Wednesday, February 19, 2020

2020 Sun Half Marathon Race Recap - Santa Clara, UT




Official Time: 1:59:13
Placement: 2nd in the 50 - 54 age group, 32nd overall
Results: Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: Mid 30's, sunny.
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: First Year for me

Mile TimeComments
18:40Gentle downhill - down the park road.
28:40
38:35More downhill - very fast start. Felt easy at this point. 
48:29
58:36
69:25First uphill section.  Temperature starting to get warm.
78:24
89:07More flat section here. Had a looming up hill coming
99:22Mentally fatigued at this point and a hill to climb
108:59
1110:03Slow grind up a hill. Pretty gassed and not sure how much I had left.
129:35
138:58Downhill through the residential streets.
13.262:18
Total Miles: 13:26 - 1:59:15






Introduction


Last year, the Sun Marathon had come up and it was yet another race in the St George area.  This time of year, there are quite a few races that entice us northerners to come on down and enjoy the cleaner air and warmer temperatures.

Sometime during Thanksgiving, OnHillEvents sends out an email blast with their forthcoming 2020 races at pretty ridiculous prices.  Since I had missed this year's edition of the St George Half Marathon (in January) I decided to pony up for this race.  It was a 3rd annual race and a course I hadn't done before.  Also word on the street was that it was a good race.

So I decided to do it.  A new race, a chance to get warm, and a chance to test my fitness.  I usually run well in warmer temperatures and this race boasted a mostly downhill course.  Definitely a way to get my confidence up.

So I took off from work a little early on Valentine's Day and made the 3.5 hour trip to Cedar City where I'd spend the night.  Prices in St George were ridiculous so I opted to stay about an hour away the race start and save myself $70.  It would definitely be an early morning though.





The Race


The race's pick-up zone was at Gubler Park in Santa Clara.  It is a multi-use park primarily serving the community for baseball games and such.  I was one of the first ones there and managed to snag a decent parking spot and get my bib in short order.  I managed to kill about 30 minutes before loading a coach bus and heading to the starting line.

I was a little nervous for this race.  I have been plagued with some hamstring issues that get aggravated the longer I go.  They also don't like uphills.  I've also been battling some runner's knee.

To make matters worse, my training hasn't really been really solid for a half marathon.  Maybe 25 - 35 miles per week with a long run of about 9 miles.

So in my mind, it was going to be a 50-50 chance of this being a 6 mile run followed by a 7 mile limp to the finish.





We had about an hour to kill at the race start.  It went quickly as I made small talk with fellow runners.  They had a good number of runners from all over the place -- even some distant travelers.

The race started promptly at 8:30 and we were off.  

I had sort of gotten a good idea of what I was in for on the bus road to the top.  I was relieved to note that the race was downhill. It wasn't crazy downhill, but enough to give you a 15 - 20 second boost per mile.

So I wasn't too surprised to see my early miles turn in some 8:30 times.  I wasn't even trying that hard and just letting my legs flow forward and gravity take me down.

The course was warm when we were in the sun but primarily at the start we were in the shade, which made it chilly.  But after about half a mile, I reached a very comfortable running temperature.

The course first miles of the course is the best part.  There isn't a lot of traffic, there are some cows on the side of the road and you are following the Santa Clara River.  You are also surrounded by desert, red rock hills and desert scrub.  I was really enjoying this part of the course and the miles just melted away.

After a little over 5 miles you head on out to Old Highway 91.  At this point, an hour into the race, traffic is starting to get a little more pronounced.  Most drivers are headed out of town and you are running towards them on a shoulder, that at times was barely wide enough for a bike.  I didn't have any problems with drivers getting close to me but I was constantly aware of them.  

We passed by the Shivwits Reservation and had a few up hill sections at this point to contend with.  I smelled the beginning of the end with the hills and wondered if my endurance was going to hold.  Also, we had some down hill running, but at this point, it was primarily flat.  This part of course had some nice view of the Red Rock Conservation Area in the distance, but up close, there wasn't a lot to look at.

The air was definitely warmer and I was regretting wearing two shirts instead of one (I also had a hat, shorts and gloves, which I quickly pocketed).

There was plenty of hydration stops of water and Powerade.  I carried my own -- just in case.  I like to be able to take a drink willy-nilly during a half and I think having a little extra hydration and Tailwind in me helped.

