25 January 2014

Running From An Angel - 25 Jan 14

Running From An Angel finisher's medal
I ran my final pre-marathon tune-up race this morning and it was a hilly half marathon at Lake Mead. It was Calico Racing's 7th and final Running From An Angel as they transition to a new race next year.  Calico always puts on good small events and this race was no exception.

Unlike my previous races at Lake Mead which involved running south of Boulder Beach using the old railway tunnel trails, this run left the Boulder Beach picnic area and headed north on Lakeshore Drive as an out-and-back course. After leaving the starting gate, we had a gradual climb for about 1/4 of a mile before turning onto Lakeshore.  The next 3.5 miles were a series of rollers and some short flatish sections.  After that we began a series of one mile long stretches of downhill, uphill, downhill to the turn around point where the elevation change reversed for the return route. Elevation-wise, the race start was at 1261 ft with the low point of 1194 at the two mile mark and the high point of 1451 ft at the 5.9 mile mark. Temperatures were 50 at the start and 60 at the finish.

We got our packets the night before (my wife ran the 10K) and showed up to the race about 20 minutes before my race began.  A quick restroom stop and I headed to the start-line to await the 7:30 start-time. About 5 minutes before the start, the race director gave us some final instructions and called out a couple of birthdays in the running crowd.  She also pointed out and congratulated the runners who were finishing their Calico Half Slam (four half marathons with Calico Racing in a one calendar year period) with this race.  Finally, we posed for a group photo and then she counted down the final seconds as they ticked off the clock.  Just like that, we were off.

I made it a point to not go out too fast at the start and hit the first mile in 9:20.  Mile 2 was the low point of the race and I hit it in 18:40.  Yep, pretty consistent for the first two miles. The next mile was pretty much all uphill and my pace slowed accordingly - 29:02 at the three mile mark.  After that, the next 3.5 miles were the same with me losing time on the uphill sections and gaining a little bit back on the downhills.  I reached the turn-around right at the 1:05 mark and began to wonder if I could make it back in a sub-2:11.  Shortly after the turn-around, a short blond lady who had been flip-flopping places with me from miles 4-6 passed me and I picked up my pace to go with her.  We kept up a steady pace and hit the 9 mile mark right at the 1:30 mark.  At some point over the next two miles, we began to pick the pace up and by the 11 mile mark, we had slipped to a 1:49 mark.  At that point, I began thinking to myself that I just needed to hold it together for two more miles and a 2:11 was in the bag.  With about 1/4 of a mile to go, we turned downhill and I took off.  As the finish line came into view, I was shocked to see 2:08 flashing on the time.  As I came around the final corner, I went into a full kick and crossed the finish line with a 2:08:40 chip time and 2:08:47 gun time which means I shaved over 4:30 off my previous best!  About 15 seconds later, the lady I was pacing off from crossed the finish line and I thanked her for the pacing as we had our timing chips removed.  Post-race, I enjoyed some chips, applesauce and chocolate milk before heading out with the wife to enjoy a greasy burger from Five Guys.

Next weekend is the Death Valley Marathon and with this huge PB in the half, I am feeling really good going into it.

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