Tuesday, December 31, 2013

LVTC Half Marathon Recap

Let's not mess around. I set a new pr of 1:46:58.

The Three Sisters

The goal was actually 1:45, but at mile 5 when I realized the next 1.55 miles consisted of the Three Sisters, I changed my goal to setting a new pr, previously 1:49:17. For those of you not familiar with the Three Sisters, they're really steep and really long, at least they seem long. The three set of rolling hills last about 1.25 miles. They're too steep to run down, so it was basically a 2.5 mile stretch (out and back course) where running was very slow.  I averaged between 9:30 and 9:50 on this stretch. I don't have the exact times because my GPS didn't start working until mile 7.

If the course would have been like I thought it was, I would have easily broke 1:45. If it had been a flat course, I could have broke 1:42. I might just do my own half marathon time trial in February, but I'm not really sure what that would prove.

The Sisters on the way out.

Here's a good shot of the Middle Sister. The Last Sister's steeper.

The Race

The first two miles were uphill, which meant the last two miles were downhill. I'm not sure what I ran the first two miles in, but the last two miles I ran in 14:15. That's pretty speedy for the last two miles of a half marathon (for me at least). I then enjoyed three miles of down hill. That was nice. By mile 4--there were some hard to spot mile markers along the course--I was well under an 8:00-mile pace. Then came the aforementioned Three Sisters. I finished the first half in 51:15, about a minute slower than I had planned.

Then came the turnaround. And the Three Sisters.

I still felt strong, but there's only so fast you can run up three gigantic hills. I stopped and walked momentarily on each of them. Following the Three Sisters came a steady 3-mile uphill slog. I was disciplined and focused. I had run this portion of the course before and knew what I could do. The 1:45 mark was out of the question with four miles to go, but I knew I could shatter my previous pr, also set on a hilly course last November, but nothing like this one. The final two miles were tough but fun.

I was happy to be done!
 My Fitness

Despite sputtering a bit a couple weeks before the race, I was in the best shape of my life, having completed 51 runs of 10 miles or more during the year. There was no bonking or any such thing. Nobody passed me the last 10 miles. It was a small race. I passed seven people, five the second half and three on the last mile (ha!). I got stronger as the race progressed.

The Competition

This was a Las Vegas Track Club event. The quality of runner was very high. I finished 18/41 overall, 17/26 among men (only got chicked by one runner) and 2/2 in my age group. To put this in perspective, last November I ran two minutes slower on a less difficult course and finished 89/1100. It was good for me to race with accomplished runners this year. I plan on running this again next year (only $25).

OK, I places 2/2 in my age group, but I'm taking the medal!

I'm gonna rest. I've found a fast downhill marathon in September. I think it's time I qualified for Boston.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

LVTC Holiday Half Race preview

The 1st annual LVTC Holiday Half Marathon takes place on December 21, 2013. Here’s a little race plan and preview.

The Course

Although the course is an out-and-back originating at Equestrian Park in Henderson, it’s certainly no walk in the park, even if you completely bonk at mile 10 and roll down the hill to the finish line. I mapped it out on MapMyRun.com so I could get the elevation profile, which was unnecessary since I used to ride my bike there three or four times per week.

Throw in the fact that I work less than five minutes away, running the course was no problem. It starts at Equestrian Park and goes up hill for 2.2 miles. Not a crazy up hill, but steady and relatively steep. It then heads down for 4.35 miles, at which point one must turn around or risk running up the Three Sisters, which could lead to extreme pain.

The course begins at 2083 feet, goes up to 2310 at about 2.2 miles, shoots down to 1717 at the turnaround and then goes back.

The Plan and the Goal

There are some steep hills—up and down. My uphill pace needs to be 8:30. My downhill pace needs to be 7:30 to reach my goal time of 1:45. I actually think I can do it faster.

I did a practice run a couple Saturdays before the race, attempting to mimic the last 6.55 miles. I did a three mile jog downhill and then started a 4.35-mile climb, followed by a 2.2-mile descent, finishing in 52:15. If I could run the last half of the race in 52: 15, I’d shatter the 1:45 mark.

However, I ran part of the course twice, and the hills on the actual course are steeper than the hills on my practice course. I did a 6.5-mile run on the course last Friday, giving a decent effort over what would be miles 10, 11, 12. I ran a pretty steep mile 10 in 8:17. It was a steady, straight steep. Mile 11, on the other hand, was much more difficult. I ran it in 8:53. Mile 12 was fun. I did it in 7:00 flat.

The grade was 3% on the two uphill miles, although the second one seemed a lot steeper. There is a stretch, the first 1.5 miles after the turnaround, that’s steeper.

I’m going to shoot for an 8:45 pace on the 4-mile uphill stretch at the turnaround and a 7:15 4-mile stretch on the same downhill.

The Training

I have done 51 long runs this year (10 miles or more). I’ve done 24 long runs since September 1. I did nine in November and three in the first 10 days of December. The half marathon distance, therefore, is not at all intimidating. For that reason, I’m focused on finishing fast.

I usually go out conservatively and cruise to the finish line, passing hundreds the last half. I negative split my last half marathon and my last marathon. I enjoyed those two races, setting prs in both. I’m not going out conservatively this time. I’m starting fast and finishing fast. If I crash and burn, I crash and burn. I need to really see what I’m capable of doing.

Final Thoughts

I’d like to point out I’ve set prs in the 5k, 5-mile and 10k distances over the past month-and-a-half. I fully intend on shattering my prs in the 10-mile and half marathon distance, despite the crazy hills.

By the way, happy holidays from my clan!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Should Races Be Held on Christmas Day?

I read a really annoying article on Runner's World today about the increasing prevalence of organized running events on Christmas Day and whether or not there should be.


What does it matter to me or anyone if someone wants to hold or run a race on Christmas Day? People need to stop sticking their nose into other people's business. Although I have no plans to enter a Christmas Day race, I'm not going to tell you not to. Also, what do these anti Christmas Day organized running events want to do about it, anyway? Make it illegal? Protest? Some people just need to get a life.

How can you possibly have a problem with this?
To recap: If you want to run a race on Christmas Day, I hope it goes well. If you don't want to run a race on Christmas Day, don't.

Christmas Commercialization

These are the same people that whine about Christmas being too commercialized. Is it? I don't know. I choose not to participate in much of the commercialization. If you think it's too commercialized, then stop going to the mall and stop watching so much TV. I find Christmas commercials annoying, so I don't watch TV other than football (Speaking of football, all you Buckeye haters better wise up and recognize The Ohio State University Football Buckeyes).

It's really not that hard.

By the way, save your self righteous, anti Santa Claus bull crap for someone else. I worship Jesus, too. I love Jesus. I have been a missionary for Jesus. But if you wish to emphasize Santa, that's your own darn business. And buy me a gift while you're at it.

This pretty much captures the spirit of the holiday

To recap: If you want to go hog wild and make Christmas all about buying presents, go ahead. If you don't want to make Christmas all about buying presents, then don't, and God bless you.

Black Friday

Since we're on the subject of people who think they know what's good for everyone, Let's talk about Black Friday. I have no idea why anyone would want to go shopping on this day and I certainly don't know why anyone would want to shop for pre-Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving, but apparently somebody does.

This doesn't set well with some people. These people, too, need to get a life. If someone wants to shop on Thanksgiving, why do I care? And if a store wants to open and offer great deals on Thanksgiving, go for it. I'm not going, but if you are, pick me up something good.

I'm bringing this guy with me to Wal-Mart

To recap: If you want to shop on Thanksgiving, good luck. If you don't want to shop on Thanksgiving, then don't.