Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Desert Racing Part 2 – The Strip at Night

So where did I leave off from Part 1? Oh, yeah. I'd just kicked back in the hotel on Saturday night. I was tired but not really sleepy so I watched TV for a while. I don’t watch TV at home so it's kind of a “treat” but really it's more of a reminder to myself that I'm not missing anything. I ended up watching Despicable Me (which I love! Especially ”It's so fluffy, I'm gonna *die*!” and “WHAAAAT?” – HA! They crack me up every time and 2 of my favorite quotes to use. Remarkably, they fit many, many situations! ;) ).

Ok, back to my weekend… I slept like a baby that night and hoped to sleep in but woke up around 6. I, um, don't know how to put this delicately but…I didn't have to go to the bathroom. Let's say irregularity is not one of my problems so I knew that meant I hadn't eaten enough yesterday. So I eventually went down to the buffet and loaded up on eggs, 2 pancakes, 1 slice of French toast, and 1 biscuit. Not a lot but I thought that would do for carbo replacement/loading.

I spent the rest of the morning reading and writing my blog in my hotel room. At lunch, I got a turkey sandwich and had some pretzels. Then at 2, I got ready to go down to the race to watch the pre-race festivities and watch the start of the marathon. I decided to wear my new Run It Fast shirt that Joshua had given me on Friday instead of the tank I brought because the forecast was low 50s at the start to 30s at the finish. I also decided on capris instead of shorts, and arm sleeves & knee high socks & my pirate buff. I packed a jacket and gloves in my gear bag for after the race along with a Clif Bar and some pretzels. I left the room at 2:30 to walk down to Mandalay Bay and had a Clif bar on the way.

By the time I got to Mandalay Bay, it was starting to fill up with people and the first act was on stage. I wandered around for a while trying to figure out where gear bag drop was and checked out everything. It was already starting to get cool so I decided to keep my gloves with me and dropped off the rest of my stuff at gear check.

I wormed my way thru the crowd until I was a few hundred feet past the start line and a nice couple let me squeeze in beside them when they saw I was standing on my tip toes to see. This is the first start of a race I got to watch (from that side anyway) and it was fun to watch the fast people go out. I yelled Go Josh when I thought he might be going by and one guy that was running recognized my shirt.

After that, I wandered around a little more trying to stay warm and then decided to do a little warm up to see how my legs were feeling. Ok, I was checking to see how much pep they had in them for the race. :) I did a nice easy one mile and it felt so good to be running and warm that I did another mile too. I decided my legs felt good but my feet were a little achy so I wouldn't push it. Just run relaxed. I was wearing my Altra Eves and questioned how they would feel after 13 more miles of asphalt but decided it was too late to change them and just go with the flow. If anything, it would make me run more aware and that's a good thing.

I was in corral 7 and I got in the back. I was going to move back a corral or two but then I saw I was the only 7 around. The rest were all from higher corral numbers, even some upper 20s. That can't be good. And then I don't know what happened but they had the 7 corral squeeze into the 6 corral. I was like, whatever, let's just get this started because I was freezing!

Finally, it was race time and we were off! The corral I was in started at about 5:36 and even if I'd wanted to, I couldn't go fast. There were even people walking right off the bat. But I wasn't looking for a PR so I told myself to just go with the flow and hope it thinned out in a mile or two. I tried not to weave around too many people but you really couldn't help it.

My first 2 miles were about 10 min miles and I was feeling good. I got a little breathing room after that and I must have sped up because I looked down and my Garmin said I was running at 8:50 pace. Let me tell you, I thought about keeping up that pace and seeing if I could hit 2 hrs. (Is it just me, or does everyone calculate finish times like that while running?) But that wasn't the goal of this race so I slowed it down a little. I'd told Jason that I wanted to run this between 2:15 and 2:30 and he agreed time on my feet was more important for the 12 HR coming up. I was pretty sure I wouldn't run slow enough to do 2:30 but I wanted to at least do 2:10 or 2:15. So miles 3, 4, & 5 were 9:25, 9:35, and 9:40. After that they were mostly between 9:45 and 10. Things went pretty well until I hit mile 9 and then for some reason (though I'd only been drinking water), my stomach decided it needed to complain. The next couple of miles were my slowest but I knew it would be over soon so tried not to think about it.

Then I had just 2 miles to go and I burped (sorry!) which helped my stomach and then I ran by the Japanese Drummers (love them) and it gave me a kick of energy and I picked it up to finish strong. The last 2 miles flew by and suddenly I was at the finish line in 2:14:24 per my Garmin. Woo! I did it! I ran a back-to-back marathon & half marathon! I stuck to my plan both days and got plenty of time on my feet and I felt good. I felt like I could have run the marathon both days. In fact, I know I could have.

