Double races: what better way to bid farewell to the old and ring in the New Year? That’s exactly what we did New Year’s Eve of this year with Cadence Double Dash (and thank my friend for the awesome idea!) The last 5K of 2015 was held at 10:30 pm, followed by a break, […]
Double races: what better way to bid farewell to the old and ring in the New Year? That’s exactly what we did New Year’s Eve of this year with Cadence Double Dash (and thank my friend for the awesome idea!) The last 5K of 2015 was held at 10:30 pm, followed by a break, then at 12:15, we ran again to finish the first 5K of 2016.
I arrived early so I volunteered to help with race registration and T Shirts. It was very cold, in the 20’s and windy. I was beginning to think this would be a long night. Once the registrations were complete I went to find my friends huddled under an outdoor portable propane heater and we waited for the first race to start. I was bundled up in several layers, including gloves and an ear warmer, which I never took off. I wore my fuel belt with the blue flashy light for fun and so I would be more visible in the dark.
The first race went fairly well, although me feet were numb from the cold the whole time. The good news is the wind died down just in time for the race. The course was laid out through a new residential development and dark in some places, but well marked and completely barricaded from traffic, which was nice. This was a local feel with a small field of 50 to 60 participants. It was weird running this late at night and I wanted to save some energy for the next race so I didn’t go all out. I ended up finishing in 32:38, which was good enough for 2nd place in my age group. I’ll take it! I hardly ever win age group awards, except in smaller races when there isn’t as much competition.
The waiting period between races was pretty uncomfortable due to the cold, wind picking back up, and wet clothes from sweat, but we did our best to stay warm with hot beverages (I brought tea). The race provided soup, hot chocolate and coffee. They also had set up portable propane heaters to help with staying warm. They had a short awards ceremony followed by countdown to midnight and we had an excellent view of the fireworks on the strip.
The second race, the First 5K of 2016, was a lot of fun as well. It was the same course, only run backward. Although we did shiver a bit while waiting for the second race to start, I was happy that I could at least feel my feet again and happy to report that my plantar faciitis did not bother me a bit. I ran well enough for the first 2 miles, then sort of petered out. I finished in 34:18, 2 minutes slower, but good enough to finish second in my age group again. The funny thing is that the first and third place finishers switched places, but I held a solid second. LOL.
Overall, it was a good time and a great way to begin the new year.
Photo credit: http://cadencenv.com/1566-2/
On Sunday, November 15th, I ran as a pace leader for the Rock and Roll Las Vegas 10K. I live in the Las Vegas area and this year was my 8th time participating in this event (once under previous owner, Divine Racing, and every year but one since Rock and Roll Marathon took over). I have run 2 full marathons for this event in the past, but usually I run the half marathon. I have lead pace groups several times for the half marathon, but this year I signed up to pace the 10K because that is what they needed. My assigned finishing time was 1:10, which means I would need to run an average of 11:16 minutes per mile.
I went to the marathon expo Friday morning and picked up my race packet. I spent a good part of the day working for the pace team booth. We sold T-shirts, handed out pacing bibs, pace bands and helped folks figure out where to find their pace groups come race day. Basically, the idea of a pace group is if a runner wants to finish with a specific time goal for their race, all they would need to do is find the pace group for the time they would like to try to finish, look for the pace leader holding the appropriate sign showing the finishing time, and simply follow them to finish line. The pace leader’s job is to get them there as close as possible to the predicted finishing time, without going too far over or under. This can be more challenging than it sounds!
On to the race…The Rock and Roll Las Vegas Marathon has been a nighttime event for the past few years. This is one of two times per year that the Las Vegas Strip is shut down to traffic (the other being New Year’s Eve). The event brings in quite the crowd from all over the world, mostly tourists wanting to run on the Strip at night with all it’s glamour. According to The Las Vegas Review Journal, this year about 6,000 people ran the 10K, 28,500 ran the half, and 5,500 ran the full marathon. The 10K began at 4:00 pm in front of SLS Las Vegas (formerly the Sahara Hotel) and the first two miles had runners heading north on Las Vegas Boulevard toward downtown. Runners then made loop around Container Park and then headed up Fremont toward the Fremont Street Experience, back to LV Blvd., then finally the last 3.5 miles headed south to finish in front of the Mirage Hotel (the same finish line as the longer races).
The 10K was scheduled to start at 4:00 pm and I arrived about 20 minutes early to gather my flock. It was still light out and I had no problem parking and finding my corral, #4. The weather was fairly decent at the start, and I was comfortable in a short sleeved T-shirt and capri running pants. There was a live band there and we rocked to the music until it was time to start. It didn’t seem too crowded compared to the half marathons I had done in the past, mainly because the half marathon is much more popular and the longer distance races were starting 30 minutes later and in a different location. I said hello to a fellow pace leader and several of my pace groupers introduced themselves and asked questions.
Eventually, we were off! After the first mile warming up my legs, we settled into a nice, steady slog. I had been assigned to a time goal that was a comfortable pace for me and first 3 to 4 miles felt good. I used the virtual pacer on my Garmin and checked my splits constantly to keep within 30 seconds of the pace. We naturally slowed through the water stops, but picked up the pace slightly after each time till we caught back up. I was beginning to think that we had this in the bag by mile 4. That was until old Mother Nature decided to mix it up a bit.
