Tuesday, December 18, 2012

RACE REPORT: Hoover Dam Half Marathon | FAB-O Time with Family & Friends

The days leading up to race day were wet, cold and more cold.  I was determined to be in my shorts.  But, the weather dictated that I eventually put on the same outfit I wore pacing RnRLV.

No complaints - I LOVE my UA gear...I just didn't want to wear tights while I was trying to sprint this race.

Last year, this was the course I ran my first sub2.  It's my favorite place to run.  Lake Mead/Hoover Dam/6 Tunnels area.  This was my 2nd time to run Calico Racing's Hoover Dam Half.  I have run several races (various RD's) and several training runs out there. I never grow tired of being out there.  My running buddies wanted to pace for a 1:50 and I knew I couldn't do that, but I felt strong enough to do a sub2.  However, I doubted I could. I ran 2+ at Disneyland.  That was the first time I have seen a "2" by my name at the Finish in a long time.

Add that to a long list of race disappointments for me in 2012.  6-7 months of trying to figure out why I had heavy legs (that was figured out, eventually - see previous blog) and wearing the wrong shoes because someone told me my Brooks T7's were not made for long distances.  Thank goodness I am back in my Brooks T7's and wish I had never listened to that advice. 

Then, of course the catastrophic falls on the trail (4 times in one day) bruising my knee bone.

While I have had my share of accomplishments this year - I felt wonky ever since March.  I went into a funk and never crawled back out.  I knew I had the physical strength and endurance to do a Half, but could I do a sub2?  I felt I could...well, I hoped I could. 

The morning of the race - my family, Angela and I met up with Tony (Endorphin Dude) and Chris (Jonesy) - so they could follow us to the Race Start.  It was great to see them again.  The last time I saw them (briefly) was a Blue Moon in August.

When we arrived at Boulder Beach - it was cold.  The sun came out briefly to warm up and produce a rainbow, but it was still cold. Then a thick cloud cover came and I knew I had to change into my tights.  Darn.  I don't run fast in leggings.  I opted not to wear my sponsored singlet so it would get muddy or dirty. 

Group shot - mostly of out-of-town buddies. Always good to see them all!

Here I am with runner buddies.  Rob Erekson is on the far left. He and I ran Hoover Dam together last year.

At the start from the Starting Mat to Mile 3 - I had the worse head games I have had in a while.  There were moments I thought, "I can't do this..."

I seriously wanted to just quit.  But, I remember my Ladybug was there with me and I know she kept my legs moving.

At Mile 3 I took two Electrolyte Capsules with water.  This was just before we got into the trail and Tunnels.

As my foot landed on the trail, I felt a sense of calm.  The doubts suddenly vanished.  

By this time...the Full Marathoners were coming back (after one of their turn arounds). They started an hour ahead of us.  As usual Nadia Ruiz was in right in the lead pack.  I knew right away, she was drafting off the Leader.  In my mind, I predicted she would win.  She did. 

As I was running, fellow racers were telling me they ran with my son as he ran his 10K (he started at the same time as the Full Marathoners).  It was of great comfort to know that my buddies were kind enough to keep him company on his first 10k.

Thank you runner pals for taking care of my son on the course!  

As I was running...I felt great.  Not tired and felt I was in a good place in my stride.  I was easily at an 8:20-8:30 pace.  I would need that slight bank as I knew I would loose some time on the back end hills.  Sub2 was within my reach.

At the switch back turn around - I still felt great. That is when I consumed my one and only ClifBar Chocolate GU.  It kicked in about the the time I hit the hills.  Perfect timing.

On the backend, I was doing great.  It's quite hard to gauge distance as we loose satellite in all of the tunnels. My Garmin is typically always .50-.55 off.  Knowing that...when my Garmin chimmed in at 8 and I had not seen the mile marker...that was odd to me.  When I crossed the Mile Marker 8 my watch says 8.25 and it was already .50 off, based on my experiences.  A few others noticed it and we all went "huh?"  My watch is never far in distance than the mile markers in all the racers I have done out there.  Oh well...obviously we kept going.

