Tuesday, May 08, 2012
Philip James of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and president of the London-based International Association for the Study of Obesity says telling people to eat healthier doesn't work if it's cheaper to eat nutrition-poor ultraprocessed foods than to eat unprocessed healthy foods. Also, the food industry isn't going to police itself because they won't make more money by asking people to less food.
Monday, May 07, 2012
After taking a week and a half off from training, it's time to get back into the groove. Today was the real catalyst.
Two weeks ago, I ran on the Wed and Thurs after my races. Being out of town, I skipped my weekend runs, and then proceeded to take the next week off since I felt exhausted and run down. Not surprising, really.
If you go back to my end of March review blog, you would see that I had our annual wildland firefighting pack test scheduled for the Wed after my races. It wouldn't have been a huge deal - tho I definitely would have been sore. However, there were too many people signed up for that test (around 30+) and they asked if some people could switch and instead take it on May 7 (today) which only had one person signed up.
So, given the chance, I decided I would probably be better off switching my test date and helping us both out.
Well, that meant today was the day for my test which also meant an end to my week and a half self-imposed rest period. But, it was time to get back in gear, anyway, because...
This weekend is the Devil Dash. It's a mud run-style 5k down in Boulder City. The obstacles are themed after the 7 deadly sins.
So, that means I can't rest on my laurels for too much longer. This week I needed to get back to running, and hopefully restart some kind of strength training plan, too.
So, the pack test is simple. While wearing a 45 pound weight vest (or backpack), we have to finish a flat 3 mile course in 45 minutes or less while walking. Running is not allowed. There are no benefits to finishing fast. The only thing that matters is that you finish in under 45 minutes. (44:59 is just as good as any other time). It's supposed to simulate a forced quick march to the fire line while wearing full firefighting gear.
This is my fourth official time taking it - once, every year for four years (I've taken it two other times, once for training, and one other time to support a friend).
The first two times I took it, I had the intent of finishing fast to impress people. Last year I decided I would take it easy and just be sure to finish under the time limit, and I decided to try that again this year... And just like last year, I started out slow, but couldn't take the slow pace and sped up. At a slower pace, I walk upright with stiff legs and it really hurts my shins. When walking faster I use a looser more squat posture that's easier on my shins.
So, this year, instead of finishing at a nice "leisurely" 44 minute pace, I ended up finishing in 33:09. That's the fastest time of any of the 6 times I've finished the test. Also, since the course is just 6 circuits around a park, I also ended up lapping all 6 other fellow test takers.
Of, course, I don't get any brownie points for my time or for lapping anyone. Everyone just gets a circle around the "yes" listed after the question "Did he/she pass the test?" on their individual forms.
But, I did pass. And, this should be the kick-start back into training for this weekend and for my race at the end of next month.
Friday, May 04, 2012
I don't know why, but I've been tired and dragging all week.
Last week I took Tuesday off after my races and then began to ease myself back into my running schedule with a 2 mile run on Wednesday and a 3 mile run on Thursday.
I brought running clothes with me when we visited my parents for the weekend, but I could not sleep very well on an air mattress and we were really busy, so I skipped the short 3 mile run I had planned for Sunday morning. No big deal, tho, because I would just get back into running during this week, right?
Tuesday morning I was exhausted and had a headache, so I did what I rarely ever do, which is to reset my alarm clock and go back to bed.
Tuesday night I was up late doing work, so I skipped my run on Wednesday morning. Wednesday night I got to bed a little earlier, but decided again not to run because we had a busy morning this morning. It turned out that I was absolutely exhausted this morning and could barely get myself out of bed, so it turned out to be a good thing I gave myself that extra hour of sleep.
So, here we are and my running clothes that I set out on Monday night are still sitting untouched on top of my dresser waiting to be worn.
So, at least Saturday I'll get some exercise in with 1 mile Susan G Komen charity walk, and then hopefully I can pull myself out the door for a short run on Sunday morning and then get back in gear next week.
I promised my wife's personal trainer that I would join his Tough Mudder team in October, so it looks like I better get my b-u-t-t back in gear and not only get running again, but also start doing that strength training I've been putting off.
