ilanarama: me in Escalante (yatta!)
[personal profile] ilanarama
Ilana running canyonlands half marathon 2013 Friday afternoon Britt and I drove out to Moab with the bikes in the truck; we had a pleasant dinner at Miguel's with our friends Kevin and Nora (as per tradition) and I drank a margarita (also as per tradition), then went back to the motel (the Gonzo Inn, where Karah and I usually stay) and took a soak in the hot tub (you guessed it). It was a lot more fun to have Britt along, which was not not as per tradition, but I hope it becomes one.

In the morning we got up and had coffee and breakfast cookies with Kevin and Nora (yep), then caught our respective buses for our respective starts. I was running the Canyonlands Half for my fourth time, and Britt would be running the five-miler; he's not really into racing, but he runs four miles with me a couple of times a week, so I figured he'd be fine.

It was a relatively warm but cloudy day, with only a light breeze - welcome weather after the ferocious headwinds of 2011 and 2012. After a quick porta-potty stop, I found Karah and the rest of the Grand Junction girls, and we chatted, resting among the red rocks while waiting to be allowed to move up the canyon to the start.

I lined up a bit in front of the 1:40 pacer; based on my last few tempo runs of around 7:32 pace, and my average mileage of around 44mpw, I figured 1:38-ish would be a good goal. Maybe I had a shot at a PR, under 1:37. My plan was to go no faster than 7:20 for the first mile (it's sharply downhill and oh-so-easy to go too fast - last year I ran 7:20 that mile, and the year before, 7:18) and no faster than 7:24 (1:37 pace) for the next three miles, then play by ear.

before the race

I felt pretty good as I loped down the canyon. I was wearing my Icebreaker merino wool singlet, which tends to suppress the static on my heart rate monitor which messes up my early readings, so when I glanced at my Garmin I could see that I was working at an appropriate level. I'd turned auto-lap off, so I had to manually hit my lap button, and at the first mile it read 7:22 pace - just fine.

The next two miles were a bit slower, as I consciously kept my pace easy. The fourth mile was a lot slower mostly because I had to slow to grab some water to drink, but I wasn't worried by it.

mile pace avg hr max hr
1 7:22 145 (71%) 156 (80%)
2 7:28 159 (83%) 161 (85%)
3 7:27 152 (77%) 158 (82%)
4 7:35 156 (80%) 162 (86%)

Then...everything clicked. I don't know how to explain it. I was running quite fast (I could see on my Garmin) but my HR wasn't too high - it was right where it usually was in the middle miles of a half marathon - and I felt great. In retrospect, maybe I should have tried to rein it in; maybe this is what kept me from a PR. But I don't know. I felt good. After a few too-fast miles, I did slow down, just trying to keep my HR from spiking too high. But these were my best miles of the race.

5 7:16 164 (87%) 169 (92%)
6 7:15 166 (89%) 171 (93%)
7 7:26 167 (90%) 168 (91%)
8 7:28 167 (90%) 169 (91%)

canyonlands half marathon 2013
Mile 9 had a long, gentle descent, which normally I would have loved. But for some reason I started feeling dizzy and strange. And then came the uphill at mile 10. I watched my pace slow, unable to do anything about it. All I could think was, don't let my pace drop below an 8-minute mile. No way did I want to run an 8 minute mile. I saw 8:xx on my Garmin and concentrated hard, and pushed hard, and kept my pace in the 7:4x range, even though I knew a chance for a new PR was slipping away.

We hit the highway junction and turned toward town. I high-fived the kids and tried to focus on my running, not the stupid noisy smelly cars and trucks whizzing by, now that we were off the closed canyon highway.

9 7:37 165 (88%) 167 (90%)
10 7:44 164 (87%) 168 (91%)
11 7:46 165 (88%) 167 (90%)

Then, just as we turned the corner by the 12-mile marker, a woman who looked like she might be in my age group passed me! I passed her right back and did not dare slow to take water at the aid station. She passed me again about halfway down the block, and I hung out behind her for a while before leapfrogging her just past the last turn. But that was all I had. When she passed me one final time, I couldn't muster up the energy to get by her, and I finished about ten seconds behind her.

12 7:47 167 (90%) 169 (92%)
13 7:46 170 (92%) 172 (94%)
13.1 0:33 171 (93%) 171 (94%)

My final time was 1:38:31, not a PR but I was pleased. As it turned out, the other woman was in my age group, and she took second and I third (out of 152) - darn! Overall I was 31st woman out of 1895, and 193rd human being out of 3189.

