Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Run Laughlin Half Marathon Race Recap

I'm finally starting to come back to normal after my very emotional finish! You may already know that I had the most amazing race on Saturday - pretty much start to finish - and the icing on it all was a shiny, new PR.

I was pretty nervous the day before and the couple hours leading up to the race. Despite having a great plan laid out, I was having some issues that I really thought would derail that plan and prevent me from having the race I so desired.

My recap has to start with the day before the race because it helps set the scene of why I was so nervous about the race, and why I was so emotional at the end.


Even as I wrote up my Race Day Goals & Strategy, I had a feeling that the worst was likely to happen. Ladies, you know what I'm talking about! I wrote my goals hoping and hoping that my period and corresponding cramps would hold off until Sunday.

They did not. Much to my dismay my period arrived on Friday, which meant the cramps would hit just in time for the race Saturday morning. I kept trying to will them to stay away. Hence, my nerves the night before. I still wanted to have a great race, but I really didn't think it was in the cards.

Kristy, from Runaway Bridal Planner, picked me up to make the drive to Laughlin, NV. We'd never met in person before, but I was excited for a tiny little runcation with my blogging friend. Jeff walked me to her car to say good-bye, and I fretted about not having packed enough ibuprofen. He said to not worry about it and to just buy some more if I needed some. D'uh.

We arrived in Laughlin, checked into our room, dropped off our stuff, and headed to packet pick-up. It's a pretty small race, so there was no expo. It was literally just pick up your bib, pick up your shirt, and grab a small bag with a couple goodies in it.

We were hungry, so we googled "where locals eat" and decided on a restaurant based {almost} solely on pictures of the views of the Colorado river. Nope, not location or pics of the food. LOL The restaurant was a bit out of town, but we got there just as the sun was setting.

The sunset was totally worth the drive!

We each ordered the burger our waitress recommended. It. Was. Greasy! Delicious, but we both kind of worried that it might not have been the wisest of decisions.

After dinner, it was still pretty early, so we walked along the river a bit and then sat and listened to a band before heading back up to the room. While listening to the band, it occurred to me that I forgot a toothbrush. We stopped at a hotel shop and I bought a toothbrush/toothpaste and grabbed some Midol as well. Just in case.

It was still early, but for some reason, I was already exhausted. I was in bed before 9PM. I think.

Here's the thing. Laughlin is right on the Arizona border. Arizona doesn't do Daylight Savings, so they are in a different time zone this time of year. Our phones and watches kept randomly changing times on us! It was both amusing and annoying.

I'd like to say I slept well, but that would just be lying. I tossed. I turned. I got up to go to the bathroom. I fretted about the inevitable cramps. I had this terrible, pain isn't quite the right word, in my diaphragm. It was uncomfortable, but I kept falling back asleep. So, I was getting at least some rest.

Race Morning

Kristy's alarm went off at what her phone thought was 4:15. In reality, it was only 3:15, as confirmed by the clock in the hotel room, which wasn't randomly changing like our phones. We were both glad for the additional hour of sleep. 😌

When I was getting ready to catch the shuttle, I sent Jeff this message:

I was so uncomfortable! I took two Midol, hoping that it would make me feel better so to not completely derail the race.

I wasn't very optimistic on the shuttle to the start.
Nor for the hour+ waiting in the high school gym.

Kristy and Jeff were both very encouraging, though, so I tried to keep an open-mind.

By the time, we were lining up at the start, the Midol had definitely kicked in. The cramps had subsided and the excitement of the race had set in.

The Race

As I crossed the start line, I pushed the RACE screen on my Garmin. I kept glancing down at my watch to check my pace. Around 0.35 miles, I finally noticed that all the other fields were still showing zeros. Yep. I hadn't actually pressed the START button.

I had all kinds of alerts programmed into my Garmin, so I'd know when to change my pace. I decided to still go with those alerts - even though they were a bit off of the official distance.

Mile 1
In the first mile of the race, we ran from one parking lot at the high school to the track and did one lap around the track.

This was probably one of the most complicated parts of the race! Racers were entering and exiting at the same point, so it was a little tricky making sure you didn't bump into anyone.

