Archive for June 9th, 2008

I like South Dakota. Reminds me of Texas-felt at home almost immediately.  Their regional airport is small but adequate.  I kinda like it.  The ramp was hot and humid, and the floor had bits of hay on it.  Thought it was a nice touch.

After renting a car from Enterprise, I headed to check in at the Comfort Suites 5 miles away. I was pleasantly surprised that Viborg was only 35 minutes from the hotel. Decided to take advantage of late checkout rather than use the facilities at Swan Lake.  I found a pasta kitchen at the Empire mall; bought a spaghetti meal which was my last meal as the time difference had me eating lunch at 5PM!

Headed out to Viborg at 4:15AM. Would get there at 5:05 courtesy of a rented GPS. After getting my bib, I found refuge at the clubhouse to get away from the huge mosquitos and bugs.

At 5:50, the runners congregated at the camp’s main sign. The camp is a Menonite fellowship center so they actually said a prayer. Two minutes later the race started.

It had rained some overnight, and the gravel roads were muddy near the softer shoulders. So newer shoes looked raggedy by race end.

I would end up keeping pace with a super-disciplined woman half-marathoner (#1) who was maintaining a 7:30 pace. The eventual first woman (#2) in the marathon also stayed in the same group but she was struggling after mile 10. After getting passed the sleepy town of Viborg, I decided to continue on my own. That might have been the wrong decision.

At the turnoff for the HM and Full at mile 12.5, the volunteers did not flag me.  Or rather, I didn’t study the course ahead of time.  I ended up running into the entrance of the Swan Lake camp, where the bewildered volunteer took about a minute or two to figure out what to do with me.  He finally directed me back to the turnoff where I would join runners who were a solid mile behind me.  They were surprised to see me, but chuckled when I said I just missed the turnoff.  One guy said I was running the long course.

I soon overheated since I had my windbreaker on.  After tying it to my waist, my speed would return somewhat.  I didn’t feed normally since I only had one packet of GU, so my energy flagged after mile 15.  But I found my second wind and kept those guys in my sights since they were keeping a good pace.  They were never more than a quarter mile in front of me.

The course is relatively flat, with some undulation just because.  The road designers probably didn’t anticipate that runners would use it, so flatness wasn’t necessary.  Bales of hay, cows hanging out, combines parked in huge garages, silos, what look like storage sheds destroyed by tornados, barking dogs, dogs who could care less and were sleeping on the street, water-logged fields, the lake full of happy fish, the smell of manure in places.  Can’t get more country than that.  In a way, that is it’s charm.

At mile 22, I caught up with woman #2 who was run-walking at this point.  She would finish a good 10 minutes behind me eventually.  At mile 24, I was passed by a guy who was part of a bigger group behind me.  I guess he sped up.  He would finish in between the two guys at the turnoff and me.  Another runner who was running almost with us (with runners #1 and #2), ended up finishing ahead of me, but was hunched over when I crossed the finish.  An ambulance soon showed up to pick him up.

I came in at 3:47:40.  Not bad for a long course of 26.97 miles.  And as it is tradition, I went up to the bell and rang it once with authority.

I would rush out soon after so that I could check out of my hotel room.  I made it in before 11, which gave me an hour to clean up and check out.  Not bad.  Had lunch over at the Empire Mall, and enjoyed a good cup of coffee until it was time to go to the airport.

The trip back was fun.  I got upgraded to first class from Sioux Falls to Denver because they needed my seat for the gobs of people wanting to travel out to Denver.  Got treated royally on the plane by a super-nice flight attendant.  The wait over in Denver was a little long, but in some strange way worth it.

I had an OMG moment on the flight back to San Diego.  Somehow this cute flight attendant decided to adjust the center seat by herself, reaching over me as I was in the aisle seat.  She could have asked me to do it, but she insisted.  Anyway, she lost her footing and ended up ON me.  (This is the G-version of  the story).  Did I mention she was cute?  Did I mind the accidental contact?  Well she didn’t look like she minded so I just smiled at my good fortune.  I think with all the fun stuff on my trip back to San Diego, I must have won the long course marathon at Swan Lake! I would see her one more time with her colleagues waiting for a hotel pickup, and with her eyes she smiled.  Nice!

This was a fun trip!

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