Just shy of mile 10 -- with 5K to go we hung a hard left into a residential section.  It was a very slow grind up hill.  The occasional house resident in the area cheered us on, but it was sort of lonely running.  A few marathoners, who had had a 90 minute head start, passed me.  It is always humbling to be passed by a full marathoner when you are just running the half.

We were getting closer to the Red Rock area and despite the hill and not a lot of desert scenery, I enjoyed running in the residential area. 

There were only about 150 half marathoners in the race so most of the race I was running solo.  Again, occasionally a full marathoner passed me but for the most part, the nearest person was either a 100 yards behind me or ahead of me.

Finally at about mile 11 we made another turn and we were in the home stretch.  The 10 KM and 5 KM runners had started and they were headed out.  It was a little bit of a boost for me to get some encouragement from them... just as I was fading.



The last mile was more downhill.  I was a little concerned though as some of the race markers disappeared here.  Was I going the right way?  I had no idea where I was and part of me was holding back out of fear that I had missed a turn.  My watch kept getting closer to 13 miles and there was no sign or sound of the finish.  

I got word from someone walking their dog that I was almost there and that gave me encouragement I was going the right way.  Finally, I passed the last group of houses before seeing the park's entrance the finish line to my right.  Thank goodness!

I pushed it with whatever I had left and crossed the finish line in under 2 hours.



Conclusion


Post race food consisted of orange, bananas, peanut butter and bread, Powerade, Water, and of course ice cream sandwiches.  I always bring extra food for myself, but I didn't need any.  

I was surprised at how good I felt after the race.  My hamstrings had given me a few concerns about what I was asking them to do on substandard training but they had held up magnificently.  My runners knee, while having a wrap around my knee, also was feeling fantastic.

I was able to wake off the post race wooziness I feel.  In fact, I hardly felt any at all.  The weather was absolutely perfect -- maybe upper 50's by the time I finished and I loved sitting on the rocks just watching runners come in while working on my tan.



Turns out I won 2nd in my age group -- so it was double medal day.  Granted the race was small, but getting some recognition for a race is always a bonus.




My performance -- was actually outstanding all things considered.  I felt better than expected at the end.  The course measured long (about 13:26 - 13:30), according to people's watches (after my informal poll).  I believe I ran about .15 mile extra, which might be anywhere from 90 to 120 seconds of additional running.  So my time was really rock solid all things considered.

Overall, I pretty much have great things to say about this race.  I tend to run well in St George (with the lower elevation and cleaner air a major factor) and the weather was absolutely perfect.  I was "glowing" with personal satisfaction on this one and was excited about the course, running something new, and turning in a fairly decent time with fairly decent splits (considering the hills).

I would definitely do this one again and I am penciling it in for 2021.

Monday, February 10, 2020

2020 Sweethearts 5K Race Recap - Bountiful UT




Official Time: 25:55
Placement: 5th in age group (50-55), 31st male (out of 94), 47th overall out of 240
Results: Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: 35, 10 mph winds from the south
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: [2019] [2018] [2016] [2015] [2014] [2013]


Mile TimeComments
17:54Off to a decent start -- helped by a gentle downhill
28:35Time to get serious as the course starts to climb
39:01Course always hurts at the end with a slot grind to the finish.
3.060:24
Total Miles: 3.06 - 25:5


Introduction


Pretty much every year around Valentine's Day, I head on up to Bountiful for the Sweethearts 5K race.  It is a very affordable race put on by the South Davis Recreation Center, located in the heart of Bountiful.

I always register for this race right about the time I do their Turkey Trot race, since it winds up being just over $15 for a fully supported race, with finisher's medal, a decent shot at an age group prize, and a nice post race social area.  Plus, they always have nicely designed tech shirts that I make use of.





The Race


I showed up about 45 minutes before the race and found the parking lot a little icy.  We had had freezing weather the few days prior so I felt my shoes sliding around a bit in the shady areas.  Would this race have difficult footing?  I would certainly hope not (hint, footing was not a factor).

I grabbed my shirt very quickly, used the bathroom, and laced up for the race.  Despite the freezing temperatures, the air temperature for this race wasn't too bad.  While my Garmin reports that it was in the mid 30's; I want to think it was closer to 40.

I opted to go with thin gloves (which I pocketed half way through the race), a long-sleeved shirt, sun glasses, hat, and shorts.  I was perfectly fine.




