30 December 2014

2015 - The First Six Months

I have registered for races for the first six months of 2015.  Here is my schedule.

1/4/15 - Camarillo Marathon
2/28/15 - Road Rage Duathlon
3/14/15 - Zion Half Marathon
4/12/15 - Summerlin Half Marathon
5/9/15 - Vegas Sunrise Duathlon
5/17/15 - Hot Chocolate 15K - Las Vegas
5/30/15 - Sand Hollow Duathlon

I've also registered for a pair of duathlons (Kokopelli and Las Vegas) in September.  I have a few races that I am interested in for the second half of the year but I need to wait until April to see how a few things are shaping up schedule-wise at work.

Here are races of interest:

8/1-2/15 - Devil Dog Duathlon and Solana Beach Duathlon - This would be a great weekend to head to San Diego and knock out a couple of sprint distance races for both my wife and me while also doing a few fun vacation things with the kids.

8/8/15 - Bootleg Beatdown -  This has 5 and 10 mile distances.  It is a hot run on a technical trail in the local area. This one is put on by Desert Dash.

8/29-30/15 - E.T Full Moon Midnight Marathon, Half, 10K & 51K - If I decide to do this one, I want to go big and make it my first ultramarathon.  I like Calico Racing events

9/19/15 - Twilight Red Rock Half Marathon - This would be my third year running a Twilight Red Rock race.  I have already booked the duathlon as part of the Las Vegas Triathlon for that morning. This is another Calico Racing event.

9/26/15 - Saints and Sinners Half Marathon - This is a race at Lake Mead with a fair amount of downhill and is a decent mix of road and trail.  I wanted to run it this year but the date conflicted with Twilight.

12/5/15 - Death Valley Trail Marathon - Death Valley was the site of my first marathon.  It would be fitting if it is the site of my first trail marathon.

The other big thing I want to do this year is a century ride on my bike and am looking at options that aren't ridiculously far from Las Vegas and do not conflict with one of my wife's events or mine.

28 December 2014

Operation Jack Las Vegas Satellite Race

big finisher medals
A couple of weeks ago, I was looking at the Running In The USA site and saw a new local race.  It was the Operation Jack Las Vegas Satellite Race and both my wife and I decided to run the three hour race around a 1.67 mile loop in Kellogg Zaher Park which is within 15 minutes of my house.

About Operation Jack - The Operation Jack Autism Foundation was founded as a charity in 2009 as a way to honor Jack Felsenfield who was born in 2003 with severe autism.  It promotes autism awareness and raises funds for autism related charities.

On to the race - We showed up at the park at 7:25 and picked up our bibs.  It was a brisk morning with temps hovering in the 33-34 range.  At 7:50, we got some quick prerace instructions and promptly at 8 AM, we were off.

something for the wall
The loop was easy to follow.  It was basically a big rectangle around a bunch of active soccer fields.  Half of the loop was uphill and half was downhill.  The race started/finished by Bathroom #3 and was also the site of a small aid station which was well stocked with water and munchies.

Sarah and I ran the first loop together and shortly after completing it, I began to move ahead on my pace and she settled into her's.  The laps ticked away and I made certain to call out my number to the counter as I passed him on each lap.

Early in the race, a group of guys took off and by the time I was a lap in, they were a substantial amount ahead of me. Around the 12 mile mark, I began to catch/pass them and was pleasantly surprised to find that I had moved into 3rd for men when I crossed the line to complete Lap 10 at 2:54. Sarah finished 9 laps and was 2nd for women. Instead of trophies or medals for placing, we each received a hand painted oil painting.

The legs felt good.  Clipping along at a 10:20-30 pace for that distance does not feel overly taxing and I plan on knocking out the marathon at Camarillo next Sunday to kick off my 2015 year of racing.  I used this race to try out a nutrition plan with Gatorade Prime Energy Chews.  I ate two right before the start and followed that up with two more every 45 minutes.  For hydration, I stuck to my standard Powerade Zero (yep...I mixed Gatorade and Powerade products) but made it a point to drink it at a regular basis starting at the one hour mark with a drink every 30 minutes after that.  The plan was pretty simple and is what I will go with next weekend.

24 December 2014

Christmas Eve Running

I got in 11.1 miles after work.  It took me over the 1300 mile mark for 2014.  In other news...

20 December 2014

a free race

I checked my e-mail today and was happy to see that I received another free entry from Racegrader.com. This one is to the Camarillo Marathon which also has a half, 10K and 5K with it.  The race is on Jan 4th.

I am undecided about the distance and will knock out a long run in the morning to think about it.  This month, I am on pace for my normal 100-110 miles of running.  However, it has been a big month already for cycling with 175 miles logged. Also, I am at 22 hrs of total run/bike time for the month which means that I am going to crush my highest month (27.4 hours last December) in terms of total workout time since I started keeping track of my workouts in 2011.  Finally, I am running the three hour 2014 Operation Jack Las Vegas Satellite Run on the 28th which is three hours of racing laps around a 1.69 mile loop in one of the city parks.

Decisions, decisions, decisions...

01 December 2014

November Stats

MapMyRun sent me my monthly stats this morning and it ended up being a solid month with 223.2 total miles. 100.75 of that was running which made November my 13th out of the last 14 months where I have run at least 100 miles.  The remaining 122.45 miles were on the bike.

29 November 2014

On the road again...

I got in my first bike ride today since the Ride 2 Recovery.  Sarah and I checked out a different part of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area and rode 23.78 miles as an out and back from the Echo Bay Campground.  It is a bit farther north than where we normally go to at the lake and was pretty scenic with a lot of awesome rock formations on the drive there. It felt good to get back on the bike and my calf didn't bother me.

25 November 2014

1200 miles

I got in four miles with Black Jack this morning and he is turning into a good running buddy, especially on the days he decides he doesn't need to sniff everything at the start of the run. 

The four miles pushed me over the 1200 mile mark for 2014.  I took a little bit of time today and looked at my running history on MapMyRun.  In 2013, I ran 754.2 miles and in 2012, I ran 413.3 miles.  This means that I have passed my combined 2012 and 2013 total with a month still to go in the year. 

You get out of it what you put into it and right now, I am putting a lot into it.

24 November 2014

Trails of Glory

Be dirty and get some trail!

a prerace view of the finish line
On Saturday, I ran my final race of the season, Desert Dash's Trails of Glory.  It was held on the trails of Cottonwood Valley on the west side of Las Vegas.  The following distances were available: 8K, 12K, half marathon, 30K and marathon.  For my season finale, I opted for the 12K (mapped long at 7.6 miles).

I originally registered for this race months ago and planned on have a lot of time post-St George to train specifically for it.  As free races at longer distances came up, I realized that this was going to be more of a fun run and it was. I even went so far as to not take my Garmin.

Packet pickup was simple.  It was held at McGhie's which is a (primarily) bike shop in Las Vegas on the day prior to the race.  At it, I got my shirt but did not get my bib.  Oddly, bibs were not given out and had to be picked up on race day near the starting line.

