March 24, 2009

Canyonlands Half Marathon Race Report

I am so happy my first goal run of 2009 is behind me. But I would gladly do it again if I could have stayed in Moab for just a couple more days.

Wifey and I rolled into town last Friday and got settled into the Adobe Abode just on the outskirts of town. I can't tell you how great it is to have access to an actual home, and have friends that are so awesome to let us stay there. I've been to the Abode enough that, in addition to just being a great place to stay, I feel really comfortable there and already miss the quiet and solitude. Dinner at Eddie McStiff's was only adequate. But the beer was purty good so that made up for a weak meal. After dinner I donned my new trail runners - La Sportiva Crosslites - and went out for a short jaunt in the red dirt along a road that follows the base of the cliffs on the east side of town. My shins seemed to be okay, but did get a little sore. I wanted to get good and warmed up to allow a good stretch and ice session. A DVD brought the night to an early end.

Perhaps the best thing about the Canyonlands Half is the 10 o'clock start time. Conversly, the downer is the 8 o'clock bus pick-up. We had about an hour and a half to stand around freezing at the start. Sure, there was coffee and I always wear warm clothes, but then you have to strip down that last half hour. I'm here to tell you, being next to the Colorado River surrounded by towering canyon walls is as cold as it is beautiful. The sun sat tantalizingly close on the opposite side of the river, never quite making it to the runners until after the start.

We were well back in the throng of 5000 runners. About 4 minutes after the official start we finally crossed the timing mat. Not knowing how my body - specifically my shins - were going to hold up I ran with Wifey for the first couple of miles. The first mile is a fairly steep downhill and the shins were taking a beating. I was really dreading the rest of the race. But as the road leveled off, the pain went away and I decided to quicken my pace a little. I bid adieu to Wifey and took off. Soon enough the sun was in my face and things got really warm, really quick.

At first I sped up to about an 8:30 pace, but since I was feeling good, picked it up a little more. Then a little more. And still a little more until I was cruising at a 7:00-7:30 pace. I carried this speed until my average pace fell to about 9:00. I needed to average 9s to come in at my goal time of 2 hours. I found my rhythm was best at an 8:30 pace and pretty much put on the cruise control. I. Felt. Awesome. At least until I missed the second to last water station. There were no cups out and to stop at a water station means getting run the hell over by other runners. So coming out of the canyon I had a glob of not-digesting Power Gel and some dehydration going. That corresponded with a slight rise in the road and a headwind. It got hard for about 2 miles until the last water station where I was able to pound a couple of cups which made me feel immediately better. My chip time showed 1:53:11 and an average pace of 8:33. I ran hard only a couple of times and otherwise felt really good and ran within myself.

We spent Sunday with my in-laws, who braved the Apache Inn to come and watch the race. We went through Arches and did a couple of the arch hikes. It was good to loosen up a little before the drive back to reality.

Now it's time to take a little time off and let the shins heal. It's a good excuse to start biking more, anyway.

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