- 13.1 miles/Half Marathon, 100 miles, Relay
- Road Race
My husband and I were so excited to complete the Saints and Sinners half marathon for the 2nd year in a row. We had a wonderful experience last year (we both got PRs and placed 2nd overall!), so we were hopeful that this year's race would be equally successful! Here's a recap of our weekend:
The expo for the race is in a convention center in Henderson. Though the expo is quite small (one ballroom in the convention center), it's easy to find and has all of the essentials. The volunteers and race staff are incredibly friendly, too. In fact, the Race Director recognized us at the expo. She was so excited to see us back, that she took our picture, and posted it to Facebook saying, “This cool couple both finished in the top three for men and women and they’re back…watch out for these guys!” Talk about pressure to perform! This definitely made us feel valued and appreciated, since we had traveled across the country to attend.
The race begins at a park, so we chose to use my in-laws' national park pass to get closer parking spots. The parking was plentiful and there were great pre-race amenities (i.e. porta-potties galore!) I like to warm up and do my own thing before races, so I didn't get a chance to enjoy the pre-race entertainment, but it looked very lively.
CONS: The course is mostly downhill, but there are some tricky uphill spots to be aware of. At the start line I heard a woman declare that her goal for that day was 1:19. Since that’s my long-term goal (i.e. several years away!), I was instantly intrigued. I had so much adrenaline at the beginning, and with the downhill, I found myself keeping up with her. I decided I wanted to hold on as long as I could, so I could feel and experience my eventual 1:19 goal pace. This snap decision to ditch my plan was not the most well thought out decision. I went out way too quickly, with my first three miles clocking in at: 5:52, 6:02, 6:09. After the first several miles of steep downhill, at mile 4 there is a rather large incline. I'm convinced that this would normally not be a challenging hill, but after going down for a few miles, I had trouble surmounting this one. It is a bit of a confidence buster too, since the majority of the race still lies ahead. Then again at mile 8.5, there is a steady 1.5 miles of uphill. Again, because of the downhill portions, I found that going uphill at this point in the race was particularly challenging.
PROS: The scenery on course is incredible. The course winds along Lake Mead, taking runners through old railway tunnels used to create the Hoover Dam. It is exceptionally beautiful, and provides a wonderful distraction when you're feeling fatigued during the race.
Because you go through so many tunnels, GPS does not always work properly. Therefore, your watch may not reflect the correct distance covered or pace obtained. I found this out when I was chugging along, thinking I had over a mile left, and then saw a sign indicating that "You have ½ mile to go!"
I pushed myself to finish strong, with the goal of a course PR still in sight. I crossed the finish line in 1:28:08, a 3-minute PR from last year, 4th overall woman, and 1st in my age group. Matt got an overall PR and 2nd overall. Although I was a bit disappointed that we weren’t both up on the podium this year, it was still an incredible race, and an incredible experience. Also fun to note: at the finish line, you get to choose between the "Saints" or "Sinners" finisher chute. Both years that I've run, I have opted for the "Saints" chute. I thought that this was a creative way of infusing the theme throughout all aspects of the race. There were also "saints" (fruit, pretzels, etc) and "sinners" (cookies, donuts, candy, etc) snacks at the finish line. Again, I opted for the saintly snacks!
OVERALL: If you're looking for a winter half marathon in warmer weather, this is a great option. It's a fast and incredibly scenic half, with great race management. My only caution: don't underestimate the hills - they can be the devil!