Sunday, June 17, 2018

2018 Lamoille Canyon Half Marathon Race Canyon - Lamoille, NV




Official Time: 1:50:46
Placement: 3rd in age group, 19th overall
Results:  Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: upper 40's, slight wind from north, sunny and warm at the end
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: [2017] [2016]


Mile TimeComments
19:20First section of the race is uphill and it hurts!
28:43Cruising downhill
38:16Smashing the downhill
47:59Easy to run this fast with 368 feet downhill
57:51
68:11
78:47A little bit of uphill killed my legs here
87:56Back to downhill running
98:07
108:01
118:51Mostly a downhill mile but some uphill that cost me some time
128:37
139:16Some rolling hills here. Clawing my way to the finish
13.090:48Thank goodness I was done
Total Miles: 13:09 1:50:46






Introduction


I live in Tempe Arizona now.  One of the difficult parts of adjusting to a new life here is missing out on some of my favorite races.  The Lamoille Canyon Half Marathon is indeed one of my favorites.

The canyon is located about 25 minutes south of Elko, NV and I have so many great memories hiking and visiting many of the trails there.  It is popular enough for the locals but not too many people outside of the area know about it.

I was getting (super) homesick and I really wanted to go home for a visit.  I decided that I'd couple my visit of returning to Salt Lake with a little bit of a road trip and a race.  I snagged a pretty good deal on air fare and the rest just sort of came together.

I arrived at midnight in Salt Lake on Thursday, slept a few hours and then hit the road mid Friday morning.  I was a little bleery-eyed but it was all worth it.


The Race


I rolled into Elko, NV -- about 3.5 hours west of Salt Lake around 3:00 o'clock.  I had broken up the trip by stopping into West Wendover Nevada for lunch and a little bit of gambling (of course).

The packet pick up was at Bristlecone Bicycle shop.  It was good to see Anne, the race director.  I've know her a while and have done many of her races that she holds in the Elko area.

Shari and I stayed at the Red Lion hotel.  It's a good hotel and they usually give us a break on the food.  I didn't sleep particularly well.  I am not sure.  I think I was a little over stimulated from gambling and the room seemed hot.  Maybe I got about 4 hours of sleep.

I woke up at 4:10, packed up and hit the road by 4:45.  I arrived at 5:15 for a 5:30 bus, which was packed.



The drive to the top of the canyon -- about 13 miles away -- took about 20 minutes.  Experience had taught me to dress warm for the start.  You are just shy of 9000 feet and while the valley might be in the upper 40's, the top of the canyon is going to be a bit cooler.

I killed about an hour up there socializing with friends both new and old.  I also managed to snag a foil sheet from a marathoner who had started just shortly after we arrived so I could keep my legs warm.  I had packed lightly for the trip and while my core was warm, my legs weren't.



The race started promptly at 7:00 am.  The first third of a mile just sucks.  To make the course 13.1 miles, we have to start about a third of a mile from the top, run up to the top, circle around the bathroom and then head down.

I don't warm up much before a half marathon, but trying to run fast, uphill, not warmed up and at nearly 9000 feet of elevation is just plain cruel.  It is like trying to breathe out of a straw.

Luckily it is short lived and I told myself not to panic.  I'd be making up the lost time after the turn around.

First part of the race is a climb.


It took a bit to get my wheels working again but the first 2 miles are fairly gentle of a decline. It was nice to take in the cool mountain air and there is a gentle stream rolling next to you.  I just wish I had had time (and energy) to take in a hike and not really race a half marathon -- but I digress.





About 3 miles in, I hit my groove.  I knew the course so I knew when the race was going to get tough(er). In the past I've really died in the final 5K when you more or less have to power yourself to the finish line.  However, the first 10 miles are mostly downhill so you can pretty much coast and hope that the hills don't destroy your quads.



I was running with a group of people but as the race progressed I found myself chasing a group.  I did have to use the restroom but I was tailing what looked to be another runner in my age group.  I knew one of the other runners who was in my age group who was clearly faster than me, so I didn't want to take any chances with at least getting an award.  So that guy was my target.

My legs weren't really responding like I had hoped they would.  I did have a fairly high mileage week and I was starting to regret doing a 4 mile shakeout run Friday morning.  Panic started to fill my head.  I had run a 1:49 last year and I didn't want to blow up on this race.

I was carrying my own hydration for this race -- I had brought some Tailwind with me, which I think went well.  The caffeine in it was a much needed boost.  They had water / Gatorade stations every few miles and while it wasn't super warm it was warm enough.  I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt but the first few miles I had wished I had brought some throw away gloves.

