Nov 25

Trails of Glory Marathon

This race takes place in Cottonwood Valley near Las Vegas, NV. It takes place in the same area as Trails of Fury,В which I have written a race report about too.

The weather was beautiful for the race. It was clear skies and a high in the 60s. This weather is quite different from the 30k I did at Trails of Glory last year which included cold, rain, and an impromptu stream crossing when a wash started flowing.

The first part of the race is mostly downhill passing by the “duck tree.” This is a joshua tree, which has grown over the course. Folks have decided to hang rubber ducks on the tree to remind runners and bikers to duck under the branches.

Duck Tree

Close up Duck Tree

This explains the big inflatable duck at the start/finish area and the duck on the shirts.

Big Ducky

The trail then passes through the small town of Blue Diamond and then west onto the trails. The next section of trails is where I have seen wild burros a few times. I didn’t see any this time though. Below is picture I took on a previous trail run in the area. The burros are hiding in the shadows there.

Wild Burros

After about 5 miles begins about 17 miles of overall uphill. The elevation gain isn’t tremendous (1,600 ft) compared to some mountain ultras but it’s relentlessly gradual. It doesn’t always look like you are running uphill but you sure can feel it.

The uphill culminates at the top of aptly named “Satan’s Escalator,” which you then head down to finish the race on some smooth downhill trails.

This is a great Las Vegas trail race put on by Desert Dash. The event actually sold out this year. If you are considering this event for next year, make sure you sign up early. I love seeing all the local trail runners at these events either racing or volunteering. There’s such a great feeling of camaraderie and encouragement. The finish line area was fun with places to relax and a food truck (with some great chicken tacos).

Medal

A side note: apparently there was someone on the race course trying to sabotage the race by changing/removing signs. I saw one marathon signed turned backwards and heard the 12k got re-routed a little bit. I have no idea why someone would go out of their way to disrupt people that are out trying to have a good time and better themselves. Also, something like that is dangerous. A person may only bring enough fuel for their distance. If they get lost out on the trails, it’s not safe. Fortunately, everyone was okay.

Personally, for me it was a good race. It could have been better and certainly could have been worse. I’m learning more about what I need in terms of recovery between races. In retrospect, the five weeks I had between the Pocatello Marathon and the St George marathon was perfect. However, doing this marathon two weeks after the Bootlegger 50k was taxing. I guess that’s the price of wanting to do so many races. Some runners can race every weekend at a high level. I’m learning that I need more recovery.

I ended up finishing 5th overall, the 4th male (just out of reach from the 3rd place award). I was 3rd place in my age group. I finished 4 minutes, 45 seconds behind the 3rd place male. So close.

Hey there

 

The photos (with the exception of my burro photo) have been provided by Desert Dash as you can see by their logo/watermark. I received permission to use these photos on my blog. I love it when races provide free photos for their runners!

Nutrition: Nuun Hyrdration, GU, and SaltStick tabs.

Gear: Ultimate Direction Scott Jurek Grip Handheld, Injinji trails socks 2.0, FlipBelt, and Brooks Cascadias.

Nov 11

Bootlegger 50k: Drop (DNF) or Gut it Out?

Bootleg Swag

The Bootlegger 50k was on my races to do and I was very excited to register for it this year (2014). A lot of my friends, local runners, were either running it, volunteering, or coming out to watch. The race also brings out some elite ultra runners.

I was very excited to see Rob Krar (who won the 50k) and Anna Frost (who won the 25k). Rob Krar has become one of my favorite ultrarunners.

Rob Krar

(Pictured: Rob Krar)

Rob Krar and Anna Frost

(Pictured: Rob Krar and Anna Frost at the finish)

From the Bootlegger website, a little history about the race:

“Between Las Vegas, Nevada and the mighty Colorado River sits a long rugged volcanic ridge dubbed the River Mountain Range. Black and Red Mountains, aptly named for their contrasting color, rise the highest. Between the two Mojave Desert peaks sits Bootleg Canyon, better known as the Hooch Highway.

During the 1930’s when prohibition and the construction of the Hoover Dam was in full effect, the small canyons and caves at the base of these peaks were filled with bootleggers brewing their home concoctions in secret. They sold their treasured product to the parched dam workers and prospectors who inhabited the local desert communities of Boulder City and Henderson.”

