Saturday, October 29, 2011

RACE REPORT: Hoover Dam Half Marathon - Oh Yea, Sub2 and a New PR

When I get the chance to run a race on my favorite training course with perfect race day weather AND have an awesome friend/pacer to run alongside of me? It was a recipe for success.

This morning was the Hoover Dam Half Marathon by my favorite race event company, Calico Racing.

Arriving at the 6Tunnels/Hoover Dam at 6:30am this morning – I felt really good.

I was thinking of my friend, Becky J. in Texas.  She texted me the night before to say she would be running her long run at the same time, so we could run "together".  Now, how special is that?  Having support from so many, is such an inspiration to me.

My friend/pacer, Rob E. (family friend) and I had set our goal to sub2 on this course. I started to wonder if I had tapered too much or didn't carb load enough? I have never run sub2 on any course. My Half PR is 2:07:41 (at ET, in August). This course would be more challenging than most want to endure. Hills, turns, TRAILS, declines, sidewalks and single file switchback up and down for about half mile. In my mind, I didn’t care how much of a sub2, as long as I had a 1 by my name for the results, I would be happy!

I joked with him several times - either a 50 yr old woman (me) is pacing a 30 yr old man (him) or visa versa.  That's a picture!

We set out on the race establishing a pace and groove. Coming up on aid station 2.2 – I saw just for a few seconds, Sheina R.. We use to run in the same club, I am glad we got the chance to say “hi” to each other.

Coming up on Mile 4 – Rob decides to kick a rock and then he was on his way to a face plant ON THE ROCKY TRAIL! He falls right in front of me and I am hurdling him on my finger tips and toes. Picture a weird Twister Game – with my butt up in the air – that is how we looked, I am sure!

It only delayed us for a few seconds, I was more concerned about his hands – he was pretty scuffed up.

So, we get through the Tunnels (my favorite part of the course) and we head into some declines (still trail). Rob and I decide to let our legs fly – to give us some momentum into the switchbacks at Mile 6. By now, we both had taken our Gel’s and we were doing just fine. Still sitting at a 9:00 pace, overall.

We head into the switchbacks into the parking garage roof of Hoover Dam. Single file – NO PASSING ZONE. We fly down, go around the parking lot and fly right back up. That wasn’t so bad. THEN, the inclines of the declines we just ran. We both knew – this would make or break our race. We kept the intensity the same, but did not speed up, at all until just before the final summit. At that point, we let our legs go again on the last decline in to the Tunnels.

No issues whatsoever in any of the tunnels. I felt both my Ladybug and Rob’s late brother, Bryce running alongside of us many times during this stretch. I know they gave us strength to keep going.

We headed back into the parking lot and there was Sheina again for another quick “hello”.

One note – this is the first Half Marathon I have not carried my own water bottles. What a difference in weight! I made sure I either 1) Drank or 2) swished my mouth through every water station. Might have slowed me up by 5 or 10 seconds, no big deal.  I also consumed 2 Gel's (PowerBar Strawberry Banana), which I typically only consume one during a Half.  These little changes, sure made a positive impact on my race day performance. 

Rob and I are now on a decline and some flat. We come up on Mile 12 and we realize there is a slight incline coming back from the turn around. At this point, Rob said he had a rock in his shoe and I started to see him slow down. I kept my pace and turned around a few times, but he kept motioning me to keep going. I didn’t want to leave him, but I knew he was only 15 seconds behind me, at all times.

On the turnaround – I had less than a mile to go. Still turning around or screaming for Rob to catch up with me.

The last turn to the finish line – it was at Mile 13. I looked at my watch and all I saw 1:50”something” – and a few seconds later, I see our friend, Casey C. cheering from the sidelines!   Here is the picture of me as I am running by saying, “sub 2 – oh yea!” And then she even took a picture of me running towards the finish line.  Too cute!

I then saw some people sitting on the sidelines screaming “GO, RUNNING WITH CHARLENE!”

At this point, I have tears developing in my eyes. To all of those who cheered us on – THANK YOU!

As I turned the final corner to the finish I saw the clock 1:56, I felt the tears coming on and the funniest thing happened.....

The timing guy, Scott G. (who happens to be Rob’s brother-in-law) looked up and had to take a double-look when he realized I was running in sub2. I wish I had a camera for the expression on his face!

When I flew through the finish line – I was in complete disbelief, but I was jumping up and down and I kept saying, “I am a sub2 Half Marathoner!” My kids and husband were hootin’ and hollerin’ too!

I had done it. I had (privately) set a goal to be a sub2 Half Marathoner before my 50th birthday.  I turn 50 in less than a month.

I also took 3rd in my Age Division (Awards given to 1st Place, only). However, no award could ever replace the feeling I had when I saw my official time of 1:56:32 (8:53 pace) – AT HOOVER DAM, of all courses.

Rob was a few seconds behind me and he also PR’d!

Here are more pictures (courtesy of Casey) post-race

Me and Rob - Celebrating!
Being "Hercule-an!"

Now, onto Snow Canyon Half Marathon next weekend – I can’t wait, it's going to be so much fun!  And focus race for 2011 - Vegas Half!  (has it been a year, already?)

(c) C. Ragsdale 2011
Celebrate Your Finish,

Charlene L. Ragsdale - Las Vegas, NV
Certified Sports Nutritionist, Running Coach & Public Speaker
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  1. I feel so lucky to witness you and Rob reach your goals!

  2. Sheina - we were so lucky to have you there! We couldn't of done it without such great volunteers, such as yourself!

  3. Thanks Mark! More evidence of how ChiRunning works, huh? Injury free for 7+ months!


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