29 January 2017

Jus ReRun 10K

This morning, I ran the Jus ReRun 10K here in Las Vegas. It was put on by a local organizer Jus Run and had distances of 5K, 10K, half marathon and marathon. It was a recycled race meaning that the shirts, finisher medals and awards were all leftovers from other Jus Run races.

The 5K and 10K were out-n-back on a paved trail with the half marathon and marathon doing multiple loops on the 10K plus a little extra out-n-back on the end to make up the distance.  Aid stations were at the 5K and 10K turnarounds as well as at the finish line which means that all distances saw an aid station appoximately every 1.55 miles throughout their race.

starting out with the crowd
The course was a gradual climb for the first half which meant a nice descent to the finish.  It was open to other runners/cyclists and there was one spot where we had to dodge a pair of cyclists who weren't expecting a horde of runners as they came around a corner. To their credit, they braked extremely hard and as a cyclist, I felt their pain.

The climb took a little bit of a toll as my pace dropped each mile on the way out. Miles 2 and 3 were 40-45 seconds slower than any other mile.  As I neared the turnaround,  I began to take note of how many people were ahead of me and counted 11.  At that point, I had no idea how many of them were marathoners or half marathoners since all three distances started together.  Once I did my u-turn and started back towards the start/finish line, my pace noticeable picked up.  Around Mile 4, I passed one runner and continued hard on the gradual downhill.  At Mile 5, I looked at my Garmin and say that I was slightly ahead of my goal pace of 9 min/mile and picked it up a bit more and covered the final mile in 8:09 to finish in 54:05. This was good for 8th of 39 overall, 6th of 20 males and 1st of 4 finishers in my age group. It was also slightly over two minutes faster than the Lake Mead 10K. Different days, different courses but it was very nice to get in my first race under 9 min/mile since Oct 15.
post-race with my 1st place age group ribbon

22 January 2017

2017 Races

I kicked off 2017 with BBSC's Lake Mead 10K on Jan 14th.  It was my first 10K since 1992 and I was pleasantly surprised to finish 3rd in my age group.

my finisher's medal and podium pint glass

Here is what the rest of 2017 looks like:

Jan 29th - Jus ReRun 10K
Feb 18th - Desert Classic Duathlon
Feb 26th - Hot Chocolate 15K
Mar 11th - Labor of Love 10K
Mar 18th - St Paddy's Day 12K
Apr 22nd - Rage Duathlon
Apr 29th - REVEL Mt Charleston Half Marathon
Jun 10th - Utah Valley Marathon

All races are local within the Las Vegas area with the exception of the Desert Classic Duathlon and the Utah Valley Marathon.  Nothing is going on the books for the second half of 2017 until I get through marathon day.

19 January 2017

A 2016 Recap

It's been a while since I posted and it is time to catch-up on 2016.  It had some ups and downs but ended up being a pretty good year with over 3500 miles of running/cycling, a few good races, a fun cycling vacation, and a big purchase.

Race highlights: REVEL Mt Charleston Marathon, TOUGHMAN - Washington State Duathlon, Harvest Moon Duathlon and a triathlon relay at Pumpkinman

REVEL Mt Charleston was my big race for the first half of the year.  It was my fifth marathon and I picked it because it literally ran through my backyard.  It was 26.2 miles of primarily downhill and I was able to do a lot of my prep work on the course.  I felt great about my training but had some foot issues late in the race that caused me to greatly slow down over the final six miles.  Things that worked well for me were my nutrition plan and bringing my Orange Mud backpack for self-hydrating.  The highlight of the race was my boys joining me for the final half mile and escorting me across the finish.

entering the finisher's chute at REVEL
I will be back at REVEL this year to run the half marathon and am going to make it a PR attempt. Downhill training starts this weekend.

TOUGHMAN Washington State was a big travel race for the family with us planning a family vacation around a race and making our first trip to Washington as a family.  The race location and course were nice with it being flat and on a small peninsula with part of the run being on the beach.  The weather was rough with heavy rain and winds blowing in from the ocean.  The format of the race was supposed to be a 3.1/56/13.1 mile run/bike/run but 15 minutes prior to the race start, the first run was nixed and it was changed into a bike/run format.  It also turned out that I was the only person doing that particular distance with all other duathletes opting for the shorter Olympic distance.
cold and wet coming into the transition

crossing the finish line and feeling great

Despite the weather, I felt great about this race.  My training went great and I was well prepped for it. The cool/damp weather was pleasant to run in. Well, OK, running into the wind and rain stung a bit but I wasn't overheating like summer running in Vegas so it was great.  Unfortunately, the race company was going out of business with this being their final race and they dropped the ball on a lot of things.

