Thursday, February 25, 2016

Saints and Sinners Half Marathon Race Recap 2016

It was the best of times, and it was the worst of times... That's how I feel in a nutshell.  This was my slowest time for this course, and I'm somewhat disappointed. But, I'm not going to feel too sorry for myself.  I got to hang with one of best friends that I don't see very often before the race,  and 10 days prior to the race I was so sick with a sinus infection that I'm grateful I even made it to the start line to begin with. 
I'm also wondering what's going on with my training.  I feel like I'm losing some of my natural speed and I don't know why.

Before the Race
I had one of the shittest tapers that I've had in awhile...  I've gotten colds before races (taper sickness is real), but my sinus infection really wiped me out.  I didn't run for a whole week and when I returned to running a week later I was still blowing massive snot rockets and feeling rundown.  The week prior to the race, I ran a total of 12 miles, and I just told myself that the extra rest would do my body good...  I also had some family issues, where my kids needed me at home, and I was leaving work early to take care of them. I was nervous about the half, but I was still looking forward to toeing the line.

On the  Wednesday before the race, I started adding extra carbohydrates into my diet.  A banana with breakfast and an extra serving of rice or dinner roll with dinner.  On Friday for dinner, I had a small slice of cheese pizza and a bowl of rice and beans.

I also drank a glass of beet, apple, carrot juice.

On Saturday, I woke up at 4:30 am to make coffee, eat breakfast, and get ready.  For breakfast, I went with a starchy white Bollio roll, two eggs, and a banana.

Earlier in the week, my coworker and friend Clarice, gave me these neat lighting bolts to attach to my shoes.  The lighting bolts came with instructions, but sometimes I can't figure out how to do the simplest things.  I tried to get the lightening bolts to lay flat against my shoes, but that didn't work.
They kept rubbing against my ankles, and I was worried that they would bother me during the race.  I will save them for a future event...
For shoes I was torn on wearing a light weight shoe, a trail shoe, or my regular trainers.  The course is mostly paved roads, but four and a half miles are dirt trail with rocky gravel sections....  In the end, I went with my regular trainers.

I arrived at the race site at 7 am (the race started at 8 am) I picked up my bib that morning, and I was happy that they still had race shirts left in my size....
I warmed up by jogging to and from my car, and to the port a john.  My friend Jenn kept me company, and it was nice to catch up with her...  

I also brought my two secret weapons with me.
By 2010 iPod, with 2010 music still on it.
I've given this up for dead many times,
and it still comes back to life.

My mother in law bought this wrist pocket for me a few years
ago, and I love it for carrying energy chews. The zipper opens and
closes really easily.
I jogged up the hill to the start line.  I lined up a few rows back from the front, and I chatted with a few runners.   Then it was go time.  My strategy was to hold back during the early miles and finish strong.  I think I followed that plan for the first 3 miles..... I had hoped to run a sub 1:35 half and my goal was to run 7:10-7:20's for the first six miles.
The gun went off and I found my groove... The first 3 miles are a screaming downhill.  I tried to reign it in. Quite of a few people take these first miles super aggressively.   There is some jostling, and people trying to fight for position.  I  had a few people cut me off going around some of the early turns.  I told myself to ignore everyone else and run your own race.

Mile 1- 7:01

Mile 2- 7:09

Mile 3- 7:03

We then hit my absolute favorite section of the race, after three miles of screaming downhill, there is a nice hilly section of switch backs, and one big hill to climb.  I  really hit this stretch with a lot of effort.  I made it a game to pass as many runners as I could.  We are also treated to our first view of Lake Mead.

Mile 4- 7:11

I think I was a bit cocky, making such a big surge up that hill because I paid for it the rest of the race.  I knew that the course  would continue back downhill, and I expected to relax and recover a little bit during miles 5-6.

Mile 5- 7:22
I pulled out an energy gel, and every time I passed an aid station. I would grab a cup of water.  It was a nice morning, and it wasn't super hot.  But, the temps were in the mid 60's.
 I gave the thumbs up but I'm hurting.

