Red Rock Canyon Half Marathon – Post Race Review


It’s been a couple weeks since I checked off Nevada from my 50 States list. That makes 15 states that I’ve run a race in – although I did not do a half marathon in all of those so I may go repeat some states later.

My boyfriend and I had already planned a mini vacation to climb in Red Rock Canyon. Later, I was scrolling through, like I normally do, and started looking at Nevada races for 2018. It just so happened there was a half marathon the same weekend, in the same park(!), when we were already planning on visiting! Serendipitous? It was just too perfect.

I “begged” Ben if I could run it and he worked in a “rest day” into our climbing schedule. Although I do really like climbing, running (and checking off a state) is a huge passion of mine and it was just so perfect to have a race the same weekend.

It was truly a unique experience to vacation and explore the Red Rock National Conservation area to its full potential by climbing, hiking, running a race and camping all in one trip.

As much as I want to do a whole blog post on the entire trip, this post’s focus is on the race.

When I found the half marathon on the calendar, I wasn’t training for anything in particular. I was still about 6 or 7 weeks from race day so I decided to increase my mileage every week. Essentially, I did a very basic, beginners half marathon training plan. I ran 10 miles a week and a half before the race and I felt relatively prepared for a half marathon.

Since I only had a short, low mile base built up, I didn’t have any big goals for this half. I just wanted to finish, not push too hard, and still be mobile after the race since we had a few more days of climbing afterwards.

The Night Before
Ben and I were just planning on camping the whole time in the park. However, since we weren’t quite sure if the race was going to shut down roads or the entrance to the park, race morning logistics were becoming difficult. The race company did have a free bus shuttle from the race’s host hotel to and from the race, but if we were to camp, we would have had to get up all that much earlier to get ourselves to the hotel (driving back into the city) and on the bus. I decided to just rent a room in the hotel for the night before to make everything easier. This way Ben could sleep in and then get on the bus, which was free for spectators as well (and I could get in a shower afterwards)!

Packet Pick Up
Since we were in the hotel already, it made packet pick up SUPER easy, as we took the elevator down 5 floors. With time to spare and nothing to do, we took advantage of the bowling, bars and amenities of the Sun Coast Hotel and Casino.

Race Day
Maybe because I wasn’t worried about anything not having many goals, this seemed to be the easiest, least stressful race mornings I had ever had. I got dressed (my clothes laid out the night before), grabbed my food (I packed myself a breakfast bag the night before), and caught the elevator to the first floor and boarded the bus (benefit of being in the host hotel).

Race Start
After reading their million warnings in email and on the website, they STRONGLY suggested getting on the bus really early. That left me with an HOUR to wait, standing, in the cold at the start line. Luckily the bathrooms were heated and there was plenty of people to chat with. Actually, now that I mention it, racers were so friendly at this race and I got to chat with so many people that morning. It was quite refreshing. Besides the local company I work for, many of the most recent races I’ve gotten to actually run haven’t had all that friendly of people.

Finally, the gear drop bus showed up, and I had to strip off my layers with 5 minutes to spare before the race. Not that I minded, it was a chilly morning, only 35 degrees at the start, so keeping my layers on as long as possible was desirable. After lining up and cueing my music, I anxiously awaited the start, but there was no gun or whistle, and it seemed in mid-sentence to another racer, we were running! It was a very strange, uneventful start.

The Race
Holy HILLS! This was probably the hardest race I’ve ever run. The hills were never ending and even though I knew that the biggest hills were over by mile 7.5, the little rolls in the road felt like monsters near the end.

Nevertheless, I trucked along, keeping steady. I didn’t walk until mile 5 and then only a couple of 30-second walking breaks every other mile or so! For not being that trained, I was feeling good. It wasn’t until mile 10, as expected, that I felt DONE. My feet seemed to be the limiting factor and were hurting with every step. I kept going, even up the hill that put you into the finish line, and Ben was right there, running with me up the last two-tenths of a mile.

Overall – 3/5
If it weren’t for the amazing views, this race wouldn’t have much going for it. I’m guessing the location itself is really the only reason people keep running this race. Yeah, sure, everything was organized and in place. Things were started on time (sans a huge production or announcement). The course was marked and coned appropriately and safely. There was plenty of water stations….. But, to me, those are all things that SHOULD go with ANY race. I have very little money and when I choose to spend my money on a race, I’d like it to be on the best event it could be. Yeah, I’m picky and have high expectations, but for $90 – $100, I expected a lot.

There was no bells or whistles with this race EXCEPT the constant view to distract you from running up so much elevation gain.  The swag was alright (not being advertised ahead of time, I had no idea what I would get), there was no expo (none at packet pick nor at the finish line), there was bare minimum communication and the medal was, frankly,  just a medal with the race name (I like unique and fun medals).

