Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Las Vegas wrap-up

Ok so this may be a little long, but here goes anyway...

As did many runners, we found a place called Battista’s right down from our hotel for pasta on Sat night. This meant that I would deviate from my typical pre-race staple of a grilled chix sammy and Rice a Roni (this would later be significant during the race). I slugged a couple of beers before dinner – and a little bit of wine during. So maybe it wasn’t the best idea in the world, but we were in Vegas, baby.

Sunday AM: Start time was at 6AM. I rose at 4:25. I walked about two miles from the Barbary Coast to Mandalay Bay. That’s what I get for saving a few bucks. I couldn’t have gotten a cab if I wanted to with the roads closed off. The cool wind was whipping and I was questioning my short-sleeve decision.

It was a bit of a cluster as hundreds of runners scurried toward the start line. The layout of the start in front of Mandalay Bay faced North – while all of the hotels are south of the start. The start was fenced in and it was difficult to find the back of the pack.

When I heard the MC announce less than 5 min to start (which was a lie), I followed a bunch of others climbing an 8 foot tall fence to get in the start corral. After scaling one said barrier, I was pinned in with hundreds of fellow runners in against a second albeit shorter fence.

That’s right, hundreds of us had to climb not one, but two fences before running this race. Sardined in between fences, I patiently awaited the start as my legs stiffened. However, there were too many people to try to get over the 2nd fence, so many of us had no choice but to wait until the gun for the crowd to move. It was a debacle.

After fireworks, a Blue Man Group performance, some politicians yapping and a long-winded MC trying to get us pumped up, we finally heard the gun at 6:15’ish AM. I gingerly climbed the fence and began walking with the masses toward the start. About 4.5 min later, I began to run.

Because of my position in the way back, it was a dodge ‘em from the get go. I started behind the 4:45 pace group. Apparently, I was late in arriving to the start?

I must have passed 6,000 of the 16,000 runners during the first two miles. My watch read 13:40 at mile 2, but in retro looking at Garmin, no way was I that fast - marker had to be wrong. The Mile 2 marker was one of only a few that I saw the whole race.

Early on, I felt the bloat. Unfortunately, I knew I had a pit stop coming. Yeah, I went at the hotel – but apparently I wasn’t done – not by a long shot. That damn A/D pill didn’t work. Estimated break time: 3:30. After this break, I think I was at about 38:40 for 5 miles.

After shuffling out of the can, I headed toward the Fremont St. Experience. I knew this would be mile 6. Under the lit up dome, I was thrilled when I was able to make that left back towards the strip, while the other poor souls had to carry on into the windy, desolate roads of the outer Las Vegas vicinity for the whole 26.2.

Heading back south, the winds were very fierce - head on winds sucking the life out of me as my leg throbbed in the late miles. These winds were harder than in Chicago on marathon day. I never wavered but I could tell I didn’t have the power I had in my peak conditioning. My HR was consistently in the 170’s – conditioning may have been a factor. My miles were slower later in the race.

As expected, my IT band pain began to emerge around mile 8. It got pretty bad around mile 10. Not sure if the $15 IT band supporter that I bought at the expo did a lick of good. Frustrating me further was that I never knew where I was. Even the volunteers didn’t know the mile markers.

I think I finished pretty strong but I’m not sure (again, no markers). I just now saw my official time tonight, which was a 1:38:31 - an inexplicable 8:07 off my PR from August. Definitely not where I thought I’d finish, but at least I did it and didn’t get seriously hurt. Coolest part was getting my post-race photo with a sexy showgirl.

My legs have been stiff since the race on Sunday – but more so the leftie which has acted up for 3 weeks now. Next step: Therapy.


Not sure I would do this one again even if healthy and better prepared. Had I been running the 26.2 and trying for a serious time, I would have been pissed. The race needs stronger support and clear mile markers! Not to mention that it was pricey for what you got in the way of aid stations (which were sparse) – and a really crappy race T-shirt.

Also, 20 out of 26.2 of the miles seem lame. It was pretty sweet running down the strip, but miles 7 through 13.1 were through run-down city and industrial back-roads along I-15. I can’t imagine the rest of the full course carried much excitement.

Biggest excitement I had during miles 7-13 was witnessing a drunken & disorderly conduct arrest in progress on a street corner in a sketchy part of town. Fan support was weak. After I thought about it, everyone who was there is not a local and didn’t exhibit the pride in the community that most races generate.

So here is my excuse list:

1. Organization/Support – Logistics were crappy at the start, they couldn’t handle the crowd. Mile markers were non-existent. No offense to the back-of-packers, but being behind 5 hr group was a challenge. Time lost: 1:00
2. Winds – Can’t control it, I know, but those head winds put Chicago to shame. – Time lost: 1:30-2:00
3. GI Tract Readiness – Poor execution on my part (oh well!). Time lost: 3:45-4:00
4. Knee/IT Band – I favored my right leg for the last 5 miles. I must have looked like a waddling duck. Time lost: 1:00-1:30

If it had not been for all of the above factors, and have run better the last few weeks, I am pretty sure I would have had a chance at PR. Well, OK, maybe not…but, what the hell, at least I was out there. There, the excuse monkey is off my back.

Next time, I’ll take my $90 to the tables and skip going to bed at 8:30 PM on a Saturday night in Vegas.

Now off to some rest and a physical therapy screening on Monday. Oh yeah, I’m supposed to start running for Boston this week, but that may be on hold ‘til I get some healing in.


BAPP said...

Pasta dinner...$50, couple of beers...$20, a little bit of wine...$15, time saved with GI preparedness...priceless. Your excuses list is appropriately present and taken into account. Thanks for the nice race write-up.

yumke said...

Wow, what a crazy race. All those factors would def. hurt your time. ?I guess you're now into boston training..

Bob said...

Some races are supposed to be fun. Sorry about the GI issues, I am soooo glad I do not have a big problem with that.

robtherunner said...

Thanks for the reminder to leave Las Vegas off my marathon to do list. I have not heard great reports in the past from this race and I think I would rather go to gamble as well. Focus on your great marathon and the training towards Boston.

Firefly's Running said...

OUCH! I will have to agree that the race just SUCKED...big time. I love any Law Enforcement action during a good race. :D

Anonymous said...

Nice job on finishing especially considering all the conditions. Hope the healing goes well.

Dori said...

Jessica (SoCal Trail Runner) ran the marathon and also was not impressed with the race management. It doesn't sound like a good time. That's too bad, although running down Fremont Ave. would be fun. Hope the ITB gets better.