16 January 2016

Valley of Fire Backcountry Trail Race

I knocked out my first race of 2016 this morning with a half marathon.  It was part of Calico Racing's Valley of Fire Backcountry Trail Race which had five distances available in the 5-50K range.

The race was held on BLM bordering the north side of the Valley of Fire State Park and was about 1.5 hours from our house.  The half distance started at 7:30 AM and packet picket was at the location prior to the race so my wife and I left our house around 5 AM to ensure we got there with no issues. The directions to the trailhead were easy to follow and because we showed up about an hour before the start, we were able to get a parking spot by the finish line instead of the overflow parking lot which was 1.75 miles away.  Winning!

After checking in, I hit up the facilities and my wife filled up my water bottles. I made a decision to run with my Orange Mud HydraQuiver to avoid hitting up aid stations.  Once that was done, it was chilly, around 35 degrees, so I stayed bundled up and listened to the course directions for the first set of runners, the marathoners and 50K runners, who started running at 7 AM.

A few minutes before my race started, I went to my car and swapped out my winter hat for a visor and dropped off the hat along with my jacket.  After that, it was time to head to the start line so Joyce, the race director, could give us directions. Once that was done, she counted down the remaining few seconds to 7:30 and then we were off like a heard of turtles.

The course was an out-and-back format on a 4x4 trail through the BLM. The running surface was primary on damp sand which had filtered off the surrounding red sandstone over the eons. This surface was easy to run on near the beginning/end of the race but wasn't very well packed starting about a mile into the race and made for some interesting footing. The course started with a short uphill section followed by a steep downhill section which was a little over a third of a mile long. After reaching the bottom, the race began an overall gradual climb through Mile 5 before starting a decent descent to the turn around.

There were aid stations and BLM pit toilets at the 3.1 mile mark which was the 10K turn around and at the half marathon turnaround. One of my wife's friends was working the first aid station and snapped a picture of me as I passed the station (see to the right).

So how did the race go for me? Overall, it went well. Other than slowing down a bit on the 1.5 mile climb out from the turn around and majorly slowing down on the final hill climb near the finish, my pace was pretty steady and the running felt good. I finished in 2:17 which was decent for the elevation change and running surface conditions. After my disappointing 2015 which was full of injuries, it was nice to get this one under my belt to start out the year.

Next up: Mardi Gras Masquerade Half Marathon on Feb 6th

01 January 2016

Kicking off 2016

2016 is here and it is time to take a look at what is on the agenda for this year.  Before we get into that, I kicked the year off with an 8.25 mile run this morning and the Strava map is awesome!

8.5 miles to kick of 2016
So what does 2016 have in store for me?  I have a handful of things booked and a few more on the schedule. Running-wise, they range from a 15K to a marathon. Here is the list.

Jan 16th - Valley of Fire trail half marathon - This is put on by Calico Racing and is a new race that is debuting this year.  It should be a well managed and scenic race on fire roads and trails on BLM surrounding the Valley of Fire State Park.

Feb 28th - Hot Chocolate 15K - The Hot Chocolate series is finally coming to Las Vegas.  I ran the 2014 race in San Diego and really enjoyed the distance and overall atmosphere of the race.  This one will be run on roads near the Strip and will be flat and fast.

Apr 16th - Rage Triathlon sprint relay - My wife, oldest son and I are racing this one as a relay with her swimming 750m, me cycling 12.4 miles and him running a 5K.  This one should be a lot of fun!

May 7th - REVEL Mt Charleston - REVEL is bringing its marathon series to Las Vegas and the course is one that I run/bike on parts of it all the time.  There is no way I could pass it up and it is my A race for 2016.  With a lot of downhill on this course and the fact that I can train, train and train some more on the entire course, there are no excuses for a sub-par performance on it.

Jul 9th - TOUGHMAN Washington State - I am doing one big travel race in 2016 and this is it.  I am racing the 73 mile duathlon which will be in a 5K run/56.8 mile bike/half marathon format.  The course is very flat and as long as the weather is good and I don't have any mechanical issues, this should be a fast race.

Aug 21st - E.T. Full Moon half marathon - This is another race by Calico Racing and I volunteered at it in 2015. It starts at midnight and runs close to Area 51 which is where the E.T. comes from.

Sep 19th - Bear Lake Brawl duathlon - I haven't booked this one yet and want to see how the marathon in May goes before committing to the distance.

Oct 22nd - Pumpkinman Triathlon sprint relay - Similar to April, my wife, oldest son and I will be racing it as a relay team.  This one is right at the tail end of his cross country season and should be a great race for the three of us.  While the distances are the same, the course is a lot different for this one and I will be mainly climbing for my ride.

Nov 6th - Snow Canyon half marathon - I ran this one in 2015 and want to see what I can do on that course when healthy.

Beyond that, there are a couple of century rides that I have my eyes on in June and October.