Race Report: Running from an Angel 1/2 Marathon

On Saturday I participated in the “Running from an Angel” 1/2 marathon, an event that is done by Calico Racing here in Las Vegas. The event featured several lengths of races: 5K, 10K, 1/2 Marathon, Marathon and 50-mile. This is the second Calico event I’ve done and I’m impressed with their operation, they always put on a good race.

The Angel race takes place at Lake Mead National Recreation Area. It is the sister race to the “Running with the Devil” race that takes place in the summer. They are the same course and basically the challenge is to run both of them and see how different the temps feel in the winter vs. the summer (where it is very likely temperatures will be over 110°).

At this year’s Angel race, Bart & Laura Yasso ran the marathon. It was Laura’s 100th marathon and her husband Bart ran the race with her to celebrate. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Bart Yasso, he is the Chief Running Officer for Runner’s World magazine and author of the book “My Life on the Run“. He has had so many adventures from his running career and I am immensely jealous but also inspired by his story. I would highly recommend his book to anyone, even if they aren’t a runner because it’s just a fun read.

The course is an out-and-back on a road that is open to traffic. All participants run/walk on the same side of the road, so you have to make sure you are not running with too many people side-by-side. The road has a little bit of a cambor that gets kind of annoying at times, but not too bad. This course is full of hills so it’s definitely not a simple little route. The course has a total ascent of 911′. Check out this elevation profile from the race web site:

Elevation profile for the Running from an Angel race.

It was a cold, windy and gloomy day. I guess it wasn’t THAT cold in the grand scheme of things, I believe it was in the upper 40’s to low 50’s most of the time. The overcast sky and the strong winds made it feel cooler than it really was. If it had been a sunny day I imagine running by the lake would have been prettier, seeing blue skies reflected in the water. But since it was so overcast it was kind of depressing looking at the water and seeing just how far the levels have dropped.

About 5 miles into the race I tripped on paint on the road. Doesn’t that sound stupid? But in some spots the lines painted on the road are pretty thick, not actually flush with the road. I happened to be on a downhill spot, caught my toe on the paint and started to stumble. Fortunately I caught myself, but I definitely did some crazy moves as I tried to keep myself from kissing the ground.

They served water and Hammer Heed on the course. There were two “ultra” aid stations on the 1/2 marathon course (well, really it was just one, but since the course was an out-and-back you got to see the same station twice!) that served fruit, Hammer gel packets, pretzels, gummi bears and even PB&J sandwiches. They really take care of their runners out there.

The course had a slight climb at the end before a downhill straight into the parking area/finish line. Finish line food was fruit, pretzels, fruit/grain/nut bars, pasta salad, water, Heed, coffee and tea. Again, they take care of the race participants really well.

The whole race I felt kind of funny, my brain was in a fog and I was a little dizzy. It made going uphill feel a lot harder than hills usually feel for me and that was reflected in my poor running form throughout the race. I was completely spent at the end of the race, actually reaching the point of being “stupid tired” where friends had to physically turn me toward the person handing out medals.

Despite the fact that I wasn’t feeling right and the whole time I was telling myself, “This is a training run. You are tapering. Not racing today.” I still managed to get a pretty good time. In fact, I set a new PR – 2:08:52. That even put me at 5th place in my age group. Granted, that was 5th place out of 19, but still it made me feel kind of special!

Bart Yasso and me in the Las Vegas Fleet Feet store
Bart Yasso and me in the Las Vegas Fleet Feet store

Later on that day Bart Yasso did a book signing at our Fleet Feetstore. It was a lot of fun to talk with him and his wife, they both have so much racing/running experience.

When I was talking to Laura she asked what my time was on the 1/2 that day. I told her and also informed her it was my new PR. She asked, “PR for that course?”

When I clarified that it was my new PR overall and my previous one was the Las Vegas Half at 2:11 she said, “That’s a GREAT time. You’ve easily got a sub-2 in you on a flat course!” (My mom said the same thing to me when I told her my time!) But that little validation made me feel good, even if I wasn’t feeling that well physically that day.

Jimmy, Cynthia and I chat with Laura Yasso
Jimmy, Cynthia and I chat with Laura Yasso


  1. congrats on the PR! Not bad for a training run!

    I think you were feeling off your game because you were pushing yourself beyond your normal comfort zone. In my PR 5K, I felt funny and had trouble with hills and never felt in a groove. I read your post this morning before I went out for a tempo run. The one mile where I felt the most awkward and not in a groove was my fastest of the morning. I think the discomfort you were feeling was your body compensating for the extra effort. The good news is that is how you get faster! At least that is what I hope 😉

    Great job! You are going to do great in your marathon!

  2. Wow, cool, you got to see him again – didn’t you get your picture also taken with him in San Antonio?

    You know, call me weird, but I actually like running in overcast weather the best, I am sure that course is pretty cool in both sun and clouds. It sounds it anyway, from your description.

    Sounds like you are right on track to do really well at PF Changs.

  3. Congrats on the PR!! I agree that you should be right on track for a 2 hour half if you ran a half and had a good day. I bet you are feeling off because you are still tired from the marathon training. Take it easy this week. Sounds like your body still needs that taper in order to feel fresh by marathon day.

  4. I’m still catching up on my blog reading for the week. This was such a great post. Congratulations on your new PR. I ran the first ET race and really enjoyed it. I think Joyce (Calico Racing) does a great job of putting on unique, small races. I love small races! I’ve read stories about Running from the Devil. The women were loading their bras up with ice. I think I’ll pass on that one!

    I got a copy of My Life on the Run for Christmas. I’m hoping to get a chance to read it before Christmas 2009. I’ve still got 3 issues of Northwest Runner and 7 issues of Runner’s World to read, and they keep sending me new ones, and people keep writing fascinating new blog posts every day. My stack of unread books is nearly as tall as me!

  5. Great race summary! I’m seriously considering this race for 2010. I think I’ll treat it as a fun run. Funny thing was the last 1/2 I ran I spoke to Bart and said the same thing you mentioned in your blog..and had a PR afterwards. Must be the Bart Yasso Mingling effect. Maybe I’ll see you at the next run!

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