Oh, and I need to hurry up and get my money deposited so I can sign up for the Running With the Devil half marathon that's coming up the end of June. And I'll need to make sure I get plenty of warm weather running in for that so I'll be sufficiently acclimated to the heat come race day.
So, I can drag myself around for one more day, but then it's time to find that well of energy I seem to have lost. Where oh where did I put it?
Friday, April 27, 2012
Location: Lovell Canyon - Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, NV
Race Coordinator: Calico Racing
Event: Labor of Love 100M, 50M, 50K, Marathon, 1/2, & 10K
Start Time: 7:30am
My Distance: Half Marathon
Weather: 60-90°F; very dry (below 10% RH)
So, with one race under my belt, it was time to finish the second and final race. As I have recently learned, I was really running a "Double", not back-to-back races. Ah, semantics and technicalities...
Anyway, I was worried about Sunday's race, yet was at the same time less concerned or worried than I was on Saturday. After all, this was the last of the two races, so I could do whatever it took to finish without regard to the consequences. I could give everything I had, even if it meant walking or crawling to the finish. All I had to do was cross that finish line and I was done. That was the sole achievable goal that determined whether or not I was successful. I didn't care how I finished, as long as I finished. But, of course, I hoped that finish would at leave be under 2:30... My wife told me to make sure I at least broke 3 hours. I was sure that would easily happen, yet something in the back of my brain said "yeah, but what if..." She also told me to push myself and maybe I could run faster than the day before. I wasn't sure if I felt good enough to do that, but I decided to hold of on that decision until the race started. My final goal for the race was the run the entire hill (of doom). There was no reason to hold back, today.
So, anyway, after suffering from some poor pre-race decision-making on Saturday, I decided to make a few small changes on Sunday, primarily the amount of water I would drink. Saturday I had restricted my pre-race drinking and decided to rely mostly on my Camelbak during the race to ensure I wouldn't have to take a nature stop during the race. Considering that has never been a problem in any of my races - and I was sure that fatigue due to dehydration was an issue on Saturday - I decided to go back to my usual hydration plan and drink at least a liter of water before the race.
I was up at the same time and left at about the same time and got to the race course at about the same time. However, today was supposed to be 4-5 degrees warmer and that forecast looked to be pretty accurate.
I also ate the same food (banana, thin bagel, granola bar), however my stomach was not really liking me this morning and my mouth felt dry. I didn't really feel hungry and had to force myself to eat because I knew I would need the energy. That and the dry mouth felt like an early warning sign and helped keep me drinking through the morning.
A minute or two after the shuttle dropped me off at the race site, I used a port-a-pottie and then got out and put my Camelbak on. To my dismay, when I went to clip the chest strap, I found that the left half of it was missing. It had fallen off, somewhere! This was not good. Without the chest strap, it would be bouncing around all over the place during the race. This would not be good. I checked the ground, the port-a-pottie, and then the shuttle when it came back, but it was nowhere to be found. I finally had to improvise and use extra slack of cord hanging from the shoulder straps and tie them in a knot across my belly. It seemed to do the trick and actually may have felt a little better than the original chest strap, however, tt was very tight and seemed to restrict my breathing a little, but I knew that once I got going and drank a bit, the bladder would begin to empty and the strap would was loosen up. I also hoped that the knot wouldn't come undone during the race from only the jostling around. This could be bad...
I carried a bag of Peanut Butter M&M's in my Camelbak for the first race, but never took it out, partially because it's a pain to get to the pocket on the back of my Camelbak and I probably wouldn't ever stop to get it out unless it was a real emergency. Sunday, I got it out before the race and ate about half the bag and stuck the rest in my shorts pocket, and then I hoped it would bounce around too much during the race.
As usual, I hit the port-a-potties early and often. At least there were 10 right next to the start line and there were considerably fewer runners which meant no lines and I could go in and out as I pleased (which I did a few times as a nervous habit).
Finally, it was time to start. I didn't know at the time how many people were running, but when we lined up and the race photographer asked everyone to squish together for a pre-race photo, no one wanted to go to the front, so I ended up toeing the start line next to the eventual race winner.
