Las Vegas Rock n Roll Marathon Weekend Recap – The Race!

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.

Overall: 4720 out of 5154 · Division: 376 out of 419 · Gender: 1900 out of 2141

The Final Countdown

Exactly one week from today, at exactly this time, I will be standing in corral 16 at the start line of my first marathon.

I’m about to lose my gord.

A few thoughts…

  • I seriously think the people at are intentionally trying to screw with me.  One day it shows an 80% chance of rain, the next day 0%.  Come on, dudes.  Not cool at all.  (Sorry for the false alarm, Amanda!)  They’ve pushed the rain up to Monday now. 
  • I ran my last “long” run yesterday.  It was 9 miles, and it was the worst run I’ve had in a while.  The wind beat the living crap out of me and I just felt really tired.  Not surprising following Thanksgiving, but not a good confidence booster going into the final stretch.
  • Everyone keeps telling me to trust my training.  Well, I missed a lot of my training because of my knee, so that’s really not good advice for me.  If I have to put my trust in that, I’m screwed.  I’m better off putting my trust in my hard-headedness.
  • I’m looking forward to meeting Julie, Amanda, and Mel!
  • My bib number is 16272.  Nothing about that number jumps out at me as being good luck.  627 used to be the first three numbers of my phone number, but that’s all I got.
  • I’m bummed about the post-race concert.  The headliner is Bret Michaels, and I was pretty stoked about seeing him.  But I recently found out that I won’t get to.  He will be on stage from 11:00 am to 12:15 pm, so IF I can finish in 5:15 I MIGHT get to see him walk offstage.
  • This last pair of Mizuno Wave Rider 13s that I bought feel weird.  I can’t place exactly what’s different about them, but something just seems off.  I thought maybe it was just because they weren’t broke in good, but they’ve got about 50 miles on them now.  I’ve run the last couple of weeks of training runs in them (but had to change out of them halfway through my 20-miler last week), but they won’t be coming to Vegas with me.  I’ll be taking my last pair of MWR13s that have about 250 miles on them.  I stick with what I know works.
  • Speaking of sticking with what works, I’ve already scoped out Dominos Pizza locations.  I’ve had my best long runs the morning after chowing down on their Pacific Veggie pizza.  I will be having a private pizza party for one in my hotel room Saturday night while everyone else goes out.  Hey, I might have to turn in early, but I’m not about to ruin everyone else’s fun!  We’ll be in Vegas for Pete’s sake! 
  • I haven’t started packing yet, but I have my list of stuff to pack made out.  I’m terrified I’m gonna forget something important.
  • I’m putting the finishing touches on my playlist this weekend.

So here we go.  Seven days and less than 10 miles are now all that stand between me and the start line.  Ready or not…

Time Out

I’m putting myself in time out.  I’ve been a bad runner.  My body has been telling me, “I need a break,” and I didn’t listen.  Well, I SORTA listened.  I didn’t run my scheduled 5 miles Thursday, but I went ahead with my long run yesterday.

Can we say OUCH??????

I was able to squeeze out 11 (I was only scheduled for 12 anyway) before the pain just got the absolute best of me and I HAD to stop.  It’s not the outer knee/upper shin pain anymore.  I rolled the living crap out of my IT band.  It was super tight.  (Note to self:  Use foam roller as a PREVENTATIVE as it was intended and like you bought it for.)  The rolling seems to have fixed that.

But OMG… the kneecap pain.  The EXCRUCIATING kneecap pain.

I took a butt load of ibuprofen and iced it like crazy last night and it hurt even worse this morning.  I took more ibuprofen and iced again before church, and right now at nearly 6 pm, it is perfectly fine.

But I’m not making the same mistake I made last week.  Last week I was fine by Sunday night so I went ahead with my first two midweek runs.  I’m not doing that this week.

I don’t feel like I am truly INJURED.  If it was a true injury, actual anatomical damage, I don’t think OTC anti-inflammatories and ice would help.  I think something in there has just gotten a little angry.  So I am going to take some time and let my body do what I feel like it’s trying to do anyway:  heal.

I’m taking a week off.  I don’t want to jump back in tomorrow or Tuesday even though I’m pain-free and hit the reset button on any healing that’s taken place so far.

