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
39:51Long stretch of uphill
58:27Finally some down hill. Heading into town
68:25More fast miles
810:17Suddenly have to switch gears to uphill running
99:21Heading into Arizona
1210:17A bit of a climb here. Pretty gassed
139:32Giving whatever I had left for the final mile
Total Miles: 13:11 - 2:01:39


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.


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.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Racing Schedule / Running Update - Fall / Winter 2019

Total Miles: 1586.75

Racing Update:

I haven't checked in a while, but figured I'd check in.  Mostly this is to update my status as far as what races I am planning on doing.  I took advantage of a bunch of Thanksgiving Day sales and signed up with a bunch of them.

The problem is that most of the races I signed up for, I have done before.  But some definitely made it on the list that I was introduced to last year and had such a good time that I felt obligated to give them another go.

Also, as I write this, I am pretty sure I am done as far as races go for 2019.  Overall it wasn't too bad of a year, but this year also marked the most races I had to bail on -- due to weather, sickness or injury.  I probably lost out on half a dozen races this year.

Sunflowers on the Jordan River Trail in the Fall

Training Update:

As the weather gets colder and sometimes the ground conditions get tougher, I've had to dial back my mileage.  Also being that this is the second year in which I haven't done a marathon, there really hasn't been any major need to put in runs longer than 10 - 13 miles.  I am keeping myself reasonably fit for a half marathon at any given point.

My head wants to do another marathon, but my body has other ideas.  And this year I've found it more challenging to get halves done.  So the message is fairly clear to me:  something is going to need to change in order for me run another 26.2 miles.  And it may be that I am just done as well.  We all reach that point and mine may have come sooner than I would've liked to have had.

Also my mileage has been dialed back for the past few weeks (averaging about 30 - 38 per week) on account I had a long lasting cold.  It wouldn't quit and luckily it wrapped itself up just before the Laughlin Half Marathon.  It did cost me my annual Thanksgiving Turkey Trot as well.

Celebrating my 50th

Turned 50

In November I finally entered a new age group -- the 50+ category.  I remember turning 40 -- some 10 years ago -- and it didn't phase me.  This one -- it hit me.  

For those younger than me, your experience may be different, but I am definitely slower, I gain weight more easily, and even ordinary training runs take a lot more out of me.  It probably explains my reluctance to do a marathon (as well as my confidence).

When I was 40, I could belt out a race day half marathon  and the next day mail in another 13 miles at marathon pace.  Now, I am hurting pretty good after a half.  I can still shuffle out a few miles the day after a half, but I am definitely feeling it.

All in all though, I feel pretty good.  I have no major issues (other than my eye sight seems to be going -- damn phones) and when I have gone to the doctors, my heart rate has been good.  My weight seems to be in check compared to the average population and I can still run a lot of miles.  So my dietary choices as well are paying dividends.

I hope to be running at 60 but I am noticing every year it gets a little tougher and I have to swallow a bit more of my pride because I am so much slower.

Aging effects people in different ways.  I thought I would've been immune to most of it, but clearly I am not.

Upcoming Races

01/01: 2020 Commitment Day 5K - South Jordan, UT (Confirmed)
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)
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)
07/24: 2020 Alien Midnight 10K - Farmington, UT (Confirmed)
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)