Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Sea to Shining Sea Virtual Race Recap

As I mentioned in my week in review post, I ran a virtual half marathon last weekend.

The Sea to Shining Sea Virtual Race.

The beauty of a virtual race is that you can run it anytime anywhere. Well, within the specified time period. For this race, it was between Sept 17-23.

Sea to Shining Sea Virtual Race Recap

Sundays have been my long run days lately, so I decided the 17th would be the best date for me to do this race. I signed up with plenty of time to train for the race, but well, I never started. I did get in a couple 10ish mile runs, so I was semi-confident in running a 13.1.

Until race weekend, when I started to get pretty nervous about it.

Since it still gets pretty hot here in Vegas, I wanted to get an early start. I went to bed early enough but decided to just get everything together in the morning. Big Mistake.

Sure, I woke up at 5 a.m. But I didn't end up leaving the house until 7. I don't know what my deal was but it took forever to gather all my stuff together.

I finally got to the trail head around 7:30, slathered on some sunscreen, and headed out about 7:45. The trail I chose is one that I've run many, many times, so there were no surprises about the terrain.

The first half mile is a pretty steep incline. It was a little too much to start out with, so I used it as a warm up and started the race by walking / hiking.

McCullough Hills | Henderson, NV
View from the top of the first incline

It was kind of the perfect way for me to start. After about the first mile, I thought only 12 more miles to go! Followed quickly by it's way too early to start thinking like that and laughed a little to myself.

Around mile 1.5, I saw 3 mountain bikers up ahead on the trail. As I ran along, I felt like I was gaining on them, which I thought was weird given how slow I am on the trails. Weirder still that I actually did catch them at mile 2. They had stopped but started riding again once I reached them. For another half mile. There is a little gazebo around mile 2.5 and they had stopped again at that point. I bid them good morning, and continued on my journey.

Mile 3 came along and again I giggled to myself about there were only 10 more miles to go!

I had been taking a sip of water every half mile to ensure I stayed hydrated. Shortly after mile 3 was my first fuel break, which I planned for every 45 minutes. I ate half a package of Honey Stinger energy chews and continued on my way.

Honey Stinger Orange Blossom Energy Chews

Around mile 4 was the first decent downhill, but then the first set of switchbacks hit around mile 4.25. I started running up the switchbacks, but ended up walking most of the way up. It was still early enough in the race that I didn't want to overexert myself to the detriment of finishing strong. 

My race strategy, if you can call it that, was two-fold.
  1. Take a walk break every half mile to conserve energy.
  2. Remember this is a race and not a leisurely long run.
Though my plan was to take the walk breaks every 1/2 mile, I never thought those would be my only walk breaks. I was fully aware that there would be sections I would need to walk, which is where the 2nd part of my strategy kicked in. When I had to walk, I pushed myself harder than usual. I would look at my watch, and if I was only 0.1 miles from a walk break, I would tell myself that I could push it a little farther. Or would I try to power walk up the hill instead of really slowing down.

Check out @EnjoytheCourse's Sea to Shining Sea virtual race recap. #SeatoShiningSeaVR"
From mile 4.5 to the turn around, it's mostly downhill, so that was a pretty fun stretch of the race. I stuck to my brief walk every half mile because it was really working for me.

I still felt really great as I turned around and shortly after that was my 2nd fuel break. I'd been looking forward to the Honey Stinger waffle pretty much the entire race, so that was a nice treat! Plus it helped me power my way back up that nice downhill I had just experienced.  With a few additional walk breaks, of course.

McCullough Hills Trail | Henderson, NV
Just over halfway finished and feeling good!

By time I hit mile 8.5, I knew it was mostly downhill from that point. It also occurred to me that I had turned around prior to 1h 30m, so my goal casually became to finish under 3 hours. I say casually because I still wasn't really focused on time. I was just out there enjoying the trail and the beautiful day.

It was definitely getting warmer out there! But there were a few clouds in the sky and the breeze was heavenly. Not so strong that you felt like you were blowing over, but just strong enough to make your sweaty shirt feel nice and cool. You know what I'm talking about.

I got really excited when my Garmin beeped 10 miles! Only a 5k to go. And mostly downhill. Whoo hoo!! It was also my 3rd fuel break, a salted caramel GU.

McCullough Hills Trail | Henderson, NV

My excitement faded a bit when I realized that 3 miles is still a bit of ground to cover. I was definitely getting hot in those last few miles and definitely looked forward to my pre-planned walk breaks. The small uphills during this section seemed much bigger than they were, which resulted in more walking and more pep talks to remember this is a race.

But then that 3 hour goal really seemed within reach, so those pep talks were still needed, but also a bit easier to give. Remember how the first 1/2 mile was a good incline that I used as a warm-up? Well, it was a great way to finish the race STRONG! It felt good to fly down to the finish. Hoping I would be successful in beating 3 hours. Wishing I knew if that would be a PR. I hadn't thought to look up my previous trail half time prior to the race.


Time: 2:57:43

Sea to Shining Sea Virtual Race Recap

It felt good to have finished, but at the same time, I wasn't wiped out. I felt good. One of the first things I did was look up my time for my last trail half.

Imagine my surprise to find out my previous time was 3:25:44. A 28 minute PR. Now, just imagine if I had actually trained for this virtual race...

Are you running the Sea to Shining Sea virtual race?

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  1. Woohoo! Great trail pace :) You rocked it! I wanted to do this one with you but Hoho really didn't want me to run another 13 I did my 10K today.
    You had some nice views for this.

    1. Thanks, Karen! Probably smart advice from HoHo! :) I debated dropping down to a 10k, but I'm so glad that I pushed myself to do the full 13.1. I had so much fun out there by myself.

  2. This trail pace seems so charming, Clarinda! Those chews seems so yummy! Keep up the awesome job!