When the race started, the guy next to me was off line a shot. I briefly entertained my pre-races thoughts of going all out and pushing myself hard to beat Saturday's time, but after less than a tenth of a mile (the length of the initial downhill before the 4.5 miles of uphill began) I decided that was just not going to happen and I slowed way down.
I wanted to run a slow, but comfortable pace that I could hold for most of the race. I figured I could run about an 11 min/mile pace and still beat 2:30. Also, this this was the final race, I was going to try to run the entire thing, regardless of hour tired I was, how slow I was, and how many people passed me. I then resigned myself to the fact that I was going to get passed by a lot of runners.
There ended up only being 36 runners in this race and a lot of them were also either slow, or tired from running the previous day. Some had run the half. Others, like the 60 year-old man I met in the shuttle, had run the marathon. I kept waiting for the mobs of runners to pass me after I slowed down, but after a quarter mile, it just wasn't happening and I was beginning to wonder if I was the only other person running or if I had started too early, or if they had called the other runners back.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity (at least a half mile, or around 5 minutes), I started to get passed, but really slowly. Just one girl passed me. Then another. Then the man I met on the shuttle caught up to me and paced me. We chatted for the next mile about the location and the weather and about the possibilities for other races until we hit the aid station at mile 1.5. At this point I realized I hadn't hit my watch for the 1 mile split and realized that I had been so engrossed in conversation that we had completed passed the first mile marker without even noticing. Time sure goes by faster when you have someone to run with! At the 1.5 mile aid station he stopped to grab two cups of water (one for his mouth, one for his head). Then he caught up to me again, but ran on the other side of the road in his own zone and I in mine and we ran in silence. He stopped again at the aid station at mile 3 and fell back. Since he was an ultra runner and I only ran halves, I figured I would tire and he would eventually catch me. By this time, a few other runners had passed me, but not very many, and no one really seemed to be running that fast (except for the first guy).
Amazingly, at my slower pace, I actually felt better than I had the previous day. I wonder if the cold bath helped (despite not being an ice bath) and if my better hydration plan was also helping.
When I got to the water station at mile 4.5, I stopped to a walk for about 5 steps after I grabbed a cup of water and drank it. For whatever reason, my Powerade/water mix in my Camelbak seemed to be making my mouth feel dryer than usual (tho, it had been dry all morning). Maybe I should have only done my usual 1/3 Powerade-2/3 water instead of the 1/2 Powerade that I used. Anyway, I felt I needed some straight water and it seemed to help.
I had grabbed my bag of Peanut M&M's and ate a handful of them at the 3 mile mark. Going down the hill (of doom) I grabbed and ate another handful. I figured I would need the energy for the uphill to the turnaround point and then the return trip back up the hill (of doom). After I hate that handful, I hit the 5 mile mark and took a drink from my Camelbak. I then burped up some air and tasted a little bit of M&M's and stomach acid and decided my stomach was telling me again that it was extra sensitive today. That was the last I would eat of the M&M's for the rest of the day.
Once I passed the turnaround point, my sole focus was the hill (of doom). I was determined to conquer it, today. I knew that I had nearly done it the day before, but backed off to save myself for today. Now, I had nothing else to save myself for, so I planned to give it my all and make it up the hill. And then I knew once I was over the hill, there was 4.5 miles of nearly all downhill to the finish. So, this would be the last obstacle other than myself.
One slow step at a time, I climbed the hill. I passed the spot where I stopped to walk the day before and knew I wasn't too far from the summit. Up, up, up I climbed. Short quick steps the whole way. Finally, I hit the last straight-away where ascent eased and I knew I had done it. I hit the 4.5 mile aid station and just like that, I had crested the hill and was heading down the other side. The volunteer girl at the 4.5 mile aid station asked if I wanted anything and I motioned no, then she asked if I wanted Heed and crossed the road to hand me a cup, so I decided to go ahead and take it, even tho I didn't feel like I really I needed or wanted it. I made sure to thank her, anyway. I still took a few sips and then threw it away (yes, they provided strategically placed trash cans so we wouldn't throw our cups into the desert).