Miles 1 - 3.5
This was the first uphill climb of the race. It was tough but I was pretty good at sticking to a sub-10'30" pace. There were definitely a few spots that my Garmin was beeping a bit crazily for me to speed up.

The first two aid stations were in these early miles. I skipped them both. I didn't start the race with a full water bottle, but I figured I'd easily be able to make it to the next stop. I was wrong.

Miles 3.5 - 7
This was supposed to be my speediest section. It was a solid, steady downhill. I set my slow alert for a 9'30" pace. I shouldn't have had a problem maintaining that pace, but obviously I kept slowing down because my Garmin kept telling me to go faster. While the views were incredible (when I remembered to look around)...

I think I got a little bored on the downhill. I was also concentrating on not tripping and falling.

I had a gel at 45min. My plan was to take a salt tablet at the same time; however, I was running low on water and wanted to conserve what little I had left. I decided to take the salt at the next aid station, which had to be coming up soon.

Turns out that next aid station wasn't for another mile and a half.

Miles 7-8.5
This was the 2nd uphill climb, but first, the aid station. Yes!

I unscrewed the lid of my handheld as I approached the water stop. I grabbed a cup from a volunteer and dumped it into my handheld. I handed him the empty cup and grabbed the 2nd cup in his hands. He looked at me so confused as to why I was handing him my empty cup! My bottle still wasn't full, so I handed him the 2nd empty cup while grabbing a 3rd cup from the guy next to him. By the time I handed my 3rd empty to the volunteer, he seemed less confused. LOL I still didn't take a salt tablet because I didn't want to waste any more time at the water stop.

Free photo courtesy of Run Laughlin

Since I started my Garmin late, it still thought I had 0.35 miles before hitting the hill. I tried to still speed my way up the hill, but quickly decided it wasn't worth it. I slowed down a bit but still tried to stay close to a 10'15" pace.

Turns out my goal for this section was a 10'25" pace. I was pleased to see that alert pop-up, because this uphill seemed a little relentless.

We crossed over the Davis Dam and into Arizona! And continued the uphill.

Free photo courtesy of Run Laughlin

Finally the turnaround was in sight!

Miles 8.5-10
The uphill was over! It was the final pace reset. 9'45" slow pace. This was when the real fun began. I didn't need to worry about conserving energy. I had run a great race so far and now I could really focus on getting to the finish.

Since this was an out-and-back portion, I wanted to look for Kristy on my way back down the hill. But, I got lost in my music and footsteps until I heard her call out Good Luck to me. I waved and continued on my way. I also waved to a couple Vegas runners I knew as I saw them making their way up the hill.

I was really starting to groove to my music and was having a great time! My head was bopping along and I kind of felt like I was dancing. I may or may not have accidentally sung out loud a few times, but I tried to control myself.

Miles 10-13.1
I was cruising along and fighting back tears. It was really starting to become real. I WAS GOING TO PR! There wasn't really anymore doubt. I felt so STRONG and I was having such a great time!

Free photo courtesy of Run Laughlin
I do not know this jumper, but she was having a great time, too.

I sucked down another gel and actually took a salt tablet this time.

And then Starships by Nicki Minaj came on.

MY FEET WERE FLYING! I couldn't slow down. At the end of the song, I restarted it. Yeah, it was moving me that much.

It was good song after good song right until the finish, though I don't remember what they were.

I do remember thinking, This is the strongest I've ever felt during the last few miles of a half marathon. I kept pushing and trying to build on that momentum.

The course met up with the 10k and 5k racers. Lots of runners commented, You're doing great! All I could do was say Thank you! I probably should have said You, too, but honestly, I was too focused on my own race to comment on anyone else's. Does that make me a bad racer?! 😬

Every time someone said something, it put just a little more pep in my step. It's hard to describe how I was feeling. I was just gliding along, but still pushing it. I was so incredibly happy and proud that I was fighting back tears of joy.

Around mile 12.5, I did start to feel a bit tired, but I was SO close. I kept pushing myself. I saw the 6 mile marker for the 10k and thought only 0.2 miles to go. Then I saw the 3 mile and 13 mile signs for the 5k and Half. I forced myself to lengthen my stride and finish STRONG!