I hate to think of what I’ll lose this week, but I think it’s the smartest thing I can do for my marathon goals.

So I’m going to make the best of this week.  I’m going to work in the yard, clean my neglected house, maybe clean out my clos–  ….

Oh, who am I kidding???  I couldn’t even type that with a straight face!

I just rented the new Guitar Hero Warriors of Rock for five days.

Game on.

New Territory

Here I am, folks. Right smack in the middle of marathon training. This means I’m now moving into new territory. Until last Saturday, the longest I had run was 13.1. Twice. Then last Saturday called for a long run of 15. I’ll be completely honest with you. That number intimidated the living crap out of me. Perhaps that mental psyche-out had something to do with the COMPLETE AND TOTAL SUCKFEST that took place Saturday morning. It was a horribly pathetic excuse for a run. The first ten were OKAY, but at 11.5, my legs said to me, “Okay, that’s it, we’re done.” I had to do a run-one-minute-walk-one-minute thing just to get home. I ended up at 14 miles and won’t even embarass myself by telling my overall pace. Let’s just say it wasn’t pretty and there were tears. Oh, yes, there were tears.

But after the initial emotion and disappointment passed, I felt better. I knew that I had just come off of an awesome long run the weekend before. Obviously I didn’t forget how to run over the course of a week. It was just a bad run. It seems I’m getting into quite the pattern! For the life of me, I cannot have two good long runs in a row. I’ve been in this every-other-week pattern for quite a while now. That just means I’m due for a good 16-miler this weekend!

I was also told by my awesome friend, running mentor, and Vegas running partner that it’s time to up the daily calorie intake, so I’ve been working on that this week.

And what a difference three days and a few extra calories can make! After taking off Sunday and Monday, I put up a solid eight miles tonight at a 10:34 pace (which is really good for me), and it felt spectacular. I can’t say that I was looking forward to going out for eight miles after working all day, but once I got out there and got going I thoroughly enjoyed it.

And THAT’S the way it SHOULD be!

Three Things Friday – Because I’m Rebellious Like That

#1 – This just hasn’t been my week. I know there are good runs and bad runs, and it still just amazes me how quickly that switch can flip! I kicked butt all last week, and this week has gone something like this:

Tuesday – OK, Tuesday was another butt-kicking day. Another great hill workout. So we can’t count Tuesday.

Wednesday – Wednesday’s run was nonexistent. I had to work in Memphis Wednesday, and that’s 2hrs and 40mins from my house one way. That made for a 13-hour day, and I just didn’t have an ounce of energy left in me.

Thursday – I made up my seven miles from Wednesday night, opting to miss my four-miler. Or at least I attempted to run seven. I was highly unsuccessful. See #2.

#2 – We’ve been having some really hot temps here again this week. It was over 100 again Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Thursday wasn’t much better. To those who claim that everyone acclimates to running in the heat, I call bullcrap! I’ve been doing this all summer, and I was no more successful in my run yesterday than I was in May. I fully believe that some of us just don’t have it in us to run in hot weather. My radiator just doesn’t work like most people’s. No matter how easy I try to take it, when the temps are high, my heart rate just gets out of control. But, THANK GOD, fall is JUST AROUND THE CORNER. Our 10-day forecast shows highs in the 70s and lows in the 40s. WOOOOOHOOOOOO!!!!!!

#3 – I learned this week that Oprah ran a marathon. I am apparently the last person on earth to hear this. When I heard about it, I googled it and found a lot of articles–many of them along the lines of “How Oprah ruined the marathon,” referring to how she opened the door for a whole new population of people: non-athletes. I was actually kind of astounded by the negativity. I guess I’m spoiled to the bloggy world where everyone is so supportive of everyone else. It never occurred to me that the rest of the running community might feel differently and might resent us amateurs for invading their once-sacred sport of marathoning.

Vegas Update

I emailed the race director:

To Whom it May Conern:

I am writing to express my extreme discontent over the decision to change the official finish-time cutoff from 7:00 to 5:30 for the RnR Vegas marathon. I do believe that ranks right up there as one of the cruelest cases of bait-and-switch I have ever witnessed. How many other people besides myself registered under your false claims of a 7:00 finish? Congratulations, RnR. You successfully duped us out of your $145 registration fee. I would not have registered for this race had you advertised your 5:30 finish from the start.

