Loving Las Vegas – Part 1

Every journey has an end I suppose – perhaps some just do not finish the way we intended. When I made my way to Las Vegas on a noon flight this last November there was a very strong feeling it was going to end just the way I wanted to. It was my 75th marathon and 50th state with not a single Did Not Finish and only 3 total 26.2 distances over 4 hour marathons. The course was relatively flat and though it started at four thirty in the afternoon, I had picked up a midnight marathon and a noon run as well along my way so I was not too concerned about the start time. I hate to say it but as I loaded that plane, there was sadness inside me as the journey felt over already. Sometimes there really isn’t much to running – put one foot in front of the other. Repeat. In my case – do it at a better than nine minute pace.

I got off the plane in Vegas and made my way to the hotel where Karen had booked us – Mandalay Bay. She had chosen it as it was close to the start and finish – always great planning by that woman. We would later find out that the finish had moved but the beginning at the start would turn out quite useful. I checked into my room and decided to make my way down to the expo.

Thoughts crowded my head as I made my way down the street. Not many people on the street would ask you why Vegas would be the last place you would finish your 50 states quest however many a marathoner just might. Though it sounds fantastic to run down the strip at night and enjoy the sights and celebrate, Vegas is just too big an event to care about most individual runners. I told their staff at least twice I was finishing my quest there. I could say they acted like they cared but even that would be untrue.

On top of this, the event is too crowded and any friends you hope to see are not going to happen unless you are lucky. So really it is not the celebration one may hope for. You have to declare a place to meet afterwards because honestly you are just not going to see anyone at the finish. Forget finding people at the start or seeing them cheering you on as you go down the street. Not to mention the fact that larger events are not good for speed goals as sometimes the navigating can really slow a runner down.

There was another complicated factor for me in my trip. Most of my family was staying in downtown Las Vegas so my family had decided to meet in downtown Las Vegas after the race. If everyone else is staying on the strip (and yes they always are) they are not going to go to downtown Vegas to celebrate with you. And as I talked to my friends along the way where we were going I could sense the hesitation.

And lastly the four o’clock starting time is nearly impossible to prepare for. What do you do? Sure you can stay in your hotel room but how often do you get to go to Vegas? On top of that, halfway through the race fatigue sets in as most runners go out in the morning and not at night. And with a time goal in mind mere seconds can be so vital! So, all in all, when you are choosing your last state and course, I can understand why Vegas would not be on the top of your list!

I knew all these factors as I made my way to the expo but it all did not matter to me. After choosing Vegas as my last state three different friends and 15 family members elected to go as well! So as I made my way down the strip, I figured it would be an easy walk and family time would be afterwards. Actually that is quite wrong. I found that out in my first day when I decided the expo would be an easy jaunt for me that first afternoon after getting off the plane. I thought well it can’t be much further than Wynn and I would like to see that! Granted it was not much farther than Wynn but yes it was also a one and half hour walk. It said one hour ten minutes when I pulled it up and I thought I could take time off of that. Um yeah, no.

So after a lengthy walk I made my way to the expo and it was fantastic as always for a Rock N Roll event. The scariest moment of my journey did occur just as I was going to get my number though. I could not find my name! I had to see three different people about it but it ended up they transversed my names. It is kind of funny in hindsight to think someone has the first name of Remsburg but at the time it was not that funny at all. To travel this far and then not run my final race?!? Inconceivable! There were many vendors on display. Brooks had a fantastic display and I hurried through it and enjoyed the new Jamba Juice energy drink. I would be their sponsor for free I love them so much. There was also a fantastic Amway display. A nice little Sport Beans stand and a bunch of the regular stand-bys including Geico. I put in a reason why I run to Geico. Still have yet to hear from them. I always wonder who exactly makes the cut in those “this is why I run” sponsorship deals. Not me I suppose.

After that I left the expo and got a chance to walk with a new friend as we walked down the strip. He was from San Francisco and on his second marathon. But his first one was just about a month ago. He was hooked already. And as you watch these newbies get to running multiple races, you know these are the new batch of runners that will be replacing most of us. Sure some of us runners will keep doing this for years and complete their states over five times and that is very noble. However I am not sure if this is where I see myself going. The marathon circuit has its share of celebrities and though I am not a major one, I am known. I just wonder how long that shelf life will be for me? Will I keep going or will I have discovered my quest and end these weekends sometime soon?

After some wandering down the strip for a little while, my brother texted me to ask where I was. I was simply just enjoying the view. People think I am crazy but I just love Las Vegas for the views. By the time I would leave the town I would never spend a dollar gambling or see a show but I would walk up and down that strip at least three times including the entire day Monday. Yes I would imbibe, but hey I am only human! I was able to meet them all at the Tropicana.

When I got to the Tropicana I was thrilled to see my brother, mother, sister, Parker (my mother’s high school friend), my sister’s husband and my brother’s wife. They had all arrived the day before me and were all having great times. I could tell I made the right choice for my last state just by how excited they were. Not all of them would choose Vegas as a destination but they were thrilled with the experience. We went on a short walk to eat that night at an Italian Restaurant named Hole in the Wall. It was one of many unique and fun eating excursions I would have in the town. Huge platters of food and bottomless wine could define the experience.

I was a little down at that point though. I had thought Ginger and Karen Poolman would be there. They had been two of the three amigos of running the last couple years. Ginger would find a marathon and talk the other two of us into it. We had quite a few adventures along the way and I thought they would love to be here. I was even under the impression that the restaurant was Ginger’s idea but she never did show up. I knew I was not going to see them before the big race now. I was a bit disheartened even if I was surrounded by excellent company.

It was plenty late by the time I got back to the room to catch up with Karen Andersen. Karen was there and had eaten in the hotel. She got in about the time we went out and could not make it with us. She had made the reservation at the hotel on the strip and though it could not have been better, I was already conflicting with the rest of my family. My aunt likes going to Vegas and always stays downtown. She had convinced at least ten others to go with her and that really just left me and my brother on the strip with the rest of the family out in Downtown.

Karen had her entire itinerary set up for that trip. She wanted to stay up late, sleep in late and try to emulate a regular marathon schedule. It was a good idea. These things matter so much more to her. When you consistently run at about 3:55, you have to set the odds in your favor. Heck, even when I have a bad race it is a 3:40. I was really looking for a 3:30 but Sub 4 was the real goal. The only issue I was having was everything seemed a little off. Then even though we went to bed around 1 AM I still got up at 5 AM. Not even five hours of sleep = not good. I was not sure how this was all going to go and nothing was really pointing in my favor. This is when you start questioning how things were going heading into the run. I was getting more and more nervous as time went by…ImageImageImage

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