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Duathlon World Championships Race Recap 

Duathlon World Championships - Las Vegas Runners

Las Vegas Runners - Melissa FarellLet me begin by saying that none of this could have been made possible by the large group of supporters including my family, Jeremy Wallace for supporting my training, my favorite Las Vegas Runners run group, and all of my clients who have been so positive throughout the entire process.  I couldn’t have done it without ALL of you and for that, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. 

We arrived in Vigo, Spain after a countless number of hours of flying and layovers.  I have never been so excited to see a piece of luggage come off of the belt as I was when I saw my bike box.  One of my biggest fears was getting to Spain, sans bike.  After spending the first couple of days recouping, getting s little run in, we decided to do a dry run on the bike course.  What could be better then a straight downhill into town, only to get to the 5+ mile uphill bike run, on a wet road, with a narrow shoulder and heavy traffic?  Needless to say nerves were high among the group.  In case there weren’t enough nerves going around, the wet bike course outlook didn’t help things.  We all spent the next day resting and seeing a little bit of the town.  We walked the run course, which consisted of 16 turns(yes, 16 turns), a short steep uphill in the very beginning which waned into a slight incline, before heading through the cobblestone streets of town which took you on a fast and beautiful downhill to the water’s edge.  From there, you run into transition where the last 200m on the track took you to the finish line.  It was an absolutely beautiful run course, well laid out in terms of logistics and elevation change.

Saturday, the day before the race and the plan was, and always is, to rest up and not do anything to strenuous.  Easier said then done, especially when racing abroad.  After a day of getting things prepped, making sure to eat and hydrate throughout the day, we were set to drop off the bikes at transition…..starting at 8:30PM.  It wouldn’t be so bad if my race was not starting at 8:30am.  Lines of athletes, from all over the world, waiting in line as we get our bikes checked, our uniforms checked, our ID’s checked, and basically looked over like we were going through TSA.  By the time we got in, set the bikes up and got back to the hotel, and had dinner, it was 12:00AM.  I’ve run races on 4 hours of sleep before, but it didn’t fully put me at ease.  Non-ideal conditions create stronger athletes.

Race day, wake up call 4AM, quick breakfast of bananas, Belvita, water, a little Gatorade and we were off.  I must say the nerves were a little high, but my consolation is to throw on the music and try and stay in my relaxed and focused zone.  One of the hardest things about racing, in ANY race, is NOT getting sucked into the other racer’s chatter about the race & their nerves.  If you start your race calm and collected, the chances of having the race you planned on having are higher.  We get into transition, set up helmets, shoes, check out the run, and it’s onto the warm up.  One thing I have learned is that you do on race day just what you have done in training.  If your warm up consists of squats, leg swings, and other dynamic drills, then you DO THEM come race day.  if you jog 1 mile before your runs, then you run that 1 mile before your race.  Stay with what got you there in the first place.  After the males take off, all of the females line up(it’s time!).  On Your Mark…..the horn sounds!  I have to say for the first 5K run, I felt good, I felt really good, so good that I wondered if I should have pushed harder on that run.  I get into transition, helmet on, shoes on, bike off, and we are going.  Hard to run on soft muddy grass with bike shoes.  I get on my bike and I have so much mud and grass in my right cleat that I cannot clip in.  After several failed attempts to knock it out, I realize I need to dismount in order to clear it out.  Screw that!  So I decided to ride the entire bike course with one foot clipped in, and one foot praying that it doesn’t slip off.  No way I’m getting off that bike unless it’s to put my run shoes on.  After a 5+ mile uphill ascent(about 180m in about 4.5 miles) and fast descent, it was time for the final run.  I will say I felt great, other then the normal “my legs feel like jello” feeling.  One more lap on the run, through town.  As I entered the stadium, with the fans in the grandstand cheering, it was probably one of the best feelings I have had at a race.  The energy of the athletes, the energy of the locals, and the energy of those who have travelled from all over the world to cheer on the athletes, it was amazing! As soon as I finished, I vowed to go back to compete again.  It was too amazing an experience to not.  Finish time: 1:24.52 1st run: 24:30, bike: 43:43, 2nd run: 12:43.  11th in my age group, not the best placing, but a tough field.  I was happy with my time and I am determined to represent in 2016 and to go in stronger & faster then I did this year.