The race started promptly at 9 AM and we were off running down one of Bountiful's main drags.  If you want to see photos of the course you can browse on previous editions of the race but suffice to say, it is a residential run, which the final mile and a half or so, a slow, uphill grind to the finisher's line behind the recreation center.

I haven't done much speed work and unfortunately I am a good 3 pounds heavier than last time I did this course (and I've done this 5K course at least a dozen times by now).  I didn't have high hopes during my warm-up.  Also, I've been battling a hamstring injury (again) that threatens to become angry at times.  It stopped me dead for about a week or two a few weeks ago and I think I've finally turned the corner on it.

The first mile, I felt good -- as I should -- as I spend down the race course.  If only I could hold this pace.

I was running with the usual suspects so I knew this pace was good.  And to be honest, I was a bit shocked to see a 7:54 pop-up on my Garmin after mile 1.  Not bad, but a far far cry from the 7:15's I had run on the first mile years before.

Miles 1 through 2 things get serious.  After about a quarter of a mile you are no longer given the benefit of the downhill and in fact, you start have to pay back what you borrowed in the first mile.  My pace and form crumbled.  I still felt pretty good though but people were passing me and I knew I was going to pay a price for going out too fast.

I don't think I even bothered to look at my watch when it beeped when I hit mile 2.  I had glanced at it a few times and I knew I was running somewhere in the low to mid 8's.  I looked at my overall time and hoped that I could get into the low 25's if I just picked up the pace in the final mile.

Unfortunately the final mile is where the hill really kicks in.  It isn't a massive, back breaking up hill, but at mile 2 of a 5K you should be hurting and this hill doesn't help.

I was slightly miffed when I rounded the corner and started to see the finish line and saw an evil "9" pop up on my Garmin.  9 minute mile?!??!? Nuts.

The course usually winds up short (I've had other people say they came in at 3.10), but every year I run it with a distance of 3:07 or so.  I must run the tangents really well.





Conclusion


I crossed the finish line with a time of 25:55. Sure beats a 26 but this race wasn't what I was hoping for as far as my overall time.  I use this race as a barometer for my general fitness and it is clear I need more speed work and have to drop a bit of weight.  However, I am battling the hamstring pull, so the amount of hard running I can do is limiting and I have to keep the mileage on the lower side to avoid aggravating it.

The race has some nice post race food -- gourmet bundt cake cupcakes (which were insanely delicious) and your typical post race spread of water and fruit.

This year, the race timer had it so you can quickly get your race, and unfortunately I placed 5th in my age group, so no prize this year. So it was a quick social visit with many of my friends before hitting the road.

The finisher's medal is a generic one.  With the coronavirus going on in China, the manufacturer couldn't meet the order of the "nicer" medals, so apparently they are going to be mailed out at a later point.  This one will suffice, but usually this race has some nice medals.

Once again, I have work to do if I am going to get serious about shaving some seconds off my time.  Yes, I had some challenges for this race: 1) first race of the year (more or less) 2) injury (runner's knee and hamstring issue) and it was a tiny bit windy / icy.  That being said, the injury really sidelined my training, I think, which lead me to a flat race.

Suffice to say, I'll have other opportunities to run better and once I am 100%, I can trust my body and nail the times I want.  But this one, for all intents and purposes, was kind of a speed workout to see where I was with my training.




Sunday, January 12, 2020

2019 Running Year in Review




Total Miles for 2019:  1692.25

Introduction


2019 was a mixed year as far as running went.  It started off where I was filled with piss and vinegar in terms of training and turning in some fast times to suddenly sitting on the sideline due to a hamstring pull.

This year saw my fewest miles in quite some time.  In addition, this year saw me miss more races that I had signed up for and was a no show.  I was either sick with bronchitis or the crippling hamstring injury had sidelined me for probably 6 races.

I did manage to run the following race distances in 2019:

5K   - 8
10K - 10
Half Marathons: 9

Again, no marathons this year.  Which is sort of sad, but at the same time, I am okay with.  I had visions of running a full this year but the hamstring sidelined me and simply put: it didn't happen this fall.

Best and Worst Race Performances


First off, the worst, most heartbreaking race for me was the Las Vegas Half Marathon -- again.  Normally, after having this many poor performances at a race, I'd write it off as a "Just isn't my race", but I do have a streak going -- I am about one of 50 (or so) people who have run it every year since 2009.  So despite it not being my "race" (and this isn't a knock on the organizers), I just don't run very well in Las Vegas.  


