Red Rock Half-Marathon race report

Calico Racing Red Rock Half-Marathon 2017: Singing in the Rain Review

The Red Rock Canyon Marathon and half-marathon are both run along the Scenic Drive of the Red Rock National Conservation Area near Las Vegas, NV. Red Rock is very popular year-round with tourists, hikers, rock climbers and road cyclists due to its rolling landscape. Calico Racing puts on a road marathon and half-marathon here at the start of the year.

Usually, we have to worry about sunburn when running in Las Vegas. Today was different. It started raining last night and didn’t stop, and it wasn’t a drizzle. Red Rock was completely socked in with clouds, which is incredibly rare, and dumping rain. It closed in the afternoon, after the race was over.

The Race

While this Las Vegas marathon is small, it’s organized well. No big expo to get your bib, just two folks at a table, wham bam, you’re done. They had busses organized to get all the runners to the location on time. Busses were marked clearly and ran on time, at least to get there. Bag check was simple, and because the race is small, no corrals! We all got to start at the same time.

Condition bonus: due to the rain, both tourists and outdoors-folk stayed home, so no worries about the traffic for the whole race!

Miles 0 to 5

Grind, grind, grind. The half version of the Red Rock Canyon Marathon loops around the visitor center parking lot twice before heading up the 1000′ to the drive’s highest peak at 4,700′. There are some short declines along the way, but an extended hard push. I had hoped to run the whole way, but the weather really sucked the energy out of me and there was significant walking. Still managed to hit the high point (approx mile 5.5) at 1:19, which is right on pace for me. Energy level was high, despite conditions, and I didn’t have any foot pain, which was my main concern for the race. Sucked down a gel right around 5.5 to energize me for the Wall.

Miles 5 to 8

Roller coaster time! This portion of the course has a lot of declines, and I tried to let gravity do the work there, increasing speed by leaning into the decline, and using that momentum to get over the worst of the curves and inevitable inclines. At mile 7.5, there’s another big incline that cyclists call The Wall, that just sapped out my steam. Energy still good, mild lower back pain started at this point. After the high point, my energy was so good that I started singing along to some of my power jams. I think I entertained at least two water station attendees.

Small race bonus: After the first few miles, runners spaced out and passing was easy.

Miles 8 to 13

The doldrums. The course gets very gentle from here on out, still some inclines along the way, but the good scenery is mostly gone and you’re just counting down the miles. Felt pretty good, tried to keep good form, and after walking for some of the inclines after mile 8, vowed to run the last 3 miles. I had a good pace going, and then there was the wash. A 4″-high running stream that went across the road. No getting around it, so my first steps splashed ice-cold water nearly up to my knee. I thought I could just truck on through, but after getting out of the water, my feet and legs up to the knee were completely numb, so there was some walking.

Red Rock Canyon marathon Post-Race

Everything. was. wet. Nothing stayed dry, despite rain jacket and garbage bag protection. Getting warm and dry was my only thought. My husband was at the end point with a warmed-up car and my dry bag. The organizers had run out of hot chocolate and were in the process of cooking pancakes, but I didn’t want to wait, so I hopped in the car to change and suck down a Stinger waffle (oh so good!) and a Noka smoothie, along with a bag of chips, before getting home. This is the absolute exception to the rule though – usually the weather is cool but dry.

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