After my two races in early january, there wasn’t much racing going on, so the trailrun in Henderson, Nevada seemed like a great choice to do some offroad running.
So on friday, after getting a nice sunburn on my legs, my arms and my face, I headed to the airport to fly to Las Vegas for one night. Luckily US Airways had some cheap fares available, especially since not so many people seem to want to leave Las Vegas on saturday early afternoon. But I don’t complain on a 72$ Oneway fare that earns my 1200 status miles. In Phoenix I was finally able to check out the US Airways Club and have to say that I like it more than the domestic United Red Carpet Clubs – probably because they have such delicious cookies there; yammi.
In Las Vegas I picked up my rental car and headed to my hotel for the night, the Hyatt Place – collecting some more points in that program to be able to book some nice stuff next year and perhaps make it to the Diamond Level 🙂
After a quick stroll along the strip, I headed back to the hotel to have a subway sandwich and a subway pizza as part of my carbo loading and I also discovered something new. There are 0,5l Coca Cola cans available in the USA – I haven’t seen any of these for a very long time.
The next morning I had to get up quite early to pick up my race gear in Henderson and be at the start line before 8am.The drive to Henderson was short and uneventful and I picked up my stuff quickly. The bag contained a shirt with an ugly logo and a not so nice logo color, but you can’t win all the time. A short look at the map with the race course only confused me, since I had no clue how I was supposed to run, but it shouldn’t be a problem later during the race.
Afterwards I returned to the car to warm my body up. I thought that the weather in Las Vegas should be as warm as it is in El Paso, but I was wrong. I only took short running clothes with me and since it was only 4° Celsius, I was shivering a lot and cursing myself. Half an hour before the start I ate some watermelon flavored GU chomps to prepare my body for the upcoming suffering :p and left my car to go back to the start area.
Finally the sun was coming out and I wasn’t too afraid of freezing the whole race. I had another look at the race course map and still didn’t figure out the course. But I wasn’t the only one with the problem. 10 minutes before 8am, there was a short race briefing and the few starters for the half marathon were gathered together. “Follow the red arrows and later the blue arrows, but don’t start to follow the first blue arrows you see” or something like that. But experienced race marshalls were on the course to show us the correct direction, so nothing to worry about.
At 8am the canon went off and everyone was quite shocked by the noise of that thing – a “Go” would have been enough to end the countdown, no need for such a canon. This race was one of my first runs in a very long time without my ipod and like always I started way too fast. I was hearing my hard breathing the first few minutes and was not sure if I normally don’t hear it because of the ipod or the pace – it must have been the pace, for sure. The first few meters were on asphalt, before heading into the offroad section with lots of sand, little rocks and bigger rocks. Then also the first little hill started and I was cursing myself for signing up for something like that. I am sure that there had been more meters of altitude change within the first to kilometers than in the complete Disney World marathon.
But as I later discovered, the first 2,5km were just the warmup, since the bigger, tougher hills were still to come and all the people I saw where not running, but walking up some of them. I was able to walk up the hills faster than the people near to me, but I always lost lots of time on the downhill sections, but I really didn’t care. I rather loss time on the downhill section than to crash or to have big knee problems afterwards.
After 4 miles or so the course got easier, at least there were not so many sections where I was forced to walk anymore and was able to run a very comfortable pace with nobody in sight either in front or behind me. And I wasn’t hearing my breathing so hard anymore 🙂 Just before the 6 miles mark I treated myself with an energy gel and either that helped or some guys in front of me slowed down, since I spotted three people running in front of me. Within the next 4 miles I was able to catch up to some of them, since we were back to that part of the course map I didn’t understand before. We had to run some part of the course twice and that damn hill section from the beginning had to be done again. This was were I was able to pass one guy, only to be passed again on the downhill section.
Then we arrived at the point, where we had to go to the right the first time and the 10km runners had to go to the left. Now we had to go left as well and I was stunned. When I was cursing about the hill before, this one was at least one league tougher; the rocks were bigger, it was steeper and you couldn’t see the top. So I went into the walk-mode again and passed another guy, yeah 😉
After reaching the top the downhill section didn’t look to nice to run down, so I started very slowly, only to be passed right again and the guy was putting lots of distance between him and myself in seconds. Just after reaching the bottom, I had a scream behind me. The other guy I had passed on the climb was laying on the ground and screaming. I turned around immediately, but I didn’t have to get all the way back to him. He didnt crash, only cramped and didn’t want any help. So I turned around and started to run again, only to see that the other guy in front of me had turned around as well. So we hit the last climb of the run with around 2 miles left to go and as soon as the downhill began, I only saw the back of the guy again. But this didn’t last too long, since he tripped and fell and got some bruises on his knee. He also declined my help, but was up and running within seconds.
So with 2,5km to go I didn’t see anyone in front of me, but had two guys within a few meters behind me. And since most of the way back was going down, I was quite sure that the two will finish in front of me. The first one passed me soon and the second one also passed me with a bit more of one kilometer to go. But right after he passed me, he seemed to slow down, so I repassed him and then there was the last little climb, around 50 to 100m in length. Here I was able to pass the other guy and was hoping that they wouldn’t repass me on the last 500m. But I was lucky, even though I didn’t really care about the position.
At the finish line I ate lots of the oranges, that they had cut and couldn’t get enough of them. I was handed a small sheet of paper with my time and my position and I was surprised to see that there were 10 people signed up in my age group and I was number 5 (two or three didn’t start, but who cares :P). Since I had a tight time schedule, I didn’t stick around too long at the finish area, but got back to the car, drove back to the hotel, had a quick shower and headed to the airport.
The flight to Phoenix was uneventful, but I was looking forward to the US Airways Club to get some of their cookies again. And I was quite surprised with the customer service there. When I entered the lounge, I handed my boarding pass to one of the employees and she asked me if I didn’t want to sit in an exit row and that she would put my on the aisle sit, because it would increase my chances to have both seats for myself. She was correct and I was happy. but the extra leg room on the flight to El Paso was just what I needed, since my thighs were quite painful. I am just not used to run downhill.