25 May 2012

Jemez Half Marathon

The Jemez Half Marathon. 13.7 miles with 2,723' of gain through mountains in a national forest. My goals in order were:
  1. Finish - highly likely as my ankle injury was essentially healed
  2. Beat 2:33:56 - my time at Breckenridge, which was 13.3 miles with 3,011'
  3. Beat 2:30:00
  4. Beat 2:17:00 - which would be a sub-10 minute pace

Here is the complimentary poster - makes it look like a pleasant New England fall day

We left before 6am after back-to-back less than 5-hour sleeps. I have had trouble sleeping before other races - less than 3 hours for both the Estes Park and Breckenridge half-marathons - so it was not a major concern (although far from beneficial)

The drive to Los Alamos took just over an hour

As we drove the one road into Los Alamos we were entertained watching cars come zipping up at 70mph only to at the last minute see the Sheriff doing the 55mph speed limit. It became a long procession of frustrated drivers

We pulled into Los Alamos with plenty of time

After checking in we hung out, drank water and stretched. This was a pretty mellow half-marathon with 234 runners (another 232 runners were long gone running either the 50K or 50M races). At 7:50am we lined up and at 8:00am we were off

The race can be divided up into four sections

The first section was 4.2 miles with 721' of gain and 555' of descent. It was pleasant and mostly rolling wooded trails. I got off to a good start - knowing the next section was brutal - and made it to the first aid station at a 7:58 pace. Woo-hoo!

Below is a random pic of folks heading out from the aid station

The second section is 2.2 miles with 1,540' of gain

This section of the course was rocky with some loose footing, particularly at the switchbacks. It was tough but after a false "summit" came into the second aid station. I looked at my watch - woo-hoo! 1:08:20. I had done the second section at a 15:55 pace. I did the math - very poorly - and felt I had a shot at breaking 2 hours. Today it is obvious that was ridiculous as it would have required a 7:08 pace for 7.3 miles. Hahaha!

I began sprinting and quickly passed 3 people. My sprinting turned to running and I started getting beat up - especially my other ankle - from the rocky trail. The descent was tough. After the race the folks I chatted with all took longer on the descent than the ascent. It was 0.9 miles longer but the gain was only 462' as opposed to 2,261'. The problem with the descent is that it was often very steep and when the trail wasn't rocky it was sandy - the sand may have been ash from last year's Los Conchas Fire

I eventually realized 2 hours was not possible (snicker snicker) so the new goal was to not be passed. I was passed only once over the last 6 miles or so (the bastard turned out to be 55 - at least he won the 50-59 age group). I made it to the third aid station at 1:53:30 - an 8:29 pace for the 5.3 mile stretch with 1,792' of descent

The last 2 miles was the worst by far - a slothenly 12:26 pace. Obviously I was tired but the 426' of gain (equivalent to 42 flights of stairs) was not gradual but about half out of the aid station and half at the finish line. Finally - the finish line. And a 32nd place finish (later bumped to 33rd as some guy dropped down from the 50K race)


I celebrated with several cold juices and chatted with a runner from Minnesota. After changing into clean clothes I came back to wait for Maureen. I couldn't eat yet so I sat in the shade and chatted with a fireman from Las Vegas, NM. He had also finished and was waiting for his wife

Eventually I got up and wandered to the parking lot to look for a quiet place to throw up - although I didn't. More juice and more shade worked fine. I wandered around and looked at the results as they were posted - see, I really was in 32nd at one time

Here is Maureen happy to be completing her first half marathon - and happy to get off the hot and rocky course after 4 hours

She had one of the free beers and then we went into town for food and smoothies. Too tired to wander around Los Alamos we headed home and lazed around. And slept well that night

The End