Well, that was exhausting.
Before getting into the Las Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, let’s go back a few weeks and discuss how training went leading up to December 4th, 2011. After taking off a week or so after my
Chicago Marathon, I was back to training for the next marathon in Las Vegas. I figured 2 months would be plenty of time to recharge and go into the next race ready to PR like nobody’s business. What I didn’t realize was how ready I was for a Saturday off. A day where I could wake up whenever I felt, walk into my living room and play Playstation until the next morning rolls around like a normal 27 year old!
There were 6 weeks between getting going on training again and the race. This is when juggling my runs and my (relatively non-existent) social life got tricky. 6 weekends to get in my long runs, to still have a good time and to apparently travel some more. I succeeded in 2 of those. Guess which two. I did run a 20 mile training run on the first weekend in November and after that, I only completed 1 double digit run and that was an 11 miler when it was supposed to be 18. Things kept getting hairier. When it was time to taper, I felt like I didn’t deserve to taper. I’d been tapering since Chicago it seemed and I just knew when I got to Vegas it would be a train wreck. It was, but not like you would think.
I flew into Las Vegas on Saturday morning anxious to get out there, anxious to put in my bet on Oklahoma State, anxious to see how I would handle being in Las Vegas to run a marathon. I arrived at 9:30am where my Dad and Curtis (my Dad’s fishing buddy) picked me up from the airport. He lives out there and so he let us borrow his truck for the weekend to get around and do our thing. We grabbed a bite to eat and then headed to Palace Station. It was one of the smaller casinos but it was the closest to his house where we were going to drop him off. I placed a few sports bets and then played a few table games (roulette and craps) where I found myself losing money quickly. I stepped back, took a breather and downed 3 glasses of water. Yep, water… in Vegas. **Spoiler alert: I was in Vegas for 49 hours… I had zero cocktails.** We then headed to the hotel (pictured). My sister helped out with the hotel as my birthday gift so that was nice and this is where we were able to catch what was to be the greatest football game I have ever witnessed, the Oklahoma State vs Oklahoma Bedlam Game. Fin Saturday.
Race Day – I woke up at 7am. Made some coffee in the hotel room and watched a little SportsCenter to hear them talk more and more about my Cowboys. The beauty about being out west when it comes to Sunday mornings…. football is on as soon as you wake up. 9am rolled around and I was getting super nervous about the race. I didn’t know what I could eat, what I should eat, when I should stop eating, etc. It was crazy to think about. I was about to run 26.2 miles at a time I’m not accustomed to at all. Typically, marathons begin bright and early in the mornings. I know what to eat the night before, when to get up, what time to have my breakfast, etc. This was completely different and it left me with quite an uneasy feeling. I grabbed a turkey sandwich from Panera Bread and an Everything Bagel for later. I went back to the hotel and decided to take a nap around 11am. I woke up close to 12:30 from that much needed nap and had my bagel. I continued to hydrate and around 2pm, Pops took me down to the starting line.
As I do with every race recap, I’ll give you a breakdown of what I was thinking as the race progressed through another 26.2 miles.
- Hour before the start: Cheap Trick is playing. Those guys definitely didn’t do drugs. I have a bad attitude because I know I’m not going to do well. I’m nervous because of my training, because of the late start and because I know we’re going to have to run the same route as the half marathoners that will be smoking by me by the time I get to mile 13.
- Some American Idol winner/contestant sings ‘God Bless America.’ Question: When did this become an acceptable alternative to the National Anthem? Just curious.
- The gun goes off and here we go.
- Mile 1 – Excitement is in the air and people are anxious to get in their stride and on their pace. Things are slow going as it bottlenecks around the first turn. After that first turn… there is nothing but the industrial deserted area of Las Vegas. BORING.
- Mile 3 – First water stop. Just outside the Hustler Club. Not sure why they didn’t have the water stop in there.
- Mile 4 – It’s dark now. The sun sets at 4:25 in December in Vegas. I brought gloves with me not knowing if I’d need them. I ran with them in my back pocket in NYC so I knew I could do that if I didn’t use them. I used them from this point and I’m really glad I had them.