I crossed that finish line with pure determination on my face!! {and a LOT of salt}

Free photo courtesy of Run Laughlin


After getting my medal, I stopped and asked a guy where to get the official results. He pointed me to the tent, and I made a beeline to it - bypassing the tables of water and food. When a laptop freed up, I typed in my bib number and snapped a photo of my results.

I sent a message to Jeff on the way to the restroom.

I had been hoping to squeak out a PR with a 2:10:14 (previous was a 2:10:26), so I was blown away and so, so excited to see my official time!

I washed my face and went back to get some nourishment and free beer. I'm not a beer drinker, so I didn't even drink half of my small cup. It was a bit too bubbly. 😄

Still so emotional, I paced around the finish area trying to control myself. Waffling between smiling and crying. I was a mess inside!

I was hanging around the finish chute to see if I could see Kristy approaching when I overheard a trio of people talking about medals. It took me a minute to realize they were talking TO me! Apparently, they had run out of half marathon medals, and one girl was asking if she could borrow mine to take a picture. Of course, I said yes!

And then, I walked around some more. Trying to decide if I should head back up to the room to shower. I just wasn't ready yet. I couldn't bring myself to leave the finish area. I probably looked like a crazy person - pacing around the finish area, fighting back tears.

Finally, I saw Kristy approaching the finish line. I was doing something on my phone, so I couldn't snap a picture. I met her at the finish and then someone else asked if they could borrow my medal for a picture. I said sure and followed her to where she wanted to take the picture. Then she handed me her phone, Oh you want me to take the picture? LOL I snapped a few and then Kristy and I went to snap a few of our own.

Photo courtesy of Kristy

And that's the story of how I got my PR. A solid plan and a couple of Midol, without either of those, Run Laughlin definitely wouldn't have turned out so well.

After showering and relaxing a bit, Kristy and I did grab some lunch and do a little exploring before heading back to Vegas, but I'll leave that for another post.

I'm linking up today with Erika, Marcia and Patty for Tuesday's on the Run. This week's topic is Favorite Race in 2017, so I guess this post is pretty much perfect. :)

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  1. Oh man, I'm so glad the Midol helped!! That's the absolute worst!! You totally crushed that PR, though!!! I love that you got into the groove and maybe sang a little out loud. I may or may not have done the same thing in a race. LOL But really, they ran out of medals? Did they not know how many people they had registered? Hmm....

    1. Me, too! I don't know what I would have done had the Midol not come through for me. :)

      I can't really say why they ran out of medals. Perhaps a lot of people signed up last minute - after the medal order had been placed. Or maybe there was an error by the company making the medals. The race changed RDs midway through the year, so that could have been a factor as well. I felt bad for everyone who didn't get a medal after the race, but also very glad that I gone mine. :-D They are mailing out medals to those who didn't receive one, so everyone will get one eventually.

    2. RD here. I loved reading your recap. Congrats on the PR!!! We ordered enough medals but only part of the shipment arrived in time, the rest was 5 miles away but UPS couldn't figure out how to get them to us, very frustrating. We mailed medals to all that didn't get one and engraved them with their name and finish time to try and make up for them not getting them at the finish line. We also gave those people a significant discount on the 2018 race.

  2. That is so awesome!!! Congratulations :) That wonderful strong feeling is the absolute best. I am glad the Midlo worked.
    Super cool Kristy and you got to hang out and enjoy the experience together.
    It looked really pretty in your dinner pic...but the time thing would have messed me up LOL
    That is fantastic time!!

    1. The time thing was a total trip! Our phones were so confused, and we wondered what it would be like to live on either side of the river. Would you also be either an hour late or early for work?? LOL

      The views at dinner were really pretty.

    2. You have to set your phone to not auto update to local time (I sent that out as a tip in the pre-race instructions but there was a lot of info in there so you probably missed it).