Heed tastes horrible, by the way. I had a half a cup before the race on Saturday and before the ET half marathon last August. I couldn't finish the cup either time. However, with 4.5 mile left, it didn't taste quite as bad. That probably meant I needed it.
A guy had passed me at the 7 mile mark, but then stopped for a break at the next aid station. He passed me again at about the 4 mile mark. I was definitely not going to keep up with him, but I did see another girl up ahead of him that I could possibly catch. I focused on her for the rest of the race.
I made sure that I didn't overdo it on the initial downhill, this time. It felt like I got overzealous on Saturday and took off with 4 miles to go only to run out of gas at mile 3. This race I tried to measure out my speed increases over the last 4 miles. I let gravity to the work for the first two mile and only then did I try to speed up some more with two miles to go to finally catch and pass the girl that was ahead of me.
I felt SO much better than I did on Saturday. I wasn't dying over the last 3 miles. I was in my right mind and able to remember to hit the split button on my watch at the proper time. I was taking drinks every half mile instead of every mile, but never got any side cramps.
With a mile left I slowly began to speed up until it hit the 13 mile mark just at the bottom of the ravine before the final little uphill to the finish. Then I turned on the jets.
I sprinted so fast up the last hill and over the finish line that I even surprised myself. I knew I had some energy for my final kick (I kick no matter how much energy I have), but being the end of my second race, I didn't know I had this much in me.
Apparently, no one else expected it, either. My wife was there cheering and taking pictures, but what was really cool was that I also got a lot of loud cheers from the *other* spectators as I sprinted up to the line. That was *really* cool. Still makes me smile just thinking about it. :)
The girls at the finish line clipped off my timing chip and gave me two medals: one for finishing this race (which was different from the one the day before, which was awesome), and second different one for having finished a race on both days (which was really awesome). So, I ended the weekend with three brand new finishing medals for my bulletin board at home.
I had done it! Two races in two days! And not only that, I had run the whole thing except for about 5 steps at the 4.5 mile aid station on the way out. I also conquered the hill (of doom). And I didn't feel all that horrible! Tired, yes, but I felt better than I had after Saturday's race. I guess that's what slower running and better hydration will do for you.
My wife gave me a big hug and a kiss (well, as big a hug as you can expect someone to give you when you're covered in sweat). What better way to finish a race than to hugs and kisses from your wife. :)
I drank a couple cups of chocolate milk and ate a brownie and a banana while walking around for a couple minutes. The race director kept telling everyone both before and after the races to stick around if they thought they might have won an award because they were really hard to mail (they were potted cacti with the award painted on the pot). I knew I wasn't the first guy to finish and there had been a few ahead of me who all looked my age, so since I knew I hadn't won any awards despite the small race size (only 36 runners) and we left.
Here are the splits for my race that I timed on my watch. There's no mile 1 split since I was distracted and forgot to hit my watch. It's definitely slower than the day before. Mile 8 includes the bottom of the hill (of doom) and the 9 mile split includes the steepest section of the hill (of doom) and the beginning of the final downhill. They are slower than the day before (except for the last mile!), even tho I walked on Saturday, but not at all on Sunday.
2 21:37 - 21:37.68
3 11:34 - 33:12.55
4 11:54 - 45:07.25
5 10:41 - 55:49.21
6 10:09 - 1:05:58
7 11:19 - 1:17:18
8 11:54 - 1:29:12
9 12:58 - 1:42:11
10 10:16 - 1:52.28
11 10:18 - 2:02:46
12 9:50 - 2:12:37
13 9:45 - 2:22:23
13.1 00:41 - 2:23:04
I forgot to stop my watch which I crossed the finish line on both days, so I had to estimate my finishing times until the official results came out. I estimated based on my 13 mile split and a photo that my wife took that my finishing time for the second day was somewhere between 2:23 and 2:24. I had easily beaten my goal time of 2:30 and was never in any danger of finishing over 3 hours. And on top of that, I felt great! I almost felt like I could run again on Monday! Okay, maybe not, but I felt like I could do anything. What's next? A full marathon? A 50 miler? Bring it on!
