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.