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An Athlete’s Track to the World Championships

Team USA - Las Vegas Runners

Team USA - Las Vegas RunnersBy: Melissa Farrell

“So, I qualified to represent Team USA at the Duathlon World Championships in Spain in 2014??  Do I want a spot on the team?  Um, YEAH!”  That is pretty much what went through my head when I found out that I had qualified for Team USA after the National Championships in AZ last year.  I will be honest, I am not an elite athlete, I have only been running seriously for about 3-4 years, I love running ultra distances, and until 2012 I had no idea the duathlon was an event.  Trying to motivate clients, I had decided to explore the possibility of competing in a triathlon in June 2013.  As anyone who knows me knows, I am not, shall we say a FAN of swimming.  I like to be on my feet…..on land……breathing oxygen.  When the option to compete in the duathlon option came up, I jumped on it!  Running & Biking, you mean no swimming?  I’M IN!  After placing 3rd female overall, the journey began.

From there I went to Nationals and in two months we will be on my way to Pontevedra, Spain to compete against the best in the world.  It may sound intimidating to most, but the way I look at it is I have a chance to compete against some awesome athletes and see how they race, learn from them, rub elbows with them, and experience the atmosphere of a World Championship race.  I’m going out to do the best I can and have been putting all my efforts into my training & preparation for this race.  It’s intense when I think about it, but I feel very fortunate to have such a great support group in Vegas to allow me to experience such an event.

In January of this year, I began seriously training and prepping my legs for the fast pace of a 5K run, 20K bike, and a 2.5K run.  Getting my body used to jumping from one regimen to another and then finishing off with pretty much a sprint to the finish.  Now, for those of you who are runners, I want you to imagine preparing to run a mile, as fast as you can, after doing 3 sets of heavy squats and some hill repeats and oh, throw some weighted step ups in there too.  I remember the first time I stepped off my bike, put on my shoes, and began to run.  I swear my legs were no longer stable and I waited for the jelly to force me to the pavement.  But like any training adaptation, that’s just what my body did, adapt.  Over the weeks things have become easier, speeds have increased, transitions have become smoother, and the confidence has increased.

As we approach the final two months of training I am feeling great!  I know I have put in the work and I see it paying off.  I no longer about what others think because I am on my recovery day and running a 10:00/mile or biking for 15 miles at a snails pace.  I do my own training, on my own schedule, with my own rules and that is exactly what I encourage everyone to do.  Set a goal and get with someone who will help you reach that goal whether it be to run your first 5K or PR in your marathon or try out a triathlon this year.  If you want it and you put the work in, you will get it and it’s that simple.  I will be keeping updates on my progress for those interested and look forward to sharing my successes come race day.  I appreciate ALL of your support and only wish I knew a way to say thank you to everyone.  And a special thank you to my biggest support system and the best training partner I could ask for.  Jeremy, you have helped me stay on track and been there through all the ups & downs(as in ANY training program) and for that and much more, I thank you!

Viva Espana!!

Melissa Farrell
Co-Founder & Running Coach, Las Vegas Runners
Ultra runner & World Championship Duathlete

Melissa Farrell - Running Coach

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Las Vegas Runners Race Giveaway!

Las Vegas Runners Race Giveaway

Las Vegas Runners Race GiveawayTime to giveaway a race entry to one lucky member!  Mountain Man Events 14th Annual St Patrick’s Day Run will be coming Saturday, March 15, 2014 and we’re giving away an entry to the 1/2 marathon or 5K, your choice!  The event is held on the River Mountain Loop and Six Tunnels Trail.  Both events have some spectacular views of Lake Mead and the 1/2 marathon even has a view of Hoover Dam and the Colorado River Bridge!  To see more about the event, click here.

TO ENTER THE DRAWING, all you have to do is comment on this post with your name, why you run, your favorite race distance & why. Winners will be chosen at random from all comments.

You must be a paid annual member of Las Vegas Runners to be considered.  To become a member, click here.  All entrants must enter by noon, March 3 to be considered.  You can enter up to once per day to win the free entry.  The drawing will be at noon on Monday March 3rd for our winner.  Winner will be announced on our Facebook page

*One entry per person per day.  Please watch our Facebook page for updates and announcements. Winners will be notified via our Facebook page and can claim their prize by emailing before 6pm Monday, March 3, 2014. 