It felt like it took a lot more effort than it was while running.  I was definitely turning in some good splits but it seemed like a lot of work.  I suspect high altitude will do that -- and with Tempe being at 900 feet or so, running at 6000 feet was going to seem like work.

There weren't many flowers out yet but the canyon smelled wonderful.  Lamoille has a certain smell -- it is a Juicy Fruit Gum smell that some wild flower or plant gives off.  It isn't there all the time, but certain parts smell like it.  Also the smell of ragweed was in the air and sometimes it was a bit difficult to breath.

I really enjoyed the canyon and it brought  back a ton of memories of all the places I had hiked over the years.  I wondered how many more times I'd get a chance to visit it -- or if this was it.

There are a few uphill sections on the course and it was so hard to change gears.  I began to worry what the final 3 miles would be when there were more rolling hills.

However, the death march didn't really come.  I took the uphills as aggressively as I could and tried to get back into a rhythm when I was done with them.  The Tailwind drink also seemed to help.

I was still running with people and the guy who was I was chasing had dropped off.  So maybe with some luck, I could nab an age group award.

Last stretch before the finish line

The final mile is grueling and you no longer have the ability to coast down a hill.  I was tired and I kept looking at my watch counting down the quarter miles. 

I was pretty happy to see my Garmin report that I had finished in 1:50.  I was hoping to go sub 1:50, but I didn't really get the early speed I was hoping for.

Heading to the finish line.

Conclusion


I was really close to being sick at the end.  I was pretty worn out and I had pushed it at the end.  No one was behind me (for quite some time actually) and I knew I was in for a fairly decent time.  I don't normally get too worked up about downhill races -- I don't really consider them for PR purposes but I wanted to do well.

I grabbed some chocolate milk (actually two of them).  They had a super nice spread of food including a pancake breakfast.  I really wish I was staying another day in Elko as I would've made a meal there, but I had a limited amount of time.


The race directors have a pretty unsophisticated way of putting people into their age brackets (and one that actually works well for a small race).  I could see right away where I finished in the 45 - 49 age group and I had placed 3rd.  Being that I was short on time, they allowed me to pick up my age group winner ribbon and get a photo taken.


I was really bummed I couldn't stick around longer.  I knew a ton of people there and it was such a beautiful day.  My heart ached when I took off.


I am not sure how many more Lamoille Canyon Adventures I have in my lifetime.  I now live many hours away and getting there is semi-expensive.  I am just glad I was able to get there and run it once more.

The race was $60 and I registered pretty late.  The bus ride to the top was in a coach bus with a bathroom.  The finisher medal was unique but hardcore medal collectors may be disappointed.  The shirt was cotton but thoughtfully designed for a Nevada race. The race was well supported and organized.  Definitely a top notch job on post race food.

I hope to make it back to this race in the future.  Each time I go, I feel so fortunate that I can run in this locale and enjoy a unique race.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

2018 Arizona Road Racers Summer Series #2 5K - Freestone Park - Gilbert, AZ





Official Time: 25:13
Placement: 119th out of 347, 85th male out of 176, 7th in age group
Results:  Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: low 80's, no wind, sunny
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: Inaugural Year


Mile TimeComments
18:07Lots of turns and not sure what I had today. 
28:16Mostly on dirt -- warning track dirt. Not a lot of bounce. Some climbing here
38:24Pretty much done. Tired.
3.060:27
Total Miles: 3.06 - 25:16





Introduction


I am not sure exactly why I signed up for this race.  It was kind of "I am not doing anything on Sunday morning, so why not do a 5K"  I sort of had buyer's remorse, but once I got to the race site, I was glad I had signed up for it.

This race is the second in the Arizona Road Racers Summer Series -- I did race #1 two weeks ago at the Tempe Town Lake Trail.  This race was held at Freestone Park in Gilbert.  Faithful readers will recall that I did a 5K about a month ago at this park.  I expected the same course as last time -- but I was for the most part wrong.



The Race


I got to the race about 50 minutes early. I was one of the first there and it was easy getting my bib.  I had registered for the race online, so I saved a few bucks.  There wasn't any t-shirt on this race -- so a flat $25 plus the usual credit card fees got me into the race.

I used the rest room a time or two and did a little bit a warm up.  It was already pretty warm out so I kept my workout to a minimum. 

The race had over 350 runners and they did a fantastic job of making sure people were lined up in the appropriate spots.   Since we were running on sidewalks or fairly narrow trails, it  made sense and the race was chip timed.  I started out with the third wave and I was able to get into my pace fairly quickly and without having to navigate around people who were in the wrong bracket.

The first mile took us out of the park and onto the road briefly.  There was minimal traffic and I didn't feel like I was in the way.  We then jumped onto a running track that was crushed dirt.  It had some uneven ruts in it, but it was easy to navigate.