Somewhere between miles 3 and 4 the wind picked up. I first noticed it when I got a face full of flying garbage from a nearby vacant lot. The gusts got continuously stronger and stronger until my “easy” pace felt more like I was running the wrong way on one of those conveyor walkways at the airport, while simultaneously being pushed backwards. My pace sign nearly went flying into the person’s face next to me. Then it started to rain. The cold, pelting variety. All I could do to was choke up on the stick that held the sign, lean into the turbine, and turn on the steam. The last mile or so was quite entertaining due to the sign blowing all over the place but I refused to ditch it. Speaking of signs, there had been nothing provided by the race indicating any sort of mile markers (or time for that matter) so a lot of people didn’t know where in the hell we were but somehow the Garmin on my wrist said we were only 100 feet behind pace with a half mile to go. I could see the Treasure Island up ahead and knew the finish line was just beyond. I was determined to do my job and get those folks to the finish line on time! I started shouting out encouragement to no one in particular. “Okay, only half a mile left. Let’s get this B.S. over with!” I made eye contact with the woman next to me who had been right there with me the whole race. I shouted, “Let’s go for it” and we took off to the finish line! We finished in 1:10:20 (5K split was 35:30). Only 20 seconds over. That’s not too bad, actually. I’ll take it. Blame the 20 seconds on the rain.
After walking through the finisher’s area, collecting my medal, chocolate milk, banana, water, pretzels and beer I stopped to put on the arm warmers and gloves. It seemed like forever till I could exit the runners area. Eventually, I hopped a fence. I had originally planned on running a few more miles to count this as a long run, but screw it. It was cold and wet. I found some friends spectating and hung out for a few minutes to see some of our other friends as pace leaders in the half marathon pass by and cheer for them. I felt sorry for the half marathoners who still had a long way to go and for once, I was glad I wasn’t running the half. Or the full marathon for that matter. I was happy to bum a dollar off my friend and take the monorail back to my car, take my medal, and go home. Be back for more, Vegas. I’m already registered for next year!
I’m back in the half marathon business!
I just ran the Saints and Sinners Half Marathon on Saturday, September 26, 2015.
This was the first half I have attempted in almost a year and my main goal was just to finish the race without injury, I’m thrilled that I was able to do that! I had no time goal in mind and really didn’t know what to expect. My strategy was to go technology free, with no watch or music and totally just listen to my body and run by feel. To start out, I planned to go out super conservatively and hold back from wanting to go out too fast. This is a common race mistake (something I’ve done on several occasions) and I knew if that happened I would fade before the finish. Further into the race, if I felt good, I planned to pick up the pace at the end and finish strong.
So on to the race! The Saints and Sinners Half Marathon was held in Boulder City, NV and started at Bootleg Canyon Trailhead on a warm 80 degree morning. The race was organized by members of the Mormon church and was staffed with many volunteers, including missionaries. The race had small local feel and a fun theme. Organizers had set up “saints” and “sinners” aid stations, with saintly items such as water and fruit, and sinner type items such as cookies and candy. They invited participants could then decide if they were more “saint” or “sinner” as they made their way through each aid station. I was a saint, in that regard. The first 6.5 miles of the course traveled mostly downhill along The River Mountains Loop Trail, which is a paved bike and pedestrian path. I took it easy in the beginning, as planned, and felt good. I tried to focus on taking in the scenery, enjoying myself and people watching. To go with the saints and sinners theme, several runners had dressed in various costumes of angels, devils, or both at the same time. My favorite pair, however, was a runner I’ll call DJ Dad who was pushing a child in a stroller. The two of them were having a great time, rocking out to tunes blasting from the stroller and rolling along. As for me, I was doing fine. A lot of the other runners passed me, but not all of them. I just let them go thinking I may see them later if they slow down. It was all going according to the plan. The only real uphill section of the course was at about mile 4. I decided to do some walking here for a few minutes to catch my breath and conserve energy for later. The hot, dry, desert heat was my companion. As we crested the hill, a fellow runner pointed out 2 bighorn sheep running down the mountain and passing us in the opposite direction. This was really neat because even as a resident of this area, I had never seen the sheep live “in person.” As the miles slowly ticked away, the temperature was steadily rising, and I really started to feel the effects of the heat. The aid station at mile 5, was a welcome oasis in the desert, equipped with ICE water, which I noticed some of the other runners taking advantage of by drinking and pouring it over their heads. I hoped the race organizers had planned for enough water for those still behind us. I’ve been to other races where they have run out. It was HOT! Luckily, the sun went behind the clouds between mile 5 and 6.5 for a little while, and that seemed to help just a little.
Miles 6.5 to mile 11 covered the Historic Railroad Tunnels trail with amazing views of Lake Mead and the surrounding desert area. The trail consisted of dirt and loose gravel and traveled through 5 railroad tunnels that were once used to carry supplies during the building of the Hoover Dam. There was a group of spectators at the beginning of the tunnels trail at mile 6.5, which gave us a nice boost to morale. However, I was starting to feel hot and tired. So I took a walk break. Or three. The tunnels were cool to run through so I tried to focus on that, but I was feeling it.
Once through the tunnels and back, Mile 11 to 13.1 continued on the paved bike trail down to the finish line at
Boulder Beach, Lake Mead National Recreation Area. This was a rough two miles. By this point, the heat had soared over 90 degrees and I just wanted to be done. My energy tanked and I was reduced to walking a lot more. I noticed that I was passing the same people over and over again. I would pass them, they would pass me, I would pass them and on and on…the finish line seemed so far away. The heat affected me more than I expected, but then, everyone
else seemed to be having the same struggles. I swear it was like march of the dead toward that finish line.
Finally, we did made it. The race organizers had set up “Heaven” and “Heck” finish lines for runners to choose their final destination. I chuckled at the Mormon version of “Hell,” but my path was clear. “Heck” it is. My official finish time was 2:37:37.