Race Recap: Red Rock Canyon Marathon 2013

As I mentioned in the last post, one of the reasons I returned to Vegas was to run the ultra-scenic but ultra-challenging Red Rock Canyon Marathon. It was everything it was hyped up to be.

The Scenery

I’d never seen this kind of terrain. Some rocks were bright, vivid red (as advertised); the taller ones, however, were brown, gray, and topped with snow. Here’s a photo I snapped on the second half of the course.


Yeah, I used the same photo yesterday. Deal with it.

The Challenge

The photo from the second half is the only one I have that’s not shaky. Why? Because I’d stopped to walk. In fact, I power-walked a good portion of the hills on the return to the finish.

I couldn’t have done anything differently to avoid this. The first half had lots of downhill, and I ran it the way you’re supposed to run downhill: I let gravity carry me. And gravity turned my quads to mush.

The elevation profile. Eep.

The elevation profile. Eep.

After the double-lap at the turnaround point, when I started back up the hill, there was no question: I was walking. At that point, it was faster than running.

I did the best I could, and I’m proud of my 3:51:36. Seeing as I was “running” some 11- to 12-minute miles on the uphills, I burned through the downhills pretty quick to clock that time.

Look at that bulging right quad.

Look at that bulging right quad.

The Lesson

If I’m serious about my 50 States Marathon quest, I need to run some of them easy. Like, training-run easy. Over four hours (or way more than that, depending on the course) easy.

I intended to do that here, but when I counted the number of women ahead of me during the very first out-and-back (before mile 1), I realized I could win an age-group award. And shortly after that, as I passed a few of them, I realized I had a shot at an overall award. The awards are little red rocks, and I wanted one.

(I got one. But, according to the results, I got the wrong one, so I’m trying to get that straightened out. Another story for another day.)

The point is: I was in bad shape for a good portion of the second half. I worried I was getting hyponatremia. I nearly puked. I thought, “Why do I do this to myself?” I wanted to quit. Blah blah blah.

I’ve said all this before. And I could handle that when I was doing a spring race and a fall race. But I’ve done a marathon every other month since October, and all three have been physically and mentally exhausting.

I need to limit my hard efforts, or else I’m never going to complete this project. Easy marathons are like the walk breaks on the big uphill to the 50 States finish line.

About Meghan Loftus

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