Saturday, November 19, 2016

RnR Las Vegas Half Marathon: Race Report

Posted by Rachel

A year ago the most unlikely thing happened! My phone buzzed and it was a text from my little sister, saying "I'll sign up for the Las Vegas half marathon next year if you do it, too." WHAT?!?! Miss "I don't run unless someone is chasing me!"? The obvious answer was a resounding yes. So that's the story of why I signed up for this race.

Over the course of the year we got a bunch of people on board. My mom signed up for the half - her second. An aunt and uncle from NY had never been to Vegas and signed up for the 5k. My dad, his cousin, another aunt, and Travers (who is perfectly capable of running but just didn't want to) all came along for the ride. It was shaping up to be a fun weekend.

And it was! After a long week of drinking following the most disappointing election I could possibly imagine and my 33rd birthday the following day, we landed in Vegas on Friday night to continue the party streak low-key at my sister's place. Afterward I hit the BlackJack table with my dad and a $20 bill... and walked away half hour later with $30! Winning!

Saturday I continued to spend time with the family. The bad thing about a Sunday night race is having it hanging over your head the whole weekend, but on the plus side I had just PR'ed a half two weeks ago and didn't really care much about this one. So we walked around Vegas quite a bit, and drank, with a stop at the High Roller.

 Great views from the High Roller

Mid-day tequila + observation wheel = winning combo!

Sunday was a little less fun as I had to figure what and when to eat to avoid a total disaster in the evening half marathon. I really just felt like I was waiting for time to go by until we could run the stupid thing. Finally though, it was almost time, and I was SO EXCITED for my mom and sister to run too!

We wore neon so our fans could spot us... but it turns out everyone in Vegas wears neon

The event kicked off with a one hour Snoop Dogg concert. I wouldn't ordinarily attend a Snoop Dogg concert probably, but it was pretty fun, and he was good as far as I could tell!

Drop it like it's hot

A few classics:
1.) Snoop: So marijuana is legal here. Who is f-ing high right now?
     Me: Ummm...does this guy know what he's doing here?
2.) Snoop: What do you all like to drink while you're running?
     Crowd: Gin and juice!
     Snoop: What?!
     Crowd: Gin and juice!
     Snoop: [perplexed] Gatorade?!
3.) Snoop: expletive-expletive-derogatory comment about women-expletive-explicit comment about women
      Me: This guy should go for president! 

After managing to get through the concert without a contact high (thank you fellow runners), which is more than I can say about some of my training runs at Lake Merritt, I left for my corral. At this point I was NOT excited to run a half marathon, but as it became dusk and the strip started to light up I had to admit it was pretty cool. 

Let's go!

The plan was to just run comfortably the whole time. After running minimally since Healdsburg I was surprised to find that 7:3x pace was coming pretty easily, so I decided to roll with it. The course had a lot of entertainment which was good because there were a lot of distractions. I hadn't studied the course at all and I didn't know where the full marathoners were supposed to separate from the half, so once in a while I'd find myself surrounded by full runners and enter a brief panic that I had accidentally joined the full course. That would've been a nightmare. Luckily, I did not, and I just kept going along my way.

It was about mile 10 when a 7:3x pace stopped feeling so fantastic. If you look at my splits mile 11 is about 20 sec slower than miles 5-10, which is clearly where I was thinking "f- this, why am I pushing myself?" But then I started doing math and I realized that if I DID go back to 7:3x pace I would finish sub-1:40. I think I have some sort of compulsive disorder because there's no reason to go sub-1:40 two weeks after 1:34, but I found myself pushing it anyway. Somewhere in mile 12 I saw my family cheering and waved excitedly! (My dad said I looked like I wasn't even trying or sweating. False. Well maybe I wasn't sweating because I was super dehydrated and my face was caked with salt, but I was definitely trying.) I finished the race in a 1:38:59, for some reason stopped to have a coughing fit, and then made my way through the finisher's chute back toward my family.

After drinking several liters of liquid and going to the bathroom many times, I was getting ready for my mom and sister to run by. I am a total rule follower, but I had this grand plan to jump back onto the course and finish with them. It was making me nervous just thinking about it, but I couldn't think of anything more awesome than finishing a run with them. So my aunt was tracking and once I knew their estimated time to pass, she left to head closer to the finish. I had Travers with me - he actually stuck around to take a video of my rogue behavior. We waited and waited, both looking for my mom and sister so I could jump in, and then we got a call from my aunt saying we had missed them. I was SO disappointed :( Lesson: it's really hard to find people in a race with 36,000 runners. At least we got to meet up with them at the finish line.

We did it!

One thing my aunt noticed when we were tracking my mom and sister was that something had gone wrong with my tracking and the app said "location unknown". I definitely installed my D-tag correctly as this wasn't my first rodeo, so I'm not sure what went wrong. While we were at Shake Shack two of my training buddies texted to make sure I was ok, which was really thoughtful :) The 'unknown location' ended up with me having to submit a results correction, which after review the RD agreed to correct my time but listed by start time as the front of my corral rather than where I started. So my official time is slightly slower than I actually went, which really isn't a big deal but ever so slightly bothers my compulsive side :) 

Afterward my sister really wanted to go to the club, and she had just finished her first half marathon, so I complied.

Party time

Did I mention that I had a 6 am flight the next morning and had to go directly to work? And that we had work all day/all week and dinner plans Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday after work? Needless to say, I barely exercised this week and it was exhausting anyway. 