This is to be my first marathon. I and two friends registered in April thinking we would have a no-pressure marathon in an awesome city. We and our husbands are taking time off work and flying across the country to participate in your race, and now I find out that there is a chance that we will not even get an official finish or medal for our efforts.

This does not sit well with me.

And I don’t feel like I am speaking for just myself. Did anyone bother to look at the results from last year? I certainly did. Out of 5905 finishers, 1087 finished in over 5:30. That is 18.4%. You are in essence telling 18.4% of your finishers from last year, “You are not welcome here this year.”

Your web site states, “Our staff is always interested in hearing your feedback in our attempts to make the event better every year.” Well, here is my feedback. And if your goal really is to make this event better every year, well then you have already failed miserably this year. My excitement and joy over this trip and this event have been replaced by worry and anxiety.

Great job, RnR.

And believe it or not, she actually emailed back:

Hi Pam,

Thank you for your e-mail. We are sorry for the inconvenience that this change has caused. We have created a new course, and because of this, we have had to work with the city to create new time limit changes. The course/The Strip must be reopened after the 5 ½ hour time limit. We contacted every person that gave us a predicted finish time of over 5 ½ hours (less than 300 people when we made that change) to inform them of this change and have given them 4 different options: Switch to the ½ Marathon, Change their predicted finish time for the marathon, Full Refund (which we don’t usually allow), or a transfer to a different Rock ‘n’ Roll event. With this new change, the runner must maintain a 12:40 pace in order to compete the marathon in the allotted time. If they are behind this pace they will be asked to divert to the ½ marathon at mile 12.8. Although you did not originally fall into this group, if you would like to make a change at this point, you can. Please let us know what you decide.

So there are my options.

But now that I really think about it (and after consulting Vegas Running Buddy), I think we are going to leave it as is and let the chips fall where they may! (No Vegas pun intended.) I KNOW beyond the shadow of a doubt that we can hold that pace through mile 12.8. Hell, that’s slower than any of my long runs have ever been, even when training and completing my first half mary a year ago. So I’m confident that I can train my way to 20 miles below that pace, too. Miles 20-26.2 still give me a little concern, but hopefully we will have enough time banked that we can still finish with no problems.

Vegas or bust, baby!


I’m more than a little bit worried/pissed right now.

I just checked my email and saw the Rock n Roll Vegas August newsletter.  At the very top of the newsletter is a big red exclamation point followed by a very important announcement.

They are implementing a new marathon time limit.  Five and a half hours.

When I registered, the time limit was seven hours.

GREAT JOB, RNR!!!!  How many other people did you dupe into registering under the pretense of a seven-hour finish??????

Everyone says, “Don’t set a time goal for your first marathon.”  Well, that just flies right out the window here, doesn’t it? 

I’ve been HOPING (and training) for a sub-5hr finish, but realistically I know that may not happen.  LOTS of people don’t finish their first marathon in 5-1/2 hours.

But what’s a girl gonna do?  I’ll either get my medal or I won’t.  The only thing I can do is train my ass of between now and then and pray for the best.


My Name in Lights

Well, maybe not lights. More like print. But, hey, print is still cool, right???

A few weeks ago, Beth at Shut Up and Run featured a blog post about Melinda Hinson Neely and her upcoming book about first-time marathoners. She was looking for marathon virgins to follow during their training. Her original mission was to find five people to follow in-depth. Well, according to her blog, her response was overwhelming and she couldn’t pick just five. She picked six people to chronicle in-depth and roughly 30 others to highlight. And guess what! She picked little ol’ me. 🙂 Not for the in-depth gig–just the highlight. Who CARES if she picked everyone that responded? A participation award is still an award! And who CARES if in the announcement she got the city wrong? (I moved FROM Jackson, not TO Jackson. Four years ago. lol) Details, details!

Talk about motivation! As if my Vegas run buddy Michele and all of you weren’t enough to keep me accountable, now if I punk out Melinda will write about it and tell the whole world what a wus I am. As much as I enjoy public humiliation, I prefer it when it’s in the moment and not documented for generations to come.

One week down. Seventeen to go!