Also, on top of all that, photos were NOT free. I’m a little spoiled in Colorado I guess because almost every race I run has FREE photos for download. I’ve already paid this company $100 to run, $130 to stay in a hotel and now there’s more money for photos of me. Geez!

The one other thing that made this event worth my money is the finisher food. They had OPTIONS! All the options. Bagels, candy, pastries, chips, chocolate milk, hot drinks and PANCAKES. You betcha, I got a pancake.

T-Shirt/Swag – 2/5
For being such a great location, the swag sure was ‘eh. Seriously. The t-shirt was just the race name (white, long-sleeved with too short of arms), same with the medal and there was virtually nothing in the goodie bag (except a flyer from their on-course nutrition, Hammer – which I tried and promptly spit out! That stuff is gross!)

Aid Stations/Support – 5/5
Like I said before, course marking and water stations are critical to ANY race. This one was no exception and they had plenty of water stations along the way, about every two miles or less. There was water and HEED (from Hammer) at all the stations and snacks at some (probably for the marathon distance runners). Due to the nature of a national park, there were restrooms throughout the whole course.

Course Itself/Scenery/Difficulty – 5/5
I’ve already touched on this. The course scenery was GORGEOUS! I think this is the most scenic and pretty race I have ever run. The course followed the scenic drive of the National Conservation area which just so happens to be about 13 miles. How convenient for them! We had already driven this road a few times before race day, so I knew what to expect, but those hills just kept going and going and going!

Expo Quality – 1/5 (if that)
There was no expo. Not at the packet pick up and not at the race start or finish. It surprises me that this is the second race in less than a year that has virtually no sponsors. Don’t they know they can MAKE MONEY from sponsors!?!?! As a race director/marketing coordinator for a running company, I know that, for fact, you can get people to PAY YOU to come to your race because you are bringing in a specific market of people, i.e. runners, and if someone has a product that appeals to that target market – it’s a no-brainer! As a racer, I like expos because I like to see the lastest running gear, trends and local businesses.

Parking/Access – 4/5
There was no parking allowed at the start or finish of the race. Obviously, not everyone follows the “rules” and people still parked at both locations (and paid the National Park entrance fee) but because of this, the race provided buses to the start and from the finish and buses for the spectators to/from the finish for FREE from the host hotel. I think that is AMAZING and actually makes things easy. If we hadn’t stayed at the host hotel, thinking like a local racer, It would have been just as easy to park at the hotel and get on the bus as well. There was another option if you were staying in a hotel near the Vegas Strip for an affordable fee.

Race Management – 4/5
Even though I’ve knocked the company for not having all the bells and whistles, they still get a 4/5 for race management because things were in place and on time. It does take a lot of coordination to get the bus to/from the hotel and to the race location. Plus, they did have all the info you needed on the race website. The thing that knocks off one of the points is timing and post-race communication. It took three days to get our results and it wasn’t until day three that anything was even acknowledged. There were no live results, even though it was chipped timed. When I looked later that evening after the race and didn’t see results, I was a little irritated, but when I got back to town on Monday after climbing and there was STILL no results, I was bothered. I finally checked my emails and saw one email at noon on Monday saying the timer was working on results but there was a bug in the software. Then email #2 came at 2pm saying preliminary results were up, but they weren’t 100% correct. And finally, email #3 at 8pm, a FULL TWO DAYS (not including race day) AFTER the race stated that the results were final and online. Being a race director and timer, I was irritated at the format of results as well, being a stationary PDF that you can’t easily search. I know the systems they were using for timing and the software; plus the registration platform was on Run Sign Up which is so user-friendly that results could have easily been integrated and searchable by name. Oh well. There goes my nit-picking.

My Race – 4/5
I achieved my goals and wasn’t completely wrecked after the race! Sure, it was my slowest half marathon time probably ever (which is why I dock one point), but it was the prettiest (and hilliest) half marathons I had ever run as well. Plus, I got to rep 3W Races, Legend Compression Wear and Golden Mountain Guides while running around Nevada, so can’t be a loss there!

The afternoon after finishing, we checked out of the hotel, picked another campsite at the park and then recovered by walking parts of the Vegas Strip. The day after, I was only a little sore in my shins and feet and ended up climbing 1090 vertical feet with a hike in and out, 12 hours car to car…but more on that adventure later!


Looking into 2018: Goals, Upcoming Adventures and More!