- Mile 5-9 – Pretty boring. We did a couple of loops, crossed a couple of bridges. Some people were discussing Tebow (why wouldn’t a group of marathoners discuss Tim Tebow while running?!).
- Mile 10 – We begin to head back towards the Strip. We make a few more turns/loops before getting back on the Strip at mile 13.
- Mile 13.1 – HALFWAY. I’m feeling great. Nothing in my body is hurting. My pace feels right. I know I had another 7 miles until the real race began. Everyone says that a marathon is a 10k with a 20 mile warm up and in all honesty, that’s what it is. In OKC, I hit the wall at mile 19. NYC – mile 23. Chicago – 24. I didn’t know how my body would react this time around. Only time would tell. This is when I got my second wind in a way. We were back on the Strip under the bright lights. The streets were super crowded as the half marathon had gotten underway about 10 minutes previously to my entering of the Strip. This is also when things got weird.
- Mile 13.7 – “ON YOUR LEFT. ON YOUR LEFT.” I found myself becoming a running snob for the first time ever. In the past, I had appreciated everyone who attempted to run because running is my thing now, I guess. I still am that way. Just for some reason that night as I was on my way at a pretty quick pace, the lane designated for all the marathoners was being overtaken by the half marathoners that had their own lane. It was getting rather hectic to dodge all these people. I like seeing all the sights and I know that that is why many of these people signed up for the race, but me being as competitive as I am and trying to beat my time, I needed to get by.
- Mile 14-21 – These miles were exactly the same as I just described. All the marathoners around me (not many) were all doing the same thing. “ON YOUR LEFT.” It was getting old.
- Mile 22 – I catch up with the 3:20 pace group. They had started ahead of me in the corrals because I did not know how I’d do. I typically just run MY race and do it on my own for the most part. As I caught up with the pace leader, I decided it would be a good person to stick with. It was also beneficial because he did all the yelling from here on out. I found people listened to him better than they did me, because he had the pace sign with him.
- Mile 23 – We somehow convinced three bicyclist “patrolmen” to stay with us and take over the yelling. They did the dirty work for us, thankfully. We thanked them over and over again because the streets were crowded and running at roughly a 7:45 pace (by that time), we were still passing people. The pace leader yelled to the small group who was following him that he was going to slow a bit as they were ahead of pace, but I was feeling pretty saucy so I kept going… and so did one of the bicyclist.
- Mile 24-26 – I had a “motorcade” to myself. I felt like an elite runner. It was an incredible feeling. The crowd was dwindling on the Strip but the runners were still there. The lights were bright as can be as I passed the Wynn Casino, Paris, Caesar’s, New York, New York, and finally the Mandalay Bay where we started. I was still feeling strong surprisingly. My legs were getting tired like normal, but I felt like I still had some left in the tank. I hadn’t felt the need to stop or walk at all and there were no cramps this time around.
- Mile 26-26.2 – I kicked it into high gear. I knew I was on the cusp of my time being in the teens. I needed to hurry some. I picked it up and sprinted (I called it a sprint but I think it was just a quicker run than I had been doing the last 4 or 5 miles) and hustled across the finish line. The clock said 3:21:24 or something but I knew I had started a little later than the gun time and I knew my chip time was in the teens!
And now it’s time for RACE PHOTOS AND AWKWARD FACIAL EXPRESSIONS!!
I’m not sure I will enter a Rock’n’Roll Marathon again. It was overall a mediocre experience. It just seemed as if the people who put on the event couldn’t care less about those who ran the full marathon. There were very few aid stations along the full marathon route and the whole debacle along the course with the sectioned off lane for marathoners could have been done better. I know the group makes their money off the the half marathon and that’s why there were only 6,000 marathoners out of the 44,000 runners at the event but they could have done a tad bit more for those who chose to run a full marathon. I hope this doesn’t come off too yuppie, but I just wanted the full marathon to get just a fraction of the attention the half marathon got from the group that put on this event. That would have made it a whole lot better experience for me. It was frustrating.
All in all, I ran my race. I beat my PR by more than 8 minutes. I feel like I didn’t even train as well as I could have. I did a lot of lateral moving during a 26.2 mile run. I wonder what could have happened had it not been so congested in areas. I wonder what could happen if I dedicated myself to training in hopes to do better. I wonder.