The other most depressing race was the Ogden Half Marathon.    I was coming off my injury and there were some serious doubts as to whether I'd be able to finish the race.  Also the weather was super questionable as far as whether I'd be walking 13 miles in the pouring rain.  So I totally over dressed.  By mile 6 or 7, I knew I was in trouble.  The finish -- and the race itself -- wasn't pretty.


The best race of the year, as far as my performance went, was the Sand Hollow Half Marathon.  The course was very likely short, but I turned in a 1:54 time.  I race really well there and it was a great week for me.  I'd also follow that up with the Ogden Halloween Half and the Snow Canyon Half.  While I died in the Snow Canyon at the end, in both races I turned in decent times.

Races I Loved the Most This Year


There were two races that jump out at me as being extremely fun:  They are the Snow Canyon Half Marathon and the Laughlin Half Marathon.

Both were new to me and the races tied in some epic weekends, where I had a blast.  The courses were pretty and gave me some new experiences.  I find myself doing the same races year after year and these reinvigorated my joy of visiting new areas and racing them.

If you enjoy desert scenery and in some cases a fast, downhill course, check out the aforementioned races.


Looking Towards 2020


I still enjoy running.  I started as a stress relief thing in 1997 and merely did 3 - 4 miles 3 - 4 times a week.  I didn't really have any goals other to go run.  Occasionally I'd dream of doing a marathon (I didn't know about other distances) and occasionally I'd go from my usual 3  - 4 mile run to something like 7 or 8.  

In 2004 I entered my first race and did okay.  The second one, I won my age group -- and after that I was hooked.  



It's been 16 years now and my times are clearly in decline.  It is a humbling experience and maybe you are reading this experiencing the same thing.  We all age and we all age at different paces.  Me, my times have gotten a lot slower.  I used to be a 20:30 5K "back in the day".  Now, I am happy to break 25 minutes.  

Try as I might, I am not going to be hitting sub 20's again unless I make some serious sacrifices and get lucky.

That being said, the benefits of being a life-long runner has given me a host of benefits:

  1. Stress Relief
  2. Fitness
  3. A group of friends I would never have met otherwise
  4. A reason to explore the world
  5. The knowledge that I can park the car in some remote area and log some miles that I otherwise wouldn't have been able to see.
  6. And hopefully a source of inspiration for others to better their lives through running.

I hope you journey with me on my runs and see what 2020 brings!



Upcoming Races




01/19: 2020 Phoenix Rock n Roll Half Marathon - Phoenix, AZ(Confirmed)
02/08: 2020 Sweethearts 5K - Bountiful, UT (Confirmed)
02/15: 2020 Sun Half Marathon - St George, UT (Confirmed)
02/22: 2020 Salt Lake Track Series 15K - Magna, UT (Confirmed)
03/07: 2020 March Madness Race 10K - West Bountiful, UT (Confirmed)
03/14: 2020 St Patrick's Day Half Marathon / 6 Tunnels Half Marathon- Boulder City, NV (Confirmed)
03/28: 2020 Riverton Half Marathon - Riverton, UT (Maybe)
04/04: 2020 Havasu Half Marathon - Havasu, AZ (Confirmed)
04/11: 2020 Eggs Legs Race 10K - West Jordan, UT (Confirmed)
04/18: 2020 Salt Lake City Half Marathon - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed)
04/25: 2020 Summerlin Half Marathon - Summerlin, NV (Maybe)
05/02: 2020 May the Fourth Race - Farmington, UT (Maybe)
05/03: 2020 Reno Half Marathon - Reno, NV (Maybe)
05/16: 2020 Ogden Half Marathon - Ogden, UT (Confirmed)
06/20: Lamoille Canyon Half Marathon - Lamoille, NV (Probable)
07/04: Fourth of July Spring Creek 5K - Spring Creek, NV (Probable)
07/24: 2020 Alien Midnight 10K - Farmington, UT (Confirmed)
08/01: Ruby Mountain Relay - Lamoille, NV (Probable)
08/15: 2020 PC2PG Race 10K - Lindon, UT (Confirmed)
09/26: 2020 Witch Run 10K - West Jordan, UT (Confirmed)
10/10: 2020 Antelope Island Race - Syracuse, UT (Maybe)
11/07: 2020 Snow Canyon Half Marathon - St George, UT (Confirmed)
11/15: 2020 Las Vegas Half Marathon - Las Vegas, NV (Confirmed)

