31 December 2013

December Running and 2014 Races

I ran an easy six miles this morning to finish off a 20 run/150 mile December. My runs/mileage were 24/139 in October and 20/146 in November. Looking back over the last three months of running, several things jump out at me.  First up, switching my long run to Saturdays with a shorter recovery run on Sundays and sandwiching them between my Friday/Monday rest days has been working great for me since I made the schedule switch six weeks ago.  Second, Monday is a perfect rest day for me and I have been consistently keeping it as such since mid-October.  Third, periodically dropping the mileage back by keeping the weekly long run in single digits is helping keep the legs fresh.

Going into next year, I have signed up for my first four races of 2014 - three halfs and a marathon. The last Saturday in January and first Saturday in February have me running a local race with the Running From An Angel half marathon at Lake Mead and travelling to Death Valley for the Death Valley marathon on Feb 1st.  That is going to be a big weekend for the family with my first marathon and my wife running her first half.  After that, I have the Six Tunnels to Hoover Dam half marathon in March and the Rockin Rabbit half in April.  After that, we will wait and see.

28 December 2013

putting in the miles

I closed out the final full week of  2013 with a 17.1 mile run this morning. It finished up a 41.7 mile week on four days of running. Those are potentially my longest run and biggest week since 1994.

The run felt great but my calves are a little sore when walking down steps.  That is pretty standard following my long runs.

15 December 2013

Hoover Dam Half Marathon - 12/14/13

I knocked out my second half marathon yesterday.  It was the Hoover Dam Half Marathon put on by Calico Racing.  We started at Lake Mead's Boulder Beach area and did an out-and-back to the top level of the Hoover Dam Parking garage.  The route was similar to my Thanksgiving Day 12K with the middle portion of this race going through the five tunnels of old railway bed before starting the steep drop to the parking garage.

The race had three distances - marathon, half marathon and 10K.  The half started an hour after the 10K and 58 minutes after the marathon.  My wife ran the 10K so after cheering her on at the start, snapping a few pictures and making her laugh as "What  Does A Fox Say?" blared from the YouTube app on my phone as she ran by my photo spot, I went back to the car to get ready for my race. As the start time approached, I was surprised to see how many people were lining up for the half.

At 9 AM, the race began. I hit start on my GPS and dropped it in my back pocket as I crossed the line.  We started out with a short 1/4 mile up the road before turning onto the River Mountain Loop Trail. The route continued uphill until it reached the old railbed shortly after the two mile mark.  At that point, the trail leveled out until the five mile mark where it started the steep down hill.  Around the three mile mark, I had a couple runners pass me and since I was feeling pretty good, I picked up the pace and went with them.  Looking at the GPS post-race, I clicked through Mile 4/5/6 in 27:11.  Unfortunately, we started back uphill shortly after the turn around and they pulled away from me.  At about 6.5 miles I grabbed a cup of HEED from a water station.  I don't normally drink HEED and in hindsight, it was a mistake.  Soon after that, I got a stitch on the right side of my stomach and I never get those.  The next 1.5 miles were pretty slow as a result.  Around Mile 8, the cramp finally worked itself out and I picked up the pace as I went back through the tunnels on the way back.  At Mile 10, I turned back onto the paved River Mountain Loop Trail and began a two mile descent back towards the finish.  Just before the 12 mile mark, the route passed the turnoff to the short downhill to the finish (seeing the finish line was a cruel tease) as we began a short out-and-back to make up the total distance. My wife was there with the camera and I posed for a few photos as I went by her. 10 minutes later, I was at the finish line with a chip time of 2:15:09 and gun time of 2:15:14 which put me pretty much mid-pack for the half finishers (173 out of 383).

This was my second race with Calico Racing with my first being the Twilight Ascent at Red Rock in September and they put on a very well run event.  I have a few of their events on my schedule in 2014 including my next race, the Running From An Angel Half on January, 2014.

07 December 2013

Weekly Mileage

I hit a new top distance today with a 15.64 mile run that was about 2/3 on trails near the bottom of Kyle Canyon with the remainder on roads.  It was a cold, windy run with some light rain/snow coming down in the middle half of the run.

With that run under my belt, I took a look at my mileage over the last 12 weeks.

...drum roll...


A typical week consists of five runs with a long run on Saturday and days off on Monday and Friday.  My current goal is to get my weekend mileage up to 26 miles with a 20+ run on Saturday and the remainder as a shorter recovery run on Sunday.  Almost there...

28 November 2013

Six Tunnels to Hoover Dam 12K - Turkey Trot

My wife and I ran the the Six Tunnels to Hoover Dam 12K this morning.  With the multiple tunnels in this race, I opted to go GPS free so no split times are available.

Overall, it was a good race.  It was an out and back that utilized an old railway that was renovated a Rails-To-Trail project. The surface was primarily packed dirt and gravel.  On the way out, we ran on a slight incline for the first two miles which took us through five former railway tunnels (the course previously went through a six tunnel, hence the name).  This part was scenic with a rocky hill on the right and Lake Mead below us on the left.  Shortly after exiting the fifth tunnel, we got off the old railway and began to power downhill on dirt service roads.  Part of this was pretty steep with a 12.5% grade sign at one point.  The last bit (estimating about a half a mile) was on a concrete downhill with a lot of short switchbacks leading to the turnaround which was on the top floor of the hoover dam parking lot.  The race at this point was pretty fast but the drawback to all that steep and fast downhill was that we had to climb back up it.  I powered back up the switchbacks and high-fived my wife who was about to head down it.  From there, it was working back up the dirtroads to the railway trail.  Once on the trail, it was literally all downhill and the pace picked back up through the tunnels as we raced over the final two miles to the finish.

