Sunday, September 18, 2011

RACE REPORT: Inaugural Twilight Half Marathon | Red Rock Canyon

There is one thing I truly fear in running = hills. I have avoided particular races and runs, just so I can avoid the steep hills.

I know, I am such a wuss. 

However, when my hip blew out in this past Spring – I made a commitment that I would train and run hills to make me a better runner.

My last 3 races have included monster hills, and last night’s race was the most brutal of them all.

I ran the Inaugural Twilight Half Marathon at Red Rock Canyon – by Calico Racing. The event started at 8pm.

Just so you get an idea of the course – here is the elevation chart. It has an increase of elevation of almost 2K and equally down on the decline.

Oh yes – let’s not forget the famous WALL at mile 4-5

For weeks, I had studied this course. I would spend time in visualization how bad it would feel, how tired I would get and how to plow through it.

Before the race began, the (Awesome!) Race Director, Joyce made the announcement that the first .06 was dedicated to Bryce Erekson. Within this past week he passed away. He is the brother and son of a great running family. It was an honor to have his family present during this special time. Below is a picture of one of the cones within the loop.

While I did run ET (at night) – and I had the same Knuckle Lights – it was noticeably darker = no full moon. In fact, no moon at all! We did not see the moon rise until around Mile 10, and then it was only a half moon. Next year, I need the Knuckle Lights AND a Head Lamp, for sure.

Pre-race, I met up with Gertrude and Jenn (see below). Also met up with Becky (picture is post-race)

Gertrude, Me and Jenn

It was a WONDERFUL surprise to see our friend, Joan to support the racing field. I have not seen her since Laughlin. (sorry, no picture)

We set out on the race and within the first mile the inclines began (see above elevation chart). As in usual form, I am running solo.

Around Mile 2, Rob Erekson joined me (brother of Bryce Erekson). He was running in Memorial of his brother. I knew what he was going through. I remember the 5K I ran the day after Ladybug died. My body was strong enough, but the mind was weak. I prayed so hard that Bryce would carry him to the finish line.

At mile 4, when we had a slight flat and decline – Rob stopped at the aid station for a small snack and I kept going. I didn’t see him again until after the finish.

As I turned the corner to head into Mile 5 – I could see the front runners lights going UP a very steep hill. I took a big breath and thought, “okay, here we go!”

As fast as my legs would take me, that is what I would do. I switched on my music and let the rest happen.

As I got to the summit, I looked around for Rob – but I didn’t see him. There I was, running up my most dreaded fear – THE WALL, and I made it. I wanted to jump up and down and start dancing – and no one was around to celebrate with me. Just my luck.

By this time – the race field was spreading out very quickly, and I was left alone in the darkness. There were moments I didn’t see ANY racer lights ahead of me or behind me. That was not good. I often wondered if I took the wrong turn – I truly felt very alone out there, but I managed.

Unfortunately – zig zaggy me, I ran right into a few bushes that were hanging over the road. Then, around Mile 7 my mind started to play weird tricks on me. I could of sworn I saw mini-sasquatches or other little creatuers lurking in the shadows. Boo!

I came up on the aid station, took a drink and went to take a few steps and I started to get VERY lightheaded. It was like, “wow, that wasn’t good” feeling. At this point, I am in a STEEP decline. Somehow I had to pull back to get my bearings. At this point, I am in 7:50-8:03 splits.

Kept going. Still hoping I see some runner lights, SOMEWHERE.

Finally a runner, came along side of me - YAY, I was going the right way!

Came up on Mile 10 and another slight incline!  And with a mighty slap, I felt my strength starting to zap and I was lightheaded, again. In my mind, I am thinking, “here comes that Wall” – but I chomp on a few Shot Bloks and made the decision to slow it down. It was also at that time, my breathing started to get very labored. Darn it! I forgot to take a puff of my inhaler before the race. At this point, my glutes and hamstrings were so sore, and I couldn’t breath – I just wanted to cry, but didn’t have the energy (thank goodness).

As I reached Mile 12, I slowed it down again – to control my breathing. I turned off my music. I chatted away with Ladybug and Bryce. I was worried about Rob, I had not seen him, and I couldn’t see him. I prayed he was fine and Bryce would bring him to the finish.

Ladybug and I had a great chat and as in her usual form, she was right there along side of me.

I crossed the finish at 2:12:42, with a smile on my face. Not a PR, but I RAN the entire course. I was 5th in my Age Division (out of 16 runners)

I am very happy with my finish and will be happy to run this again.

Rob? He finished just a few minutes behind me, and said Bryce helped him the last mile. That made my night.

Here is the Finisher Medal and a few more Post-Race pictures:

I am so proud of Gertrude, Jenn, Becky and Rob. We all conquered our demons of those dang hills and that race course!

How did I feel the day after?  After a night of icing, massaging and stretching - I feel great. Only a little expected soreness.  

(Thanks for joining us Ladybug and Bryce. R.I.P.)

(c) C. Ragsdale 2011
Celebrate Your Finish,

Charlene L. Ragsdale - Las Vegas, NV
Certified Sports Nutritionist, Running Coach & Public Speaker
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