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

2020 Lifetime Fitness Commitment Run 5K Race Recap - South Jordan, UT




Official Time: 26:17
Placement: 2nd in age group, 14th male
Results: Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: 32, strong wind from south, wet and slippery
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: First Year


Mile TimeComments
18:41Into the wind I run, slow mile. Footing was iffy
28:37Felt nice to get the wind at my back
38:31Dying near the end but getting it done
3.060:25Not much left and no one behind me, but flew through the finish
Total Miles: 3.06 - 26:17


Introduction


I don't do a lot of New Years Day races.  There just aren't that many of them here in Salt Lake.  However, two routinely pop up each year: an indoor run on an indoor track (yuck!) and the Lifetime Fitness Commitment Day 5K.

The Commitment Day 5K is kind of a fun run.  Yes, they record results but only the top 3 get prizes.  No t-shirt but a cool finisher's medal and it is run outdoors  -- regardless of the weather.

I saw some sort of special on Facebook, where I could run for $15.  Not a bad deal for a 5K.  So even if the weather was bad or something else came up, I wasn't out too much.  So I signed up.



The Race


I rolled into the race site way early.  I had an errand to do on the east side of town and the roads were slippery and in some spots not terribly taken care of.  So I left with plenty of time.  I guess I got there WAY early, as I was one of the first to arrive at 8:45 AM for a 10 AM start.  Runners are one thing: punctual.

I had no idea what the race course was going to be like.  I've run several times in South Jordan and I figured we'd be on the bike trail for a bit and then drift off into a neighborhood.  Turns out, the race was held primarily (about 90%) on the Jordan River Bike Trail, of which I am very familiar with.

Fortunately, it was easy to kill time.  I knew a person or two at the race and people were generally easy to strike up a conversation with.  It also gave me time to check out the gym and its facilities.

Around 9:45, I did a warm-up.  Probably ran a mile and did some strides.  I had no idea what direction we were going to run in, but I figured we'd be heading south - where a solid 10 - 20 mile per hour head wind was coming from.  

The race started promptly at 10 AM and I was out and running.  There were about a 100 runners so there was some initial congestion at the start, but within a few hundred yards, it was smooth sailing.

The parking lot was plowed (a few hundred yards) but we quickly made it to the bike trail where there was maybe half an inch to an inch of fresh snow.

The trail hadn't been used that much since the snowfall and footing was decent.  Spots were slippery and it was slow going when I had to round a corner, but overall, other than the wind it was smooth sailing.

I wasn't too surprised to see an 8:41 on the first mile.  The wind was just relentless and while I felt strong, I knew that I was paying a price.  

I knew the course at this point, having run on it many times before: it is just a flat bike trail with the Jordan River next to it.  There is a lot of swampy / desert-like vegetation around and the scenery truly isn't that bad.

I was wondering how accurate the course was going to be and was beginning to worry that it was going to be long.  Fortunately, after rounding a corner there was the turn around point, at about 1.53 miles on my Garmin.  Finally some tailwind!

While I was in oxygen debt, the tailwind definitely lifted my spirits.  Occasionally I'd feel the wind blowing against my wind breaker (I went out with the clothing you see in my photos: shorts, t-shirt, windbreaker and gloves).

The course wasn't marked really well but again, I had been on there before and I definitely wasn't leading.  There were a few other runners in front of me, but no one behind me.

The final mile turned out to be my fastest but I definitely was hurting.  My endurance is pretty good at this point, so I was patient but I was really happy to see an 8:30 show up.  I've done very few negative splits before, particularly in a 5K.  I won't credit too much with proper pacing, but more of the a nice tailwind.

I crossed the finish line with a 26 and change.  Not what I wanted time-wise, but given the course conditions, it is what it is.



Conclusion


No t-shirt for the race, but they did have a nice medal. For $15, I wasn't expecting much but the medal was better than expected.



I swung by my car, grabbed some of my stuff and proceeded back in the gym.  With no age group awards and clearly I wasn't in the top 3, I was tempted to head out.  But they had a drawing and by the time I made it into the gym, I had about 20 minutes to wait until the drawing did happen.

Unfortunately, lucky wasn't on my side and I didn't win but they had some nice prizes.



On the plus side, they had a super healthy breakfast consisting of power pancakes, blueberries, oatmeal, and bananas.  Food was actually REALLY good and no junk too.  Color me impressed.

