Sunday, August 15, 2010

Dad son wild west half-marathon

If you have not figured out by now, the family has been quite busy these past months or even years. Sometimes it is hard to fit everything we would like into our schedules, that is meeting with friends or traveling to new places for instance. Our Bucket List is long, we have enough on it for many years to come!

From time to time the boys offer us very personal gifts such as a one on one movie night or scrap booking, or the more classic car wash.

Last year, Max gave me a very special voucher for Father's Day: to run his first half marathon togehter. Between his cross-country schedule and college applications, and my busy race schedule, months passed without us coming with a good date for such an event. In May, I realized we had better hurry up with only a few weeks left before Max leaves for the East Coast. I went on several race schedule websites and found one half-marathon which was not already full, in August and close to our friends' place in Incline Village, Nevada, as we have planned for a weekend with them mid August. After checking with Agnès and Max, I registered the two of us on
As the date was approaching in July, Max and I were excited about the opportunity to realize his gift, finally. Max started training again after his graduation, including the 16 miles he paced me along at Western States at the end of June. Going the distance was really not the concern. As a matter of fact, we did a 13-mile run in Paris in 1:48. The unknown was how much we could push the pace. Unfortunately, Max' foot started bothering him at the end of July, a sort of inflammation under his right foot. Instead of running, he focused on swimming and did some biking as he is now dreaming of triathlon. With that, I really did not know what to expect. Just before the race, Max and I agreed on a conservative start at 7 min/mile pace, and we would pick up the pace half way if he was feeling good. The goal was to run under or close to 1 hour and 30 minutes. That was before seeing the course...

The other unknow this Sunday morning was the course as the website description was rather succint:
Out and back on fairly level streets, fire trails, and single track trails, rolling, no major hills! Magnificent High Sierra scenery. Four aid stations on course. Awards to all that complete the Half marathon or 10K.
The third unknown was the size of the field. We reached Donner Summit/Soda Springs around 8:15 for a start scheduled at 9 AM and, with the event called "Wild West", I was worried that would leave enough time to get our bib numbers. Well, there were barely 5 runners around the registration table and the field increased to a total of... 18 runners! It has been a long time since I did not compete in such a small field.
We all listened carefully to the pre-race briefing of race director, Big Al. After a few series of "take right, then right, then up, then straight, then turn around", several of us looked at each other, puzzled. Max asked if I had followed the instructions as he was relying on me. By the way, Big Al's motivation for putting up these races is to get more people healthy and he asked all of us that we take our own share and drag other people into running. A message which I'm very happy to spread through this blog and which corresponds well to the philosophy of the Brooks Inspire Daily program which I am part of.
We started by a short down hill and Max and I took the lead at the first turn. Max had forgotten his GPS but did not mind as I was going to pace him anyway.
A quarter of mile into the race we were at 6:35 min/mile pace and slowed down in the first hill. We were followed at a distance by Bau who was leading the 10K race. The hill from Soda Springs to the first aid station around 1.6 miles kept slowing down and we left the aid station with an average pace of 7:45 min/mile which we will maintain for the next 11 miles.
We crossed the third runner of the half two minutes after the turn around, then about ten other runners. Then we passed a few 10K runners who were on their way back. I kept reminding Max that we had another 4-mile out and back along the rail track before the finish, but he was too tired to realize. His back was cramping and he had GI issues which made him reluctant to drink. We saw Agnès at the end of each out and back and at the finish (in the meantime she drove up to Royal Gorge Inn, a place we enjoy in winter when cross country skiing).
As a perfect Dad-Son run, we reached the finish line together for a tie win of the event, in 1:41:57.
It was obviously not a competitive event yet it was not a flat one either and the altitude did not help as we the course was oscillating between 6,700 and 7,000 feet. And it was mostly on trail too. What a treat for Max to win his first half marathon race and for me to have been on his side to encourage and motivate him.

Please note that the event will be held the second weekend of August in 2011 and Big Al hopes this will bring more people by synchronizing with another local event or celebration.
A big thank you to... Big Al and his two volunteers manning the two aid stations! And congratulations to all the runners who joined them for this very friendly in a gorgeous and healthy place to run (except for the dust when crossing cars on the trail... ;-). And to Agnès for crewing and covering the event with her camera once again.
No food at the finish but the winner of the 10K race, Beau Barrett, and his wife, Shani, offered a sandwich, a cereal bar and an orange to Max who was most needing some fuel after pushing hard. Bean and Shani will be running the Lake Tahoe Marathon as a pair, one half marathon each and passing their baby at the mid point. They create glass art, wearables and lampwork in Fernley, Nevada, and I invite you to visit their website!

Here are three screen shots from my Garmin 205 recordings loaded in SportTracks. See you all on the road or the trails and... Run Happy!

PS: can't make the scale more realistic for the elevation chart. From 6,700 feet at the start to 7.000 at the first aid station, it was not as hilly as this chart implies...


Anonymous said...

Emue aux larmes, je vous embrasse tous les deux...Bravo Maxime

Beau Barrett said...

It was a pleasure meeting you and your wonderful family Jean. We were grateful to discover you at such a small event.
Although I knew it wouldn't be sustainable I thoroughly enjoyed trying to keep up with you and your son. I definitely pushed harder today just because you guys were there setting the standard right out of the gate.
Our congratulations to you and Max for an excellent Father and son performance and thank you for sharing the link to our site.
Hope we'll cross paths again and that we all continue to go farther faster...
Beau Barrett

SnowLeopard said...

This was definitely one of my slowest 10k times because of the extra distance and the hills, but I still enjoyed the course and the joy of being outside in the sunshine with fellow runners. Congrats to you and your son on your win, and passing me up even though I was going the shorter distance~ :)


SnowLeopard said...

Oh yeah, I'm in the green in the first photo.

zbsports said...

That was a tough run. Nice run update there.

keen footwear said...

The marathon is very interesting, I bet it has lot of fun too.