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Sunday, November 20, 2016

What Happened in Vegas?

How was the race?

Start Line pic by Theresa Pritchard
Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Marathon.  It was a very tough race, but ultimately I feel pretty good about how it went overall.  It started off great.  Christina & I were in corral 12, but we worked our way up to actually start with corral 7 to give ourselves a little time cushion.  We started right at sunset, running out of town past the back of the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign, and then turned around to come back by the sign on the way in, and then down the Strip.  I'd made a pace band for a 5:30 marathon, and at every mile marker I checked my pace and was staying about 3 minutes ahead for the first 10 miles and felt great.

At mile 6, I looked down the Strip towards the Stratosphere and just felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude that I was there, that I had the opportunity to have this amazing experience, and I prayed and gave thanks to God while I ran.  This isn't the life I thought I would be having, and I'd still give anything to have my old life back, but since I know that isn't an option, I'm incredibly thankful that Option B includes moments like that.

I continued ahead of pace and actually ran a half PR in the first half of the race.  Shortly after mile 10, the full course turned off the strip and began meandering through side streets.  There were still bands and DJs set up along the course, but no more crowds or funny signs, and really no sights to see.  I had been taking nutrition and drinking Nuun just like I trained, but I began to struggle around mile 15.  I remembered how I'd felt at mile 14 of my 20 mile long run a few weeks before, and how I got a second wind shortly after. so I kept pushing but that second wind didn't kick in this time.

I did not reach mile 16 by 7:50 pm so I got diverted and did not get to run the full distance.  I knew going in that this was a possibility since the race had such a strict time limit, so while I was slightly disappointed, I didn't dwell on it too much.  Honestly my legs were hurting so much I was kind of glad it was going to be a little shorter, but it also became a little confusing as I wasn't really sure how much farther I had to go.

 With about 2 miles to go, we ran back onto the Strip for a short time.  I had to sit down in a bus stop to get a rock out of my shoe, where I fantasized about just staying there until the road opened back up and a bus came along to take me back to the hotel, but I pushed myself up and kept going.  There was one last out & back onto a side street.  This was another diversion point, but I reached it before it closed.  I seriously considered self-diverting and just continuing straight on to the finish line, but I remembered my plan to run as much as I possibly could even if I got diverted, so I followed the original course down the side street and back.

Back to the Strip, where I heard someone ask a volunteer how much farther.  When she said 0.6 miles, I told myself I was running that last stretch and running it hard, no matter how much it hurt.  I pulled my headphones out so I could listen to the crowds and the race announcer, and I crossed the finish line running and crying.  My final distance ended up being 22 miles according to my watch.  I collected my medal, snacks, water, Gatorade, chocolate milk and Finisher's Jacket.  I skipped the beer as I felt a bit nauseous and dehydrated, and a beer sounded awful.  I had a couple of pictures made and then headed back to the hotel to meet up with my friends.

What Went Wrong?

I skipped lunch: My training included several evening long runs to mimic race conditions as much as possible.  On those days, I ate a breakfast of oatmeal with chia seeds, peanut butter and almond milk, and for lunch I had a baked potato.  I took the food with me to Vegas to make my usual breakfast, and I assumed a baked potato would be easy to find, but I couldn't find a baked potato at any of the restaurants in our hotel.  By the time someone told me where I could probably get one, it was time to leave for the race (and I was so nervous I probably wouldn't have been able to eat anyway).  So I skipped lunch.

I think that's probably the biggest reason why I ran out of steam and never picked up a second wind.  We had also walked around a lot in the days leading up to the race, including walking 8 miles the day before it, but I'd slept well every night and I didn't feel tired at the beginning, so I don't think that had a huge effect.

What about Vegas?

This was my first visit to Vegas.  There's definitely no place else quite like it.  There's too much to see in just five days, but I really enjoyed everything I did have a chance to see.  I do hope to go back some day too.  I was surprised by how many things reminded me of Kevin in a city we'd never visited.  We used to watch TV shows about how the hotels and casinos were built, and talked about going to see them someday.  But it wasn't just that.  Items in gift shops would remind me of things we used to buy each other, or little in-jokes we had together.  I heard songs that reminded me of him.  And even seeing things that were brand new, I couldn't help but imagine what Kevin might think about them.  I guess I'm always going to see the world a little bit through his eyes as well as mine, and that's probably how it should be.

Would I run this race again?

If I did, I would do the half but not the full.  I liked the course where we ran on the Strip.  I enjoyed the start and finish.  I didn't like the part where the full course turned off the Strip to run on the side streets.  I had thought I would when I looked at the course map online, but in reality it was not much fun to run.

Will I do another full marathon?

Maybe.  But not in 2017.  I have several other things planned for next year, and I won't have the time to spend training for a full.  We are looking at the Southernmost Half Marathon in Key West in October for our FBG destination race next year.  If you've run this race, please leave a comment and let me know how you liked it?

What about that cute guy at the airport?

Yeah, I really should've gotten his name.  He was single, funny, interesting, and also a runner.  But I've been out of it for so long I just missed that opportunity.

What's next?

I have three races this week.  Or six, depending on how you count them.
  • Bolt for the Heart 5K on Thanksgiving.  This is a fundraiser to provide AEDs to Indiana State Patrol cars.  Josh, Kim, Colin and I are doing this in Kevin's memory, along with Kevin's friend Jason and two of his kids, and a bunch of my friends will be there as well.
  • Burn It Off Double on Friday.  5K and 10K double road race in Shelbyville.
  • Turkey Legs Trifecta on Saturday.  4K, 5K and 6K trail races at Eagle Creek.

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