Wednesday, December 10, 2008
What happens in Vegas . . .
Last weekend, I went down to Las Vegas to compete in the Las Vegas Marathon. Technically, I "only " ran the half, but 13.1 miles is still noteworthy. I actually didn't talk too much about the race prior to it, because I hadn't trained at all. If I did badly, then I just wouldn't have to mention it. And I really was expecting to do badly. Since my foot injury in August, the longest run I'd had was barely 4 miles. I knew I was going into Vegas under trained and unprepared, so I wasn't expecting to do well. Honestly, my time wasn't stellar, but I did manage to run most of it (albeit slowly), so I suppose it is worthy of a race report. Pictures are coming - they're on my camera at home, and will hopefully be up shortly.
The race started on the Las Vegas strip promptly at 6:07am with a fireworks show at Mandalay Bay (on the southern end of the strip). The route began northward up the strip, and the first 5 miles were fun. I was feeling good and strong - the feeling that I was born to run. I intentionally kept my iPod on slow songs to help me keep my pace slow. After 5 miles, the route continued northward, but we were now out of the traditional "strip". The scenery became seedy bars, strip clubs, and wedding chapels - the part of Vegas that most people don't see often. It really dropped my motivation level - running along flat streets with boring scenery wasn't nearly as exciting. I was still able to keep up running, but I was starting to struggle. By mile 7, my injured foot was hurting and I had to pee, so I stopped at a port-o-potty. Stopping was a mistake - I never did regain my stride. I struggled the last 5 miles, and alternated slogging with a brisk walk. The scenery was boring and ugly too - I was running along the back of the casinos, next to the freeway and railroad tracks. Even Eminem's Till I Collapse and Cake's I Will Survive did little to light my fire. I finished just under 3 hours, which is a pretty pitiful time - its a full 30 minutes slower than the SLC half that I ran in April. But I was happy to be done. My brother ran the full marathon, and finished around 4:30. His girlfriend who also ran with us took 14th place in the half - they both pretty much kicked my butt.
Highlights of the race:
1. All the "freaks". There were people running dressed as Elvis, men dressed as women, women dressed as brides (there was a run-through wedding chapel on the route) and even a drunk Native American man running in jeans with a beer in his hand (I'm not sure he was an actual participant). There were actually a lot of people running at the beginning with drinks in hand. The people watching couldn't be beat.
2. The fireworks at the beginning did a lot to get me pumped up and ready to run.
3. The volunteers were wonderful.
4. The field of racers was much less serious/athletic than the average race. I was much more "mid pack" than I normally am.
5. The wonderful high that came when the race was over. Its the reason I run.
Low lights of the race:
1. The shirts - I paid $95 for registration and got a crappy cotton tee. I was expecting a tech tee (that I may actually wear again) for that price.
2. The spectators - there were so few people cheering along the route (there were a few drunk people gawking at us). Even the finish line was pretty pitiful - so few people cheering and minimal crowds. I've been to much smaller races with 10 times the crowds. It was a bit anti climatic to come to the finish line without the cheer of the crowd. The announcer at the end of the race was really annoying too.
3. The route - was boring and flat, which gets tiring on the body after awhile. Hills are good, because they work different muscles. The flat route made me quads extremely tired. The route was ugly too - I guess I'm spoiled from having nice scenery along my runs.
4. The "goodies". Other big races I've run have great goodies at aid stations: gels, fruit, people with Icy Hot to rub on tired calves. There was none of that at Vegas - only water and Gatoraid (which is good too, but not as good).
Overall, it was a great experience, and I'm so glad to have been able to participate. I'm already planning my next big race, although I'll never do Vegas again. There are so many other races that are much more fun.