Much to my surprise, on Tuesday when the results were posted, they showed my time as 2:21:00. That made no sense at all as my 13 mile split that I took on my watch showed as 2:22:23.
Usually I would just sit on this information and let it be. However, I decided to e-mail the race director to see if this was final results, or if they were still under review and present my stats. From the 3 Calico Racing events I had done, Joyce, the race director, seemed like a nice lady who was passionate about her job and very fun and approachable and as these weren't massive events, I felt like it was reasonable to e-mail her just to ask. I let her know how much I enjoyed the events and that I knew timing issues do happen and then laid out my evidence. I just hoped she wouldn't be annoyed that some runner was nitpicking and complaining about the timing being off.
Again, to my surprise, she replied within a couple of hours with a very nice reply about how they knew there was an issue with the timing and that they had somehow lost 2 minutes and 3 seconds somewhere after the first few finishers, but that they weren't able to pinpoint it. But, with my evidence, they were able to figure out where the time was lost and update our times and actually thanked me for sending my e-mail and being honest about my time being slower.
She then also let me know that I had won my age group!
Well, technically, I was second place in my age group. However, when they give out the age group awards, anybody who is in the top three overall finishers is not eligible for an age group award. So, since the guy who finished first in our age group was also the 2nd male finisher, that bumped me up from 2nd in our age group to 1st!
Wooo!!! I won an award! That is a first.
Now I'm a little bummed that we left so quickly and didn't stick around to hear them call my name and accept the award. That doesn't happen very often. But, I'm not really bummed because I won my age group. :)
So here are the official final results:
I finished just under my goal time with an official time of 2:23:04.
I finished 12 out 36 runners.
I finished 1 out of 3 runners in my age group (M30-39)! (technically 2 out of 4, but these are the official results.) :)
Yesterday, I signed up for Half Fanatics. I am now a level 4 (Jupiter) Half Fanatic #2269!
What's next? the Devil Dash and Running with the Devil Half Marathon, that's what! Woo!
My missing chest strap solution
2 minutes to go time - and the hardest working race director in Las Vegas
Finish, leave nothing!
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Location: Lovell Canyon - Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, NV
Race Coordinator: Calico Racing
Event: Labor of Love 100M, 50M, 50K, Marathon, 1/2, & 10K
Start Time: 7:30am
My Distance: Half Marathon
Weather: 60-80°F; very dry (10% RH)
The Labor of Love is, according to the Calico Racing website, "A 2 day running festival offering a distance for everyone offering back to back opportunities!"
What I love about Calico Racing events are the variety, location, and sense of adventure of their events. None of them are in the middle of the city and instead are out in the surrounding wilderness. This race was no exception.
Not only was this race in the foothills of the Spring Mountains, it was a 2 day running event with a number of racing possibilities. This race was promoted as a "running festival [that] offers something for everyone!" There were races for both the serious ultra runners as well as for the casual runners or for those the website referred to as "ultra curious." Perhaps I am falling close to the later category?
Saturday's races included a 100 mile, 50 mile, marathon, half marathon, and a 10k.
Sundays's races included a 50k, half marathon, and a 10k.
Runners were encouraged to run either the 100 miler that started on Saturday would take both days to complete, or to run in a combination of races from both days.
An ultra marathoner in his early 60's, who I met on the race shuttle on Sunday, ran the marathon on Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday. We had an interesting conversation about ultra training. He said his original plans were to run the 100 miler, but since he had to talk at a work conference on Saturday afternoon he instead only had time (only!) to run the full and half marathons. His training for a 100 miler consisted of 25 miles on Saturdays, 15 miles on Sundays, 10 miles on Mondays, 5 miles on Tuesdays, 15 miles on Wednesdays, and 10 miles on Thursdays (I may have the mileage mixed around on the weekday runs, but it's close enough). Altogether, he runs around 75-80 miles a week (By contrast, I've never run more than 35 miles in any given week). And by running the full on Saturday and the half on Sunday, the races actually fit his schedule perfectly. How many people can say THAT about their racing and training schedules?
But, I'm getting ahead of myself.