On race morning, I showed up at the trail head around 7:15 AM and found parking in a small dirt lot immediately off the highway.   After that, I went over and waited in line for my bib.  While waiting, I watched the volunteers set up the finish line aid station and a lot of folding chairs. I also checked out the massive inflatable duck with the Santa hat on its head.  Once I got to the front of the line, I got my bib and went back to the car to hang out for a bit until it was time for the race to start.

The half marathon, 30K and marathon were scheduled to start at 8 AM with the 8K and 12K starting 15 minutes later.  With that in mind, I left my car at 8 AM and walked to the start line to find out that 8 AM was when the race directors gave directions to all of the runners in the three longer distances.  It took 8-10 minutes and then they were off.  At 8:15, the 8K and 12K runners were all directed to the start line to receive our directions and a safety brief.  After that, it was race time.

I just ducked under the Duck Tree.
The race started in a paved parking area and after a very short run across it, there was a bottleneck at the trailhead and we slowed greatly as all we merged down to a single file line.  Once I got onto the trail, the fun began.

I enjoy running downhill on winding singletrack and that is how this race started.   The first two miles were a nice winding slightly downhill section.  At Mile 1, we passed the Duck Tree (see picture) which is named as such because we have to duck to go under it on the trail and, well, it has been covered with rubber ducks.

Everything was going smoothly until I reached the 3 mile mark.  At this point, several trails intersected and along with everybody ahead of me, I went straight.  Apparently I was supposed to turn right.  I realized it about half a mile later when I came across a larger road and realized there were no trail markers.  I back tracked to the previous intersection and luckily, guessed correctly on which way to turn.

After that, I knew that my time and placing were shot and throttled back the pace while I enjoyed a lot of nice scenery on the long uphill (3.5 miles) section.  At about the official 5 mile mark, the course met up with the 8K route and markings once again became good.  After that, the route was easy to follow and the final 2.5 miles flew by pretty quickly with the final mile being a fast downhill through more winding singletrack.

At the finish line, I got my finisher medal and grabbed some water and a muffin from the aid station. After that, I called it a day and wandered back to the car to go home.

Today, Desert Dash posted all of their photos for the runners to download and reuse.  Unfortunately, official times are still not available as the organizers specifically sort through the 12K times.

Update: I got my official time this morning and ended up finishing in 1:12:23 which put me right in the middle of the pack.

Trails of Glory finisher medal

17 November 2014

REVEL Canyon City Marathon

As I mentioned last month, I won a free entry to the REVEL Canyon City Marathon through Race Grader. REVEL is a relatively new race series started up by Brooksee which now has two event series:  the REVEL Race Series and the Goldilocks Running/Cycling Events.  Both REVEL and Goldilocks are currently in three cities with Salt Lake City being the one common location between the two series.  I was very impressed with the organization of this event (loved the fact that we got free pictures from the race) and would gladly run a race with this company again.

the marathon medals
Right from the start, this was a quality event. REVEL's website was chocked full of useful information with zero dead links and the registration process was simple.  After registering, I began to receive frequent, but not in-box flooding, e-mails that kept me updated on packet pickup and race day specifics.

On Friday afternoon, Sarah and I made the drive from Las Vegas to Azusa for packet pick-up at the race expo.  Packet pickup went smoothly and after getting my packet, I was instructed to step over to a monitor to test the chip on the bib which was a nice feature. Another nice thing with the bib, besides having my name on the front (always a nice feature), was that it had all of my emergency contact info printed on the back.  The expo itself was a small event with local vendors.  We had hit up the Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas expo before starting our drive so we didn't spend much time there.  However, it is interesting to note that Hokas and Altras are now the two dominate shoes that I am seeing at expos.

The next morning, we got up at 4 AM and Sarah dropped me off at the buses around 4:45.  I got straight on a bus without any waiting in line and began the 1+ hour commute in the dark to the start line.  The bus arrived there shortly after 6 AM and I stepped out into the brisk air of the Crystal Lake Camp Grounds which is in the San Gabriel Mountains within the Angeles National Forest.  The Crystal Lake Cafe was open for people to purchase hot chocalate and a hot breakfast and there was an outdoor fireplace to keep us warm.  There were also a decent number of port-o-potties, enough for the 623 runners plus volunteers/race staff.

At 6:45, I shed my sweatshirt and fleece hat, placed them inside my drop bag, placed that bag in the equipment truck, donned my Las Vegas Triathlon Club visor and went to the start line.  At exactly 7 AM, we were off.

feeling awesome on the downhill
The course took an immediate right turn after the start line and proceeded uphill for 1/4 of a mile.  After that, it did a 180 degree turn and went downhill for the next 13 miles with an elevation drop of approximately 4700 feet over that distance. Predictably, it was very fast and without feeling like I was pushing too hard, the first half of the marathon was covered in 1:52:14 (an 8:34 per mile pace - Yikes!) which is 5:41 faster than my half marathon PR set back in April.  After that, the course leveled off a lot to more of a rolling downhill and my pace came back to reality.

The course was very pretty.  With the starting altitude being approximately 5700 feet, we were treated to an awesome view of being able to look down on the clouds and then descending through them at approximately the 3.5 mile mark. The road had a lot of switchbacks during the first half and provided scenic views of the valley as we broke through the bottom of the clouds.  We passed a lot of interesting fauna and I was amazed at how large the yucca stalks were.  It was also neat to see multiple dams and the different ecosystems that sprouted up on the downstream side of them.  I also got a kick out of not seeing any houses until we passed one subdivision in the final four miles and then entered Azusa inside the final 5K

the final stretch
As we ran the course, more evidence of how well organized the race were presented. The mile markers were extremely obvious and were large inflatable structures.  For the marathon, they counted down and for the half, they counted up.  The aid stations were approximately every two miles starting at Mile 3 and were all well stocked with a variety of supplies.  There were also motivational signs spread all over the course that were part of the REVEL branded image.  I especially liked the "Suck it up, Buttercup" one at Mile 17 since that has become a catch phrase for Sarah and me with training and racing.

The finish line and area was also full of snacks and volunteers.  After getting my massive finishing medal, I was given a damp washcloth and water and was treated to a wide variety of snacks and drinks. Picking up my gear bag was also very quick and easy.

So how did I do?  I finished with a PR of 4:24:56 which was 9:06 ahead of my St George time from last month.  I also finished in a lot of pain.  My right calf bothered me on all flat and uphill sections and around Mile 19, I began to get an ache in my right hip (felt like the socket area) that progressed from a dull ache to full blown pain in a few short miles. The end of the race was rough and I caught myself uttering Jens Voight's "Shut up legs!" quote more than a few times.  My phone battery died at the 23 mile mark and I stumbled through the last 5K at a 12:21 pace without knowing how fast I was really going and hoping that I wouldn't blow a PR.

Check out the size of that medal!
I was elated to see the time on the finish line and mustered out a little bit of a kick to finish 386 out of 623 runners.  After exiting the chute area, I hugged my wife and cried a little bit from the emotion of this race (the elation of a PR plus the disappointment of not getting a sub 4:22 (10 minute pace)) and the physical pain I was feeling in my hip.