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What Are the Most Important Traits of a Successful Endurance Athlete?

Las Vegas Endurance Athlete

Las Vegas Endurance AthleteBy: Jeremy Wallace

I have this picture of runner Amy Hastings, cut from a magazine, on my fridge along with the following quote from a different source:

“I believe an athlete’s genetics are probably the second biggest factor to success.  The most important ingredient is the mental edge that all great athletes possess.  The drive. The heart.  The anger. The hunger. The desire. The desperation. The ability to suffer. The absolute hatred of being second best. And the intense fear of failure.”

Hastings was in the final stretch on her way to winning the 10,000m final in the 2012 US Olympic trials.  I cut the picture out because I see all of the above traits captured in this photo and I wanted to be reminded of what it takes to be a successful endurance athlete, for myself and for the athletes I train.

Before you get your running shorts in a wad, I DO believe success can be defined in many ways.  Winning an Olympic trials event is certainly a success, but so is placing in your age group or finishing a marathon, or running your first mile since high school, or maybe you define your success as leading a healthy lifestyle and getting some exercise with the local run club on the weekends.  The bottom line is Amy wanted to win this particular 10K and had the willingness to suffer and sacrifice to make that happen, in her training and obviously in this race.   You can see it in her face.  However you define success, I’ve come to know a few simple truths about the topic:

1- Real success requires stepping outside your comfort zone.

2- There are no handouts.  If you really want something, you have to get it.

3- If you want something bad enough, you won’t make excuses for why you can’t have it.

I’ve thought a lot about why some athletes have a willingness to go out in the elements for 2 hours of hill repeats while others think 30 minutes on the treadmill will accomplish the same thing.  Would that make the second athlete any less successful?  It depends on his or her definition of success.  I challenge you to look inside yourself and see if you really want to succeed or you just kinda want it.  If you really want it, when will you take the first step?  I can tell you that the above traits are very common in my successful athletes but not very common overall.   I can also tell you Amy’s uncanny ability to convey all this through a photo is truly amazing!

See you on the roads.
Thanks Amy!

Jeremy Wallace
2:51 marathoner
RRCA and USATF Certified Coach and Personal Trainer

USATF and RRCA Running Coach, Jeremy Wallace

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Running Long, Not Fast

Las Vegas Running Long Not Fast

Las Vegas Running Long Not FastBy: Melissa Farrell 

How many times have you gone out for your long run, only to look down at your watch and realize you’re running a PR pace?  Yeah, I think we’ve all made that mistake.  As runners, we sometimes get into a mentality that we need to ALWAYS be fast.  In trying to always BE fast, you aren’t allowing yourself to GET fast.

Long runs are one of the cornerstones of any running program, whether you’re training for a half marathon or a 50 miler.  One day of your run week is usually dedicated to a long run.  I think it might be helpful to understand the purpose of this run when you are trying to get those legs to slow down.  We all want to be fast-ER, but that 15 or 18 miler is not the time.

Let’s start with the fact that it is your LONG run.  It’s simple purpose is to get your body used to running long.  You can have all the speed in the world, but if your legs can’t carry you the full distance, what good is it?  This is a good time to think about your running form, your stride, your breathing, your nutrition, your weekly schedule, or why you decided to sign up for that 50 miler.  I can tell you that personally, this is one of my favorite runs in my program.  Maybe it’s because I can mentally distract myself or as some people say, maybe cause I’m just nuts!  I will say, to embark on a 50 mile run, there needs to be some level of crazy going on in here!

The longer runs will also help in strengthening your heart.  By having to work harder and longer to send oxygen to your legs, core, and upper body, the heart will over time become stronger and more efficient in completing this task.  Test it out.  Wear a heart rate monitor on one of your earlier long runs.  As you approach race day, try it again and see what the difference is.  You should notice that you have an easier time maintaining a moderate heart rate on stints that before may have caused it to increase.  Like your overall training, give it time and be patient and you will reap the benefits.  No good thing happens overnight, it takes time and perseverance just like your long run.

