Maah Daah Hey 100: my first marathon/trail run/DNF

Discussion in 'Front Page News' started by trevize1138, Jul 31, 2017.

  1. trevize1138

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    Maah Daah Hey 100: my first marathon/trail run/DNF
    By Trevize1138


    Attempted and DNFed my first marathon on the Maah Daah Hey trail in the ND badlands. It was hot: 95F according to the weather station and with hardly any shade. Trail workers said days like that it's not uncommon to read 115F in the valleys. I did my best to stay hydrated but just couldn't keep up. I'm sure my inexperience played a part but at the last checkpoint, just 8 miles from the finish, I called it. I had been out there for 5 1/2 hours and covered 18 miles.

    In addition to not having ever done a marathon before and doing it on a rough, up-and-down trail I was attempting it barefoot with Xero DIY sandals as a backup.

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    Barefoot for the first 8 miles was actually great. The badlands look the way they do because they're easy to erode so it's mostly dirt. That heat was too much for my feet, though, and I had to keep the sandals on after about 10 am.

    I was out there with two friends, one of whom was doing the 55 mile and the other, a novice, the 5K. My 5k friend has always been a barefooter, just new to running, and after his race he sought me out to make sure I was OK. He showed up just in time to lift my spirits just 2 miles or so from that final checkpoint. I was already hurting pretty bad.

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    Then he started to complain about how hot the dirt was on his feet. The soft dirt had also given way to rough gravel laid down by trail workers. He normally doesn't have a problem handling rough surfaces barefoot but said the heat of the ground was enough it made the rough surface unbearable. "It's so hot it feels cold!"

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    Thankfully, we both thought, the clouds were rolling in and we could see rain on the western horizon. It was a godsend once the sun was behind those clouds. Then it started to rain a bit and that was even better.

    Then it rained even more. And the rain drops all looked a bit white.

    The temperature went from 95 to 66 in 15 minutes, as I would later find out from one of the checkpoint workers watching the temp on their vehicle's dashboard. I was suddenly shivering cold as opposed to before when I was burping and nauseous from heat.

    I sat under the lift gate of the minivan that served as the checkpoint/aid station while it rained and tried to decide whether I could continue. I checked my phone for messages finally and saw a text from my buddy doing the 55. "I had to drop. Can you pick me up at the 3rd aid station?"

    That made up my mind. Time to rescue my buddy! And my feet were killing me (shocking, I know). The sand and mud kept finding its way between my sandals and my feet and they were beat up. I had been walking for miles choosing rough and uncomfortable over rough, uncomfortable and roasting hot.

    My buddy doing the 55 (he had lots of marathon experience and previously did a 50k trail run) started puking after 21 miles then got a ride to the 3rd aid station 5 miles further down the trail. It's a new event so his field was pretty small: just 7 people. By the end of the day all but 3 were DNF.

    Further perspective on the conditions: one participant in the 1/2 marathon said he normally runs a 1:30. He finished in just under 3:00. When I called in my own DNF at that final checkpoint a fellow marathoner came in right behind me and asked to borrow my phone so she could call her ride to pick her up as she had to DNF as well. We were dropping like flies.

    We're so very glad I did it, though, and we're committed to attempt it again next year! I've got a lot more training to do and need to seek out some other trail runs. I was happy to see on the FB page for the event that one of the marathoners I ran with for a few miles, a guy named Paul in his 60s, crossed the finish line. He told me it was his 124th marathon. I'm 44 and guys like him are my long-term training goal.

    My 5K friend ended up being the only one of us three to bring home the hardware, winning his event handily! I've been coaching him about running form and helping him focus on short, quick steps which is easier to do if you're barefoot. He runs on rough, class 5 aggregate gravel on the roads around his organic farm here in southern MN but now wants to get some sandals so he can do longer miles (even he has limits to how much his feet can handle).

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    His race story made me really happy in a sort of coaching way: he followed three guys who took off into the lead right away, noticing all of them were taking big, long, slow strides. He caught himself unconsciously matching their strides a couple times then snapped himself back with a correction to the short, quick steps. One of the three guys ahead of him slowed down so he tucked up behind the remaining two.

    "Then it was like clockwork!" he told me. "With a mile left the other two guys started dying and slowing down. You were right about the short-and-quick steps! I had plenty of energy left to sprint ahead and win."
     
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  2. Barefoot TJ

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    We only fail when we don't try. I am sure you will make it next time. And I am still proud of you. Thanks for sharing!
     
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  3. trevize1138

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    Thanks, TJ!

    I'm pretty excited after having made this attempt. Just signed up for a city marathon on Oct 22nd and a 10M trail run on Aug. 12th. I know the trail and the city course and attempting them both barefoot will be significantly easier than the badlands. On top of that the cool October weather will mean no more excuses from me to not finish :).
     
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  4. Jaqa

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    Sorry about your DNF! But it seems you had a great time nonetheless.
    Just Googled the trail and it's spectacular landscape. Great write up too!
     
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  5. trevize1138

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    My friend who attempted the 55 and I used to go out there and bike those trails a lot. It was the first time we'd tried running it but we knew it'd be a good time no matter what. Just beautiful scenery. A mile before my DNF I sat down on a rock and just admired the colors in the strata across the hills.
     
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  6. dutchie53

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    Better to have tried and failed then not having tried it at all. One learns a lot from outings like these. Great effort you put in, well done


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  7. trevize1138

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    Yesterday I shared a video from the FB page of the Maah Daah Hey Trail Run to the page of the small running club I started here in Wells, MN. It's the start of the 5K event that my friend John won and it's so perfectly instructional.

    You see this guy charge out into the lead. He's taking huge, slow strides. STOMP... STOMP... STOMP...

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    Then, mixed in with the chase pack is John, barefoot and pitter-pattering along with quick steps.

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    It's like a case study in the power of tapping into your efficiency by getting your feet under your center of gravity and quickening your steps rather than muscling your way along, over-striding and banging on the ground in a way only cushioned running shoes could allow. John was 48 seconds ahead of 2nd place when he crossed the finish line.
     
    #7 trevize1138, Aug 3, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2017
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  8. trevize1138

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    Went for a run yesterday afternoon with John (guy circled in red in the photo above who won that 5K on the 29th). I've got a couple different pairs of running sandals so I let him borrow my 4mm Xero DIY sandals because his farm is surrounded by gravel roads and he was complaining that he couldn't get in long miles because his feet could only take so much.

    We planned to run an out-and-back 7 miler but he loved how comfortable just 4mm of tread felt he asked if we could go an extra mile out before turning around to do 9 instead. We kept accelerating through the run losing a good 20-30 seconds/mile for the last three miles. That dude is a beast! He's a good 11 years younger than me and is thinking of signing up for the Mankato 1/2 marathon (I'm signed up for the full) and I'm starting to think I'd expect nothing less from him than a 1:30 barefoot in that event.

    This whole experience has got me thinking how fun it would be to try my hand at a barefoot running coach or trainer. Seeing the results of me helping someone go from "I can't run" to "I can't get enough of running" thanks to my urging an advice has been immensely satisfying. He really pushed me on that 9 miler yesterday and nothing would make me happier than to have my ass handed to me by him going forward.
     
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