It is two day later and I still have a lot of soreness in my legs - more than I did from my first two marathons.  However, the hip ache went away after a shower and the four hour drive home.  Despite the nice PR, running a short notice marathon is something I will have to put more thought into if the opportunity comes up again.

This was my last big race with December and January completely race free.  I do have a 12K trail run next weekend but expect to take it very easy on that one. I have a series of races booked in March, April and May and am looking for something good for both Sarah and I to run over President's Day Weekend in February.
a selfie with my support network

11 November 2014

Veterans Day running...testing the legs

I put in 10.2 miles of running this morning with my wife.  We didn't push the pace too much until the final mile. I was a little nervous about how my calf was going to hold up but it felt fine on the run once it had warmed up. It was a little sore and stiff yesterday to the point where I was noticeably limping at times when I got up from my desk but it was feeling much better as the evening went on.

I am going to take tomorrow as a rest day and get in an easy 3-4 miles on Thursday.  Friday will also be a complete rest day as I give the legs a break with the REVEL Canyon City Marathon on Saturday.

09 November 2014


I missed a turn somewhere on the course today on the Veterans Day 11K and reached the finish line with the GPS only showing 4.76 miles.  Sarah and I notified the race officials and self-DQ'd.

My disappointment level is pretty high.

08 November 2014

Ride 2 Recovery - Honor Ride

Today was the Ride 2 Recovery Honor Ride in Las Vegas. Sarah and I opted to do the longer of the two rides:  the 63+ mile ride...our first metric century ride.


We loaded up the car with the bikes and gear and headed downtown to the start line which was across from the Luxor on Las Vegas Boulevard.  Once we got there, we unloaded our bikes and went to check in.  We filled out the standard waivers and got our bibs and t-shirts.  After that, we went back to the car to switch shoes and put on our bibs.  One small problem presented itself.  We forgot out bib belts which meant we had to use safety pins and put holes in our shirts.

Waiting at the start
After that, we took our bikes over to the start area where I racked mine while Sarah took her's to the mechanic from Pro Cyclery to knock out some minor pre-ride maintenance on the chain.  Once that was done, she racked hers next to mine and we went to look for and talk with friends who were also riding.  Eventually, we walked back over to the racks to find out that they had fallen over.  Sarah's bike had been moved along one of the walls and mine had been moved to another rack.  That rack eventually also fell over and I moved my bike to the wall by Sarah's.

Before the race started, there were a lot of munchies available.  I ate a bagel and a muffin and scratched a bit on a Great Dane while we waited for the time to tick down to the start.  At approximately 8 AM, the organizers began to usher the approximately 650 riders to the start line.  While we waited with our bikes, route instructions and safety tips were given and at approximately 8:30, a color guard from a local JROTC unit brought the flag forward and the National Anthem was sung.  Shortly after that, we were off.

The Course

Nearing the finish
The start was interesting.  It was slow going so I kept a foot down and shuffled along until we turned onto Las Vegas Boulevard and I was able to clip in.  The first six miles that we were on the Boulevard were pretty neat.  We rode north through the Strip with our northbound lanes closed to traffic and police were blocking traffic at all of the intersections. At the 6.4 mile mark, we turned onto Washington and headed east through a series of stoplights.  At that point, the course was no longer closed to traffic and rules of the road applied which meant that there was a lot of stopping at intersections as we continued east.  At the 12 mile mark, we stopped at the first aid station but after seeing the wait for the port-o-potties, a decision was made by the group to continue on.  At 12.5 miles and after a short climb, we turned north on Hollywood for a short mile before heading east on Lake Mead Boulevard.  Once we turned onto that road, we began a 2.5 mile climb, our first big climb of the day.  However, once we reached the top, we were treated to primarily descents over the next 8 miles. Shortly after Mile 24, we turned onto Northshore Road and began a series of road changes that had us mostly climbing until Mile 39.  At that point, we were treated to a mile of downhill before climbing for the next nine miles.  Shortly after Mile 49, we began a mainly downhill or level ride to the finish.  Shortly after Mile 54, we turned back onto Las Vegas Boulevard to finish our bike ride north.  The right lane was blocked of for us but there were still some issues with drivers not making the smartest decisions as they entered/exited the restaurants/shopping areas around Mile 60.  As we reached the finish, we made a final right turn off of Las Vegas Boulevard into the chute and received our finishers medals.

Post ride photo
Aid Stations

I can't speak for the first one other than to say that it was crowded.  However, the next two (Mile 33 and 53) were well stocked with snacks and drinks.  A suggested improvement for the organizers is to have a sign at the turnoff so people actually know that it is the aid station since both were a little ways off the road and were missed by a few riders.

Post race

After we got our medals, we went over to a Ride 2 Recovery backdrop and got some photos of us with our bikes.  Once that was done, we loaded our bikes up and switched out of our cycling shoes.  Next, we went to enjoy some post race refreshments.  The post race meal consisted of hamburgers, hot dogs, baked beans, chips and Gatorade...clearly the lunch of champions. There was a live band playing while we ate.

Overall impressions and final thoughts

Overall, it was a well organized event.  The aid stations were well stocked and the support was great.  Personally, this ride was a challenge because I have never rode that far on a bike and I am really not a fan of extended hill climbs.  However, it went well and I see me doing more organized rides in the future.  Physically, I feel alright.  I don't have any saddle soreness and my legs feel good with the exception of my right calf which feels like I may have strained a tendon.  I noticed it after my ride last Sunday but it feels like I definitely aggravated it today.

04 November 2014

Mizuno - First Impressions

I ran 10.9 miles this morning to put my first miles on the new Mizunos.  The run was primarily on sidewalks and blacktop with a few very short sections of dirt/gravel trail.

They felt light on the feet and had a little slip in the heel when I first laced them up.  I noticed it while walking pre/post run but it did not bother me during the run.

The soles are noticeable thinner than I am used to. This isn't a bad thing but it is definitely something to think about on days when part of my runs go on a little more hardcore trails for parts of the run.  Also, I felt a ridge on both feet that ran along underneath the outer edge near my little toes.  That isn't something I expect to feel in a shoe that is advertised as neutral.

These definitely are not going to replace my Hokas as a pair of distance trainers and racers.  However, they will be a nice mix with my ASICS as trainers on my shorter runs and due to their weight, will make a nice racing shoe on shorter races.

02 November 2014

River Mountains Loop Trail

I biked the River Mountains Loop Trail clockwise today with my wife and a couple of friends.  I have run and biked parts of it for training and races but had never completed the entire 34 mile trail until today.  The trail itself is nice - paved and free of cars.  The climb up the hill from approximately Mile 24 to Mile 30.5 was a little rough but I reminded myself to "suck it up, buttercup".

01 November 2014


This morning, the family and I got up early and trucked crosstown for the PHAST.

For my wife, this triathlon was a redemption race.  She crashed on the bike last year and it stands as her lone DNF in a triathlon.  This year, she raced hard and ended up finishing the sprint distance course in second overall for women.  It was a great way to finish off a long triathlon season that saw many trips to the podium for her in the Athena division.