Overall, I liked this race.  I'd consider it more of a speed work out with a medal at the end and part social event.  I'd do it again if I didn't have anything planned for New Years.  It was a good time and I enjoyed myself, and at a price of $15 -- it is hard to beat.



Sunday, December 15, 2019

2019 Laughlin Half Marathon Race Recap - Laughlin, NV




Official Time: 2:01:40
Placement: 8th out of 19 in the 50-54, 73 out of 161 male, 103rd overall
Results: Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: Low 50's, sunny.
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: First Year for me

Mile TimeComments
18:50A few laps around the high school. Felt sluggish
29:19
39:51Long stretch of uphill
49:15
58:27Finally some down hill. Heading into town
68:25More fast miles
78:42
810:17Suddenly have to switch gears to uphill running
99:21Heading into Arizona
108:57
119:24
1210:17A bit of a climb here. Pretty gassed
139:32Giving whatever I had left for the final mile
13.110:57
Total Miles: 13:11 - 2:01:39



Introduction


As part of my 50th birthday celebration, I opted to go on a bit of a road trip: to Laughlin Nevada.  Laughlin is a small gambling town at the bottom part of the state, where California and Arizona meet.  You can literally cross a river and be in Arizona and with another short drive be in California.

I've been to Laughlin before on another road trip and I was pretty excited to come visit again.  I didn't really have a chance to enjoy it last time on account I was in the throes of bronchitis.  This time, I had a smidge of a cold / bronchitis, but I was able to enjoy myself much more -- plus I was doing a race!




Laughlin is about a 7.5 hour drive from Salt Lake, so I took Friday off and headed out as soon as traffic thinned.  I had to be there for packet pickup, so I left with plenty of time.  I managed to swing by Mesquite, NV and get in a quick lunch.  It was nice to be able to split the trip up a bit.  The weather was absolutely pleasant down there.  I had come from the low 30's to the low 60's and I managed to switch into shorts before lunch.


Packet pickup was at the Tropicana in Laughlin.  I had checked into my hotel since I had gotten there early and made the roughly 1 mile walk to the hotel.  It was a pleasant walk and I showed up soon after the area opened.  Unfortunately, everyone else had the same idea.  I expecting an hour wait to get my bib and race supplies, but the line moved exceedingly fast.  I was in and out in about 20 - 30 minutes, which is acceptable.


The Race


I didn't sleep particularly great the night before the race -- as usual.  I was over stimulated, yet tired, from my drive, and I was in a strange bed.  I didn't have much pre-race anxiety.  I knew I could cover the distance and I knew where and when I needed to be but I slept fitfully, but slightly better than normal.

I was up at 5 AM and prepared myself for the race.  I made the 1 mile drive to the race start.  I was going to attempt to park in the Tropicana, where the race was held, but they had already blocked most of it off.  I found the best parking situation was at the Colorado Belle.  All I had to do was cross the street and it was easy in and out (highly recommended for anyone reading this).  I had to fumble around to find the bus's location.

The nice thing about having the bus stop at the casino was that the bathrooms were within immediate access inside the casino.  I quickly made a pit stop before jumping on a very nice coach bus.

The drive to the race start was about 15 minutes.  I wasn't pleased to be surrounded by the smell of Ben Gay that another runner had applied (it makes me nauseous) but the drive was quick and easy.

We were dropped off at the Laughlin High School.  They were kind enough to open the gym so we had flush toilets and a place to stay warm for the roughly 45 minutes wait before the race.  The time went by quickly.

We were all assembled in the school's parking lot just shy of 7 AM and after some brief announcements and the Star Spangled banner, we were off and running.




The first 3 miles of the race aren't that great.  It was a lap around the school's parking lot, then we hopped on the school's track for a quick 400 meters around the oval:



There were some beautiful views of Laughlin in the distance.  It looked so far away but in reality it was probably about 5 miles.

After doing our loop we worked our way to the service drive.  It is a long, slow uphill run in the high desert.  It was super pretty if you enjoy such things and I loved the smell of cresote that came off the desert plants.



I knew the first couple of miles were uphill and I just focused on getting through those miles.  Despite having a cold, I was feeling pretty good.  I wasn't too worried to see a few 9 minute miles pop up.  The first 6 I was going to run pretty conservatively.


Finally, we reached Highway 163, which is the main highway from the north to come into town.  Laid before me was a glorious downhill.  I immediately picked up the pace as I let gravity pull me forward.  I could see in the distance, Davis Dam, the race's signature view.