I’m totally a new years resolution person. You either are or you aren’t, but I definitely am. This year I’ve had trouble with my new year’s resolutions. I haven’t been able to pinpoint specific goals I’ve wanted to work on for 2018 and now we’re in February and 2018 is in full swing and it’s already been very busy and hectic:

-I’ve already race directed 5 races (yes, that’s one almost every weekend)

-I’ve been training for a half marathon

-Track has already started

-And we’ve already gotten back from one travel round to North Dakota and Dakota, IL with a quick stop at Devil’s Tower.

So what the heck, I’ll just pick some goals now:

Health, Fitness, Running, Rock Climbing, etc:
1. My main health goal is to build and implement a well-rounded training program for myself. I realize this is vague, but the idea is to stay fit and healthy in general and I need a training regime to guide me. It’s doesn’t have to be the same every week and it doesn’t have to be written and official. It may end up looking like a week-long plan I write every Sunday.  I want to encompass it all: Cardio (running and hiking), strength training (in the form of weight lifting, rock climbing, hiking, etc), and flexibility (yoga and stretching). I would like to be “working out” at least 5 times a week, doing some type of activity. It doesn’t mean doing all the above every week or vice-versa, running everyday or going to the weight room 3x a week. I just want to be fit and have a well-rounded routine so I can keep doing the activities I like and attempt some harder activities (climb/hike harder peaks, run faster, etc).

2. With that said: I would like to see my half marathon fitness improve (finish a half without being completely drained) and my times come down (back to the 1:50 mark and lower).

3. I would also like to climb harder routes consistently (5.10’s)

Work/All My Jobs/My Business, Golden Mountain Guides:
1. This is the hardest area to set goals in. When it comes to working, I have three main jobs and it’s hard to balance it all. I work my main jobs all day (the ones I get paid for) and I’m left with working on the company I own with Boyfriend in the few “extra” hours I have left. This is what we have to do right now while our business grows and it’s the “deal” we’ve made (Ben works solely on the business). I guess my goal is to come up with a schedule that works for me to be able to help Golden Mountain Guides grow more and to manage my time more efficiently.

Guiding in Moab for Golden Mountain Guides

2. I just thought of a good one: Work on keeping my inboxes empty! This means taking care of things right away instead of mentally saying “I’ll get to it later.” I have FOUR inboxes that I manage and I’d like to keep them all pretty empty.

1. I don’t want to divulge too much about my personal life here, but we’ve been working on our financial fitness and getting out of our current living situation. So my goal here is to continue that and to move out of this dreadful, mold-ridden basement by the end of the year!

2ish. I usually have a travel or “see 5 new places” type of goal every year, but I already have some travelling on the schedule for the year so making a goal is null here.

Climbing in Eldorado Canyon this past January

Upcoming Adventures:
With Golden Mountain Guides and working on Ben’s guiding resume, we’ve already put some vacations on the calendar. It really helps to make it through the busy work weeks. I also have some big work-related additions that are pretty neat as well. So far:

  1. We’re going to Red Rock, Nevada at the end of February to rock climb and I will be running a half marathon, the Red Rock Half by Calico Racing. It just so happened to be on the same weekend that we already scheduled our rock climbing trip. Very convenient and I get to knock off another state.
  2. My first Hut Trip in March. Hopefully, we’ll be on skis and not be hiking (pray for snow!).
  3. Learning to chip time running events (and I’ll be race directing and timing quite a few more events this year).
  4. I’ll be running Ragnar Trail in Snowmass again.
  5. Lots of trips to Moab for Golden Mountain Guides (we’re doing a few weeks there if anyone wants to climb!)
  6. A Canadian road trip with National Parks and climbing in August.
  7. I’m a new Nuun Ambassador and a returning LEGEND Compression Wear Ambassador for 2018!






Follow my adventures! While I’m not the best at keeping my blog up to date, I am consistent on social media (mainly Instagram). Follow along with me in real time:

2017 In Review

Looking back on 2017

2017 has probably been one of the worst and one of the best years I’ve ever had in my entire life.

It was most definitely one of the busiest years I have ever experienced. But it had a lot of fun moments.

It was definitely the most stressful year. But it was rewarding.

Grand Teton National Park

There were a lot of tears. And a lot of smiles.

There were times I wanted to quit everything and give up. And times that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

It was one of those years.

A lot of the bad included losing a step-grandparent, stressful home/work life balance, a tragedy within our cross country team, hail damage with a shifty, unethical car repair shop, loss of two pets, and probably more that I have repressed.

The good included a lot of travel, realizing love sees no bounds, a successful second year for Golden Mountain Guides, being part of five weddings and lots of time with family and friends.

I really am ready for a new year, carrying lessons from this year.

Here are some highlights from the past year…

January… started off slow. I started training to be a race director, track pre-season started, I started my #60HikesDenverChallenge (trying to hike/run all 60 trails in the 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Denver Book), we did a little bit of snowboarding and I did yoga challenge.

