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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

2016 River Rat Half Marathon - Yankton, SD

Last weekend we took a running vacation and ran the River Rat Half Marathon in Yankton, SD.  Mike and I have been training for this basically since New Year's, and it was always the SD half that Mike wanted to run the most. This was his first half, and my second.  Training went well for both us us, up until about three weeks ago. That week was birthday week at our house, and neither of us ran for the entire week. Mike returned to running that weekend, and I followed up on Monday the 11th with my 12 mile long run, and then disaster struck. My right shin started to hurt, in the same area as my previous stress fracture. The pain wasn't the same, but I was incredibly anxious about it. Mike continued to train, and I proceeded to not run again until the half two weeks later.
I was determined that Mike would have a terrific first half, so I decided that I would register for the race and continue like I was going to run, but reevaluate often and bow out if it hurt at all.  The first mile I could feel the sore area, but I concentrated on short, fast steps and kept going. At the end of two miles I could not feel it at all, so I kept going... and it never hurt again. Even after it was over, it did not hurt. I was thrilled to be able to run, and since I didn't think I would make it I had no time expectations, so I was able to run slow and careful and not concern myself with pace.
High Fives from Noah at the start line.

The route for the River Rat begins on the Missouri River, very near the bridge to Nebraska. You quickly leave the waterfront, and run past the hospital and monastery to get onto Highway 50 out of town. As you leave town, you run down a giant hill, and the entire time all you can think is that you have to get back UP that hill at some point.  There's a couple miles of out and back, and then you're staring down that hill again. The half marathon route loops around a shaded, semi-residential route, but ultimately the elevation climb is the same, because at the top of the climb it meets back up on the same road. (The full marathoners have to run back up the highway.)
See the giant hill behind me?
 After the giant hill, it winds around by the high school before dropping onto the Auld-Brokaw trail through town. The trail is concrete (the entire race is on hard surface, fyi) and there are several little pigtail loops under roads, but you don't have to wait for traffic anywhere. There's about 2.5 miles left at this point, and I was getting a little tired. (Remember, I'd only run once in the preceding three weeks!) I was faster than the walkers but slower than the other runners so I was weirdly all alone on the route. For several miles I couldn't see any other runners at all. The last mile and a half were back near the river and the wind had picked up significantly. At once point there was a break in the wind and I literally stumbled from the lack of resistance.  The route takes a right turn and you can see the finish line ahead of you in the park, but! jokes on you! cause they route you all the way around the park to come back at it from the other direction. I was pretty beat by the end of it, but if I learned nothing from Crazy Horse it was to smile for the camera.

Finish line!

Mike finished about 15 minutes behind me, and while neither of us were last, it was not a fast run. We were both thrilled to have finished at all tho, and felt like the run was a complete success. The race seems fairly unorganized- there aren't any emails telling you where to go or where to line up or if there is any food after. There are no vendors at packet pickup and no options to buy other swag. You show up at the start line and follow the crowd, but it's a small crowd, so it's ok. That said, the volunteers are terrific and even the slow runners at the end get kudos and cheers as they pass the water stations, and there are volunteers at literally every turn cheering and clapping and helping out. The SD National Guard is on many of the corners prior to getting on the trail, and every single one cheered and clapped for me. There were only 162 runners for the half, and a $60 entry fee, and even with the giant hill I think it would be a great first marathon.  My knees hurt quite a bit that night, but my shins were/are fine and three days later I only have a little quad pain, and am ready to run again.
Family finish photo!
The best part though, hands down, was that our chosen family, our family BFFs went with us.  The got a room next to ours overlooking the pool and hung with us for the entire weekend. We made signs the week before when Mike was gone, and they hauled our three kids, plus their own, around the race to cheer and were at the start and finish lines for us. I can not express how much this means to me, and how much I love those guys.

Our signs included:
-Hurry Up So We Can Drink
-YOU are my favorite runner!
-Run Faster, I just Farted. (Kids, what are you gonna do?)
-Run Like You Stole Something
- GO Mike and Lisa GO
-Go Dad Go I Love You
-Run for the Hill (with detailed illustration)
- You aren't slow, you're getting your money's worth!
-Power Up Here! (with a green power up "button")
Plus pom poms and a cowbell!
The boys helping me at the bottom of the big hill.

Mike gets a boost from Lauren a few minutes later.

The hotel had a terrific pool, a little kid pool, and a hot tub and the kids played for hours and hours, and slept really well. My niece came over the night after the race to babysit poolside and the grownups went to dinner and relaxed. It was such a great trip.

Noah trying to stare holes through their closed curtains. He was the first kid up on Sunday.
Next up: the Aberdeen Bull Run Half Marathon on July 30th!

Hurry Up So We Can Drink!


  1. What a fun weekend and what great friends! I love the sign!

  2. I actually hooted laughing when I saw, "Hurry Up So We Can Drink!" LMAO! I love it so much. Love love love this post and very proud of you and Mike! <3

  3. That's very impressive. I know Doug and I need to do something to get back in shape but running has never been our thing. I admire you for tackling this marathon!

  4. Yay for you guys! I am in a major workout slump and need to get back in gear. I weighed myself last Friday which made me face reality - not pleasant at all. I am hoping to find some motivation soon!


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