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  • Writer's pictureMyranda

I Completed My First Half Marathon!

Updated: Jan 7, 2023

I want to preface this by saying that I wrote some of this during my trip but the majority once I got home. There were a bunch of hiccups heading out there and back that left me little time to use my laptop and I can't believe that it's taken me 3 months to publish this post!

9/17 - Oh boy! This trip has been crazy so far! I left home on Tuesday 9/14. My first stop was Toledo, Ohio, about 9 hours from home. I was driving through corn fields, at one point I told my sister (who I was on the phone with) that I was glad it was day time because there weren't any street lights and I was waiting to hear Candy Cane out of nowhere.

I finally reach my destination and y'all! When I tell you that this place looked like an abandoned building, I am not even joking! The smell in my room was terrible. It had to have been a former smoking room because it had a faint smell of cigarette smoke. The AC was dripping water onto the carpet. The wifi didn't work. The plan was to get up, have breakfast and check out at 9am. Well, after seeing my room I decided to get enough sleep and then leave early. I tried to check out before 7am only to find a note taped to the front door that they are short staffed so the lobby wouldn't be open until 9am. The girl that checked me in didn't mention that at all.

These are the pictures I took
These are the advertised pictures of the property.

Yeah...definitely not as advertised. These have to be mock up pictures or stolen from other Super 8 facilities. Not what I expected if being associated with Wyndham. I shared a video with my husband and he was disgusted and told me to leave as soon as possible. Oh...and yes, I reported this facility to as well as left a terrible review with pictures.

Wednesday was my longest drive and that was over 10 hours. I made it to my stay in Rochester, Minnesota and had a beautiful room and stay! I swung by Walmart and grabbed some food and snacks for the next day, enjoyed a wonderful shower, and then did a video chat with my daughter and husband.

Thursday I drove over 9 hours to get to my final destination of Keystone, South Dakota. I walked into my room and was surprised! It has a cabin kind of feel! It's nice! The bed isn't as comfortable as it looks but I slept well enough.

Today, Friday, I woke up at 4am to see what the temperature was outside. It was 47 degrees. I went back to sleep and when I woke up at 6am, it was 39 degrees. I'm still not sure if I'm wearing my pants or shorts tomorrow for the race. Lol! I headed out to the race expo around 10am. I got my bib, race shirt, HydraPouch, signed the Mount Rushmore sign, grabbed a magnet, a patch, a couple stickers and a necklace with some charms! I wandered around and I met and talked to a few people but mostly avoided talking to people after I got choked up and started to cry when I said that this is my first half, first Vacation Race, and I'm here alone.

I know it's small but you can see I signed in green by the E in Rushmore under the middle!
My stickers, patch and necklace!

I left the expo and made my way back to my motel and decided that it was still early and I headed up to Mount Rushmore. My mom asked me to pick up a cheap and cheesy snow globe for her so I figured as long as my legs are still working then I can grab it! If you've never been to Mount Rushmore, I highly recommend it! Now when you enter the park, you get a ticket and once you've paid for the parking, you can re-enter the park as many times as you want for a year! That means I can go back tonight, tomorrow, Sunday and I won't have to pay anything else for parking. That's pretty neat.

I decided to go with my pants for the race and I'm glad that I did because race day did not start out great! I was staying about a 5 minute walk from the shuttle pick up location. I had planned to be there at 4:30am but I wanted to make sure that I...ya know...💩 before I left. It's one thing to pee in a port-a-potty and another to poo so I wanted to make sure I did that before I left. Loaded up with my gear, I made it around 4:45am and the first round of buses were leaving. I was near the front of the line and would be on the next bus when it got there. Next thing we know, it's creeping up on 5:20am. Where are the buses? The volunteers start shift the line so that the buses don't block the main road coming into the parking lot and finally we see a bus pull in...and it stops at the end of the line and starts loading people on! Shame on you people who got on and didn't direct them to the front. Then we get a bus and the people in line behind me start rushing the bus not waiting for those of us IN THE FRONT to get on first...for shame!