My pace immediately dropped from 9:30's to 8:15's.  I felt like I was going pretty hard though and I tried to make up some time.  The weather was absolutely ideal and I was loving the high desert scenery.

You can see Davis Dam in the distance
This was my favorite section of the course and as we descended into the Davis Dam Park's area, I knew I was in for a visual treat.  I hadn't explored the area so it was all new territory for me.

Arial view of the service road
After reaching the bottom of the service road we had to run a solid mile uphill.  After the quad pounding my legs had just taken, my pace came to a crawl.  While the hill was intense, it w was fairly short lived but I definitely paid a price.

View of the road going up.

Upon reaching the top of this mean old hill, we headed west and then crossed the Davis Dam walkway.  To our right was a beautiful view of Laughlin and to the left, Lake Mojave, a man made lake that was a result of building the dam.  At least it was flat but my legs were starting to feel the strain of the race.









This was another enjoyable stretch and I caught a bit of a second wind as I crossed into Arizona -- but it was short lived, as we had another mini hill to summit:


Again this one was just long enough to have me cursing under my breath but short enough that it didn't totally derail my race.  It was a relief to see the turn around as I knew all the up hills would now be in my favor.  My turnover immediately increased as well as my motivation.

I had seen some of the runners that were behind me (due to the out-and-back nature of the course) and I knew my positioning wasn't all that bad.  While I knew I was out of contention for an age group award, I was hoping for a sub 2 hour finish.  Even though it was a hilly course, the elevation was under 900 feet.

Finally I was in the home stretch and I did a crazy loop around the park and got to see the base of the dam.  It was a nice park, about half a mile total, but there were plenty of turns as we circled the park and made our exit to the bike trail.




The bike trail was about 2.5 miles long and hugged the Colorado River.  There were a handful of other non-runners on the trail who were cheering us on.  But this too was flat.

Arial view of the bike trail.

I knew I was getting close to downtown Laughlin, where the finish line was.  I kept looking at my Garmin praying that the miles would go faster. My legs were pretty much spent at this point.

Finally we reached the edge of town and we ascended a small hill and crossed over the bridge that lead over the freeway.  I could smell the finish line, even though I still had a solid mile to go.

So far, where to run on the course was clearly marked, but coming into town there was one spot that wasn't clear and I would've wound up in the same spot, regardless of which turn I took.  Fortunately, I took the correct one -- despite not having many runners to tail off of.

Finally, I hit the Laughlin streets.  They had blocked off an entire two lanes of traffic.  Traffic isn't that bad in Laughlin and in the wee hours of Saturday morning, there weren't many cars on the road -- other than probably other runners' cars.

It was a treat though to run down the Laughlin strip, surrounded by casinos to my left and right.  It wasn't as glamorous as say Las Vegas, but definitely a unique experience.

I crossed the finish line in just over 2 hours, acceptable given the course and the fact that I had been fighting a sinus infection / cold for most of the week.



Conclusion


I had had high hopes that I would've crushed this course and gone 1:55.  But given I was a little sick and it was a hilly course, my time wasn't completely unexpected.

The course measured 13.11 and is a certified course.


Post race refreshments included water and chocolate milk.  There were some bananas as well and beer (I handed my coupon to someone else).  I wound up sitting on a wall for about 10 minutes collecting myself.  I had carried my own hydration and had gone through about half of it.  The aid stations were well manned and at appropriate intervals (about every 2 miles).  So I was in better shape than in some of my previous halves.






I really liked this race -- a lot.  The course was stunning and new to me, and it was a treat to run in two states.  While I've done some racing / running in Arizona, it was kind of unique to cross a state line and a different time zone (even if it was just a half mile).

There were plenty of good views and the organization was great from start to finish.

I liked the medal. It was heavy duty and nicely designed.  The logo on the front of the t-shirt was really cool and one that clearly advertised that I had run a half marathon.

I paid about $85 for the race at the Las Vegas Marathon expo.  Definitely on the pricey side for a half marathon, but given that I signed up about 2 weeks before the race it was about what I expected to pay. I did save some money by signing up at the expo. That being said, I did have the unique experience of running on the Laughlin Strip and finishing in front of a cheering crowd.  I felt I got a great experience

I am definitely penciling this one to do again next year.  Will have to see what the budget is like and my energy level after a full season of racing, but I had a great time in Laughlin all weekend long and this race was the icing on the cake.