I probably wouldn't run that race again. I always prefer to get the race over with and then have fun the rest of the trip - not the other way around! But a huge thanks to my family for coming out to support - great to see everyone! And big congratulations to my mom and sister!!!!!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Healdsburg Half Marathon race report

Posted by Rachel

Ok, so I know I didn't finish my 'exercising in France' series, but I have to interrupt that for my race report before I forget the details of this past weekend. Wine will do that to you.

This is my 7th (?) year running this race and it is always one of my favorites for the social part. Each year we register a big team, Running for the Win(e), and ever since a couple of our good friends moved away this is one event that they regularly return for. So no matter what happens in the race, it's always great times with great friends! The fact that the race is located in one of my favorite areas of wine country is just an added bonus.

In terms of running, I wasn't quite sure what to expect this year. I had a great summer of triathlon racing, but had a nice bout of shingles in August followed by 3 weeks in Europe in September. I ran through all of that, but just not very fast. When I returned I had 5 weeks until the race and I diligently did my speed and tempo workouts. I had a couple pretty terrible "long" runs, but more or less I figured that on a good day I should be able to be in the neighborhood of my PR from last year (1:35:37).

The day before the race I fueled up with an oreo milkshake, a nostalgic drink that I used to have before big swim meets when I was a kid (I told my mom it helped me swim faster, ha!). My rebellious husband fueled up with wine, brandy, and beer.

The key to fast swimming. Jury is still out on whether that much dairy the night before a run is a good thing.

The morning of the race was a little rainy but not too cold. After a short warmup we were off! At first I just ran a comfortably hard pace and I seemed to be in the ballpark of last year, if not a few seconds per mile faster. I met a girl, Lauren, who kindly introduced herself after she realized we were running the same exact pace for the first few miles. Not that we had the energy to chat, but she seemed really nice and running with her helped me keep pushing the pace for the majority of the race. Little did I know that my own husband was only yards behind us, using us as pacers. You're welcome ;)

Feeling good...a solid thumbs up for the photographer. Disclaimer for anyone who doesn't know us that guy behind me is NOT Travers.

There was a timing mat at the halfway point and I looked down at my watch, and I was at 47:27. Innnnteresting. An even paced race would land me a 1:34, barely. Idea planted. Unfortunately I was also getting tired, but I tried not to think about that :p

A weak thumbs up to the photographer, but I am starting to fatigue...

Sometime in mile 9 Travers caught up to me and my new friend Lauren - he said he had been trying to catch us for miles. I introduced them and we chatted very briefly before the hill at mile 10. The hill was WAY more miserable than I remembered. I ran up it with Travers in silence, suffering. As we neared the top, there was a guy vomiting his guts out for at least a minute, but all of a sudden he was done and just kept running. A terrible sight but much worse for the guy I'm sure. I thought that was the top but it wasn't. The slope eased up but the hill kept going and going and going. A strange sensation considering I've run that course 3 times before and didn't recall this much misery. When the course started angling downhill, Travers started pulling away. I felt like death. Maybe I should've fueled with beer and wine and brandy!

Miles 11.5 to 13 were really, really hard. I wanted to walk but knew I was treading on breaking 1:35. I started talking to myself and asking myself hypothetical questions: "If you come in at a 1:35:00, are you going to look back thinking you left 1 second on the course? If so, RUN HARDER." I tried to run harder by pumping my arms, but I think in reality I was just flailing wildly. I wish I had a video of myself running at this point because it would probably look ridiculous and I could caption it "A swimmer trying to run", which would hopefully explain my random arm movements. When I got to mile 12.5 I just tried to think about the hardest 800 I've ever done and kicked it in. There is a final turn and then a long straightaway to the finish chute. I looked at my watch...1:33:high...can I run that far in a minute? I was sprinting so hard and coincidentally also closing in on Travers. After another minute of misery, I finished the race in a 1:34:51 - a 44 second PR!!!!!!!!!!!! and 3 seconds behind Travers.

This face says it all - the joy of a PR wrapped up with the misery of a 13 mile tempo run

One really cool thing was that Meb was in the finisher chute giving high fives. WOOHOO! I felt kind of lightheaded and really spaced out so I said thanks to him and congratulated him on his Olympics and babbled something about him being inspirational. Hopefully I wasn't the only nonsensical babbler that had come through.

After the race it was the best part - WINE TIME. It's always a bummer when it rains during the wine festival because they move everything indoors and it's quite cozy, but it was awesome to hang out with everyone. We had a team of about 16 people or so and a few additional fans. During the awards a couple of really cool things happened: (1) my first running podium (3rd place AG) and the award was a bottle of wine! and (2) a first place team victory for Running for the Win(e) and the award was a half case of wine!! Talk about a great day!

The reason I run this race

Getting my award wine (ie. standing next to a girl who is WAY faster than me)

Running for the Win(e) teammate won his age group!

Our crew had two rental houses, and later that night we had dinner at the other rental house. It was an isolated house on the Russian River with a comically harrowing drive. Parking wasn't close to the house and the walk to the house was like something out of the Blair Witch Project, but we survived and had a great time with friends.

Wine country. Fall. The best.

It was such an awesome weekend, and we have quite a busy social calendar ahead in November! This means I'll be taking it easier on the running & exercising front, but I'll be picking up cycling and a stricter training routine again in December. But maybe not too strict because the holidays are a time for celebrating :p