I’m sure most of you will love this fact, that the longer runs can help train your body to be better at utilizing fat as a fuel source.  I don’t care who you are, there is NO WAY you can eat enough the day before a 20 mile run to sustain yourself through its entirety.  There needs to be a level of efficiency in the way you use the energy you DO have stored, as well as the energy you are able to put in during your run. I can’t remember the last time I saw a runner out for an 18 miler chowing down on a loaf of bread.  it ain’t happening folks.  Be prepared by training your body for the conditions you will encounter on race day.

Long runs, just like tempo runs, track workouts, recovery runs, have their place in your training.  Try to use these runs for what they are meant for.  Talking with a few runner friends of mine, who also like longer distances, we decided that there needs to be an indicator light on your forehead that tells other runners what mile you are on.  This would help avoid that 1 mile power runner flying past you, only to find himself walking by mile 10.  Don’t feel like you need to race me during your tempo run, I’m on mile 17.  And remember, it’s not all about how fast you go, as long as you finish.  I’ll see you at the finish line!

Melissa Farrell
Co-Founder & Running Coach, Las Vegas Runners
Ultra runner & World Championship Duathlete

Melissa Farrell - Running Coach

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Eat to Run, Eat for Your Run, Eat to Win

Nutrition for Running

Nutrition for Running

By: Melissa Farrell

April 2013, I decided to run the Labor of Love 50 miler for the first time.  Having completed the 50K the previous year, I knew the course and most importantly I knew when and where I would be able to eat.  We drove to the race start and as I prepared to get set up for the start, I realized something was missing.  I had managed to come without my water bottle.  I had packed my drop bags, I had the food I would need, but without adequate hydration I was screwed.  50 miles, nothing in hand, this was not going to go well.

With nothing to carry to keep my energy up, it was time for a quick change of plans.  I made a decision that the only way I was to make it through 9 hours of hilly hell was to take advantage of every aid station.  I made it a mission to make sure I hydrated every 4-5 miles.  With no other option, I went into it and hoped for the best.  9 hours, LOTS of bananas, and a lot of electrolytes later, I finished the race in 2nd place and felt great!  Well, great is a relative term, but I felt pretty damn good!

Any time you are preparing for a race, whether it be a 10K, a half marathon, or an ultra, it is IMPERATIVE to have a plan in place for your run.  This doesn’t mean picking up some protein bars on your way to the race start or swinging by Krispy Kreme for some “quick sugars”.  It means taking the time to test out different foods during your training runs.  It means tweaking your regimen where need be BEFORE race day.  A lot of runners make the mistake of getting to the start line with either no plan in place or an untested plan.  A bad move that may lead worse results.  I have done 5K’s to 50 milers to Duathlons and I can say that each race was varied in terms of nutrition and how you plan for it.  A 5K may not warrant any race time nutrition, but instead may require a plan in place for before the run.  A marathon may require a pre-race plan as well as a plan for race time hydration.  A 50 miler requires a plan for the week before as well as a plan for hydration AND nutrition during the run.  I don’t know anyone who can run for 8+ hours without eating or drinking anything.  No WAY that will go well.

So how do you test out different systems during your training runs?  The best time is during your long runs.  These runs tend give you the time to gauge when you need to start your nutrition, when you become depleted so you can plan for these moments, and amounts or types of products to use when it comes to race day.  If you plan on running for longer then an hour, you generally will need some type of electrolytes and/or sugars to replenish your energy stores or you will feel the depletion.  General rule is about 4-8 oz every 20 mins of your run(speed will have something to do with the variance).  There is also hydrating leading UP TO your run.  You cannot make-up for dehydration on your run and trying to front load with fluids will only lead to sloshing and discomfort during your runs.  If you run until you’re thirsty, chances are you will be suffering the rest of the race.

I know a number of people who will tell you that eating a gel substance that tastes like espresso is not on their highlight list of foods they love, but I will tell you when you need it, you’ll be thankful.  Why else would I pick up a GU off of the ground during a 20 mile run and GLADLY eat it?  Look, if you’re hungry and depleted, you’ll do just about anything!  There is no set rule as far as “this is THE food you need to eat during a run”, there is a lot of flexibility and each runner is different.  My go to’s?  Bananas, animal crackers(a childhood fave and easy to hold while running), gummy bears, and gatorade.  I will gladly eat a GU if it is the only option or if I need something quick!  You need to test out different foods during your training runs.  Training is exactly what is says, TRAINING for your big event.  In ALL aspects!

