03 March 2014

Snake River Canyon Half Marathon - Race Report

My training for Boston is on schedule, and I'm feeling fit.

Saturday was my big tune-up race, the Snake River Canyon Half Marathon, put on by the wonderful folks at Palouse Road Runners.

This race unofficially marks the beginning of spring running on the Palouse. Temperatures in the canyon are usually near 50 degrees for the race, and it's usually one of the first runs of the year when you can appropriately wear shorts. But this year we received a cold blast of winter on race day. Race-time temperatures were in the mid-20's and snow was fluttering in the air all morning. The canyon is also notorious for brutal headwinds on the out section of this pancake flat out-n-back course. We still had the headwinds (~10-15mph), but it wasn't nearly as bad as we've seen in the past.

I'm hoping to blister my marathon PR at Boston, so my training has been geared - more than ever -toward running a fast time at a road marathon. I'm not doing track stuff or anything like that (I'm not that invested in my marathon PR), but I have been doing pace-specific training runs for the first time in my life. And it's been paying off. I've seen some of my (admittedly soft) shorter-distance road PRs fall the last couple months.

So I was feeling pretty good about myself heading into the race.

Race Goals
A goal: sub-1:19
B goal: sub-1:20
C goal: beat my PR (1:21:09)

The gun went off and after a quarter of a mile there was a group of 20 or so slowly pulling away. I was running with my buddy Dan Froelich (we had the same A goal). The faster group was doing 5:50's or so - which was a bit faster than we wanted, but with a group that big there is quite an upside when you're running into a headwind. We decided it was worth sticking with them, so we hurried up to get on the train.

Then around two miles the group of 20 or so split into two groups when about 10 guys starting surging. Too quick for us, so we settled into the second half of the pack with a few familiar faces (Dan Hollingshead and Chris Morlan). Around mile four, our group started splintering a bit, and the wind started to become a factor. The last couple miles into the wind before the turnaround was starting to get tougher than I was hoping it would be.

Chris hit the turnaround first, then I hit it a little behind him in about 39:45. I was just off my A goal pace but still feeling optimistic that I could make up the lost time with the help of the tailwind. Dan and Dan were just behind me at the turnaround.

Nothing eventful on the way back. It was just a long, lonely attempt trying to hold pace. Chris held a 15 to 20 second advantage over me most of the way back. For four miles or so I tried to slowly reel him in, but it wasn't happening. Every once in awhile I'd feel a gust of wind hit me from behind, and I kept imagining it was the Snake River kicking me in the butt to "go faster, Scott!"

With three miles to go, I was still under my 1:19 pace...I just needed to hold it.

With about two miles to go, Chris started fading a little and I snuck up beside him and then eased by. "Hey, Chris." "Hey, Scott." "Hoping to hold this pace to sneak under 1:19," I said. "Dig deep. You're almost there," he said.

I hadn't looked back since the turnaround, so I didn't know where Dan and Dan were. I was hoping one of them would catch up with me so we could run with each other to the finish.

With about a half mile to go, I finally knew I had 1:19 in the bag. I tried to make a little bit of a surge to see if I had anything left in the tank. There wasn't much left, but that last mile was my second fastest of the day.

I crossed the finish line in 1:18:17. (official results)

I'm pretty stoked with how I ran. It has me feeling good as I start counting down to Boston. Now that my big tune-up race is done, I can officially start getting excited about the starting line in Hopkinton.

Keep running!



  1. Congratulations on hitting your A goal. A near 3 min PR has to feel pretty good. Reading your report makes me wish, all-the-more, that I could've run this race.

  2. You definitely looked good when you passed me.

  3. Nice race, Scott. Sticking together in that pack for the first half was key. I had no intention of going out that fast, but being alone in that wind was not an option. Running with you and Dan helped me PR by 8 minutes!

    1. 8 minute PR! Nice. I bet you could drop that another couple minutes if you wanted to. :)

  4. Awesome race, great PR. You'll get that marathon A-time for sure. And oh yes, a really good race report.

    1. Thanks, Gunhild. Always a pleasure seeing you.

  5. Awesome race, well done! You are certainly ready for Boston. Nearly there!

  6. Congrats on the PR. Look forward to what it'll do for your full marathon time.

    1. Thanks. Looking forward to seeing you on the trails this summer. :)

  7. thrilled for you, scott! way to push and make it happen!

  8. Great race report, as usual. Looks like this could be your big year. You seem healthy and having fun. A good combination. Look out Boston and Mt. Olympus!