Back through the next set of tunnels and when I got to the last parking lot I knew I could go screeching fast.  I was at a steady 7:45 for at least two miles.  I had to chuckle...two guys, in two separate occasions ran up to me to thank them for being their Rabbit during the race.  That was a confidence booster. 

My least favorite part of this course is the last mile.  Oh good grief, it goes on FOR-E-VER

When I made the final turn to the Finish Line, it's all downhill.  I looked at my Garmin and I was at 1:58 and some change. Phew!...I knew it would not take me 2 minutes to get to the Finish. I had my sub2.  It wasn't a course PR, but I could end my year on a positive note.

Not my best performance but certainly something I was proud of and I was so happy to hit a sub2 and finish my year on a positive note.

I looked at my Garmin and what struck me as odd is that I was over in miles.  I am ALWAYS under in miles in those tunnels.  Never seen an overage.  Knowing I am always .50-.55 off in previous races and training runs and my Garmin showed over.  I started to wonder, what the heck was going on.

Met up with a few other Half Marathoners and they made the same comment to me about the distance and they had never seen their Garmin over in miles on that course. One friend said her Garmin was at 13.65.  That's huge.  I shrugged it off and thought the weather must be making things act weird. 

Then, I met up with other Half'ers who were spot on their Garmin.  Very confusing.

I waited for the results and the results had my CHIP TIME at 2:01. I felt the blood drain out of my face. I walked over to the timing area and asked the Timer how my chip time vs my Garmin could be 2 minutes difference.  She was unable to offer me an explanation.  I asked the RD and no one could offer one or figure out what the confusion was.

It took the life right out of me.  I know I ran a Half and I know I ran a sub2, but the results have me at 2 minutes slower.  This was not how I wanted to end my year.  I truly needed this sub2 on this course, for my confidence (or shall I say, lack thereof).  Several racers had stop watches (not Garmin's) and their chip-times were 2 minutes slower, too.  Stop watches are not affected by satellite's.  

Yet, despite my disappointment - I had such a great time after the race with all the runner buddies.  The best part?  Hearing that my son won his AG for his first-ever 10k.  I am so proud of his efforts!

My son with his Age Division Award

Me and Ang

Yea, that's E-Dude

Group Shot

And another group shot


Finisher Medal

After the race we headed up to Hacienda for a quick brunch. Tony and Jonesy headed back to CA to finish their racing streak.

I had so much fun with all the friends and family - can't wait to see them again.  

I will be back for Hoover Dam in 2013. I can't resist running in that area.  It might be my only Calico race in 2013, since I am trying out a bunch of new races this year.

As far as the timing situation, I still have not figured out how this happened. I have a few friends who use stop watches and their chip time was 1-2 minutes slower than their stop watch.  They don't use a Garmin, they use a stop watch.  I have forwarded the information to the RD and it's up to her to decide what to do.  It's out of my hands. I KNOW I ran a sub2, it's too bad I don't have the results to back it up.

Moving onward to 2013 and looking forward to focusing on what I love.  5k's and Half's.  With the exception of Surf City Full and LA Marathon, I have no plans to run any Full's or Ultra's in 2013.   I spent a year prepping for 4 Full's and my speed suffered and therefore, so did my confidence.  I need to race the distances I want to.  I have no regrets running the Full's I did - but that distance isn't for me.  I need to run as fast as I can and then I can party and celebrate.  Staying out on the course for 4-5 hours of just straight running.  Boring (to me).   I would rather keep working on my 5k's and Half's.

In a few days...I will be celebrating Christmas with my family.  No laptop, no phone (only turn on when I need it).  In the meantime, I have developed a new training program for myself that has me training faster on my runs.  My base has already been built.  I will also be working with a Speed Coach after I finish my two Full's.

I am not ashamed of what I accomplished in 2012, but I know I could of done better.  2013 will be a better year. 

I have one more event to run.  Resolution Run on NYE's.  I am running along side a friend. I won't be running it as a race, but to spend time and end the year with a great friend. 

(c) C. Ragsdale 2010-12
Run F.A.B.,

Charlene L. Ragsdale - Las Vegas, NV
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  1. Loved reading this! I ran this a couple of years ago, it was my worst half time wise but one of my favorites overall so brought back some memories!

  2. I have joined the marathon last years and will be joining again this year. It was a fun experience.


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