So, Friday night, laid out all my clothes for Saturday and all my gear. The forecast was for highs in town around 93 and lows around 70, but with the race being in the mountains and at elevations between 4,500-5,500 feet, it could potentially be 15 degrees cooler at the race site. So, I made sure to pack some extra cold weather clothes, just in case. After all, it did SNOW during this race just last year! Well, I didn't end up needing any of it.
On Saturday, I woke up at 4:40am and checked the outside thermometer which said it was 70 degrees (as advertised). I dressed then and quietly filled my Camelbak and ate a banana and a thin bagel. I had a couple of small glasses of water and brought a bottle of water with me, but I decided to not drink too much water before the race and rely on my Camelbak during the race. I did not want to be sitting in line for the porta-potties multiple times before the race or have to stop by the side of the road during the race. I filled my 70oz Camelback with 30oz of Powerade and 40oz of water. I also put a bag of peanut butter m&m's in the back pocket in case I needed some energy.
I was out the door before 5:30am and drove the scenic route through Red Rock Canyon. It took me a little under an hour and I was at the designated parking area before 6:30am with plenty of time to do my final pre-race prep and grab the shuttle to be at the start line before 7:30am.
In the parking area, the temperature was still a little chilly in the mid 50's. After just a couple minutes the sun came up, and by the time I caught the shuttle and made it to the start line just 15 minutes later, it was already easily in the 60's. The race director, who of course had been there extra early to get everything set up, was wearing a beanie and long sleeves. The rest of us were mostly in our shorts sleeves and shorts with a handful of racers wearing jackets. It was a hodge-podge of varying states of dress. By the time the race started it was probably already 70 degrees. When we finished it was at least 80.
Tbe 100 miles, 50 milers, and marathoners all started out at 7am. Us half marathoners started at 7:30, and then the 10k at 8am.
It's wasn't a huge race. Approximately 100 total runners ran the half marathon. I started towards the middle-front of the pack. The race was chip-timed and it took me 11 seconds to cross the timing mat.
The half marathon race course was simple. Start 150 feet from the intersection of Highway 160 and run up Lovell Canyon Road for 6.55 miles and then turn around and come back. The only complications were the hills. From the start to mile 4.5 is a 750' elevation gain. That leads directly into a mile of downhill where we lost 300 of those feet. Then it was gradual 75' uphill again to the turnaround. Of course, that meant that we had to then re-climb the 300' hill on the return trip. That was going to be a doozy.
My plan for this race was to try to run my training pace of 10-11min/mile instead of my usual race pace which is closer to 9 min/mile. There would be no PR, today. I didn't want to push myself too hard and then end up struggling during Sunday's race. So, instead of pushing to break 2 hours, I hoped to run closer to 2:15 or 2:30, but hopefully closer to 2:15.
This race was going to be a big mental challenge because I was going to have to fight myself every step of the way.
Even tho I am only racing myself and in no real danger of winning a race, I still have a former racer's mentality. If I am running with someone, I make sure I stay with or ahead of them. I always have my eyes down the road and try to slowly reel in the next runner ahead of me. If I pass someone, I want to make sure to keep up my pace so that they don't pass me back. I try to power over the hills, running up every single hill and then making sure to "crest" each hill with an extra push. Always trying to grab that extra second that could mean the difference between a PR and second best. Catching as many people as I can in the last couple miles and then kicking in to the finish.
So, this race was going to be a huge internal battle to slow down and conserve energy for tomorrow.
It took a few miles for me slowly back off. I timed my splits on my watch, and despite the uphill, I hit the first mile mark in 9:38. It was time to back off. I was running with a few different people who I knew I should be able to beat, but I had to fight to not push myself to stay with them or overtake them. After two miles the runners thinned out significantly and that made it easier to run at my own pace. The continued assault of rolling hills and the upward ascent also helped me to slowly ease up on my pace. By the time I hit the 4 mile mark I had managed to slow to a 10:45 min/mile pace, but I was still feeling good. I was just making sure not to push myself too much up any of the hills.
Then the race got interesting.
