thought at all. In fact, I am mortally tired of goodbyes. Instead I’ll use the term farewell because all I really want is to see my friends again and know that they have been well and have had many fun adventures along the way.

Farewell Hallowell. May my neighbors remember they live beside each other not against each other. Farewell my favorite watering holes. May you continue to sustain and nourish while drinks and conversations flow and flourish. Farewell my favorite trails, Vaughn Woods, The Res, The Kennebec River Rail Trail. I wish my friends would spend more time with you because you have only made my life better over the past few years. Farewell my friends. I will miss you everyday. I will see something or meet someone and will immediately wish you could be there with me, which is silly, because I shall carry you all with me, tightly packed into the recesses of my heart. Please reach out from time to time and let me know that you still carry me in your heart. If you carry me and I carry you, maybe the burdens of this life won’t weigh us down so much. Fare well, my friends, farewell.

 

Inspiration Run – TBT Owls Head Personal 5K 2013

20130903_061405As I have mentioned before, I like to race the sunrise to get to a beautiful location and start running just as the sun heralds in a new day.  This day the sun gave me a couple hours head start by sleeping in and pulling a heavy blanket of fog up over it’s head. There would be no sun at Owls Head State Park in Maine this day.

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In 2013, my manager was overseeing 2 locations for our company, one of which was in beautiful Rockland, ME.  Whenever she would need a hand when this smaller location was understaffed, I was quick to volunteer.  The Maine coast is always inspiring and I had found a perfect little park to stretch my legs and start my morning right.

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Getting to Owls Head State Park is very easy.  Owls Head is just a couple miles south of Rockland’s city center.  I usually get to the parking lot and walk up to the stalwart little lighthouse to watch the sun rise and the fishing boats head out of the harbor, but that kind of view was not to be had that day.  Instead, a cool cloud hung about the remnants of a late summer scorcher the day before, making for a more comfortable, if damper run.

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I like to start my run right at the base of the lighthouse stairs. The first half mile takes us out of the park and along beautiful fields overlooking the sea. You’ll notice I went off road and ran along the rocky beach from Lobster Lane to Wharf Street.  I love the smell of the ocean that lingers and percolates along the harbor, though it might be to pungent for some. Another mile along the harbor and the bay and then a run back
to the park on rolling country roads.

I love 20130903_070758to finish my run by jumping into the ocean at the beach just behind the light house.  Two warnings, firstly bring water footwear, the rocky beach can be very sharp.  Secondly, the water in the morning there is always chilling. I feel it’s great therapy for my legs after a run however not everybody will enjoy the shock to the system as much as I do.

wpid-screenshot_2015-09-24-09-47-47.pngI have turned this into a 5 mile run by running out and back on Dodge Point Lane and Garthgannon Road.  Usually an exhausted runner’s wave will calm the locals enough for them to lower their rifles.  They may have even smiled as I ran back past.

When I am in Rockland, I usually end up at Home Kitchen Cafe. Griddled polenta is amazing with over easy eggs and bacon and I’m usually there early enough to get one of their limited number of sticky buns.  This, however, was a Tuesday and on Tuesdays Home Kitchen Cafe is closed.  Instead I was treated royally at one of Rockland’s classic breakfast joints, The Brass Compass.  The Sailor’s Breakfast would have been more appropriate if I ran a half marathon, but this explains why I run but don’t lose weight.  A fantastic way to start my day.

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