Harvest Moon was in Boulder, CO and was a race that I was really excited about.  It was a very well managed race and had a decent turnout for the long course duathlon which was in a 3.1/56/13.1 mile run/bike/run format.  The first run was a flat out-n-back on the reservoir dam. The bike was a two loop course with some long uphills, fast downhill sections on the first two thirds of each loop and a bit of rolling hills on the backstretch.  The second run was a two loop rolling hill course and primarily on dirt roads and trails.  

The race started out great but the uncharacteristically high temperatures did in a lot of racers with a fair number of DNFs from the triathletes and duathletes, primarily on the run.  For me, I had some hydration issues shortly after starting the run due to switching from my standard Powerade to what was available on the race course but gutted it out and finished the 72.2 mile race.  No pictures to add for this one since I was travelling solo for the weekend with the kids being back in school.

BBSC's Pumpkinman was a fun race. My wife, oldest son, and I did a sprint relay with her swimming, My wife was prepping for a big race and my son and I were pretty much done with our seasons so it made for a fun family event.  I'm pretty certain I got the hardest leg since most of my 12.4 miles were an uphill climb from Lake Mead to Boulder City.  It was a fun event and we definitely need to do it again.
Team G-Force rocking the finisher medals

As part of our vacation that took us to Washington, we stopped in Oregon to visit Crater Lake National Park. It was awesome! My wife and I rode the 33+ mile loop on our tri bikes.  Much of the road was closed to automobiles due to rockslide debris on the road and as a result, we were rewarded with beautiful views on a challenging (lots of climbing) ride with just us plus a few other cyclists and backpackers on approximately half of the loop.  This needs to be on every cyclist's list of things to do in the Pacific Northwest.

Enjoying the cool air!

glamour shots for my Cervelo

Now, the big purchase - I bought my Cervelo in early 2015 and put all of my cycling miles on it through August 2016.  Since then, it has been solely a racing machine with training time spent on the trainer in my living room. Why?  Because I bought a road bike - a Felt F5.  It is my first carbon bike and has 11 speed 105 components. I racked up the miles after purchasing it to include my first 200 mile week and a long ride of 90 miles.  I look forward to putting a lot of miles on it this year.
my Felt F5
Finally, I need to finish this up by mentioning the biggest athletic accomplishment that the family had in 2016. My wife is now an Ironman! She finished Ironman Arizona in November with a strong finish that was well ahead of her expected finishing time. After tearing her ACL in an OCR late last year and getting it replaced in December, it looked doubtful that it was in the cards for 2016 but she was relentless in her rehab and training. Great job, babe!
My very tired and happy wife - You are an Ironman!

28 February 2016

Hot Chocolate 15K - Las Vegas

This morning was the Hot Chocolate 15K/5K - Las Vegas and I ran the 15K. I was really looking forward to this race since running the Hot Chocolate 15K - San Diego in 2014.  It was supposed to make a Las Vegas debut in 2015 but road construction on the course caused a late cancellation and refund of our registration fees.

Registration for the race was done through the RAM Racing website. I received at least four e-mails detailing things like packet pick-up, parking and live runner update info over the last month in addition to the original registration confirmation back in November.

Packet pick-up was held at the LINQ casino on the Friday and Saturday evening prior to the race. There was no expo but the pick-up was easy and I was able to try on a jacket to ensure that the correct size was in my bag.

waiting in the start queue
On race morning, my wife, youngest son and I arrived in downtown Vegas and parked just off the Strip at Bally's.  It was about a half mile to the start line which was located just east of the High Roller. We met up with some friends who were also running the race and hung out for a bit while waiting for the race to start with the 5K kicking off at 7:15 and the 15K at 8 AM.

At 7:45, I got in the starting queue and found the 9-minute pacer.  At 7:55, I switched my watch over to GPS mode and then we got announcement that the race would start in 15 minutes due to needing to get all the 5K runners past the 2-Mile mark so there were no conflicts between runners of the two distances.  At 8:10, we were about to start when another problem cropped up in that the police motorcycle which was supposed to be leading the race was unable to start.  At 8:17, another motorcycle was brought to the lead and the race began.

The first mile of the race was neat.  We ran around the High Roller and took the LINQ Promenade to Las Vegas Boulevard, better known as the Las Vegas Strip, which we ran on for a short amount of time before starting turning onto Flamingo. Halfway down Flamingo, we hit Mile 1 and I heard the pacers mention that we were at 9:04 which was pretty close to the target goal. A few turns later, we hit Mile 2 pretty much spot on the 18 minute mark. At Mile 3 , the course was on Desert Inn Road and went underneath the Las Vegas Boulevard. At the 5K mark (28:25), it began a gradual one mile climb from underneath that road to over the I-15.  At this point, a few of us who were running with the pacers were unable stay with the pace crew and dropped back 100-150 meters over the course of the mile.

