While planning out my business trip to Las Vegas, I came across a local 5K that was taking place “across the street” from my hotel, or so I thought, so I signed up and looked forward to putting a notch in my list of states I’ve run a race in.
The Red Rock 5K is a small race dedicated to the Memory of a former high school cross country star who continued to love running and inspiring people. There were many people running the race as “Team Boulton”, a group dedicated to continuing his love of running and community support. It was pretty cool seeing just how many people have come together from such a tragedy, he died in a motorcycle accident a few years ago.
The race took place on a private country club and golf course. The route was about 90% on the paved golf cart trails, and the rest was on asphalt roads. Relatively flat, the course wasn’t difficult, save for a couple of short but steep inclines.
The day before, I made an excursion about 3 miles away to pick up my race packet. I had a few choices, take a taxi and spend about $15, run there and back making a 6 mile run, or take the city bus there and run back. I choose the last. A short bus ride and $2 later, I had my bib and token swag, a nondescript blue running hat, there was no shirt for the race. After that it was a hot and sweaty 3 mile run back to the hotel.
The morning of the race, I awoke early, knowing I needed to eat some breakfast and run the 2 miles to the race area. I headed down to the buffet for breakfast at 7:30, 1.5 hours to eat and jog to miles before the race starts, no big deal right? Wrong. On a Saturday and the casino restaurants don’t open until 8:00. First dilemma of the day: wait until 8, eat quickly, and hope I make it there with time to spare to orientate myself, or grab some Starbucks and head on out? I went for the buffet.. good choice. I made it through the line about 8:05, grabbed a place full of fruits, some scrambled eggs, and a slice of French toast. After my quick meal, I hit the road.
It wasn’t worth it to get a taxi for only 2 miles, so I took it slow and jogged the way there.
I made it with a good 20 minutes to spare. Mandatory pre-race bathroom break, and I was ready to go. I walked around the mini-expo watching the Zumba warm up and other festivities until it was time to line up. We all walked to the start and for a few minutes before the gun went off, there was a game of “keep the beach ball in the air” going around the crowd. Everyone was in good spirits and ready to go.
The gun went off, and we were off. I was mid-pack and headed out with a good 8:00 pace. I honestly felt I could keep it up, and I did for quite awhile, but the dry heat and elevation kicked in on me. Especially after the first mini-Everest, a 30 foot steep hill. My inner trail runner kicked in and I down geared to walking the hill. Mistake #1, I broke from my stride. I shouldn’t have done that. I was going really well up until that point. Afterwards, I couldn’t get back to that good momentum. I was still going strong, but slowed down a bit.
The race flew by. It was just crowded enough to keep it interesting, but not stumbling over each other. Somewhere around the middle mark, there was the single aid station. Water only. I stopped enough to down a full cup, then headed on out. Still going well, but not as fast as I knew I could be going. It was hot, about 90F. It was dry, sucking the life-giving water from my body. And, it was high, elevation that is, something I hadn’t even considered until now. In researching the course, I realized that I was about 2500 feet higher than where I live. Not radically different, but enough I’m sure my performance was impacted. But I digress, the race was flying by. At one point, during a nice down hill, a quote from Scott Jurek popped into my head “free speed”. Scott has been known to yell that out on good downhills. In hindsight, I should have yelled it. I definitely took advantage and flew past several runners.
The last 3/4 mile or so began with mini-Everest #2. Again, my inner trail guy kicked in and I walked it. Hitting the crest, I was off again. I was struggling. It wasn’t that I was so exhausted, it was the heat. Just as I was starting to hit that dark mental place, I came upon a couple where the guy was yelling words of encouragement to the girl. I don’t recall if I caught them, or they caught me, but the last 1/2 mile, I was right with them, maybe a few feet behind. Just as we turned the final curve, and the finish line was in sight, I bolted. leaving them in the dust. I knew I was going to PR, but I honestly thought I’d have done it by much more than I did. Official time: 28:33, a 22 second PR (not counting my high school days). I’ll take it, but I’ve run quite a bit faster than that lately in my regular running. Damn heat/elevation! Oh well, it was still a great race.
I grabbed some vitamin water and fruit, and the best thing of all for the day… a chill towel. These things are awesome! it’s a pre-packaged towel that’s moistened with an aloe vera and menthol solution that makes it feel cold, bringing your temperature down fast. This thing became my buddy the rest of the day (see part II). The post-race festivities were nice. Several free samples of food items and such. A nice hometown feel awards ceremony, and lots of friendly people. Although slightly disappointed in my performance, it was still a fun race that I’d recommend to anyone out that way next year.
After the awards ceremony, everyone was headed out. I had a choice, run the two miles back to the hotel, or head “elsewhere” So I hit the road…
See Part II (HERE) for the exciting conclusion to my Red Rock Adventure!