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.