Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Whiskey Row Half Marathon race report

I was really bummed back in January when I was unable to do the half marathon I had been planning on. But once I was over my ankle injury, I started looking for another option, and came across the Whiskey Row half marathon in Prescott, AZ. The website touts the marathon as one of the toughest in the country. It starts at a mile above sea level and climbs nearly 1000 feet to the turn around, and then turns around to follow the same route to the finish. I knew it would be a challenge, but I've always considered myself to be pretty strong on the hills, so I was really looking forward to it.I had a bunch of friends running it also. Most of them went up on Friday to spend the night since Prescott is about 2 hours from Phoenix, but I decided to drive up with a friend and her brother the morning of. We kind of cut it pretty close, but we made it in time to pick up our packets, wait in line for the potty, and still have a couple minutes to spare at the start line on Whiskey Row. The nickname for the road comes from the many saloons that used to inhabit the block back when Prescott was mining town.

My goal was to hold least an 8 minute pace up the hill, and then fly down the hill, and finish under 1:40. I started out pretty quick since the hills in town were not very significant. As the hills got a little steeper, I pulled back a little, and tried to hold it steady. Between miles 3 and 4, the hills became HILLS, crazy hills, but I still managed to stay under 8 minutes per mile.

Just before the half way point, I saw the leaders coming down the hill, and they were flying! That was energizing to see their speed, and that carried me on to the turn-around (which was just after a pretty significant amount of water/mud flowing across the road, which, of course, we had to run through twice). After turning around, it was hard to maintain a controlled pace because the hill was so steep. So, I just let it loose. I don't know what my splits were, but it was fast, really fast. But it was so much fun. Coming down, I saw several of my friends and we cheered each other on. I continued down the hill, in a groove, and then I hit an uphill. Not too long, but pretty steep. It really through me off. Once I got over, I just couldn't find myself again. Then, with about 1 mile to go, I ran out of gas. The people I was running with gradually pulled away. I am happy to say that only one other person passed me, so I must not have slowed too much.

Coming around the corner and crossing the finish line was such a good feeling. A feeling I haven't felt since my last half nearly 4 years ago. I finished with a time of 1:38:26, good enough for 24th place overall, 19th among the men, and 4th in my age group. I'm very pleased with that, considering how tough this course was. It got me thinking what I could do on a different course, and couldn't wait to find another one to do (the Hobbler Half in July--training to set a new PR).

This is definitely a race I will do again.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Ragnar Relay race report, part 3

Continued from part 2.

I was really wishing I had volunteered for that long 8+ mile run. I was feeling great after that last 8 miler, and wanted to go again. As it was, I was running a 3.3 mile run, and another speedy guy was taking the long one. We cheered him on and headed to the next exchange where I would take my final run. There we waited, and waited. We waited a surprisingly long time, but he eventually made it (not feeling as good as he would have liked), and I took off. I was hoping to do this run really fast, like 5k race pace, but after about a mile, the previous 13 miles and only 30 minutes of sleep in the 30-something hours started to catch up to me. I still managed a pretty good pace, but was unable to go as fast as I wanted. I happened to see a guy that I recognized from other races I have done, and knew that he was faster than me. However, he clearly didn't feel very well, and slowed to a walk. A little over two miles, I hit an intersection where I had to wait at the stop light to cross (twice), and lost a lot of time. The guy was able to catch up to me while waiting, and got me a little worried because he looked like he was doing much better. I really didn't want to let him beat me. On the green, I took off at the fastest pace I thought I could hold, but I could still hear him behind me. With about a half mile to go, I continued to pick up the pace and had a strong finish, but was completely exhausted. Though, still with a smile on my face.

It was fun to chat with the runners from van #1 and cheer on the rest of our team. Once our final runner started, we headed for the finish to meet the rest of the team. When we were almost there, three of us got out to jog back and meet our runner and run in with her. She really appreciated us meeting her. We ended up running an additional 2 miles. Just before the finish, we met the rest of our team and crossed the finish line together. What an experience that was! The 12 of us in our bright yellow shirts into the arms of our families.

The whole event was incredible. I ended up running 19.41 miles over the weekend. What could be better than hanging out in a van for two days with a bunch of other runners? I can't wait to do it again! My buddy wants me to come up to Utah to do the Wasatch Back Ragnar this month, but unfortunately that is not likely to happen. I'll just have to wait until next year's Del Sol.

A whole slew of race reports coming up

If you haven't noticed, I haven't been a very good blogger lately. I've had some really great runs and some really great races over the last several months. Since the Ragnar Relay, I have run a half marathon, two 5ks, coached high school track, registered for my next marathon, and started training for a half marathon PR. Over the next few days, I plan to catch up on my race reports, and hopefully rekindle a little blogging fire.