Wednesday, December 15, 2010
People go to Las Vegas for many reasons: to get married, to relax, they may be feelin' lucky. I went to run. A December half marathon in Las Vegas seemed like a fantastic idea in August. Three girlfriends and I signed up with plenty of time to train and bring our mileage up to 13.1.
As it turned out, my longest long run before the race was about 7 miles or about half the distance I'd need to go. It's been tough to get motivated for the last few weeks, even with goals. Without a structured day, I find myself staying up later and sleeping through my early morning team runs- not good. And on December 5th, I was going to have to face the consequences of deficient training.
FRIDAY - Travel Day
We left Austin on Friday night and arrived in Las Vegas around 10:00pm. Our luggage had a craving for dungeness crab with an ocean view and took a detour to San Francisco before arriving at our hotel late Saturday morning. No worries, we were still in Las Vegas!
SATURDAY - Expo Day
After a big breakfast at the Monte Carlo cafe, we moseyed over to the race expo for packet pick up and shopping! It was nearly impossible to stay off your feet. They structured the expo so you had to work your way through the packet pick up line, into the Brooks store and then through the main expo. I did my best to avoid the energy bar and gel samples that were handed to me. My biggest fear on race day is what I call "rumble-tummy" (and you never thought there was a cute name for diarrhea). Two days before a race I really pay attention to my diet and do everything I can not to upset the digestion gods.
Bib numbers in hand, we wandered over to a nice bar in the Palazzo called First and began our carb loading with a beer and some of their (free) homemade pretzels. I had a really good local brew- Tenaya Creek Nut Brown Ale. If you ever go, ask for Lou. He'll take good care of you.
We ate the pasta dinner at the official race hotel, the Mandalay Bay. Although the food was okay, I think next time we'll eat somewhere on our own like Il Fornaio (in New York, New York). The entertainment during the pasta dinner was really awful so we left soon after eating. The server gave me some bananas to take back to the room for the morning, making me feel more confident in my morning nutrition plan.
We got back to the room around 8:30 and were in bed ready for sleep by 10:30. Awesome! This time change really works in our favor!
SUNDAY - Race Day!
When the alarm went off at 5:30- I felt great! Weird. I immediately ate a mini-Luna bar and began pulling on my run gear. I ate my banana around 6:00 a.m. We walked over to the race at 6:30.
35,000 people is a LOT of people. A lot a lot of people. They had numbered corrals for the runners stretching back a mile at least. With so many people we had a little trouble getting to bag check and the race actually started before we could get back to our corral (#28). However, it took nearly 40 minutes for our group to even reach the starting line so there wasn't a whole lot of concern.
The Blues Brothers kicked off the race singing some of their booty goovin' tunes like Gimme Some Lovin', Soul Man and Everybody Needs Somebody to Love. Awesome! And we were off!
The Las Vegas Strip is only closed twice a year. Once for NASCAR where the cars cruise the streets and once for the marathon/half marathon. Our race would take us from Mandalay Bay up the strip near Freemont Street (where it winds around a little bit) then back down. We would pass all the big casinos as well as a few people taking their early morning "walk of shame."
My friends practice the Galloway method of running and walking intervals. I've been training on the Lydiard method for the last year (no walking intervals- or only as needed) so we were separated after the 2nd mile. They are actually faster than I am, but my muscles feel happier in a run than a walk. I found a really cool woman running at my pace and we ran together for several miles. I was keeping a faster pace than her original but we stayed together a good while. But by mile 7 I was on my own again.
Along the course I could see brides and grooms in wedding-running gear. Some got married DURING the race at a "run in" wedding! The overall mood of the race was festive and fun.
I was pretty happy with myself. Tummy was just fine, breathing felt great and my legs were tired but steady. A few little twinges ran through my glutes and quads every now and again but nothing stuck. Miles 8 and 9 were the toughest. By this time I was no longer continuously running. I'd run several steps, then slow to a walk. I tried to use traffic signals as intervals but even that was a little much.I still felt fine, but my legs were just done.
Finally I saw the 10 mile marker! It's just a 5K now! Woo! I could see the Mandalay Bay now and knew I was closing in. When I hit mile 12, I decided to run the rest of the way in. It was more than a shuffle but just barely. A part of me really wanted to tie my last race time but at this point I was just happy to have come this far feeling as good as I did. I couldn't see the actual finish line until I turned onto the Mandalay Bay property so I kicked a little late but it wasn't a significant boost.
I crossed the finish line in 3:03:08, got my medal and wrapped the finisher's foil blanket around my legs. Although the weather was great, my legs were already starting to get chilly. I met up with my friends very quickly. They only finished a few minutes ahead of me. We took some times to regroup then eased over to the Miller GD 64 tent for our "reward."
Let me tell ya- that crappy light beer tasted sooooooooooo good. And, just our luck, we were right up near the front of the Stage when Bret Michaels began his mini-concert. He was GREAT! Last time I saw him live was at Arco Arena. I was 16, front of the pit, and may or may not have had several swigs of vodka. How things change...
I consider this race a success. I recovered very quickly from this race- especially as compared to my first half marathon in February. I really only had trouble going down stairs and getting up out of low chairs. I never had any significant tummy issues. Destination races really seem to be the way to go. The rest of the trip was also a complete blast, but of course, this is just a simple race report. It wouldn't be right to divulge what happened during the rest of the Vegas trip here, now would it?