My youngest son raced the kids short course triathlon.  It is hilarious watching a string-bean of a nine year old flexing on the side of a pool with his friends but once he entered the pool, he was off like a torpedo.  He did a great job on all three components and had a lot of fun while finishing fifth out of sixteen finishers.
flexing post-run

After he finished, it was time for the 5K fun run (untimed) and Kyle and I started running.  Unfortunately, we (along with everybody else) missed a turn marker as the volunteer at that spot directed us in a different direction.  We ended up running two loops, slightly over two miles, and then Kyle stopped to hang out with his little brother while I went out on the run course to run with and cheer on Sarah and run another two miles with her.

Post race was nice.  A lot of Las Vegas Triathlon Club members were at the race so there were a lot of friends to talk to and there were a lot of drawings for items donated by sponsors. We ended up getting elastic laces, socks, a water bottle and a pair of Mizuno Wave Prophecy 3 shoes which are my size.  I look forward to mixing them in with my ASICS and Hokas.

Mizuno Wave Prophecy 3 - Size 10.5

October 2014

October ended up being a big month.  It was my largest month in terms of total mileage with a combined running/cycling total that broke the 200 mile mark.  The running total was 113.46 miles and the cycling total was 87.12 miles for a grand total of 200.58 miles.

Given the big running and cycling events scheduled for November, it will be interesting to see what mileage looks like in another 29 days.

26 October 2014

1100 miles

I got in a nice 8.35 miles of running followed by 25.7 miles on the bike this morning.

It put me over the 1100 mile mark for running in 2014.

Enjoy your run.

25 October 2014

November Preview

Not too long ago, November was going to be an easy month to close out the race season.  I had scheduled a Veteran's Day 11K and a 12K trail race with about two weeks between the two and planned on targeting them for decent times at shorter distances than I have raced most of the year.  Then I suddenly got free entries to several events.

Here is the complete list for the month:

Nov 1st - PHAST 5K fun run
Nov 8th - Ride 2 Recovery Honor Ride (100K)
Nov 9th - National Veteran's Day 11K
Nov 15th - REVEL Canyon City Marathon
Nov 22nd - Trails of Glory 12K

The 5K is an untimed fun run that is held in conjuction with my wife's final triathlon of the season.  My oldest son and I are going to run it while she races.

The ride should be interesting.  I have never ridden that far on a bike but endurance shouldn't be an issue.  Saddle-soreness, that is another story.  My wife will be riding this one with me and may be pulling me along through any potential rough spots.

I really don't know how the 11K will go.  Besides the probable saddle-soreness, I expect to have some thigh aches from the ride and really don't know how much speed I will be able to coax out of my legs for it.  I will have to wait and see how that one goes.  My wife is also running it and we may both feel good and run it competitively or we may both feel rough and shuffle along together way back in the pack.

The marathon should also be interesting since I haven't specifically trained for it.  With the base of training I had for St George and a handful of long runs that started this week (broke in the new Hokas) and will continue over the next two weeks, it should be fine.  It also has a lot of downhill and I like downhill racing.  I do expect to take it a little easier than normal the week between the ride and the marathon to ensure I have fresh legs.

The 12K should be a fun race.  With my first two marathons, I felt pretty good a week later and this race is on decent trails in Cottonwood Canyon on the SW side of Vegas.

Overall, it is a busy month and unless something crazy happens, I am realistically taking a couple of months off from racing to rest the legs up a bit and rebuild my base once the final November race is done.

22 October 2014

New Hokas

I got a new pair of Hoka Stinson Tarmacs tonight. They replace my Rapa Nui 2s as my dedicated distance/race shoes.  My first pair of Hokas were great shoes that got me through two marathons, six halfs, a handful of other races and a decent amount of road/trail long runs.  The only thing I didn't like about them was the uppers because they occasionally rubbed a bit on my Achilles. It looks like they have fixed that issue based on the padding at the back of theses Stinsons. Tomorrow morning will be the first run in them.

20 October 2014

Decisions, decisions, decisions...a race selection dilemna

I just won a free entry to the Revel Canyon City Marathon (and half) on Nov 15th through racegrader.com.  The course is primarily downhill and is a travel race due to being about four hours from my house. 

I am injury free and have nothing else big scheduled for the year besides a metric century bike ride which will be the weekend prior to Revel.  Endurance-wise, I am good with the marathon.  Speed-wise, I am good with the half.

Run my 3rd marathon on relatively short notice or knock out my 9th half marathon?  Decisions, decisions, decisions...

...I will go with another marathon.

19 October 2014

Brick Day

I did a brick workout with my wife this morning as she did her final big workout going into her Olympic distance Pumpkinman Triathlon next weekend at Lake Mead and Boulder City. We rode slightly over 17 miles and then switched shoes for a 10K run.  The ride primarily focused on the 1,300 ft ascent that she will climb over the final 8+ miles of the 24.8 mile race route which increases in steepness greatly over the last mile.  After that, we ran the 10K race course so she could see exactly what it was:  out and back on paved roads with some light hills.

Here is a post ride shot of my bike.  As mentioned previously, it is a vintage aluminum framed Novara Forza that has been upgraded a bit, primarily from bikes that have been damaged in mishaps by other people.  Specifically, the Shimano 105 drivetrain, wheels, carbon seatpost, Adamo saddle, stem and triathlon bullhorn/aerobars are all upgrades from the bike I originally purchased in the 2001/2002 timeframe.  Basically, the only thing still stock is the frame and fork.

16 October 2014

Cross Training

Road cycling has become my cross training of choice.  Today was approximately 21 miles.

I ride a vintage Novara that I bought from REI in 2001/2002.  It has been through a lot of upgrades in recent times but what I really need to upgrade is the motor.  I want to get back to weekly riding and building up my distance to the century mark.

08 October 2014

easing back in

The legs were feeling pretty good yesterday so I decided to run this morning.  I ended up getting in four slow miles with the dog before sunrise. I also got in another 11 miles on the bike after work.  Overall, the legs feel OK with just a little bit of tightness that I am stretching out.

Recovery from this marathon has been interesting.  My quads felt pretty rough after the race and the following day.  On Monday, there was still lingering soreness but mainly, I just felt tired.

I'm going for another run tomorrow morning and will push out a little more distance to continue feeling the legs out.

05 October 2014

St George Marathon

Yesterday was the St George Marathon which means that my second marathon is done and in the books.

Overall, it went well.  I felt really good through the 30K mark but after grabbing some Gatorade at the Mile 21 aid station, I just could not get the legs working again and the last 5.2 miles turned into a shuffle. I still ended up shaving 24:16 off my Death Valley time.

on the homestretch to the finish
The race itself was great.  With almost 6000 finishers, it was by far the largest race I have ever been in.  Right from the start, it was a world class experience.  Packet pickup was smooth and there was a nice group of exhibitors and items for sale.  The buses from the finish line to the start line were efficiently running.  The start line had a good aid station and a series of campfires to keep the runners warm as we waited for the race to begin.  Aid stations were every two mile, were well stocked and had bathrooms at all of them.  Crowd support was great and ranged from ranchers on their ATVs playing music while cheering us on to crowds as we ran through the more populated sections of the course.