Meanwhile, over at the five mile race, Britt wasn't doing too badly himself. When he saw the, er, body shapes of the others in the race he made the smart decision to line up close to the front; then, after running at the same pace as those around him, he passed them and pushed hard to finish in 38:39, 2nd in his age group out of 31, 26th man out of 322, and 36th person out of 824. (I was hoping this experience would make him more encouraging of my racing, but I think that now he thinks it's easy to do well! Darn his ridiculous fitness!)

Here we are with our his-and-hers hardware:


After drinking our two free beers each (from Moab Brewery! Yay! The first year Canyonlands had free beer at the finish and I APPROVE!) and then resting up a while, we went to ride the Intrepid trail, which I'd done solo the day before The Other Half in 2011, and it surprised me how sore I wasn't. We only did the medium loop, about five miles, as we needed to make a 6pm dinner date with Kevin and Nora, but it was still a lot of fun and the views of the Colorado River below were spectacular.

We had dinner at the Sunset Grill, the restaurant way up high on the hillside we'd noticed many times before (and had no idea was still a going concern) and then returned to the Gonzo and had a nice hot-tub soak before turning in for some very good sleep.

Sunday morning we had breakfast at the Red Rock Bakery, then loaded up the truck and headed for the Slickrock trailhead. We hadn't ridden this famous Moab mountain bike ride since the 1990s, and I was a little put off by the 'This is a DIFFICULT and TECHNICALLY DEMANDING ride!' text in the various guides we had, but although it was probably at the limit of my ability, and I walked a lot of hills (both up and down!) it was still a lot of fun. And man, was it ever gorgeous.

slickrock slickrock

slickrock Slickrock

The wind we'd been spared the day before kicked in with a vengeance, though, and we had to find protected spots for our snack breaks. There were also lots of other riders in both directions, as well as many 4wd vehicles on the 'Hells Revenge' 4x4 trail which crosses the Slickrock trail multiple times. It was pretty easy to see where this trail went (unfortunately):

tire marks

I was amazed at how strong my legs felt only a day after a hard half marathon. Pushing hard up a hill hurt a lot less than dismounting and walking my bike! I think this is because pedaling is not weight-bearing; plus, it's using muscles in different proportions, so the bits of quad that were working hardest in the race weren't asked to do as much when biking - or so I imagine, anyway.

Anyway, it was a fabulous weekend, A+ would run (and bike) again!

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-20 02:39 am (UTC)
mrkinch: vampire Viggo (Default)
From: [personal profile] mrkinch
my god, that sounds like fun! Running when it's not painful, and biking because you can cover so much more ground, but I'd probably better stick to walking. Or settle for dancing all weekend, with a few birding walks up the ridge.^^

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-20 02:49 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Ilana, that is so awesome! I'm sorry you didn't feel good at the end, but still--1:38 is pretty damn sweet. I love Moab--wish we were back down there!

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-20 04:38 am (UTC)
lonelywalker: Chloe Sullivan from Smallville grinning with the text "*epic glee*" (smallville: epic glee)
From: [personal profile] lonelywalker
Wow, that scenery looks fabulous!

Congrats to both of you on the great finishes :)

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-20 03:07 pm (UTC)
blnchflr: Captain America Civil War (Runner-in-spe)
From: [personal profile] blnchflr
So beautiful, the Moab area.

Nice to see Britt again :)

Sorry about no PR, but you sure placed impressively!!

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-20 03:36 pm (UTC)
blnchflr: Captain America Civil War (Default)
From: [personal profile] blnchflr
Although I could happily go again, I have been to Arches/Moab, so it's ok that we didn't make it there - I have great memories of what we did do :) !!

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-20 03:40 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
How exciting! Congratulations! Third out of 152 is nothing to sneeze at. :D


(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-20 09:58 pm (UTC)
traveller42: (Default)
From: [personal profile] traveller42
Congrats on a great weekend!

You are still faster than I am.

From Greenlee

Date: 2013-03-22 04:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Wow! What a fantastic race. I know it wasn't a PR, but you still killed it. And those photos of you are awesome. I don't think I have seen those on FB. You should use the first as your profile pic. You look strong, beautiful and focused!


ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (Default)

August 2017

131415 16171819
20212223 242526

My running PRs:

5K: 21:03 (downhill) 21:43 (loop)
10K: 43:06 (downhill)
10M: 1:12:59
13.1M: 1:35:55
26.2M: 3:23:31

You can reach me by email at heyheyilana @


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