During the race I would take a few drinks from my Camelbak at every mile marker as I went along. As I drink and the bladder slowly empties, the pack gets looser on my back and I end up continually tightening the chest strap throughout the race. As I started the long descent from the 4.5 mile mark, I pulled on the chest strap to tighten it up, again, and the clip on the left side popped loose. It didn't break, and it's not too difficult to hook back on, but I was on a fairly steep 6% downhill grade. I fiddled with it for a few seconds and finally had to stop to walk for a few seconds to fix it. Nothing major, but definitely an annoyance - and I hate to stop running and risk throwing myself off my pace or getting out of the groove.
After the downhill was over, it was back to running uphill again to the turnaround point. I was starting to tire and was worried that I wasn't going to make it back up the hill - at least not without walking.
After the turnaround I took it kind of easy on the downhill to rest up for the impending hill of doom. I stopped to walk once to take a picture of the impending hill (of doom). It seemed like I wasn't passing that many people and I felt like there was a lot of people in front of me or catching me from behind.
Then I hit the hill (of doom). I was determined to run up the entire hill. I went up the hill with short quick steps. It started with a couple of smaller rolling hills before hitting the real steep section. I passed a couple of runners and went back and forth with another runner who would stop to walk then run past me then stop to walk again. Up ahead I could see the majority of the runners walking up the hill. Finally, I hit the steepest portion of the hill. My legs were burning and pace continued to slow. Finally, I decided it was not worth the effort to run up the rest of the hill and risk having super tight legs the next day, so I stopped and walked. I hate walking and I know I could've conquered the hill, but I needed to not kill myself on the first day.
I ended up walking only about 100 yards up the steepest part of the hill. Once we went around the corner I could see that I was actually fairly close to the top of the hill and it was beginning to level off. So, once I hit the last turn I began to run again.
Then, once I hit the top of the hill, I knew it was all just a rolling downhill for the rest of the 4.5 miles to the finish. The walking on the hill had helped my legs stay somewhat fresh and I quickly speed up to a nice quick pace.
This was where a few things came into play. First, I really should've drunk more water before the race. Despite wearing my Camelbak and being able to drink at will, I could not drink enough or catch up on my hydration. I was trying not to drink too much so I wouldn't have to stop to pee during the race, but then when I needed to be hydrated, I wasn't. Then, somewhere around mile 6, i tried to catch up on my drinking and ended up with a side stitch for about a mile. Second, since last October, I had only run in weather about 60 degrees just twice and was not acclimated to the 80 degree temperature during the last stretch down to the lower elevations near the finish line. It felt hotter than I expected, there was little or no shade, and there was very little if any breeze over the last few miles. Finally, I picked up my pace for the last downhill too much too soon. Somewhere between mile 9 and 10 I could feel the combination of all these factors beginning to sap the strength from my legs. Fortunately, I was aided by gravity from running downhill.
After I passed the 9 mile mark, I looked up and was discouraged to see the highway way off in the distance. When I hit the 3 mile mark, I was so focused on my sapping strength and grabbing water from the water station (even tho I was wearing my Camelbak) that I forgot to hit my split button for at least 15-20 seconds. I drank half of the water and poured the rest over the back of my head and neck. Thanks to the hot, dry desert weather, the water dried up really fast and only cooled me off for a few seconds.
Somewhere between the 10 and 11 mile marks my energy level was so low that I was battling myself to keep running. Somewhere around the 12 mile mark I decided that it was okay to walk for a bit to conserve my strength for the next day. There was no need to push myself to keep running since I was not going to get a PR and I wasn't going to get any beauty points for running the entire race. Plus, I had already stopped to walk at least 3 or 4 times, already. So, I walked for about 30 seconds and chugged a bunch from my Camelbak before starting to run, again. But, as a consolation, I was not the only one suffering from the extra heat. This was the first really hot weekend in town and no one was really ready for it, including the out of town runners (of which there were a lot). I heard many conversations after the race and before the next days race about how almost everybody wasn't ready for the heat. After all, last year it SNOWED during the race. And, the runners in front of me were not running much faster than I was, either. We were all definitely all equally affected.
When I passed the race photographer shortly before the mile go mark, I did NOT want to have a bad photo taken, so I tried to focus on my form and speed up a little and pray that I didn't look like I was dying.
