Day two of the Center of the Nation series! I’ve done a double before (Punta Arenas and White Continent in the same day earlier this year), so I’m not worried about this. I know I can run two marathons in two days. I know what that is like psychologically. As with yesterday, I just have to take it easy so I can survive the rest of the week.
Today’s marathon is in Belle Fourche, South Dakota (they say “Belle Foosh”) along their River Walk. It’s a small sidewalk that most likely expects a couple of dog walkers and maybe a cyclist. We have over 200 runners and two wheelchair racers. I think that actually works in my favor. I can take it easy and blame it on traffic. There’s just enough room for single flow traffic in both directions.
The River Walk has the TriState Museum next to it. There’s a display of the flags of the 50 States, each with list of the names of US soldiers, sailors, and airmen killed in the wars since 9/11, left over from the anniversary a week ago. There’s also a traveling display of South Dakotans killed in action. More interesting to me, however, is the display of the compass rose with a small plaque in the middle. This notes that NOAA designated Belle Fourche as the geographic center of the United States, counting Alaska and Hawaii, even though the actual point is outside of town. The NGS data sheet has directions on how to get to the banal marker that is the true spot. I stand on it and check the weather.
The marathon begins at the start of the flag displays so we run through that first before we start the laps.
This course is more like a figure 8: the support spot is in the center with out and backs on either side, meaning that we pass it twice per lap, so it’s there about every mile since each lap is 1.09 miles like yesterday.
Yesterday was mostly asphalt and a little gravelly dirt, but today would be mostly concrete. That’s never good for running and all that pounding would take its toll if I were running hard, but I won’t be doing that today.
The support was spectacular again. The food tables had sandwiches, fresh fruit, snacks, and lots of drinks. Again, I left my own bag with small bottles of Gatorade and some stuff I picked up at a drugstore in case blisters got bad. I’m sure the first aid support was top notch, but I never used it or small someone using it.
My favorite running food
Milky Ways—another favorite!
Pretty good at Mile 16
I was feeling pretty tired today, but I wasn’t worried. I started slow, kept it slow until the field spread out along the course, and found a small pace group. I made a joke to a friend later about a “marathon wife”—someone you spend all your marathon with. In this case, there were three of us going at the same pace and we were running in a line. I guess I was drafting, but we weren’t trading positions. I don’t even know if the woman in front knew we were behind her. I’d brushed the shoes of the guy right in front of me a couple of times, so I know he knew I was there.
This sort of running is a great distraction. You’re right behind someone and you have to constantly pay attention to them. A slight change of pace and you might run into them (or fall off the back). If you’re matching their stride, so that your left if moving forward when their’s is, you might trip them if they move to the left or right to avoid something. We kept this up for about 13 miles, maybe longer. Toward the end we settled into other paces as we transitioned from regular running to just surviving.
Today I wore my running watch so I was tracking my time. Around Mile 23, I starting calculating. I figured I could match my time from yesterday if I pushed it a little bit. So I did, realizing that I might be hurting myself for tomorrow.
I made it back to the timers, loudly announced my number to ensure the timers knew I was there because I knew it would be close. I beat my time by a couple of minutes.
The timers’ table
Since I was staying in Belle Fourche, less than a mile away from the race start, I was in no rush to get back. I laid out in the grass and relaxed, having completed my second double.
The running isn’t the biggest problem though—that’s just enduring the suffering. A marathon takes a lot of energy so I’m taking in so many calories that I don’t want to eat anymore. For one marathon, that’s easy because you stock up the reserves the week before and don’t care if you finish depleted. Running another marathon 20 hours later doesn’t give you much time to refuel. But now doing that three days in a row?
I have plenty of healthy food, such as almonds and dried cherries (raisins are too sweet), but I also have awful food like orange slice candy, a favorite treat, that I use as little sugar bombs.
Orange slices are my copilot
Across the street from my hotel is a Dairy Queen, which looks like the best place to get a burger in this town. After they brought my cheeseburger calorie bomb to the table, I looked at it for about three minutes, thinking that I had to eat that. It looks okay and tastes better, but I could feel my body rebelling at the poor diet. I don’t normally eat like this, but I hadn’t even thought about how to recover for this event.
Recovery meal at Dairy Queen
Maybe I need to go back to Scott Jurek‘s book Eat and Runto use some of his vegan recipes. The soy rice balls looked really interesting since, like the dried cherries, they aren’t sweet. The next time I do this I’ll have to treat it more like an expedition and plan my meals. I was even thinking about bringing my own rice cooker along, but after the Boston Marathon bombings, I figured that wouldn’t look good in an x-ray.