So the fun was over as soon as I finished. I literally stepped on the finish line and came to an abrupt halt. There was a wall of runners ahead of me and nowhere to go! They kept yelling at us to keep moving but where? Someone asked what the bottleneck was and I said they were probably taking finisher photos in the chute again and they were. Why they do it there, I'll never know. Finally, I was able to squeeze by them and grab a water and a space blanket. I was already starting to cool down and it was freezing so I skipped the food and headed for my gear bag.

The runners were supposed to meet their families outside in the parking lot but everyone was inside because it was so cold. Still I was able to make my way in and luckily there weren't too many people with last names similar to mine so I got my bag quickly. I immediately put on my jacket and grabbed the Clif Bar and pretzels. I sat down for a bit to update the family & twitter and eat. My stomach decided food wasn't a good thing so I felt I better head to my hotel while the getting was good. I walked outside to walk to the hotel and it was so cold and windy, I thought I would take the tram back to Excalibur. Big mistake. Big. Huge! (can you guess what that quote is from?) If I'd thought it was crowded before it was even more insane inside Mandalay Bay. It took forever to get to the tram! I thought about giving up and walking outside but there were no exits and I'd have to go back against the crowd so I kept moving forward. The trams themselves were even more packed. It was like one of those clown cars where you can't believe how many fit in there. We were packed so tight, one man joked "I think I just got pregnant". Which was pretty funny. :) Someone asked if he was the man who'd run in the Borat outfit (glad I missed that one!). Finally, finally, we made it to the hotel (I had my doubts about the tram making it since I'm sure we were WAY over capacity) and I got up to the room. And promptly got sick. :( I don't know where that came from. I wasn't racing hard. I didn't have anything but a gu right before and water during. So what was that about? Not a fun way to end the night! I lost 3 pounds this weekend and I think this was part of it. I thought I ate enough but guess not. :(

Now, as I'm sure you've all heard...the Vegas Rock & Roll was a mess. It was. I think, though, that I didn't have such a bad time for a few reasons:

1. I wasn't racing for a PR.
2. I was self-sufficient (didn't need to use the shuttles, aid stations, or finish line food).
3. I was expecting it to be ridiculously crowded.
4. I like to people watch and I got a kick out of seeing all the Running Elvi and the costumes & lights some of the runners were wearing.

What I thought was bad:
1. It was so crowded I don't really remember "seeing" any of the Strip except the Venetian (which I knew had a Christmas Tree and I wanted to see it lit up) because I was too busy trying not to run over anyone, get run over by anyone, and dodging elbows. I thought for sure I'd get a black eye a couple of times. There were some very tall dudes running with huge arm swings!
2. The aid stations were scary with people dodging left and right and the ground was slippery. I slipped twice and was super glad I was carrying my own water.
3. I know it was at night but I have an overall feeling of darkness about the race: dark spots on the course, dark aid stations, dark mile markers, dark finish line. I just couldn't see any of that stuff.
4. They really need to control corrals better. Having some kid at the entrance to them won't cut it. There's no way in hell they will be able to stop "adults". If you aren't going to enforce them, why bother?
5. I feel like they expanded the race on a whim without thought to how much more people that actually meant. You could see they weren't prepared at the expo and before and after the race.
6. I know that half marathoners were getting in the way of the marathoners. No excuse but there really weren't any cones to keep us on our side. And so many runners were running with music/headphones that I'm not sure they heard anyone yelling to get out of the way. They needed to have cones with tape or ropes separating us because I think the half marathoners were just looking for a little room themselves.
7. I was disappointed in most of the bands. They never seemed to be playing when I went by except for one band that was kind of scary. I almost wish I'd had my mp3 player.

There's probably more I'm missing but you can get a better idea of the bad on this post from Run It Fast. I'm tired and this is too long already! I have some random thoughts about this weekend that I'll post in a couple of days. If you got this far, thanks for reading and sorry about the ramble!


  1. I juuust heard good things about Despicable Me from someone else! Need to watch it! So impressed w/you and all of your running this weekend! I'm glad your experience wasn't as bad as everyone else's. Wish it had been better but glad it wasn't just outright awful! Oh and totally yes to calculating times and finishes while running though depending on where I am in the race I lose the ability to do the simplest math. Ha

  2. Great race review, Lisa! I can feel the chaos of the evening--what a poorly organized race! You did so well considering how crazy it was. I was considering this race for next year but it sounds like one to avoid!

    Congrats again on a great weekend of running!

  3. Thanks again!

    I had a copy of Despicable Me but my nephew hijacked it. It's a fun movie!

    I hear they are working hard on fixing the problems for next year but I also heard they want to increase it to 61,000 so I would maybe give it a couple years to let them work out the kinks next year.