It was sort of heart breaking to pass by the starting line and know that I still had a good 2.5 miles of pain left.

We then jumped onto a dusty track.  I could see the lead runners flying ahead of me already coming back from their section of out and back.  I wasn't doing too badly but my pace wasn't the greatest.  Also with all the runners on the canal trail, a cloud of red dirt hung in the air.



While I didn't get any "bounce" from running, it was flat and I tried to dig deep along here.

I was hoping to make up some ground on mile 2.  Occasionally I'd get a burst of energy but for the most part my "A" game wasn't there.  I was also sort of confused by the course.  I had figured we'd be running the same one as the previous race I had done here. 

The course was well marked though and there was never a doubt as to where to go.  Plus I was hanging with a variety of runners who were also 8-minute per mile runners.

By the time I hit mile 2 I knew I wasn't going to have a super great race.  I had hopes that things would come together and I'd be able to blast through the final mile, but it just wasn't there.  The pain of the final mile of a 5K is always the toughest and my legs just wouldn't respond and it was just so warm.


The last third of a mile involved a lot of turns, but I was so happy to finish this one.  

Conclusion


I talked to a few other runners and got various reports on how long the course was.  I had a 3.09 and a 3.12.  So I suspect the course was accurate (or I just run the tangents really well).



I spent some time milling about the finish line and took in an apple and some banana slices. They had plenty of snacks -- cookies, bagels, sports drink, fruit and chips.   I didn't have a lot on the agenda for the afternoon so I definitely soaked in the atmosphere.

I am bummed that the t-shirt is extra.  I have a zillion shirts so I really don't need one but I always like one as a memento.

They handed out age group awards efficiently.  Alas, unless I take a few minutes off my times I am not going to be in the running.

My performance was about as expected today.  It was warm (when I left, it was 91) and my legs were worn out from the previous day's run.  None the less, I did a little bit better than expected.  Despite my Garmin reporting a short course, I suspect it was accurate given the number of people who ran more than me.

I liked the course.  It was scenic and the turns made it sort of fun. However, it wasn't terribly fast and there were a few small hills.  My Garmin didn't seem to record them, but overall it was well marked and kind of fun.

I'll continue to do this race series if it fits into my schedule and I feel like doing something.  If I was a contender, the series does have a payoff at the end, but for the rank-and-file runner there is not much there (not even a finisher medal for doing the entire series).  Still, it was fun and nice to socialize with the other runners.



Saturday, June 9, 2018

2018 Arizona Sunrise Series - Scottsdale Sports Complex 5K Race Recap - Scottsdale, Arizona




Official Time: 25:20
Placement: 43rd male, 7th in age group, 57th out of 360
Results:  Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: mid 80's, no wind, sunny
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: Inaugural Year


Mile TimeComments
18:11Some uphill to begin with. Sort of crowded running the first half mile or so
28:01Periods of speed here on the flats. So many turns.
38:19Was pretty gassed at this point, plus it was warm.
3.120:43Hurting to the finish
Total Miles: 3.12 - 25:20





Introduction


I am doing the Phoenix area Summer Sunrise Series -- a series of 7 5Ks scattered throughout the Phoenix area.  I signed up for the entire series in one set -- resulting in about $25 per race.  The races occur every two weeks and seem to be held at various municipal parks.

Today's race was at the Scottsdale Sports Complex.  Scottsdale is a pretty nice town and it resembles Summerlin Nevada in that it seems to be pretty well planned, pristine and strong and consistent standards as far as what is allowed for dwellings.

The Scottsdale Sports Complex is a collection of walking paths and soccer fields located just minutes off the freeway.  They had nice clean bathrooms, ample parking, and it seems to be a great place to hold a small 5K.


The Race


I rolled in about an hour before the race.  This is my second running with Start Line Racing and obviously the race director knows what he is doing.  I was able to pick up my shirt and in a matter of seconds.

I killed some time wandering around and cycled through the bathroom a time or two.  I did some light drills and a very short shake out run before determining I was ready to run.

The temperature was heating up and just waiting for the race to begin I was working up a little bit of sweat.  Also, my legs just were not feeling terribly springy.  I knew I just had a 5K ahead of my so I could get through it, but I suspect today wasn't going to be an "A" race.

The race started at the stroke of 6:30 and it started off on a gravely chunk of baseball-like warning track.  Luckily it was short lived and soon we were running on concrete sidewalk.

The first half mile or so was me navigating my way around some of the folks that had lined up in the wrong spot.  It wasn't too awful but it was hard to settle into a pace.