Melissa Farrell
Co-Founder & Running Coach, Las Vegas Runners

Melissa Farrell - Running Coach

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Look Into Your Future: Setting Your Running Goals for the New Year

Running Goals

Running GoalsBy: Jeremy Wallace

I remember the day I ran my first big race, the 2009 Portland Marathon.  That day I had dreams of qualifying for the holy grail of amateur distance running in the US, The Boston Marathon.  I had a coach and trained hard in the months leading up to the race.  I was able to run one 6:50 mile and had some mileage on my legs to back it up.  Race day I set out at a 7:10 pace which would put me in the finishing chute in 3:07.  I felt that with some grit I’d have no problem hitting my Boston qualifying time of 3:10.  There was only one problem.  It’s name was Mile 17.  I hit a wall so hard it might as well have been made from brick.  By mile 18 I was walking some.  By mile 21, I was asking the nice Portland spectators for food… seriously.  The truth is I wasn’t in shape to run a 3:10 or even a 3:30 that day and if I knew then what I know now, perhaps my pace would’ve been a bit more conservative (…or maybe not.  I’m a hard-headed man, after all.  Just ask Melissa).  That first race I learned a hard lesson.  Know what you’re capable of in a marathon and shoot directly for that time.

So, how do you figure out what you’re capable of?  As it turns out, you don’t need a crystal ball.  We can predict your marathon (or 1/2 marathon, or 5K) finishing time pretty accurately based on your current fitness.  For example, my 6:50 mile a few weeks prior meant that, with proper training, nutrition etc, I would be capable of running a 3:49 marathon.  My actual finishing time in Portland?  3:51.  Don’t believe me?, look it up:)  These days I can tell you with 95% certainty that if you can run a 10K in 49 minutes and you train properly, you can beat 4 hours in the marathon, or if your 5K time is 30 minutes, your dream of running a 2 hour half marathon isn’t ready to become reality.  Here’s the thing:  With targeted training, proper nutrition and a well-laid plan, you’re not that far off.

So what does that mean for you, your training and setting goals for 2014?  When looking forward into the New Year, be honest with yourself and be ready to set realistic goals.  What’s your current fitness?  How hard are you willing to work this year?  Do you have an actual plan or are you just winging it and hoping for a miracle on race day?  If you’re happy with your current fitness level and not looking to improve much over the next year, sorry for wasting your time.  Stop reading now and go for a run.  If you are seriously ready to take your fitness up a notch, here are a few tips:

– Have a plan and make it specific.  As in life, a dream without a plan probably isn’t going to happen.  That being said, the best running plans are ones that are specific to you and your fitness.  It’s difficult to follow a generic plan and have real success.  Need help?  Ask me.

– Test yourself semi-regularly.  The people who know exactly what they’re capable of, are those who test themselves every once in a while.

– Be ready to gradually improve your performance by occasionally stepping outside your comfort zone.  Running fitness develops over months, not one workout.

– Work on your limiting performance factor.  Strength, flexibility, running form and nutrition are super important in distance running.  Guess what?  Runners are notoriously weak, inflexible and have crappy eating habits.  I know I’ll get some flak for this one, but I’ll save the explanation for another blog post.

– Don’t forget the mental aspect.  Distance running requires a degree of suffering.  Look for it and be ready to embrace.

– Be realistic and patient.  If you’ve run 10 marathons and your PR is 5:30, a sub-three hour event this year isn’t likely.  Next year?  Eh, anything could happen.

– Think big.  You’re capable of achieving more than you think.  Just be ready to put in the work.

So what’s the number one thing I want you to take away from this?  Have a specific goal with a specific plan for success to match and you won’t end up begging for food in Portland.

Happy Running
Jeremy Wallace
2:51 marathoner
Las Vegas Runners Coach and Certified Personal Trainer

USATF and RRCA Running Coach, Jeremy Wallace