Race Day outfit, snacks and some gear. Camelpak was filled and hanging on the hook of the bathroom door.

I was concerned about getting to the start line because the race was starting at 6:30am but buses needed to be off that dirt road by 6am for the dust to settle or whatever. Finally made it to the start line and completely missed out on the raffle. I should have driven damn it! Got in a very long line for the potty that ended up having me start 15 minutes after gun time. Before I get to the pictures and some videos from the race, here's what I learned after the race via email from Vacation Races. Shuttle Buses were short. They had reserved like 15 buses and only 4 or 5 arrived. They apologized and also called out the unsportsman-like behavior of those that were at the end of the line that got on the bus. They also apologized for the long lines for the bathrooms at the start. They were shorted 10 and boy would those 10 have made a difference!

Back to the race! While waiting in line to pee, the National Anthem played prior to the start of the race. There were some technical difficulties and us racers finished singing. Super moving and if you want to hear it, check out Vacation Races IG post of it here. I cross the start line about 15 minutes after the race started. My goal continued to change throughout my training and by the time I started I still knew that my main goal was to finish but that I wanted to finish in less than 3.5 hours. This is what the first almost 2 miles were like...dirt road...on an incline...enough to make just about every person I saw walk!

A lot of my videos have no sound because you don't want to hear me huffin it! The ones that do have sound are intentional! Around mile 2 on the main paved road, the air was suddenly filled with the wonderful aroma of rude of those people to be making bacon on race day and not be standing at the street to pass it out to runners. Just saying! I also realized real fast that no service meant no music because I forgot to download my playlist so audiobook it was. Good book but not ideal for running.

I can't share most of my videos because they are too big to email to myself since I can't seem to add anything directly to my Google Drive from my iPhone and have it actually open on any other device. I got up a decent size hill I think around mile 3 or 4 and there was the sign for the Black Hills National Park so you know I grabbed a couple pics!

Somewhere between these and mile 7 I thought this rock looked pretty cool and as Mrs.Space.Cadet says these are my cheering squad (and there were lots of tree tunnel vibes but I couldn't have my phone out all the time).

After looking up countless times at all the switch backs and the constant up hill I finally see the Mile 7 flag which means that I'm so close to starting my downhill! Mind you, I've only ran very few spots up to this point because I was not prepared for these hills. I now understood the looks I got and responses like these when I said this was my first half ever: "This is your first half marathon ever??? And you picked this one???" I mean I mostly answered back with the fact that it was on my bucket list and when they announced this was the final year I kind of had to pull the trigger!

And shortly after these...and a little more uphill...

Finally getting to run on the downward side of the course!

I made up some serious time coming downhill. We also got our first glimpse at the photographers and there were no signs like VR said there would be...but this is my fav!

I had to stop taking my phone out because my hands were so swollen that I couldn't get it back into my belt so my final picture is after I crossed the finish line! I saw the finish, I hauled ass and as soon as I crossed the finish line, I ugly cried. Mostly because I couldn't believe that I had just ran a half marathon that is rated the most difficult of the halfs that VR puts on (the only race that beats it in difficulty is an Ultra which is like a 50K or 100K), partly because the announcer said my name correctly...all of my name...first and hyphenated last name, and partly because I didn't have anyone there to celebrate with me.

I honestly don't remember most of the day. I walked the half mile back to my room, showered and tried to stretch away the toe and calf cramps! It took about an hour before they stopped cramping and I crashed. I grabbed myself a bacon cheese burger for dinner (since all the food I bought and stored in my mini fridge was frozen) with a large chocolate milk (missed that station at the finish line) and went back to my room. I was hobbling a lot but just didn't feel the urge to keep moving since I had just accomplished something SO BIG and was all alone. I'm sure I FaceTimed with some family but that's about it!


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