This course was probably the craziest I've ever run on.  The race was held entirely in the park and there were a ton of turns and what seemed to be switchbacks.  The course was marked and marshalled well though and while I had some doubts occasionally as to whether I was going in the right direction, it all turned out okay.  Could I run this course from memory 30 minutes after I was done? No way.

The first mile seemed to be a lot of uphill.  While we aren't talking about gut busting, quarter-mile long hills, but definitely slight inclines and some sharp turns.  My Garmin indicates the hills weren't that bad but on a MapMyRun site, it indicates that there were some significant climbs.

I wasn't too surprised to see my first mile come out at 8:11.  Definitely slower than I'd have liked, but given the hilly nature of the course... totally expected.  Also, it was uncomfortably warm.  And we aren't even at the full height of summer yet.

Example of some of the hills
Mile 2 led us to the flats.  I got a little bit of a second wind here and I started passing people.  It was fairly short lived but I was able to make up some ground.  I also was a little hesitant along this stretch as we started on the second loop -- that didn't quite meet up with my initial expectations on what the course was going to be like.  I was expecting to do a second loop but people were heading closer to the finish line.  Luckily there was a second loop but if I had been the lead runner, I would've been very confused.



The last mile was really tough.  My legs were heavily fatigued at this point and it felt so-so hot.  I really had to dig deep here.  The last third of a mile or so was all downhill so it led me to a sprint to the finish.


Conclusion


After crossing the finish line, I sauntered over to the refreshment area and got something to drink.  They had the typical 5K fare in regards to food: some crackers, peanut butter and bagels, and fruit.  I grabbed an apple. 

Since I am new to town I didn't know anyone.  No familiar faces here. I did make small talk with a person or two but it was fairly short lived.

I wasn't terribly disappointed nor pleased with my finish time.  The course was a challenging one and I think most folks were caught unaware in regards to the hilly nature of it.  Being that I wasn't feeling too "into it" before the race I knew my time was going to be more or less average.


Overall I was pleased with my experience.  I got the letter "R" for my medal and the t-shirt was nearly identical to the previous race's, however this one was black.  I'll definitely wear it.

Looking forward to race #3 in the series in 2 weeks!

Friday, June 8, 2018

Dead Horse Ranch State Park - Cottonwood Arizona




Introduction


One our trip to Camp Verde for the weekend, my brother and I opted to swing by Dead Horse Ranch State Park.  The park is on the edge of a town called Cottonwood.  It is a very short detour off the road to Jerome, Arizona -- a popular tourist town.

Admission was $7 per car and we rolled in, it was a hot day in the mid 90's.  Despite the town being at a pretty high elevation, it was really warm and the sun was intense.

Our first stop was to the park's lagoon.  It was definitely the most popular place there as people had brought lunch and their fishing poles in order to do some fishing.  I didn't see much catching, however.



Walking in the heat wasn't too bad and we made the roughly mile walk around the lagoon (I am not even sure it was that far).




We were left scratching our heads as we wondered if this was "it".  We had an entire afternoon to kill and all we had accomplished was a short walk that had killed about 30 minutes.  I think we were both moderately disappointed.

If you look closely at the background you'll see some hills rising over the end of the lagoon.  I saw a young man sitting at the top and I just had to get up there.  Luckily we spotted a trail.

I had brought plenty of water just in case we found a trail, so we went back to the car, moved it closer to a trailhead and figured we attempt to take the trail that would presumably take us to the top of the ridge and then head back -- it wouldn't be too far.

Lime Kiln Canyon Trail


My brother and I had stumbled onto the Lime Kiln Canyon Trail.  This is a totally exposed trail with very little (if any) shade.  It does climb fairly rapidly but it is short lived and before you know, it is fairly flat and would've been great for trail running (if we were running).

The trail does in fact lead to the ridge overlooking the lagoon.  However, you will have to trail blaze a bit.  It'll be fairly obviously as others had the same motive.  I was a bit surprised they didn't have an official trail to the edge though.

My brother and I wound up taking the trail to Rattlesnake Gulch Overlook.  This was about 2 miles one way.  Again, it was easy to do after the initial brief climb and there were plenty of canyons, rock formations and desert fauna to take in along the way.  It was just extremely warm.

The trail is well defined and at important junctures, it did have signs directing you where to go (there was only one).  We were the only ones (foolish enough) to do the trail that day.  There are no resources on the trail -- drinking fountains, bathrooms or water.  So be sure to bring plenty of supplies.  Cell phone reception was good.  I do believe that ultimately the trail will take you to Sedona.  The trail also appears popular with cyclists and horse back riding.

Be sure to study the maps before you go.  There are looped trails you can do.  However, do to the heat, we cut our hike to the minimum.  We totally loved it and would love to do a larger loop when it cools off.

Enjoy the photos: