Woohoo!! I'm so happy to say, I finished my last race of the year strong! Per usual, I was nervous before this race. Again, I didn't get all my training runs in and I was not feeling too confident about how I'd do. However, I was determined to have a great race, since Disney's Wine & Dine was such a disappointment with it being cut short and all.
I won the race entry from an instagram giveaway from Clarinda over at Enjoying the Course. This was the inaugural race, so it was a small race in Laughlin, NV. I believe there were a little over 500 runners, including the 5K. I felt the race was well organized and managed. Packet pick-up was quick and easy. The tech shirt that was included in the race swag, was really nice and fit well. I love it when they have both ladies and mens sizes for shirts!
Jason and I left the kiddos with my parents to spend the night (Thanks Mom & Dad!) and we took off Friday afternoon to Laughlin. It's about 1.5 hr away, not too bad of a drive, just a little boring. This was our first visit to Laughlin. It's a small town right on the Colorado River and Arizona border. There are a few hotel and casinos along the river and an outlet mall along the main street, which is all we saw. I'm sure there are some nice hiking trails too and of course, in the summer there are lots of water activities on the river.
Once we got to Laughlin, we went straight to race registration at the Colorado Belle Hotel & Casino. The Edgewater Hotel and the Colorado Belle Hotel were both race sponsors so they offered runners a really great (read: Cheap!) hotel rate for either of the two properties. I made the reservation for the Edgewater Hotel. At check-in, we were given a cute welcome gift from the race directors. I thought it was a very nice and personalized gesture ;) After dinner, it was an early bedtime for us, as we had to be up early for my 7am race start.
The race was across the street from the hotel, so we just walked to the start line. I met up with 2 other runners I knew from a facebook running group and we took a quick photo before heading to the start line. It was a chilly morning, but I chose to run without a jacket, as I figured it would warm up as I started running. I'm glad I didn't take the jacked, the weather temps were perfect. It was a bit windy for most of the race, but nothing too crazy. Once the race started, I was prepared for the big hill they warned us about at packet pickup. They weren't joking, it was a steady uphill climb for the first 2 miles or so. But, what comes up must come down and that downhill felt great. I made up for the slow pace and took off. I was really enjoying the run and the view of the dam and mountains when we were directed left for the trail portion of the race. I enjoy trail running, so it was a nice change of pace. I'm assuming it was added to get the full 13.1. The trail section, was an out and back. I don't particularly like, out and backs, but I knew it was not going to be for the entire race, so it wasn't too bad. The trail was soft sand/gravel, so going uphill on that felt like forever! Once we were out of the desert trail, it was back to road running and another steady and steep uphill to cross the dam into Arizona. I took a quick break to stop and take a photo of the view at this point ;)
When we got to our turn-around, I spotted Jason! We hadn't planned a meeting spot along the course, so it was a very welcomed surprise! He ran along side me for a bit, then took off to meet me at the finish line. It was a quick run down the dam until it evened out at the river. It was nice running on the paved trail that went along the river. The views were a nice distraction from my aching feet. Once I crossed a bridge, it was a nice downhill run to the main street, where the end was so close! I hadn't really been paying too much attention to my pace, but when I saw the clock at the finish, I gave it my all to barely come in under 2:30. My official time was 2:28. I was so happy with my time! I'm no speed lightning, but that course was pretty brutal and I was sure I was going to end up with a time of 2:45 or so. It had more ups and downs than I was expecting, but it kept it interesting and the downhill runs were my favorite.
I saw Jason soon after crossing the finish line and I even met Clarinda, whom I'd won the race from! YAY for meeting new runner friends :) We got a free beer and a nice post-race snack tray, with a bagel, banana, orange slices, and granola bar. All and all, I really enjoyed this race. It had a little bit for everyone. Some trails, some challenging uphills, followed by fun downhills, pretty scenery, and a great atmosphere for a small grass-roots race. The race directors did a great job and I'm sure this will turn into an even more awesome race in the years to come!
So, how is your year coming to an end? Any fun races? Are you making plans for next year already? I know I am!