The next 5k consisted of a 180 turn onto a side road and two loops on some side streets to get us back on Desert Inn.  I hit the 10K mark at 57:49 and was feeling pretty good despite the slight slowdown over the second 5K.  The final 5K went by pretty quickly and before I knew it, I was crossing the finish line.

Along the way, I passed a lot of aid stations as well as a lot of volunteers acting as course marshallers. Being part of the Hot Chocolate series, four of the aid stations were stocked with types of chocolate candy. Sports drinks and water were plentiful at all.

So how did I do?  My overall time was 1:26:48 and my splits were very consistent outside of the outlier of Mile 4. My time was good for 24 of 57 in the M 40-44 age group, 101 of 356 men and 181 of 1,258 overall.

This is the second race I have run in the Hot Chocolate series and I hope they return to Vegas next year.  It is a well managed race and the 15K is a fun distance.

post-race medal and chocolate treats with the High Roller in the background

06 February 2016

Mardi Gras Masquerade Half Marathon

This morning saw me running BBCS's Mardi Gras Masquerade half marathon.  It started at Equestrian Park in Henderson, NV and used the River Mountain Loop Trail for most of the race.

Packet pickup - Race packets could be picked up at McGhie's bike shop in Henderson for a three hour period on Friday or for an hour prior to race start at Equestrian Park.  My wife was in the pickup area yesterday afternoon and was able to pick it up which meant that I didn't have to make a trip down there specifically for the packets and I didn't have to scramble to get to the race early to pick it up. The tech shirt was a welcome change from BBSC's normal shirt material and there was a copy of the book "Oola: Finding Balance In An Unbalanced World" in the packet.

Course Map
Course -  The course utilized three miles of the River Mountain Loop Trail and a mile of connector trail between the trail and Equestrian Park.  This meant the entire 13.1 miles were done on a four mile section of trail. This meant that we had multiple turn around spots as seen on the map. The first 3.5ish miles were all uphill with the first mile climbing east directily into the early sunrise which made visibility difficult despite wearing my normal Rudy cycling/running sunglasses and a visor definitely would have helped here.  After topping out the climb, there was a short rolling descent to the first turnaround. After waving to my wife who was working the aid station, I went over the electronic timer, turned around,and retraced my steps back to the next turnaround station which was at the 6.5 mile mark.  At that one, I high-fived one of our triathlon club members who was working that aid station and began the climb back to the Mile 4/9 aid station for the final turnaround. This second time up the hill was a pace killer that unfortunately took me off my planned pace for the the race.  On the plus side, shortly after making the final turnaround, the course was downhill until the final tenth of a mile.

Elevation Chart
Aid stations - As noted on the map, the aid stations were plentiful and stocked with water and Gatorade.  In addition to the listed aid stations, there was one at the 5K turnaround/half turnaround #2.

Medals - The finisher medals were nicely done and captured the Mardi Gras theme with the colors and the mask on them.

Post race - Gatorade and water were plentiful.  Food was also plentiful with bananas, Cajun Jambalaya and King Cake.  The awards ceremony started promptly at 9:30 as advertised and the overall 1st man and woman received crowns to go along with the Mardi Gras theme. BBSC also has a nice electronic system that allows everybody to look at their times and overall/gender/age group placement as soon as they cross the finish line which is a very nice feature.

So how did I do?  Overall, I finished with a time of 2:13:13.  I trained through the race with a normal training load this week and went into this one with no really specific goals in mind.  A sub-2:11 would have been nice to have with the accompanying sub-10 minute pace but I slipped off that on the uphill section after the second turnaround and could not make it back up on the downhill section after the final turnaround.

This marks my 13th half marathon and it feels great to be running healthy with only some minor post-race pain in my right heel. Also, this is the first time that I have ever stopped in a race for a picture as I paused for a picture with my wife at the Mile 9 turnaround.

pausing for a photo op

Next up - Hot Chocolate 15K - Las Vegas on Feb 28th.

16 January 2016

Valley of Fire Backcountry Trail Race

I knocked out my first race of 2016 this morning with a half marathon.  It was part of Calico Racing's Valley of Fire Backcountry Trail Race which had five distances available in the 5-50K range.

