Monday, November 18, 2013

Marathon Monday #16

This week's training ended so well that I'm inclined to say it was PERFECT.

It wasn't. Not even close.

But all's well that end's well, right?

Here's what it looked like.

The PlanThe Reality
Mon, 11/112REST
Tue, 11/126
Wed, 11/13RESTREST
Thu, 11/147
Fri, 11/15REST
Sat, 11/1613.1
Valley of Fire Half
Sun, 11/17REST

My overall mileage was about double from the previous week, but far from my plan. But I listened to my body, and allowed it the rest that I needed.

You might remember that on Thursday, I'd decided to downgrade to a 10k. I felt really good about that decision. It alleviated a lot of stress and helped get me really excited for the race.

If you follow me on social media, or read yesterday's post, then you know I threw that plan out the window when I got there, and change my mind back to running the Half.

It might sound weird, but I really think this was the BEST DECISION FOR MY BODY. I experienced NO shin pain during or after the race. In fact, running the half really made me feel so much stronger. I was only planning on wearing my compression socks during the drive there and then on the drive home, but I ended up running in them as well.

Yesterday, I shared how the day started. Very early wake-up. Picking up a new friend. Driving the hour to the race. Hemming and hawing on whether or not to change to the Half.

After talking to the RD about switching distances, we headed back to Genie, so I could put on my number and gather all my stuff.

I'd brought my new Camelbak Ultra LR hydration pack - even though it wasn't necessary for a 10k. Perhaps subconsciously I always knew I'd switch distances. I'd never run with it before, and I wanted to try it out. I plan on writing up a full review of it later, so let's just say it was difficult to get used to. It kept rubbing again the right side of my neck. It was annoying, to say the least. I kept re-adjusting all the straps, but nothing worked. It has two front pockets and finally a few miles in I had an epiphany. Move my phone to the right side pocket. It worked! It was just enough weight to keep it from rubbing my neck. Phew!

So, I dealt with that for the first few miles of the race, but it is simply so beautiful at Valley of Fire that it was completely bearable.

The beauty of the park also kept me going through the massive hills. The first big hill came pretty much right away. I asked the RD afterwards about it, and she said it was probably at 16% grade. That's steep! And there were many more like it throughout the course.

I thought it was a simple out-and-back course, but just before mile 2, we jutted off down a side road. About two miles on unpaved trail. It wasn't too bad. A bit rocky, but not super sandy like the other trails in the state park.

There were so many views I wanted to take a picture of, but I knew if I did, I'd want to stop all. the. time. So, I first stopped after we were back on the paved road.

As I was pulling out my phone, a fellow runner asked if I'd like him to take my picture. Sure!

Valley of Fire Half Marathon

The hills were pretty tough, but since I was doing this for fun and trying not to push myself too hard, I walked up most of them. And down the really steep ones as well.

As I approved mile 6, I'd forgotten about the 2ish mile loop we'd done early on. I kept looking for that turn-around sign, and it wasn't coming. Probably around mile 6.5, I realized the turn-around point wouldn't be the same as the halfway point. Duh!

No big deal. I was still jamming to my music. Enjoying the beauty around me. Running my own race. I was feeling great.

Valley of Fire Half Marathon

We finally turned around at 7.6 miles. This is was the first aid station I stopped at. With my camelbak, I had plenty of water, but I wanted some fuel. They had an apple cinnamon gel that I sucked down and little cups of plain M&Ms, which I slammed. And then immediately started running again. Not my best idea. I was trying to chew, not choke, and run all at the same time.

After turning around, I started getting a little chatty. 

I'd been playing tortoise/hare with a young boy for the previous several miles. We were running the same pace just after the turn-around, so I asked him how old he was. 13. It thought that was pretty awesome. I told him he was doing a great job with the hills and asked if he'd run hills a lot. He told me not really. He also told me about the last half he'd done, how his family had gone camping in Valley of Fire over the summer, and then his mom found this race. His mom was out on the course, too, but further behind us. We ran together for a few minutes, but then I slowed down and never caught back up to him.

Next up, I talked with an older man from Quebec. I thought it was a long way to travel for such a small race. It was fun talking with him for a bit, but eventually, I started walking and he kept moving along.

Valley of Fire Half Marathon

Then there were two guys who I'd seen earlier in the race. I think we'd passed each other a few times back and forth. Since it was the same weekend as Rock 'n Roll Las Vegas, my first question was always, Are you running tomorrow? These two were! They underestimated how challenging this course was, and I assured them that Strip at Night would be a breeze after this one. :) They were having a tough time, so after a couple minutes, I put my ear buds back in and continued down the road.

I glanced at my watch every mile. Mostly because it would beep at me. But I never really looked at the cumulative time until 2:05. Could I finish in 2:30? Maybe. But I'm not going to push. Seriously, it was just too beautiful. I'm not sure I would've wanted to run much faster than I was. I was just enjoying being out there. Enjoying the course, you know.

Valley of Fire Half Marathon

I probably should have turned off my music altogether. I wasn't really feeling it, and I ended up losing some time trying to find something that would really grab me and pull me to the end. That never really ended up happening. Meh.

After walking down most of that first nasty hill, I managed to finish pretty strong.

Passing the 13 mile marker, and knowing how the finish line was set-up, I knew that I needed to turn into the parking lot, but it would've been nice to have a volunteer down there directing runners at this final turn. Maybe it was just me, but at that point, I wasn't really thinking straight, and I hesitated about turning in.

I didn't quite finish in 2:30. My time was 2:31:47. I'm totally happy with that.

This was a very small race. Less than 300 runners for all 3 distances. But the support along the course was fantastic! And the finish line was fun with lots of goodies. I had some chocolate milk, crackers, chips (for the ride home), a Clif bar. Plus there were more things, too.

Also, they announced your name as you crossed the finish line, welcoming you back. I still had my ear buds in, so I'm not sure if they did it for me, but they did it for most of the people that finished after me.

Valley of Fire Half Marathon

Overall, the race was very well organized, the RD was right there to answer any questions, the volunteers were supportive and encouraging, and the course was beautiful. I definitely plan to run this one again!

Here's a short video I took while running.

It's the same company that's putting on the Tri-States Marathon in less than 3 weeks! Running this half only made me more excited about the marathon. It is going to be so. much. fun!

Up this week? Taper time has begun. Sort of. I'm going to try to stick to my training plan, which is decreasing mileage, but I do have 15 miles on the plan for Saturday. Hopefully that's do-able. I also hope to focus on core and strength exercises to further prepare me for the marathon. These are things I know I should have been including in my training all along, but I've neglected them. I figure taper is the perfect time to increase that focus.

Did you race this weekend?

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  1. Awesome Job! Sounds like a fun race too! :) Way to rock it and I love what you wore.

  2. What a gorgeous course!! Wow. And you got a great time too, especially with all those hills!
    We'll be doing 15 'together' this weekend!!