Walden Ponds, Boulder. Start of my #60HikesDenverChallenge

February…I did my first race as the sole Race Director (the Heart Throb 5k in Longmont), track season really starts, and we went to see the Mummies exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

See me in the background?? Literally holding back the flag from the wind as the race started. Sometimes race directors do some random tasks.

March…Ran the Erin Go Braugh 7.77k (my favorite of all the races the company I work for produces), and went to a Bridal Shower for Ben’s sister (which means wedding madness for the year starts).

Oh yeah, my outfit was AWESOME!

April… lots of work between all my jobs and my birthday month (wooo… 30 – that’s sarcasm in case you’re curious). But 30 did come with a zombie-themed escape room (we didn’t escape, for the record).

May… was full of the State Track & Field meet (one of my jumpers missed state by just a few inches – literally), running of the Bolder Boulder, and got hired for my first freelance writing job (

June…a ton of hiking (for my #60HikesChallenge and, a typical bachelorette party, and the first wedding of the year (Ben’s youngest sister) gets married. I also got a spot on a Ragnar Trail Snowmass team at the last second.

July… brought wedding #2 (Ben’s Cousin), a trip to Pennsylvania, lots of work (finished up my first 10Hikes project which reviewed the 10 best hikes in the Denver Region), and another Bridal shower (for my friend this time).

August...included another bridal shower (Ben’s other sister), a Trip to Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park, a bachelorette Pary in New Orleans, and Cross Country season starts.

September… Held wedding #3 (my friend), I race directed my biggest race yet (a 500 person 5k), and two trips to Moab with Ben (one for scouting and back again for guiding a 12-women group).

October…was wedding #4 (Ben’s other sister), I finished up my second freelance writing project (reviewing the 10 best hikes for Rocky Mountain Nation Park which is not live online yet), we did another Moab trip, we travelled to Florida and on a cruise for wedding #5 and I ran the Miami Beach Halloween Half Marathon.

November…Cross Country season had ended but work with the running company picked up for our biggest race of the year (Broomfield Turkey Day 5k/10k). Then Thanksgiving brings some nice time in Estes Park as we prepare for the holiday season.

Relaxing in Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Sprague Lake

December…here we are, in December. This is when we try and play catch up with all of our jobs. Christmas was busy travelling between all of our families and we travelled up to North Dakota to see my friend and her new baby (baby #2 for her) and on to Dakota, IL for New Years and to visit Ben’s Grandparents. We even hit up TWO National Monuments on the way!

In the beginning of 2017, I set a few goals to focus on for the year. Let’s see how I did….

Running Goals –
1. To love running again (I do enjoy the sport again, but I’m not on a meticulous plan; I’ve going a week or more between runs sometimes.)
2. And work my way through hiking/running all 60 trails in the “60 Hikes Within 60 Miles” Denver Edition (I got 17 of the 60 done. I did take on a freelance writing job involving hiking for which involved hikes that are not in this book. I hiked 50+ different hikes this year. Maybe 60 was pushing it, but not bad for how busy the year was.

Other fitness –
I like to be active in general and play in the great outdoors, but I have one specific goal in mind:
3. Climb 5.10s consistently (I got ONE 5.10 done!)
3a. I guess that means I better start strength training regularly again…too. (Well, I definitely worked out more than I did the previous year, but not as much as I had hoped. I did climb a 5.10 in the gym just a few weeks ago, which felt pretty good.)

Career –
4. I would like to see more clients with Golden Mountain Guides than last year
5. Learn more about the tourism industry, in particular, marketing. (We did see more clients than last year! It’s pretty awesome to see your own company grow! And I did learn  a little bit more about tourism, mostly through our own company.)

Other –
6. Travel to FIVE new places, in or out of Colorado. (Check X5! See above and all the travel we did this year! We even made it to at least 8 National Parks of Monuments).
7.  Learn about a new topic every month. (This gets 1/4 green. We started out strong, learning about Egyptian History, oceans, and I took a month to study Jumps Coaching (track and field). But as our business got busier, we put this one hold, only to pick it up in November, studying Mayan History)

Overall, I am truly glad this year is coming to a close. I’m ready for a “new start” of sorts in 2018.

Chasm Lake – One of my favorite photos from 2017.

Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Racing & Wandering!

It’s Christmas Eve today we’ll be heading down to Ben’s Family’s house, Christmas Eve service at their church, and dinner and food with family and friends.

Christmas, we’ll be at my Mom’s house and then over to my Dad’s house! After that, we’ll be on our way to North Dakota to see some friends and then Dakota, Illinois to see Ben’s Grandparents!

I hope your Holidays, no matter what you celebrate, are full of laughter and joy!

 Rocky Mountain National Park, Sprague Lake