Six Tunnels to Hoover Dam Half Marathon

I had decided to do this one because it sounded like a good time, and I was promised a mug at the end (this turned into a water bottle, but, that is okay).  Overall, Spring had sprung all over Vegas, warm sunny weather… this would be perfect.  Then, as race day approached, the weather changed.  They were now calling for cloudy, chance of showers and 15-20 mph winds.  Yippee.  Cold, windy, and running a dirt trail near a cliff.  Perfect.
Thankfully, my coach has run this course and prepared me.  I shared my tips with two fellow runners I knew that were doing the half with me.  So, I showed up to this race ready to rock it.  It had a special meaning to me and my coach.  For me, I needed to prove that finishing Tinkerbell wasn’t a fluke, that I was a solid runner with potential.  There would be much less fanfare, only a couple people I knew to cheer me on… this was it.  To me, my true test.  For my coach, the race is one she was set to do last year, until her beloved pup Ladybug passed away the day before.  She did the 5k instead.  She was hoping to run this half marathon for Ladybug this year.  Then she realized it was scheduled for the same day as the LA Full Marathon she signed up for.  As a friend, and fellow lover of dogs… on a weekly run with her, I said, if you are okay with it, I would love to run Six Tunnels with Ladybug.  I know that bond you get with a dog, I have that, and I have lost a special dog and know that hurt… to me, it was a simple thing to offer… to her, it meant so much.  She gave Ladybug specific instructions on running with me… and gave me a ladybug patch and one of her balls (every race this past year she has a pic of her and Ladybug’s ball).  The day before the race I got the patch on my shirt, and prepared myself. 
I had followed her plan on carb loading, hydro loading and electrolyte loading.  As predicted, I felt like a water balloon that morning! Myself, a fellow runner and friend Tim ( and a co-worker were set to do the half-marathon.  So at 8:00 am, cold and wind aside, I set off…. The first 3 miles were uphill slowly, then, a nice 3 miles downhill… whew.  Then, I knew the tunnels part was coming, dirt trails and high winds… not so fun.  I was prepared with my bandana to cover my face when the dirt blew and for running through the tunnels.  What I wasn’t prepared for was not seeing all of or having the mile marker signs disappear.  Going through tunnels in a canyon made the GPS worthless. It told me I ran 26 miles, um, no; especially not in 2 hours and 20 minutes.  So, at some point I started to get frustrated.  It was sometime after seeing 6 miles to go, and before seeing the 3 miles to go sign.  I had just slayed the dragon on the two really steep hills I was warned about, but was unsure of what my pace was or how much further I had to go… it wasn’t pretty in my head at that moment.  Ladybug knew it.  I could feel her there, nudging me along, keeping me company.  Actually, right before I hit those hills I had a conversation in my head with Tracy: it went a little like this: ME: ‘F%$k did you see those hills?  No way, the wind is killer, I am not sure how far I have gone, no way, those hills are happening’ HER: ‘Um, yeah… double mastectomy, chemo coming up soon… suck it up whiner, it’s just a hill, climb it, and keep going.  You’re going to let that hill conquer you?  Please.  Just run.’ ME: ok, ok… good point.  I can do this… and I do need to stop whining’ then, I ran the hills, made it to the top, and started back through the tunnels.  Then, I saw the sign, 3 miles to go.  I was at about 1:45-1:50 at that point.  I knew unless I took a drastic dip in pace, I was on point.  Then, I saw 2 miles to go, with having been out there almost 2 hours… I knew I was going to PR this race, and that the rest was down hill.  I took one last walk break to regain my strength physically and mentally. I asked Ladybug to bring me Athena (my dog I lost) and I felt them both there, one on each side, as I ran that last mile in.  I suddenly felt great, beyond great… and was smiling when I saw Kristin right before the finish line and I was still smiling as I crossed the finish line.  I didn’t even see the timing clock there at the finish line… I just met up with Kristin, got some water and oranges…. and stretched out.  According to my app I ran it in 2:22:38, a PR for me, since I did Tink in 2:33:11.  I was ecstatic!  Official chip time was 2:21:35.  Even better!!
We climbed the trail back out of the canyon to the car and before we headed to breakfast, took a pic of me with Ladybug’s ball.  I text it to my coach and friend and said, she’s all warmed up and ready to go for your marathon tomorrow.  She was amazing, thank you!  
Next up: Rockin’ Rabbit Half Marathon in April.  Part of it is on the same trails I was just running on.  Now I am better prepared and ready to conquer that one! 
A special shout out to the coach/friend: Charlene R, she completed her first full marathon, at age 50, in 4:46:51.  She could have finished sooner, but as the truly wonderful and caring person she is, stopped to help an injured runner and made sure the people at the medic tent got to the runner.  What an amazing accomplishment, I am SO proud! Here is her race report: