Okay! So to pick up where I left off in my last post…
I slept like a baby the night before the race. I had my alarm set for 5:00 to be ready to leave the hotel room at 6:00 to be in my corral at 7:00. I got up feeling pretty good. M asked me if I was nervous, and I answered honestly. No, I was not. I wasn’t nervous; I wasn’t excited; I wasn’t really anything. I had a few butterflies when we first got to Vegas, but after that there was really NOTHING. I knew what had to be done, and I knew what I had to do to accomplish it. I just had a very calm, matter-of-fact feeling. Regarding the race, anyways. I was excited as all get-out just to be in Vegas with friends!
I knew that the strip was going to be closed Sunday morning, so all along I had just been planning on walking to the start line at Mandalay Bay from our hotel, which was about a mile and a half away. But as we were leaving D asked a taxi driver, “How close can you get us to the start line?” He told us to hop in, so we did. A few minutes and $12 later we were THERE. Like RIGHT there. He got us closer than I imagined he could. Since we ended up riding rather than walking we got there earlier than I had planned. We just hung out on the sidewalk right outside the corrals, people-watching, stretching, and eating my Clif bar breakfast.
Before I knew it, it was 7:00. Only then did I stand up, strip off my throw-away clothes, and squeeze myself into my corral. I wish I’d kept them on until I got closer to the start line. It was another 25 minutes before I actually made it to the start, and I was FREEZING. It was comfortable with my yoga pants and a sweatshirt on. Not so much with a tech tee and shorts.
|View in front of me from my corral
I was in corral 16, but I think I actually ended up crossing with 18 because I hopped out of line to make one last stop at the portojohn. And with that, I was off!
The first half of the race was basically an out-and-back of the strip with a loop at the farthest point. Within NO time after starting, we were already seeing the wheelchair racers coming
back up the strip toward their finish. Just a few minutes behind them were the fast cats. It was cool to get to see them on the course!
I think Vegas has some sort of optical illusion effect to it. The course is advertised as being flat and fast. But from the very start, I felt like we were on an ever-so-slight downhill. It didn’t FEEL like I was running downhill, but it did look like it. I was thinking, “Ah, crap. That means I’ll be on a steady uphill grade the entire way back. The funny thing? It looked the exact same way on the way back.
I took my phone with me on the course for two reasons. First of all, I wanted to be able to keep in touch with my husband and friends to let them know where I was and whether or not I was still alive. Yes, we could have signed them up for runner tracking, but that only tells you so much. And secondly, I wanted to have a camera with me! I took several pictures with it, but for most of them I didn’t stop so they ended up blurry and not even worth keeping. I wish they had turned out better because I saw some cool stuff on the course! There were lots of interesting characters running. I saw Tarzan (running barefoot and wearing nothing but a loin cloth, and I think he was within the top 10 half-marathon finshers), Spongebob, Fred Flintstone, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, more Elvises than I could count, and lots of Santas. Did I get good pictures of any of them? Of course not.
I took my first walk break somewhere around mile 7-8. I don’t remember where it was exactly, but it was the first GU station I came to. I walked through the station long enough to suck down a GU and wash it down. At that point I was right where I wanted to be. I was trying to hold between an 11:00 and 11:30 easy pace, and I was doing just that.
|How cruel to tease a bunch of marathoners with a bigger-than-life glass of beer!
And that leads me to a question for you experts out there. In theory, a flat course would be easier than a hilly one, right? It just makes sense that that would be the case! Flat = easy! So WHY did it feel so taxing? All of my training is done outside, and very, very little of that is on flat terrain. I’m usually either going up a hill or coasting down one. Is it because with a flat course you have to maintain a steady level of exertion without the breaks of a downhill? I don’t know what the issue was, but by the time I came to the halfway point, some of the muscles in my hips and glutes were on FIRE, and that’s the only thing I could come up with.