The course itself is a point to point with an overall downhill decent and has been recognized by Runner's World on multiple occasions.  It ran through scenic sections of sandstone as it winded it way from 5240 ft to 2680 ft.  An overall downhill decent does not mean all down hill and the first climb of note was the stretch that started at Velo just before Mile 7 and continued until the Mile 11 mark.  After that, we had two more short uphill bumps at Mile 16 and Mile 18.

My quads are pretty sore today from the downhill pounding and it is time for some downtime to recover.  I plan on taking most of the upcoming week off and easing back into running along with getting in some quality time on the road bike.  The only races left for this year are the Veteran's Day 11K on Nov 9th and the Trails of Glory 12K on Nov 22nd. 

enjoying the sandstone finisher's medal

28 September 2014

1000 Miles

While climbing up the hill last night in the early going of the half, I passed the 1000 mile mark for 2014.

That is all.

Twilight Red Rock Half Marathon

I ran the Twilight Red Rock Half Marathon last night.  It was put on by Calico Racing and was run on the roads at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.

I ran a shorter version of this race last year, the Overlook Ascent  which was a 5.4 miler that covered the first 5.4 miles of the half marathon course.  When I ran that race last fall, it was my first race since 2000. I think that I have partially made up for it in terms of the sheer number of races I have run since that one.

Registration and packet pickup went smooth for this race.  The pickup was inside the Suncoast Hotel & Casino in Summerlin.  When I picked up my packet, I was a little surprised to see Joyce, the owner of Calico Racing, distributing packets with her small cadre of volunteers.  After she gave me my packet with the bib and timing chip in it, a volunteer gave me the choice between two shirt colors:  green or white.  I went with the green tech shirt since the white one looked like it would be slightly see through.  It was the same standard design (different graphics, of course) the previous races I have done with Calico and they hold up well through repeated workouts and washing.

On race night, Sarah and I went out for a light dinner and then drove over to Red Rock around 7 PM. Sarah was volunteering at an aid station otherwise I would have parked at Suncoast and caught one of the chartered buses from there.

Once we got there, it was immediately noticable that the temperature in Vegas has dropped over the last few days. Early in the week, we still had a 100 degree day.  When we arrived at Red Rock, it was 69 with a decent breeze.

a prerace selfie with my lifelong support team
After parking the car, I put on my race chip and got the rest of my gear out of my bag.  Since this was my final warmup before St George, I wore everything I plan on running with next Saturday to include my Hokas, socks, shorts, triathlon club tech shirt and visor (a Headsweats) and my Nathan belt with Powerade flasks and GU in it.  The only extras were the required reflective gear (wore my Amphipod Xinglet) and my vintage headlamp.

At 7:50 PM, all runners were walked to the start line and Joyce gave instructions on the course.  Ten minutes later, we were off.  

The first mile was a quick loop around the triangle parking/entry/exit area by the Red Rock visitor center. At approximately 3/4 of a mile in, the route began to climb uphill.  The elevation at this point was 3,719 ft and by the time the elevation hit the peak at the the 5.4 mile mark would increase 1,030 feet to max out at 4,749 feet.  There was a brief downhill shortly after the thee mile mark but within a half of a mile, the route turned back uphill.   I run this hill a fair amount in training and am convinced that the stretch from Mile 4 to Mile 5 is the hardest section.

At 5.4 miles, the road topped out at the overlook on the scenic drive.  At this point, there was a well stocked aid station with water, HEED, various gel packs, fruit and cookies.  Prior to this, there were three other aid stations which were stocked with water and HEED.  I did get a good shout out from Sarah as I passed the station she was working.

After leaving the peak, the road began rollers for the the remaining 7.7 miles that took us to the finish which was at 3,804 feet.  Early on, the rollers consisted of short steep uphills followed by longer steep downhills.  Between 8.8 miles and 9.8 miles, the course was fairly level as we went into the final short steep climb followed by a long gradual downhill.  At about 12.5 miles, the race began a final gradual climb to the finish.  Along the way, there were consistent aid stations with water and HEED at approximately every 1.5-2 miles.  I ended up crossing the finish line in an unremarkable 2:19 and collected my finishers medal and turned in my timing chip. After that, I went to find my wife who had moved from the first aid station on the course to the finish line aid station after the last runner passed her station.

Calico Half Slam Plaque
The Good: Calico Racing always puts on a good small race event and this was no exception.  As an added bonus, I finished off my Calico Half Slam by completing four half marathons through Calico Racing in a 12 month span and got the nice chunk of slate pictured to the right.  Also, running at night at Red Rock with nothing but my headlamp and starlight is gorgeous and the occasional glimpses of the Las Vegas Strip lights off in the distance were picturesque.

The Bad:  First, the wind sucked.  Or better yet, it blew.  No matter which way the road turned, it seemed like I had a heavy head or side wind that didn't go away until the 11-12.5 mile mark.  Climbing 1000 feet up a mountain is a tough race.  A headwind going up it doesn't help things. However, none of us can control the weather.  That brings me to the second bad thing which is something I could have controlled better.  From the 5.4 mile mark to the Mile 9 marker, I had a small group who I was running with at a pretty good pace.  At Mile 9, I started having GI issues and slowed a lot. A half of a mile later, I came up to an aid station and had to take a restroom break; the first time ever for me in a race.  After that, it took the better part of a mile to get my legs turning over correctly and left me wondering "what if" with my finishing time.  Could a different prerace meal have avoided this?  A different lunch?  Different gel choices at the start line?  Avoiding HEED?  I am not certain which one but know that there is something I could have done differently prerace to not have this issue.  Oh well, lesson learned.

Next up - The St George Marathon on Oct 4th.

another unique finisher medal from Calico Racing

21 September 2014

LVTC Forest Challenge

This weekend, I ran the LVTC Forest Challenge which is an 11 miler/10K/5K put on by the Las Vegas Track Club.  I opted for the 11 mile race.

The race was inexpensive.  As a non-club member, I paid a whopping $30 as the entry fee with club members getting a $5 discount.

Packet pickup was held at Red Rock Running Company on Friday afternoon.  At the pickup, I got a simple bib and a race tech shirt.  That is a better shirt than I have received at a few much more expensive races.

On Saturday morning, I made the drive up Lee Canyon Road to the parking lot at the Lower Bristlecone Trail.  Paying attention to the pre-race notes, I got there early before the parking lot filled up.  The only pre-race headache was that the neighboring camping area was closed for renovations so the only rest room available was one porta potty next to the camping area.

A few minutes before 8 AM, we were called to the start line for a quick race overview.  The race started on the trail about 25 meters from the parking lot and was an out and back course.  All distances started together.  Once we got the quick directions, an air horn was sounded and we were off.

The first 3.1 miles of the trail were a climb up a rocky fireroad and had a starting elevation of 8,484 ft.  It was a tough slow climb.  Along the way, there were two aid stations with water and Gatorade. One was at the 5K turnaround and the other was at the 3-Mile mark.  After the fire road ended, the course turned into single track and climbed a short steep elevation that took us to our peak altitude of 9,454 ft.

After topping out at the max elevation, the single track began to quickly descend to the turnaround. Going down the single track section was a nice run that took us over some rocky outcroppings and had a steep slope on one side of the trail and a steep drop on the other.  It took us through bristlecone pines and included one small section that had been touched by the forest fire that hit the mountain last year.

