ilanarama: me in Escalante (yatta!)
[personal profile] ilanarama
Canyonlands 2014

I hardly need to post a report; basically everything I said in my pre-race assessment came to pass just as I predicted. I came in second in AG to a ridiculously-fast 53-year-old (she ran 1:32), in 1:38:28, my second-best time on this course by only three seconds and my fourth-fastest half marathon overall.

Here I am (second from left) with friends waiting for the start:

Canyonlands 2014

I lined up within sight of the line but well behind the leaders, close to the right side as the course begins with a sweeping curve to the right. The signs marking the 1:30 and 1:40 pace leaders were next to each other, ahead of me on my left, and both quickly disappeared ahead of me, making me check my pace in puzzlement. I left my Garmin on autolap, and it began to get pretty far off the mile markers beginning around mile 4, so I did a quick time check at each even mile marker after that (though I mostly don't remember the exact numbers).

1 - 7:09 (screaming downhill)
2 - 7:25
3 - 7:19
4 - 7:26
5 - 7:23
6 - 7:26

At the 6-mile point by my Garmin my elapsed time read 44:07, but when I passed the 6-mile sign I noticed it read 44:30 exactly, or 7:25 pace. Which was perfectly according to plan, which had me averaging 7:25-7:30.

The forecast wind was relatively mild up until the middle of the sixth mile, just before the station where Cliff Shots were being handed out ahead of the mile 6 water stop, when boom, suddenly it blasted into our faces, right out of nowhere. The inflated arch over the road at the gel station shook wildly as though it was trying to take flight. From this point on, the wind gusts were frequent and fierce. Mostly we had a headwind, but there were many lulls and occasional gusts from the side or behind.

With the stronger headwind it became more important to use others for drafting. I spotted the woman with the 1:40 pace sign ahead of me (WTF, I was on pace for 1:37-ish?) and pushed to get behind her, but as she pumped her arms the bottom end of the sign pole whipped dangerously back and forth, and I quickly decided it would be prudent to give her and her weapon a wide berth. I pushed on to the next person and tried to coast in his wake. It was tough going, though. Drafting when I could helped. The 1:40 woman passed me again. It didn't look like there was anyone with her.

Canyonlands half marathon 2014 Canyonlands half marathon 2014

7 - 7:29
8 - 7:32 (~59:xx at the marker, I just noticed I was under an hour which meant faster than 7:30 pace)
9 - 7:15
10 - 7:46 (1:15:03 at the marker, barely over 7:30 pace)
11 - 7:45

At this point the canyon road ends at the main highway, and the course goes under the highway bridge on a bike/ped path and then comes up to run in the (closed) right lane. In previous windy years the wind had come from the south, making this last stretch brutal, but today we had a northwest wind and the boost was very welcome. Somewhere between turning onto the highway and the turn in towards town around mile 12, I noticed the 1:40 pace leader visibly slow to a shuffle. As I passed her, she called out various encouraging things, "You can do it! Relax your shoulders, you'll be fine," and I really wanted to yell back, "Stop trying to act like a coach! You couldn't even run the right pace and you have no pace group left!" but I was too busy saving my breath for, you know, running.

Along with the half there is also a 5-mile race (that Britt was doing for the second time), and I was keeping an eye on the markers for that race as they made a good countdown to the finish. I saw the big 3, which meant two miles to go, and looked at my Garmin. Okay, 1:31, so with 15 minutes to go two miles at 7:30 pace - oh, no, I am not even going to make 1:40, full panic mode, did I really slow down that much in those last hard windy miles?

...and then I realized that the '1:31' on that particular display screen was minutes and seconds into the split, not hours and minutes total, and, duh. Pace math is hard.

My old race buddy Karah, who had run the 5-mile, was on the side just after the final turn toward the finish along with some others who'd run the 5 and some non-running spouses and friends. During pre-race discussion on Facebook, they'd decided to set up a margarita aid station, and a bunch of us (including me!) had enthusiastically agreed we'd love to get a little special boost in the last mile. I heard the alert gong and slid toward the side of the road, where Karah handed me a plastic bottle of pre-mixed margarita; I'd expected a little cup, but that was okay, though I didn't have any energy to spare to open it until I crossed the finish line. (I was going to tell anyone who asked that it was sportsdrink - it was about the right color, and I had my hand over the label - but nobody hassled me, whew!)

Margarita aid station

12 - 7:23
13 - 7:28
13.24 - 1:44 (7:07 pace)

I crossed the line at 1:38:37 on the clock, and a chip time of 1:38:28. (And then I drank my margarita, which you can see in the finish line photos if you look carefully at my right hand.) As mentioned above, this got me second in my 50-54 AG, over 6 minutes behind the winner but a little more than 3 minutes ahead of number three, out of 128 total. I also finished a few seconds ahead of the woman who'd just clipped me for second place last year, though she was still in the 45-49 AG. I finished 40th woman out of 1725 and 199/2922 overall.

Canyonlands half marathon 2014 Canyonlands half marathon 2014

I think my pre-race assessment was right on: I probably could have knocked off ~30-60 seconds if it hadn't been windy, but I was not in PR shape. My execution was solid, with my heart rate over time pretty much identical to that in my PR race (and oddly, quite a bit under what it was at Canyonlands 2013, and above what it was at The Other Half 2013, both races in which I ran 1:38:3x).

I have to reluctantly admit that miles matter. The difference between 50 and 59mpw doesn't look like much, but 9 mpw over 10 weeks is 90 more miles I ran last fall than this spring. I also think the greater number of trail miles made a difference; maybe because trail running is slow and means even more time on my feet, maybe because of the strength developed from climbing and descending. This cycle I had attempted to make up for slightly lower mileage with more intensity, but it didn't work well for me. I couldn't really handle two quality workouts per week plus a long run, with one or two slow hilly trail runs. Maybe I needed to slow my easy runs down even more, but as it was they tend to be on the slow side for people with my race times.

If I want to break 1:35 in the half, and 3:20 in the marathon, I'm going to have to step up my miles even more. I'm not sure I have room in my life for 70+mpw, though. (I'd enjoy it, I think! But Britt wouldn't.) But neither am I ready to give up on my goals. Well, I've got another half in June, and the Lakefront 10-miler in five weeks.

Speaking of, I haven't raced a 10-miler since I was a whole lot slower, and it was on a course that ran up and over the mesa, super hilly. So this half gives me a pacing gauge; using a pace calculator and making a possible allowance for the elevation in Chicago vs Moab, I figure I should be able to run something between 1:11:30 and 1:13:45, or roughly a pace of 7:10-7:20. Yikes!
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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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