  3. Okay, had to pop on my computer and make sure my comment came through, LOL LOL
    Even being there, I really enjoyed reading about your race. It just occurred to me while reading this you PR'd so well AND you stopped to take a few pictures along the way. I knew you had stopped to fill your water bottle that one time, but didn't know about the rest, you definitely killed it to PR even with the picture stops! I just figured out next year how you get your sub 2, do exactly the same thing you did this year, but skip the pictures and I just know you'll get LOL :)
    I'm glad you had such an awesome race, I was so hoping you would! I had a great time meeting you and I appreciate the race entry, and it was fun chatting and traveling and of course talking running with a friend is the absolute best, especially when (you) had such an awesome race! So proud of you, I hope you're enjoying telling your story to all your friends and family this week! What a fabulous way to gear up ending your running year with a fabulous PR like that!!

    1. LOL, Kristy! I didn't really stop for pics. I just slowed down a tiny bit and hoped that the moving pics would turn out OK. I was pleasantly surprised. :)

      I had a great time chatting and getting to know you, too! I so glad you were able to come down for the race.

  4. I loved this Clarinda and I couldn't be happier for you. How freaking exciting to blow your goal out of the water! I honestly think that there's something about the low hormones during that time of the month that allows us to be faster. How fun to meet Kristy and hang out! I met her at Utah Valley. Congrats again on a hella great race!

    1. Thanks, Marcia! There are moments when I feel like I'm still a little bit on a runner's high. It felt so great out there.

  5. Thank goodness for Midol! why don't men have to deal with these issues?!

    Congrats on an awesome PR!

    1. I know, right?! If they only knew. LOL

      Midol was a lifesaver, for sure. :)

  6. Congratulations!! I felt the highs and lows through your recap. I have definitely had unfortunate timing before a race...it's SO nerve-wracking. I'm glad you had a great race, the views look amazing.

    1. Thanks, Janelle! I'm so glad that I didn't psych myself out thinking the worst. It was a really pretty course.

  7. Awesome job! It sounds like it was a challenging race, too. I get most of my PRs on flat courses, LOL, but some have been rather challenging too.

    Guess what? I had my period right before PCB last December. After not having one for a year (I was 54 at the time). And yes, that race was a big PR for me too.

    They do say exercise can help with cramps. :)

    Great job & Kristy is very sweet! I met her (briefly) in UT.

    1. What an unpleasant surprise, but nice that it may have helped you with a PR. :) Kristy was very sweet, and supportive.

  8. Congrats, girl! I'm so happy for you!! Racing with periods is seriously the WORST. I DNSed a race once because I didn't want to run with it. Haha. But it wasn't a goal race so I didn't feel bad. ;)

    Woohoo, congrats!!!

    1. I've definitely skipped runs before because the cramps were too bad. Once a friend and I both had cramps so we skipped the run and hit up Starbucks instead. LOL

  9. There is no better feeling that that back half of the race when you know you've got it in the bag and you're singing along with your playlist!!! Been there, done that! Love love love that you PR'd and in such a big way! Next up, sub-2, baby! Congrats!!!!

  10. That was so much fun to read! Congratulations to you on a fabulous race. How fun that you and Kristy got to meet up as well

  11. Congrats! You did an amazing job...keeping your pace steady (in the first half) and that's what gave you all those "reserves" to finish so strong. Awesome ;-)

    1. Having a nice, solid strategy really pulled me through. Sticking to my goal paces for each stretch definitely helped with the strong finish.

  12. Congratulations on a great race! It looks like a beautiful place to run, LOVE the pictures!!

    1. Thank you so much! Even better when race pictures are free, amiright? :)

  13. Of course periods are the worst! But I'm glad you had a great race despite Aunt Flo showing up at an unwelcome time.

  14. Beautiful race. I'm so glad it turned out well for you despite the worries and fitful sleep beforehand. Periods do come at the worst times, don't they? But you didn't let it stop you. Congratulations on the PR! Hang on to that feeling of your feet flying along.

  15. Congratulations on your race and PR! Those mountains are beautiful!!

  16. Congrats on running such a strong race and earned that PR! You had some gorgeous scenery while running the race.

  17. Congrats again, Clarinda!! I haaate when it’s that time of the month and I have a race to run. So glad you and Kristy got to meet and have some time together!

    1. Thanks, Katie! It was fun to meet Kristy. Wish you could have joined us. :)

  18. I loved every word of this! (Sorry about the late read!) I hope you are still basking in the glow of that incredible PR!

    1. So glad you enjoyed my recap! I am still basking a little bit. :)