The single track entered a section of aspens and continued its descent.  This section was gorgeous due to the fall foliage on the aspens but rocks and roots were a definite hazard and I remembered my wife's words to take it easy and avoid injury with St George two weeks away.  Eventually I came out of the trees and ran through a final open downhill section to the turnaround which was at 8,669 ft and had another aid station with drinks.

After the turn around, climbing back up the singe track was tough.  My legs felt great but I just felt like I couldn't get enough air into my lungs.  However, once I reached the top and started down the last little bit of single track to the fire road, it was game on as I let gravity take over and pushed the pace faster and faster as I barreled down the mountain to the finish.  I crossed the finish line in 2:04:57 which was good for 25 out of 45 finishers and second in the 35-39 age group.

At the finish line, there was a nice spread of snack food and coolers full of water and Gatorade.  I snacked on some food and downed some drinks as I waited on the awards.  Awards were simple but nice and gave me a good idea for our triathlon club races.

Overall, it was a well organized event put on by a local organization on a low budget.  I may need to keep an eye open for their future events.

Next up - Twilight Half Marathon on 9/27

14 September 2014

Kokopelli Duathlon

Yesterday, I raced BBSC's Kokopelli Duathlon at Sand Hollow State Park in Utah.  It was held concurrently with the Kokopelli Triathlon which had Sprint (my wife competed in this and once again crushed the competition) and Olympic distance events.  There was also an associated 5K and youth triathlon.

Sarah has been planning for this triathlon since last fall but the duathlon was a pretty short notice race for me.  We had a friend who was scheduled to race it become unable to attend due to a car running into him while he was on a training ride a few weeks ago.  He will mend but will miss the fall season of triathlons. Last weekend, we transferred his registration to me, paid the additional fees and suddenly I was competing in my first duathlon.

Before we get to the race, there were some events this week that made the race a little hectic.  I-15 is the main route from Las Vegas to St George.  Early this week, we got a lot of rain and the resulting flooding was so bad that it completely took out a southbound section of the highway.  I-15 was closed for several days and the alternate route added hours to the drive.  As luck would have it, the highway opened up with one lane in each direction on Friday evening after we made it to the Utah border.

Once we got to St George, packet pickup went smooth.  BBSC held it at a fairground in Hurricane, UT.  We picked up our packets which had our race numbers (one for the bib and one for the bike) in it, got our anklets for electronic timing, got our shirts (like the design but wish they were tech shirts and not black) and got our body markings (race number on our upper arms and right hand and our race category and age group on our calf).  We also paid for our admission to the park and got our day pass. After that, we checked into the hotel, dropped our stuff off and went out for a quick dinner.  Once we got back to the hotel, we got our race gear ready and went to bed.

Race day started with a quick breakfast in the hotel at 0545.  After that, we loaded up our bikes and transition bags and drove a few miles up the road to the park.  As we pulled into the parking lot, we realized that we left our water bottles in the hotel fridge.  Luckily, my oldest son had one in his lunch bag from the previous day and we were able to borrow another one from a friend who was up there for the triathlon.  We unloaded our gear and headed into the transition area where I was able to snag the end spot on my assigned row.  I racked my bike and checked which gear it was in.  After that, I laid out my helmet, bike shoes, run shoes, visor and socks and dropped a pack of Cliff Shot Bloks into my jersey pocket.  After that, we cheered on some of the kids from the Las Vegas Triathlon club who were in the youth race and at 0800, I came back to the transition area, switched into my racing flats and headed down to the water to see Sarah start her Sprint. After she started her swim, I headed up to the duathlon start line to get ready for my race.

My race was scheduled to start at 0830 so about 10 minutes before the start, I popped in two Shot Blocks and washed them down with some water.  A few minutes before the start time, the race directors gave the duathletes and 5K runners some quick course and safety instructions.  After a short countdown, we were off.

The race stared with several hundred meters down a hill.  At the bottom was a sharp lefthand curve followed by a small roller.  After that, we began a gradual uphill that topped out just after the one mile mark.  Along the way, we passed the run aid station which was approximately at the one mile mark but I didn't pay much attention to it besides noting that there were a decent number of teenagers handing out cups of water and Gatorade. At the top of the hill, the course followed the road on a slight downhill to the turnaround and we were treated to a nice view of the Sand Hollow Reservoir. Once we reached the turnaround, the run course retraced its steps back to the transition area. My first 5K was a solid but not spectacular 27:41.

Transition #1 went smooth.  As I ran up the final hill and into the chute to the transition area, I was mentally rehearsing what to do.  Once I crossed the mat at the entrance, I continued to run to my bike which was at the first rack and pulled my Headsweats visor off on the way. Once I reached my bike, I dropped my visor, put my helmet on, pulled my shoes off (my new Lock Laces made this really easy), slipped my cycling shoes on and strapped down the velcro, grabbed my bike and shuffled out of the transition area and shuffled out to the mount line in under 1:30.  That's not too shabby for my first real transition.

As I hopped on my bike, I initially had an issue clicking my shoes into my pedal and wasted some precious time getting that accomplished.  Once it was in, I quickly headed down the hill to the first turn.  The bike course was on a different road than the run and took us outside of the park for a 12.4  mile out and back ride that was the same as the course for the Sprint triathlon. After reaching the bottom of the hill and going past the park entrance, the course took a sharp left hand turn and began a small climb for the next mile which topped out at the 1.5 mile mark. After that, the next 1.5 miles had some very small ups and down which were great for powering through in an aero position. At the 3.1 mile mark, the course became tough as we climbed 352 feet and topped out at the 4.5 mile mark. I pedaled past a lot of people who were off their bikes and pushing on the steepest section (a 6% grade that covered a little under one mile of the climb).  Once we crested the top, we had a short fast down hill followed by a roller as we went to the turnaround. Shortly after the turnaround, there was an aid station handing out water and Gatorade bottles. Once I got back to the top of the hill, I picked up enough speed in my tucked aero position that I was getting a little nervous about the speed (I wish I had my phone with the app turned on so I knew my speed on the hill) and made certain to brake a bit to cross the boards covering the cattle grate (definitely not an issue on the way up). As I pulled back to the mount /dismount line, I unclipped my feet, hopped off the bike, and began to run my bike into the transition area.  My first few steps were pretty rough as my legs, especially my hamstrings, made the transition from cycling to running. My time was 50:35 but no complaints given that hill.

Transition #2 was a little rougher than the first one.  I racked my bike, set down my helmet, slipped on my visor, quickly stripped my cycling shoes off and attempted to put on my racing flats while standing.  It didn't work.  I needed two hands to do this and couldn't keep standing with one hand on the rack to support me.  After hopping for a few seconds, I sat down and put them on. Once that was done, I shuffled out of the transition area pulling two more Shot Bloks out of my pocket and grabbing a water from the aid station as I went.  My time for this one was 1:44 but I learned a valuable lesson concerning my shoes.

on the podium
To start the second run, I walked the first 15-20 meters of the transition chute so I could get water into me.  After that, I was off to complete the second run which was a repeat of the first course. My second 5K came in at a tired 30:25.