Mile 6- 7:15
I spotted a few runners in front of me and tried to reel them in.  We were approaching one of the relay point exchanges, and it was nice to have the crowd support out there.

The downhill section had come to an end, and the trail section had begun.  I had been dreading this section.  The trails are a mixed bag, some areas are hard packed dirt,  some are soft dirt with rocks.  My goal was to stay light on me feet, and to just run by feel. I knew my pace would drop some, but I didn't want to obsess over my Garmin data.  It was also nice to get out of the sun.   In between the canyons the temperatures were cooler.

Mile 7- 7:54
Some of the 2nd leg relay runners went flying by me.  I had no idea what place I was overall.  I didn't see too many women in front of me.  One of the ladies I had been trailing was a relay runner.  I thought maybe I might have a shot at placing overall.

Mile 8- 8:19
I started to see some of the lead men heading back from the turn around point.

We start to run through some of the train tunnels.   The tunnels are several hundred feet in length. You go from running in the sunlight and into complete darkness.  There is a total of 5 tunnels that you run through, then you hit the turn around point. These tunnels are freaky and cool at the same time.  I was also worried about tripping and falling.  I tried to be as quick and careful as possible.  
Not from last Saturday's race, but I had to show you
what the train tunnels look like.
Some of the women were now coming back from the turn around point.  I was the 4th woman overall.
I made it to the turn around point, I told myself to be extra careful here (this is where I fell last year).  I grabbed a cup of water, turned around and began to head back through the tunnels.

Mile 9-8:02
I am starting to hurt really bad.  I had been worried about my bum hip.  But, surprisingly my hip was A-okay, I was just feeling gassed (tired and exhausted).  I pulled out two energy chews and hoped for the best.

Mile 10- 8:33  
I looked down at my watch and it was reading 1:15:XX and I knew that I was two minutes above my previous finish times.  I just tried to keep it together. I was also playing hopscotch with another runner.
I knew that I had a 5k left, and I just told myself to hold on, and just keep plugging along.  
Mile 11- 8:23  
I actually stopped at the last aid station to gulp down two cups of water. I was feeling dehydrated.
But, I knew there were a few women nipping at my heels so I took off as fast as I could, I was treated with more downhill running

Mile 12-7:39

I can feel someone breathing down my neck, and he makes his move to pass me.  I didn't have any fight left in me to go with him...

I did manage to catch two other runners is front of me.  I ran down the final straightaway and through the finish shoot.

The course always measures short (12.87 miles), and because I'm obsessed with my stupid Strava data, I actually grabbed my finishers medal and ran out the final .3 miles....
The reason the course measures short via Garmin data is that the train tunnels interfere with the GPS signal.  The course is 13.1 miles long.
Mile 13-7:42

Garmin/Strava data: 1:40:41
Official Race Time: 1:38:56
4th Woman Overall
1st in my age group
28th out of 451 finishers.
Garmin stats for transparency

Offical Race Results I'm stoked that I won my age group.

Oh man, I was so happy that I squeaked in under 1:39.  But, disappointing is mostly the feeling I felt after I crossed the finish line.  
Maybe I was still recovering from my sinus infection?  Maybe I shouldn't have taken the first 6 miles so hard?  *Shrugs shoulders*  
I guess I'm still trying to reconcile my feelings about this race, but on the other hand I have noticed that my workout times have been slowing down as well.

I think I am ready for a break from racing for the next few months.  But, I will save those whiny thoughts for another blog post.

Thank you for reading this whopper of a post.

And thank you, Jenn 

for being my run buddy last Saturday, Love you girl.


  1. If my sickness in November is any indication, you can't underestimate what being ill does to your body. I was wiped out for almost 2 months. I'm sure that's why you felt a little slower than usual and not that you're getting slower.

  2. Still stayed tough to finish, even feeling bad. Good for you. I agree that sickness made you weaker than you thought.
    Also, I think your lightning bolts are upside down. Keep them on the same shoe, just rotate them 180 degrees and see if that works! :)