Race Recap: Marathon #20, Crazy Horse, SD: Run Crazy Horse

So it’s been a hot minute since I sat down to race recap South Dakota. And by “hot minute” I mean I’m looking up at a race medal that has ‘2014’ stamped on it. Even so, this one would be a hard one to forget. I never thought my decision to drive 1,900 miles round trip to save on airfare would have been such a fun and beautiful adventure.

Leaving from Chicago, the plan was to drive nine hours to Sioux Falls by myself, and spend the night there. Jeff and Todd were going to head in late that evening, and we would all leave the next morning to head across the state. Let it be known that I did try to stop at the Spam museum on the way (they really have some amazing billboards advertising the museum, you would have totally tried to stop, too), but it was closed for remodeling. I know. I know. How disappointing.

SD Spam

So I kept on my way to Sioux Falls. After checking in to the hotel, I took myself out to dinner, marveled at how nice everyone was in Sioux Falls, and wondered about the one or two signs I saw for something called “Wall Drug” before settling in for the night. The next morning we met up and started our journey across the state.

And immediately saw no less than one million signs for this Wall Drug place.

Honestly, I wish I had recorded just how many there were. I mean, you can’t drive more than a second before another goofy sign pops up, and it was awesome. Thankfully, Jeff and Todd had traveled this route before and knew it was a good idea to drive through the Badlands first. So on our little detour we went.

And….just, wow!

Badlands

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We wandered around for a bit, stopped to take pictures, and passed wildlife along the way. I could have stayed there all weekend! But we had a Wall Drug to visit and a race to run, so on we went.

After our stop at the famous Wall Drug (it’s really just an epic tourist trap. I highly recommend it) we headed to Rapid City, SD. We checked in, grabbed our race packets, and then went straight to Mt. Rushmore.

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After, we found ourselves pulling in to the Tatanka Custer State Park. Jeff really wanted to see Buffalo. I was just happy I finally saw a bunch of dead presidents carved into a rock.

So we drove in, me silently convinced there was no way we would see Buffalo. Jeff was holding on to hope.

Until…..WE SAW SOME!

Or….wait…..mmmaaaaaybe?….

Todd: “Wait….is that….in the distance?!”
Jeff: “Oh! Yes! I think so!”
Me: “No….way. No, really? Seriously? SERIOUSLY?!”
Todd: “Yes! Oh my God! Buffalo!”
Jeff: “There they are! See! See?!”
Me: “Uhhhh….guys? That’s…not buffalo. That’s…that’s just a lot of…hay bales.”

At this point, we stopped singing ‘Home on the Range’ and vowed never again to bring up that all three of us excitedly confused hay bales with a herd of buffalo.

And then…..

We drove up to something that was most certainly not a hay bale. 

Buffalo

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We left the park as the sun set, and got back to the hotel to put our stuff out for the marathon the next morning.

The next day alarms went off crazy early and I was a nervous mess. So off we went to the start at Crazy Horse Memorial. Starting the run with a few hills in high altitude, I was out of breath, but wide-eyed at the scenery.

 

 

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After a few initial hills, the next 10 miles were enjoyable. I was looking all around, smiling, and feeling very well prepared. Turns out, this was due to the fact that I was running a gradual downhill, not even realizing gravity was on my side.

Until the turnaround point. At which the next seven miles of my life were, admittingly, quite horrid.

So most of South Dakota is very, very flat. But on this side of the state, it was a lot higher altitude than, say, Chicago. And I’m not quite sure I’m ever ready for that. So for a solid seven miles, I grumbled, felt like I was attempting to drink the air (I don’t know if it’s because of my asthma, or general high altitude, but I felt like I couldn’t suck in enough air if I tried), and my legs felt like solid weights. But finally, thankfully, at mile 17~ish, the course leveled out and we were no longer going up a hill.

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Finally, stumbling on to the finish line, I collected one of my favorite marathon medals to date, rested for a few minutes, and hobbled back to my car so I could shower and we could start our journey back to Sioux Falls just in time to check in to a hotel and grab a celebration drink.

#20 was done. And on to the next adventure :)

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