After running across the finish line, I was handed my finishers medal and a volunteer removed my timing chip from my ankle.  Once that was done, I grabbed a banana and a couple of water bottles from the volunteers and exited the tent to look for my wife.  We quickly met up and she caught me up on how her race went while we waited for the awards ceremony.  She had a ridiculously fast swim and when we looked at the final results, realized that she had the fifth fastest swim out of 126 female finishers.  She combined that with a great bike and a solid run and finished 22nd overall and first out of four in her division. I finished in 1:51:49 and finished eight of 21 overall and two of four in my age division, 32 seconds behind the number one guy in it.

After we got our plaques, we loaded up the car with our gear, the kids and the dog and headed back to the hotel for some quick showers and a final load of the car.  After that, it was off to Chik-fil-A for a treat that we can't get in Vegas and then it was time for the drive home.

The duathlon was fun and I am sure I will do a few next year.  I need to work more on the bike as opposed to it currently being a crosstraining workout and pick up a little speed in the shorter runs as opposed to training specifically for the longer races I am focusing on this year.

Next up is the LVTC Forest challenge which is next Saturday and is an 11+ mile trail run with elevations in the 8600-9400 feet range.

06 September 2014

more races

So much for thinking that I signed up for my final 2014 races.

This morning, I signed up for the Kokopelli duathlon which is next weekend.  It is at Sand Hollow State Park in SW Utah and we were already making the trip so Sarah could get in another sprint triathlon. My running is definitely good to go and I am comfortable on the bike but the bike to run transition will be a little shaky.

I will also soon be signing up for the National Veterans Day 11K.  I can't pass up an $11 entry fee for a well managed race and the organizers are holding the Las Vegas race in a different part of the city than last year.

I also picked up a pair of ASICS GT-1000 2 shoes to try out.  I needed a new pair of traditional trainers and have never had issues with this brand in the past.

01 September 2014

Labor Day running

Today was about seeing how steady I could hold a pace for 11 miles.  With the exception of Mile 10, the pace looked pretty solid.

1.0 mi 09:28 min/mi 
2.0 mi 09:07 min/mi 
3.0 mi 09:11 min/mi
4.0 mi 09:10 min/mi
5.0 mi 09:13 min/mi
6.0 mi 09:09 min/mi
7.0 mi 08:57 min/mi
8.0 mi 08:57 min/mi
9.0 mi 08:54 min/mi
10.0 mi 09:41 min/mi
11.0 mi 09:05 min/mi

Also, this run put me over the 900 mile mark for 2014.

31 August 2014


On this day last year, I took a look at my run logs going back to the summer of 2011 and I didn't like what I saw.  I had the occasional month in the 70-95 mile range but I had a lot in the 20-40 range as well as a few zero mile months.  My running was following a pretty predictable cycle - start running a couple of months prior to a fitness eval,  ramp up the mileage after it was done, get hurt, stop running. I made a decision at that point to be more consistent with my running.  

Flash forward to today and I have run 1425.5 miles since Sept 1st, 2013. 43 of the 52 weeks were at least 20 miles, 23 were over 30 miles and four got over the 40 mile mark. Also, 50 of the 52 weeks had three or more runs.  Along the way, I knocked out 14 races ranging from a 5K up through my first marathon and have stayed relatively injury free. 

The big difference for me was that instead of finding time to run, I made time for it.  On most workdays, I am up and outside by 0430 so I have time to get in 3-6 miles and still have time to prep and get to work.  On weekends, I often get in a longer run or two and am outside early so I am back in time to spend the day with the family. Goal setting was also important and signing up for races (especially my first half marathon and marathon) gave me something tangible to prep for.

Going into the 12 months, I plan on cycling more and getting more running in on trails.  I am not going to put a specific number out there but the plan is to do several duathlons and a century ride in addition to some road and trail running races.

29 August 2014

final 2014 races

I finished signing up for my final 2014 races this week.

To tune up for the St George Marathon on Oct 4th, I will be doing two races: the LVTC Forest Challenge (an 11+ mile trail race) on Sept 20th and Calico Racing's Twilight Red Rock Half Marathon on Sept 27th.  Both of these races have specific challenges.  The Forest Challenge is a trail run with altitudes in the 8600' to 9400' range and will be my first race that is hosted by the Las Vegas Track Club.  Twilight is run with a headlamp after sunset on the roads of Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and has a significant climb from the 3/4 mile mark to the 5.4 mile mark.

In November, I am getting back to trail running with Desert Dash's Trail of Glory.  Desert Dash does a lot of trail races in the Vegas area and I will be running a 12K (actually maps out a little long at 7.64 miles).  This will close out the year for me.

If the two trail races go well, I see me focusing a bit more on trail running in 2015.

16 August 2014

My Wife

It is time for a little shout out about my wife.

On this date in 2012, my wife was getting ready for her first triathlon. She hadn't done anything competitive since 2000 and had signed up for it as primarily a motivational tool to lose weight and in general, get healthier.  Her time and place weren't important. The goal was to finish.  Finishing it, along with the work that went into getting ready for it, was a huge boost for her and she went on to do a few 5Ks, OCRs and a duathlon during our remaining time in the Kansas City area.

In May of 2013, we relocated to Las Vegas and she signed up for a few more races to include two sprint triathlons and a handful of running events from 5Ks through 12Ks.  Her training got more serious and she began to think about bigger things in 2014.

In 2014, she began to routinely crush in her division in the local triathlons and went longer.  In February, she knocked out her first half marathon in a very solid 2:15.  In April, she knocked out her first international distance triathlon and a month later, her second at that distance.  She also finished a handful of running races in the 5K to 10 K range and two more sprint triathlons.

Flash forward to today and she finished 3rd in her division the USA Triathlon Athena National Championship international  distance (1.5K Swim / 39K Bike / 10K Run) race this morning. Along the way, she has dropped over 50lbs and the health issues she was dealing with have faded away.  There were no surgeries, magic pills or fad diets.  She has done all of it through hard work and dedication.  Oh...and her legs are incredible!

Keep being awesome, Sarah!

8/17 update - This morning, she raced the sprint (500 Yard Swim / 16 Mile Bike /3.5 Mile Run) and came in 2nd at the USAT Athena National Championship for that distance. 

02 August 2014

Brick Workouts

I did a run/bike brick this morning - 15 miles on the bike followed by a 3 mile run.  It was my first brick in almost a year and my thighs were a little confused as I started running following the transition.

I enjoy cycling and need to do more of it.

26 July 2014

750 miles

I ran my 750th mile of the year this morning.

It has been a busy three weeks with 101 miles run during them.  Training in Vegas for a fall marathon means a lot of early morning runs to avoid the heat.

17 June 2014

600 Miles

I hit the 600 mile mark for 2014 this morning.

My mileage is about to take an upswing.  On Jun 1st, I officially started training for the St George Marathon.  It is on Oct 4th.  Going into this, I have a couple definite training goals: 1) 160+ miles for August and September and 2) be at the 20+ mile mark for my long runs by Aug 24th. This is supposed to be a fast course and I want a better experience than I had at Death Valley.

