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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Running Red Rock

Here is a map of Red Rock Canyon. It shows Scenic Drive, a loop of about 13 miles that circles through Red Rock Canyon. On all sides are really cool mountains and rocks.

Before I left for Vegas I saw the following page in the December edition of Runner's World:

I thought to myself that there was no way I could do a 13 mile run...I would have liked to do a 13 miler, but I just didn't think I was quite there yet. My max run was 8 miles, and I'm not sure it is recommended to make a jump from 8 miles to 13 miles.

So, we arrive in Vegas on Saturday. Early Sunday morning I go on a 7 mile run of the strip. We also walk a ton - all around the Vegas strip - on Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. On Tuesday we took out 5 mile hike up Turtlehead Peak. So, needless to say I'm kind of tired. But my legs feel good and I start to wonder on Tuesday if it might not be possible for me to run Scenic Drive (13 miles) if I took it in two phases: Run half and then relax for a while and finish the next half. But then as I begin to consider the possibility I think to myself that maybe I should just run as far as I can go. If I can get 13 then great, but if not then I will just relax and take a break at some point.

So, on Wednesday morning I start out at about 1pm. By the time I start I am determined to get through all 13 miles. The first 5 miles are almost entirely uphill and it is all against wind! I take my time and try not to expend too much energy, but it is very slow moving, and it gets a bit discouraging when my ipod tells me after 5 miles that I am at a 15 minute per mile pace!

The 5 mile point is the highest part of the run, and I look out over the canyon and it is very beautiful. In addition to the scenery I am also inspired by the fact that the rest of the run will be downhill. Add to that the Switchfoot song "I dare you to move" and I am off and running. I begin to stride out and really cover some ground quickly - it is exhilarating, to say the least. And at this point I begin to enjoy the majesty of the mountains around me.

When I hit the 9 mile marker my total pace (for the first 9 miles) is 9 minutes per mile! That means that I went from 15 minutes per mile at the 5 mile mark to 9 minutes per mile in a span of only four miles. I must of been bookin' it! And I am having a lot of fun.

Once I hit the 10 or 11 mile marker then it starts to become a bit more difficult and I can start to feel it in my legs. But I'm still doing well and I finish 13.1 miles (half marathon distance) just under 9 minutes per mile.

Here I am just after the run

Here is the sky on my run

Here are the shoes that carried me through. (I think that it's about time to retire them.)

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