Basically, the whole last 7 miles of the race was a real morale killer. Starting with the the uphill climb to the turnaround point and then turning around and seeing the huge hill I had to climb, and then suffering up the hill and down the other side, I was continually thinking to myself, "How the hell am I going to run this again, tomorrow?" I was very worried that all the hills were going to seriously tighten up my calves, hamstrings, and quads and that I would barely be able to run the next day, much less run up these hills.
When I closed in on the 13 mile mark, I remembered (and could see, which was what jogged my memory) that since the start of the race was a short downhill over a wash, that it was going to be about 150 feet of an uphill climb to the finish. Gah!
I wasn't sure if I had enough in me to do my usual big kick to the finish - and there was no one close enough to catch -, but when I hit the bottom of the wash I decided that if I sprinted, the hill would go faster. So, off I went to the cheers of my wife, daughter, and sister-in-law who had all come out to see me finish. That was a huge spirit lifter and made up for any lack of energy I had previously felt.
The fun part about the races put on by Calico Racing is that they have re-usable chips. So, you have to zip-tie them to your shoes and then once you've finished the race, you are met by volunteers wielding scissors or wire clippers. So, you've just finished an exhausted 13.1 mile run and the first thing you have to do is stop and stand still so they can clip the zip-ties and take their timing chip. It makes for a few nervous, wobbly seconds. But, on the plus side, it does give them a stationary target for handing out finishers medals.
So, they took my timing chip, handed me my medal, and then I made a beeline for the food table and had 2 small cups of chocolate milk and half a banana. My stomach, however, was NOT happy with me. I was NOT hungry at all and had to force myself to eat the banana (tho, I had no problem with the chocolate milk, or finishing off the contents of my Camelbak).
My wife drove me back to the parking area so I could get my truck and drive it home. I drank most of my water bottle on the hour ride home. When I got home, I took a quick hot shower, then filled up the bathtub with cold water and sat in the cold bath for 10 minutes. It was as close to an ice bath as I could find on short notice and I really hoped it would help. I took a 45 minute nap and then tried to force myself to eat some more.
Other than not feeling very hungry, I ended up feeling remarkably good. My legs never tightened up and I felt well enough to attend the 2nd birthday party for our friend's son. As luck would have it, they served macaroni & cheese and a vegetarian lasagna which worked out perfect for me.
In the end, despite the weather and my mistake of not drinking enough fluids before the race, I still ended up running just under my goal time of 2:15.
However, I was worried how I would feel in the morning and just how well I would be able to run those hills on day two with tired legs.
Here are my splits (as timed by myself on my watch) for Race #1 with two caveats. The splits for miles 10, 11, and 12 are off because I forgot to hit my watch for at least 20-30 seconds at the 10 mile mark and again I forgot to hit my watch for at least 5-10 seconds at the 11 mile mark. So, my 10 mile split is probably closer to 9:18, my 11 mile split is probably closer to 9:33, and my 12 mile split is probably closer to 9:11. I'm not sure exactly how that all works out, or how I managed to even run that fast while feeling so terrible (other than the fact that it was all downhill and I had gravity on my side).
1 9:38 - 9:38.20
2 10:10 - 19:49.06
3 10:30 - 30:19.22
4 10:45 - 41:04.88
5 10:26 - 51:31.79
6 9:44 - 1:01:16
7 10:35 - 1:11:51
8 11:24 - 1:23:16
9 12:05 - 1:35:21
10 9:48 - 1:45:09
11 9:13 - 1:54:23
12 9:01 - 2:03:25
13 9:54 - 2:13:19
13.1 0:42 - 2:14:07
The final results? I finished just under goal time with an official time of 2:14:07.
I finished 34 out 99 runners.
I finished 7 out of 16 runners in my age group (M30-39).
All things considered, it was still a pretty good race. And had I not been running again the next day, I would've done a lot of things differently. Regardless, I am still happy overall with the results. I only wish I had been a little smarter with my hydration and finished feeling a little better.
The Start Line
The Hill (of doom)
My daughter watching me finish
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