When we were nearing the halfway point, back where we started at Mandalay Bay, I seriously wanted to slap some people in the crowd. There they were at the half/full split and they’re yelling, “You’ve got this! You’re almost there!” Ummm…. excuse me, but not all of us are almost there. Some of us were almost HALFWAY there. It took a lot of will power at that point to veer right instead of staying straight and finishing with the other 19,000+ half-marathon finishers! But alas, 5000+ of us made that right-hand turn and pushed on.
I had gotten a text from D telling me that he and M & C were there after the turn waiting for me. It was nice to see them at that point!
I slowed down to a walk and M walked with me for a minute, asking me how I was feeling and telling me, “You’ve got this!” and all other sorts of lies to make me feel good.
It was right after the halway point that we came to the first overpass bridge. Holy moly! I thought my glutes were on fire before! I walked again up the rest of that hill, stopped and stepped up onto the sidewalk to stretch for a bit, and then coasted down the other side. Ahhhhhhhhh…. that felt good.
After that, the scenery changed drastically. No more big, pretty, elaborate casinos to look at. No more spectator-lined streets. There was the occasional band or cheer squad, but for the most part it was just me and the other runners on the back half of the course. And it was nothing to look at. The mountains were pretty in the background, but it wasn’t long before we turned and headed into what seemed to be a more industrial part of the city. Lots of warehouse-type buildings and such. Once I made it to the back half and I knew I was okay on time, I started walking through all the water stops. I took my first really significant walk at around mile 18. It was about there that my knee really started giving me some sass, so I walked a half-mile to appease it. I honestly didn’t care about the time as long as it was under the 5:30 cutoff. I was doing all sorts of math in my head:
“If I hit 20 miles at 4 hours that leaves me with an hour and a half to do 6.2 miles. That’s just a little less than a 15 min/mile. I can walk the rest of the way in at that pace! But wait a minute, my Garmin is showing about 0.25 mile longer than the mile markers. I need to jog on a little longer.”
Haha… yeah. You can have some pretty strange dialogues with yourself when you run alone for that long.
At mile 22 I decided I’d given it what I had. I walked it in from there. I knew if I walked at a 15 min/mile pace I would finish with a few minutes to spare, and that was ALL I cared about!
When I got to mile 26, though, my pride got the best of me. I couldn’t cross that finish line walking! I picked it back up to a jog and crossed the finish line at 5:27:08.
I was in a pretty good deal of pain and was physically and mentally exhausted. I grabbed some Cytomax and water and a Snickers bar and met up with everyone just right outside of the finish area. After sitting and stretching for a few minutes we headed toward the beer garden and passed a tent where they were engraving people’s medals with their name and chip time. I thought that sounded like a cool idea, but when I got up there I saw that it was $20 so I passed. D ended up convincing me it was worth it. I think his logic went something along the lines of, “Do you know how many $20 bills I just fed to a slot machine and have nothing to show for it? At least you’ll have something to show for this $20!” haha Twisted logic, I know, but it worked.
Am I glad I did it? Absolutely.
Will I do it again? I believe my exact words at the finish line were, “Never again!”. But I’d like to recant. Instead of saying “Never,” I will say, “Not in the foreseeable future.”
For now, my immediate future holds at least a two-week hiatus from running. I had my knee at a point that it didn’t hurt–not so much as even a twinge of pain–during the short runs of the last two weeks of taper, but I’m not sure what Sunday undid. Monday was brutal, but I took today off work too and have mostly sat around alternating ice and heat. It’s better than yesterday, but that’s not saying much. If I can get it back to where it’s happy with four and five miles every other day or so, that’s where I will start and I will GRADUALLY build up my base from there. There are some local half-marathons this spring that I would like to do, so hopefully I’ll be pain-free and PR ready by then!
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go look at my medal again.
Here, I’ll show it to you again too.
out of 5154 · Division: 376
out of 419 · Gender: 1900
out of 2141