Alas, the race didn’t turn out like I had hoped. The morning of the race, I felt off. I hadn’t eaten well the days leading up the race. The first half, I felt good. I was pacing well. Then, my stomach and my GI system in general started feeling awful. I thought maybe I needed to use the restroom (Nope).

Bootlegger 50k

(This is me when I was feeling good.)

At about mile 20, I was ready to drop.  I felt worse. I was slowing down and getting exposed/dehydrated. I pushed on hoping it would pass or maybe I’m just too stubborn to quit.

At the next aid station, I kept doing everything I could to stay in the race. I hydrated, fueled, and used salt tabs. One of the volunteers kindly poured water all over me. It felt very refreshing, like a rush of cool water. The volunteer remarked that the water was lukewarm! That was kind of scary, knowing I was overheating.

I kept grinding along. I pushed to the finish. I finished well after my goal time or even my “having a bad day” time.  

When I arrived at the finish, a number of trail running friends exclaimed, “What happened to you out there?!” It hadn’t been reported that I had dropped but I was out there for a while.

I discussed the bad day I was having and remarked that I probably should have dropped. My friend mentioned that, “he respected people that gut it out no matter what rather than just dropping since they missed their goal.”

This leads me to the question: When do you drop and when do you gut it out? I’ve been thinking about this a lot the past few days.

It’s a tough decision. In ultrarunning, the drop rate climbs dramatically, especially on those 100 milers.

We can’t have a great run every time we go out there. Sometimes we can turn it around and sometimes we can’t. There are so many dynamics in play.

There are times when we simply must drop, like a badly sprained ankle, broken limb, or other severe and obvious malady. You don’t want do extensive damage to yourself and put yourself out of running for an extended period of time.

I guess if elites are running for sponsors, prize money, etc., I can understand dropping if it isn’t your day.

For the rest of us mortals, are we still as concerned about our goal times? I have to admit that I had the thought, “Well, this is going to look like crap on Ultrasignup,” which is kind of silly. It really doesn’t matter. It’s just ego. I guess if people look at my time for this event, they might think I did poorly but if I had dropped they would look at it and thought that surely something must have overwhelmed me to cause the drop.

Every person is unique and every situation is unique in this regard. Some people will refuse to drop no matter what. I found Timothy Olson’s experience at the Hardrock 100 interesting to see how elites could have really really bad days too.

I have had to DNF once before (I should write about that sometime) and I hope it never happens again. Unfortunately, if I do more ultramarathons, it probably will.

What do you think? When do you drop and when do you keep going?

Oct 28

Keep the Running Passion

Don’t get caught up in the drudgery of training.

Running Passion

It’s not always about race day, the medals, the official times, and everything that comes with it.

You can enjoy the journey of your day to day training. I recently shared pictures of a run I did in the mountains. This could have been an ordinary weekend long run. Instead it was full of beautiful scenery, an epic summit, some wildlife, and even some hikers to cheer us on.

St George Marathon Swag

Here are some ideas to spice up your running:

  1. If you’re bored of the roads, go trail running.
  2. Explore new routes on the road or trails. This is one of my favorite things to do. Search for other peoples’ preferred routes in your area.
  3. Spend a run experimenting with form.
  4. Spend a run mixing up speeds and hills.
  5. Go get a track workout in.
  6. Try some new shoes. Some stores let you demo shoes (Pro tip: Listen to Paolo Nutini’s song “New Shoes” while you do this).
  7. Try using a heart rate monitor in training.
  8. Focus on breathing techniques during a session.
  9. Try new pre, post, or mid-workout fuel.
  10. Throw in some parkour during your run. I noticed during a trail run with one of my kids that she jumped off every larger rock we came across. She wasn’t out there to “train.” She was just having fun. Doing this can bring out the kid in you. Just try not to hurt yourself, hehe.
  11. Try some new music, new audiobook, or podcast while you run.
  12. OR, ditch the audio devices. In fact, ditch all the electronics and just go tech-free.
  13. Bring your dog on your run.
  14. Run with a friend or a running group. Try meeting some new people.
  15. Focus on your running cadence or turnover.
  16. Try some new cross-training.
  17. Add something to your overall workout like planks or yoga.
  18. Change up your diet and so what that does for your training (hopefully this involves eating better but you can see what donuts do to your run times, hehe).
  19. Volunteer at an event.
  20. Pick up a cause.
  21. Start a running journal, like DailyMile.
  22. If you’re a day runner, try running at night and vice versa. Be safe, like bringing headlamp, reflective gear, or staying with a group.
  23. If you aren’t a numbers person, start taking a look at your stats and see what you can learn and/or improve on.
  24. Try running for time instead of miles or vice versa.
  25. Try new gear.
  26. Involve running in your vacation.
  27. New running outfit.
  28. Check out new running blogs (in addition to this one ;), running movies, or books.
  29. Try new terrain. Go to the mountains, beaches, desert, forest, etc.
  30. And… if it just isn’t happening. Try taking a break but hopefully not too long. 🙂
Oct 06