21 May 2014

500 miles

I hit the 500 mile mark for 2014 towards the end of my run this morning.  Only one song seemed appropriate...

18 May 2014

WildLand Fire Awareness Trail Half Marathon

The Bureau of Land Management hosted a free half marathon and 5K-race event on the trails in Red Rock Canyon in the Red Rock National Conservation Area this morning. Desert Sky Adventures did the race management and the volunteers were members of the local firefighting community who were raising money for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.  The event was limited to 300 runners and the spots filled up in less than 48 hours.  I got a spot for the half marathon and my wife ran the 5K.  Red Rock is gorgeous and I spent a decent amount of time training on the roads out there in the Nov-Mar time-frame.
Packet pickup went smoothly yesterday and was held behind the toll booths at the entrance to Red Rock.  We received nice tech shirts and a few firefighters were there with one of the probies doing one push-up for every dollar donated.  I have a hunch he did a lot of push-ups during the three hours that the pick-up was open.
This morning, we got up at 5 AM and left the house about 30 minutes later.  We got to the entrance of Red Rock a few minutes before 6 AM and found a parking spot near the visitor center.  While we waited for the time to tick down, we snapped some photos and talked to a friend from the Las Vegas Triathlon Club.
A few minutes before 7AM, Molly from Desert Sky Adventures gave the half runners some quick directions and then a firefighter led us in the National Anthem.  After that, it was race time.  Molly directed us to the start line, gave us a quick countdown and we were off.
The race started in the overflow parking area below the visitor center. We had a very short bit of pavement, maybe 50 meters, and then we started up the Grand Circle Loop. "Up" described the beginning of the run.  As soon as we hit the trail, we began to climb.  The trail ascended up mix of dry creek bed and singletrack. The surface was a lot of fine pebbles and sand on the climb and the creek bed had a lot of loose rocks.  At the 1.7 mile mark, I had to stop and dig some rocks out of my shoe that had been digging into my ankle since the .4 mile mark and I gained a new appreciation for the gaiters that I see some trail runners wearing.  After that brief pause, I continued up the hill.  
The first aid station was at the 3.6 mile mark where the trail crossed Scenic Loop Drive.  It was manned by two firefighters and was well stocked with Gatorade.  After a quick drink, I continued up the hill.  
At the four mile mark, the trail did a hard turn to the right as the White Rock Loop Trail joined the Grand Circle Loop and the climb decreased in steepness for the next .6 of a mile before starting a half mile of downhill.  After that brief reprieve, the trail began uphill for the next .8 miles and I continued up the hill.
Just before Mile 6, the trail crested and there was another aid station.  As before, it was manned by two firefighters and as an added plus, had ice in the Gatorade.  The sun was getting high in the sky and the temp were creeping into the 80s so the ice was welcome.
After getting a quick drink, I started down the trail for the easiest half mile of the trail.  It was a downhill section on the White Rock Mountain Road.  At the bottom of it, I crossed back over the Scenic Loop Drive on the Grand Circle Loop and began a series of rollers that took me to the next aid station at the 8.5 mile mark with another crossing of the Scenic Loop Dr at approximately 7.5 miles.  This stretch of rollers was primarily on rocky single track until I reach the sandstone slick rock at Mile 8 and dropped down into some more pebbly dry creek bed that took me to the aid station which was located int the Calico Tanks parking area.  After a quick drink, I crossed the parking lot and rejoined the trail.
The next two miles were a mix of single track and limestone slick rock with a lot of small up/down elevation change as the course worked its way through limestone boulders.  After slipping early on this section on the slick rock, I realized that this primarily downhill section was not going to be the quick part of the trail that I thought it was going to be.  At 10.5 miles, I climbed out of the slick rock canyon and grabbed my final cup of Gatorade at the aid station located at the Calico I parking area.  I pressed on down the hill.
At this point, the rest of the trail became single track with a lot of loose rocks.  Just before Mile 11, I crossed over the Scenic Loop Drive for the final time and soon after that, joined the Moenkopi Loop and stayed on that until I rejoined the Grand Circle Loop.  About a half mile back down the creek bed and I was at the finish at 2:36 which put me at 26th out of 107 finishers.  Given that early on I realized that this race was about finishing and staying injury free, I have zero complaints with this time and was shocked to see that I was that far up in the pack.  My knees, especially my left one, were aching from the twists of going over the rocks and my quads and calves were screaming from all of the elevation change.  
The takeaways from this race were that I learned a good challenging route that I can use for training once it starts cooling back down and if I ever get serious about trail running/racing,  I will need to invest in trail shoes because my road Hokas just did not get enough traction on the sandy/pebbly or slick rock sections.

04 May 2014

Labor of Love half marathon

I ran the Labor of Love half marathon yesterday morning.  It was at Lovell Canyon Canyon just west of Las Vegas. It was another quality event put on by Calico Racing and had distances of 5K, 10K, half marathon, marathon, 50K and 50 miles available for a wide variety of runners.  This was an add-on race for me at the end of season and was run for two reason: a) it was free due to volunteer credit with Calico Racing and b) it was half marathon number three of four in my Calico Half Slam.

The race started at 7:30 and I arrived at 6:45 for packet pick-up.  I parked at the designated parking area and caught to the shuttle to the start line.  Packet pick went smoothly and I stashed my new race shirt in my bag.  After that, I slipped on my Hokas and reached into my bag for my bib belt.  Small problem - no bib belt.  This was a simple fix and I went old school by pinning my bib on. Once I geared up, I dropped my bag off at the drop spot and wandered over to the start line.  A few minutes before 7:30, Joyce, the race director, called the half marathoners over to the start line for some quick instructions and a group photo and then we were off.

Labor of Love 2014 finisher's medal
The course was a paved out and back course.  The first 75-100 meters were downhill and then we began a climb with a few rollers that topped out at 4.7 miles.  The elevation changed wasn't huge but it was steady as we went from 4,681 feet to 5,393 feet over that distance.  Shortly after reaching the top, we began a rapid drop and went down in elevation approximately 350 feet over the next 1.1 miles (most of that drop was in the first third) before having another short climb to the turn around spot. On the way back, the climb from 7.4 to 8.5 miles was really tough and I found myself walking for the first time in a half marathon.  When I got to the top, I grabbed a drink from the aid station and trudged on.  At this point , the sun was in the sky and the temperature was creeping into the 80s.  As I began the long descent to the finish line, a strong headwind began blowing hot dry air into my face.  At this point, this race began to feel like the race that would never end and despite it being downhill, I just wasn't able to generate any decent pace.  I finally crossed the finish line and after getting my chip clipped off and collecting my medal, I headed straight to the refreshment table and grabbed a big slice of watermelon. After eating it, I changed my shoes back to a pair of sandals and caught the shuttle back to my car.

I ended up crossing the finish line in 2:35 which was 20 minutes slower than my previous slowest half and 37 minutes behind my PR set just last month.  I can't 100% pinpoint my weak performance to any one thing but know that I need to re-emphasize hills in my workouts and get back to a weekly long run on a regular basis.  I also need to pay more attention to pre-race nutrition.