The race was held on BLM bordering the north side of the Valley of Fire State Park and was about 1.5 hours from our house.  The half distance started at 7:30 AM and packet picket was at the location prior to the race so my wife and I left our house around 5 AM to ensure we got there with no issues. The directions to the trailhead were easy to follow and because we showed up about an hour before the start, we were able to get a parking spot by the finish line instead of the overflow parking lot which was 1.75 miles away.  Winning!

After checking in, I hit up the facilities and my wife filled up my water bottles. I made a decision to run with my Orange Mud HydraQuiver to avoid hitting up aid stations.  Once that was done, it was chilly, around 35 degrees, so I stayed bundled up and listened to the course directions for the first set of runners, the marathoners and 50K runners, who started running at 7 AM.

A few minutes before my race started, I went to my car and swapped out my winter hat for a visor and dropped off the hat along with my jacket.  After that, it was time to head to the start line so Joyce, the race director, could give us directions. Once that was done, she counted down the remaining few seconds to 7:30 and then we were off like a heard of turtles.

The course was an out-and-back format on a 4x4 trail through the BLM. The running surface was primary on damp sand which had filtered off the surrounding red sandstone over the eons. This surface was easy to run on near the beginning/end of the race but wasn't very well packed starting about a mile into the race and made for some interesting footing. The course started with a short uphill section followed by a steep downhill section which was a little over a third of a mile long. After reaching the bottom, the race began an overall gradual climb through Mile 5 before starting a decent descent to the turn around.

There were aid stations and BLM pit toilets at the 3.1 mile mark which was the 10K turn around and at the half marathon turnaround. One of my wife's friends was working the first aid station and snapped a picture of me as I passed the station (see to the right).

So how did the race go for me? Overall, it went well. Other than slowing down a bit on the 1.5 mile climb out from the turn around and majorly slowing down on the final hill climb near the finish, my pace was pretty steady and the running felt good. I finished in 2:17 which was decent for the elevation change and running surface conditions. After my disappointing 2015 which was full of injuries, it was nice to get this one under my belt to start out the year.

Next up: Mardi Gras Masquerade Half Marathon on Feb 6th

01 January 2016

Kicking off 2016

2016 is here and it is time to take a look at what is on the agenda for this year.  Before we get into that, I kicked the year off with an 8.25 mile run this morning and the Strava map is awesome!

8.5 miles to kick of 2016
So what does 2016 have in store for me?  I have a handful of things booked and a few more on the schedule. Running-wise, they range from a 15K to a marathon. Here is the list.

Jan 16th - Valley of Fire trail half marathon - This is put on by Calico Racing and is a new race that is debuting this year.  It should be a well managed and scenic race on fire roads and trails on BLM surrounding the Valley of Fire State Park.

Feb 28th - Hot Chocolate 15K - The Hot Chocolate series is finally coming to Las Vegas.  I ran the 2014 race in San Diego and really enjoyed the distance and overall atmosphere of the race.  This one will be run on roads near the Strip and will be flat and fast.

Apr 16th - Rage Triathlon sprint relay - My wife, oldest son and I are racing this one as a relay with her swimming 750m, me cycling 12.4 miles and him running a 5K.  This one should be a lot of fun!

May 7th - REVEL Mt Charleston - REVEL is bringing its marathon series to Las Vegas and the course is one that I run/bike on parts of it all the time.  There is no way I could pass it up and it is my A race for 2016.  With a lot of downhill on this course and the fact that I can train, train and train some more on the entire course, there are no excuses for a sub-par performance on it.

Jul 9th - TOUGHMAN Washington State - I am doing one big travel race in 2016 and this is it.  I am racing the 73 mile duathlon which will be in a 5K run/56.8 mile bike/half marathon format.  The course is very flat and as long as the weather is good and I don't have any mechanical issues, this should be a fast race.

Aug 21st - E.T. Full Moon half marathon - This is another race by Calico Racing and I volunteered at it in 2015. It starts at midnight and runs close to Area 51 which is where the E.T. comes from.

Sep 19th - Bear Lake Brawl duathlon - I haven't booked this one yet and want to see how the marathon in May goes before committing to the distance.

Oct 22nd - Pumpkinman Triathlon sprint relay - Similar to April, my wife, oldest son and I will be racing it as a relay team.  This one is right at the tail end of his cross country season and should be a great race for the three of us.  While the distances are the same, the course is a lot different for this one and I will be mainly climbing for my ride.

Nov 6th - Snow Canyon half marathon - I ran this one in 2015 and want to see what I can do on that course when healthy.

Beyond that, there are a couple of century rides that I have my eyes on in June and October.