Final time - 1:06:46 (8:58 pace) with the wife finishing about 8 minutes later.

Next up - The Hoover Dam Half Marathon on Dec 14th

18 November 2013

Sacramento Zoo Zoom - Oct 2000

This race in Sacramento, CA was my last race prior to September of this year.  I was 25 and ran a 22:52.  I wonder what I can do a 5K in today.

This was also my wife's last race until she did the Olathe Medical Center Womens Triathlon in September, 2012.  At 38, she has two 5K races this year that are faster than when she was 25.

I wish I had a good reason why we took such a long lay off from racing.

16 November 2013

Valley of Fire Half Marathon - 16 Nov 13

I ran my first official half marathon today.  It was the Valley of Fire Half Marathon at Valley of Fire State Park which is northeast of Las Vegas.

My wife (she ran the 10K and kicked butt) and I got up early and were on the road at 0445.  We arrived at the state park, paid our admission fee at the gate and began driving to the parking area.   As we pulled into the parking area at 0615 and walked to the start line to pick up our packets, my first impressions of the park were confirmed.  This was going to be a hilly race. I knew that going in but didn't get the full impact from the lone elevation chart I saw prior to the race.

Packet pick-up went smooth and I took a walk to look at the hill climb that comprised the first half mile.  Yep, it looked steep.  On a non-running related note, I saw my first desert bighorn sheep walking along a footpath about 50 meters off the road.

At 0700, the half began.  After the first half mile climb, the road dropped in elevation a couple times but ultimately rose in elevation for the first three miles.  Part of this was on an out-and-back on a fire road (partially dirt/gravel) to make up the full distance.  At that point, we started a big descent with a few small uphill section over the next three miles.  At that point, we started climbing up some rolling hills to the 7.5 mile mark where we turned around and began the trek back to the finish line.  On the way back, I realized how steep the uphill was at 6-6.5 miles as I ran down it and the legs began to do a bit of complaining.  From the 7.5 mile mark to the 9 mile mark, it was more rolling hills.  Miles 9-11.5 were uphill.  11.5-12.5 were a rolling downhill/uphill combo and the final half mile was back down the hill to the finish line.

Based on the hills, I went into this race with the goal of finishing in the 2:04:32 - 2:10:53 range.  Remembering my mistake from the last race, I went out at a comfortable nine minute pace and held that through Mile 2. After that,  I slowed down to a bit and stayed in the 9:30 - 9:40 range for Miles 3-6.  At Mile 6, I start up the steep hill and my pace slowed to a 10:53 mile for Mile 7.  I rebounded back to a sub-10 pace on mile 8 but once I started up the hill at Mile 9, I didn't get back under a 10 minute pace until the final downhill 1/2 mile.  I ended up with a final time of 2:13:13 which was a bit off expectations but given the hills, I am not going to complain about it.

One headache that came up in this race - I like Clif Shot Bloks.  About 15 minutes before the race, I had two of them and placed the remaining four in the back pocket on my shirt.  As I was coming down the hill into the aid station at Mile 6, I reached back to find out that they had slipped out of my pocket at some point.

Training-wise, I went into this race following a five day a week training plain that topped out at 36 miles per week with a long run of 14.8.  My first 30+ mile week was in mid-September and I have been consistently above that distance since that point.  I run a lot of hills but today taught me that I need to run more of them at the end of the workouts when I am tired.

Next race - Six Tunnels to Hoover Dam Turkey Trot 12K on Thanksgiving.

10 November 2013

3rd Annual National Veterans Day 11k - Las Vegas

A recent move to Vegas has re-energized my running.  In preparation for a half marathon next weekend at Valley of Fire State Park, I ran the 3rd Annual National Veterans Day 11k - Las Vegas this morning.  With the race next weekend, I planned on using today's run as a tempo run and keeping the pace right at a 9 minute mile.  Overall, I achieved the goal and finished in a 1:00:15 which worked out to an 8:49 mile.  The course was pretty flat and primarily on a dirt trail with some loose gravel.

Given that this was only my second race in over a decade (ran the 5.4 mile Twilight Overlook Ascent at Red Rock back in September - great race - conquered the hill climb in under an hour), there were some lessons learned.  The primary one was a reminder to not go out so fast. I am not a fast guy with my best 1.5 mile time since we switched to the run test in 2004 being an 11:16 last month. In today's race, I wasn't paying attention to my splits until I hit the 1.5 mile mark and heard an 11:50 time from my GPS.  I consciously backed off the pace at that point. The second point was stick to what works.  This was twofold concerning nutrition and clothing.  Concerning nutrition, I have two primary things that I eat while on long runs - GU gel and Clif Shot Bloks.  I tried something new and overall, wasn't happy with it.  Clothing-wise, I wore something different and had the rare chaffing moment...not fun.

Today was the kick-off to a busy month of racing.  Next up - Valley of Fire Half Marathon on Nov 16th.