St George Marathon Race Report by Steve

Last year, I didn’t get selected in the lottery to do the St George Marathon. It seemed like all my friends were picked but I was left out. This year, I was selected but none of my friends were running it. Ha!

St George isn’t a huge city (2012 Population: 75,561) but they have a big marathon! The marathon is listed on their webpage as the 16th largest in the US. It is popular enough to require a lottery entry. The marathon has also won a number of accolades.

The expo is really nice. Everything was very smooth for picking up my race packet. The marathon has some great swag. The shirt is very nice quality. It was nice to see some other Saturday marathons at the expo, like the Phoenix Marathon, Utah Valley Marathon, and the Huntsville Marathon.

St George Marathon Swag

I got up and walked to the buses early since I was already awake. Good thing I always try to get a good night’s rest two nights before the marathon since I know I won’t get much the night before. They give away some really nice prizes for early bus riders (I didn’t win though), which is a cool incentive to get people there early.

At the start, volunteers hand you gloves courtesy of Wasatch Running Center and a mylar cover. How nice! It was chilly at the start but not too bad. I believe it was in the 40s. Many participants said it was colder last year. They also have many fires to sit near while you wait.

I got myself situated near the start by the 3:25 pacer. The Clif Bar pacer was really helpful with encouragement and race tips. As the race began, there’s the normal jostling for position and finding your comfortable pace amongst so many participants. The gloves were perfect for the first mile or so and then I ditched them along with so many others shedding layers as they warmed up.

The course is beautiful. I love the scenery. Veyo Hill and Snow Valley are great. Towards the end the red rocks are amazing. The volunteers are fantastic. The aid stations are well stocked and set up in a really functional way. The organization of this race is absolutely superb.

I started out running the downhill at my target pace or just below it. By the time I got to Veyo Hill (about mile 7ish), it was time to slow down the pace. The hill is steep for a road race and you certainly feel it. I allowed my pace to slow to the 9s and touch the 10s for a bit. Many folks choose to walk it. After that, there’s some more incline and rollers (you can see them coming in the road in front of you) for a few miles. I thought I was slowing down for these, but when I look at my splits, it appears I didn’t slow down enough according to my pre-race plan.

By the time I got to the half marathon mark, it was mostly downhill from there. I turned up the intensity and had some great mile splits in the second half. As we approached the town, there were so many people cheering for the runners. It’s encouraging to see so many people turn up to cheer. Your name is printed on your bib and people will call out your name specifically to cheer you on. I love the signs too. My favorite is the “Touch here for power” signs. 🙂 At one point, I ran by some people, feeling great, giving little kids high fives, and then I looked at my watch and saw I was running at a 6:30 min/mile pace. Oops! A bit too fast for my goal with lots of miles left.

There is a lot of downhill in this race. This year, I ran Utah Valley and Pocatello, which includes a lot of downhill. Also, I ran a mostly downhill 21 miler before my taper. I was prepared. My quads didn’t hurt like I thought they might.

As I started closing in on the last few miles, I knew I was on pace for a PR. This was motivation to keep pushing when my body wanted to quit. Plus with all the people cheering, I had to keep giving it my best.

I ended up finishing at 3:25, nearly 5 minutes below my old PR! I was elated.

PR

I really like the finisher’s medal made out of rock. Very unique! The finish area was very nice with an assortment of things to eat and drink, including ice cream. I went with the drumstick to start my post-marathon junk food to make up for all the healthy eating during training.

St George Finish Line

I really have no complaints about this marathon. I had a great experience. I can see why the race is so popular, requiring a lottery. The course is really designed for a negative split since you can clear the bigger inclines in the first half. I ended up with a mostly even split despite my plan. I’m pleased with the results nonetheless. 🙂

St George Marathon Medal

Feel free to comment below or on our Facebook page. Also, remember we are accepting reader submitted marathon reviews.