Running Las Vegas – Part Two

The next day did not start out as well as planned either. I did want to eat after noon so tried to get an early breakfast as I was famished! However, surprisingly enough unless you are looking for a buffet, breakfast is hard to find on the Strip it seems. We had our hard time finding something but finally settled on Asian breakfast fusion – it was a little different. I may have been the only person at the table who enjoyed the meal. Then after a ten minute nap it seemed like it was time to eat again for a place off the strip. Then back to the hotel. And then? Well the real reason the late start time kills a runner is not the actual time to start – it is the wait. What do you do? You are in Vegas but you can’t really do anything out of line with your normal routine! It is too cold to swim and all I could think about was did I eat too much and did I give myself enough time???

Well somehow we made it to three o’clock and made our way down to the start line. There was a picture scheduled for 3:30 but as we made it to the main entrance we just knew there was no way we were going to make it. Karen had chosen to take the same day packet pickup and actually that was pretty easy to find in that mess (there was a half hour wait just to get in the staging area) and that included dropping her bag off. Everything was well marked once you got in. However by the time we got in we were late for the picture (I heard three people made it). Then, the most shocking thing of all happened – we ran into Mike Chewar! That may not seem like much but considering he wanted to be there for my 50th and there were over 40,000 runners? Incredible! I think Mike was thrilled to find us as well if for no other reason we took him back to our hotel for a quick restroom stop. Seriously, the lines were over 30 long in the waiting area! None of us wanted another half hour wait.

We made our way to the starting line after the break and as we got closer our corrals started to come up. Mike was up first in Number 17 or so. It was sad to leave Mike behind in his corral. He could have easily slipped up a couple corrals to hang out with me but he was honest and stayed where his bib said. I really respected that. And Karen felt the same way stopping in her corral 7 instead of moving forward. I was sad to let them go but we had less than 15 minutes to go by then and I usually stand by myself for the last five minutes anyway. But on the way to the front at corral 5 I got another surprise.

I ran into almost all my other remaining friends I had wanted to see – Brian, Tony, Rob and Missy! We were able to take a couple pictures together and talk about the run ahead and ones in the past. Tony was pacing the 3:30 group and I was able to meet a couple newer marathoning girls as well. We talked about what we were hoping to do and compared plans after the race. It was about this point that I ran into new friend Ted Barron! Ted is from Michelle’s hometown and she had told him I was out here celebrating my 50th. It was pretty amazing that we met each other in all those people and at the same time I was with my other friends. I do not get into many situations where I feel stretched thin but between my friends, Ted and the two new girls, my head was on a swivel answering questions.

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Finally I made my way up to my corral and snuck in next to a couple Marathon Maniacs from Washington. They were both running Nevada for the first time however I do not think the States was one of their goals. It was a tiered start and the gun went off for the first wave. We moved up. The gun went off for the second and then we moved up to the start. The gun went off a third time and… it was awesome to get out there and running! The first thing I noticed after going was a few walkers off to the left. The second thing I noticed was a lot of people running up onto the ground dividing the center of the street. I was confused by those going to the right. I would find out later a little too late for me that they were taking pictures with the Welcome to Las Vegas sign. That was a great idea. Kind of wish I knew about it beforehand. Good picture opportunity!

The walkers are another issue and something I am seeing more and more of. I do not mind people walking marathons or taking them slowly. However when people make their way up to a fast corral and then start walking I am seriously torn on this matter. On one hand I think it an awful thing to do – they do get in the way and slow down the marathon. This is why corrals were created. On the other hand I really understand – if you know a run is going to take you six hours why would you wait an hour to take off on top of that? As divided as I am on this subject, there is one thing I will say for sure – please make it to a mile before you start walking. When you start walking at the start you are only making it more dangerous for everyone.

At Mile 1 I passed another slower runner I have seen before. I do not know his name or where he is from. I just know he is not really that fast. He has a large orange Mohawk and a few facial piercings. He is considered somewhat of a celebrity runner and can get free entry into marathons due to his celebrity status. That is fine – get it where you can. But honestly what is the use of a celebrity runner I thought to myself. Do people sign up when he goes to a marathon because he will be there? If that is true shouldn’t someone who ran 33 marathons in 2013 know who he is? And more importantly, I got at least ten people to sign up for Vegas and why did I not get a thing?

Yes there was bitterness at Mile 1 already folks! It did not last but to be honest I am still a bit miffed at the folks at Rock N Roll for not giving me any fanfare at all. And meanwhile others were important enough to get distinction. Where is the line and how does one cross it? Perhaps I will try to become the next T Rex Runner and blog my way to being a somebody? Then again, you only hit your 50 states once so the need to be a more popular runner may be a thing of the past. I hope I take it a bit easier in the future.

The run down the strip is fantastic and as it is night, you can clearly see why they choose to do so. Would this run be half as cool at six in the morning with just the sun light? No. And to be honest they have moved the start time up so that we don’t have to be out all night. I may gripe about a four thirty start time but it really does get the best of giving you some night afterwards and also seeing Vegas at its best. I really don’t have any specific sights to talk on the run about other than I think the Fountains of Belagio were going off as I passed them. That was cool, but not cool enough for me to stop and watch – I had a time goal!

We ran down the strip and into downtown until Mile 10 and then did some running around some pretty dark streets (I tripped even) and then made our way back to Fremont street. The halfers took a left and we took a right and the next thing I knew we were running right back onto Fremont and it was seriously the coolest part of the entire marathon! We were running through a pedestrian mall area and they had roped off the entire area for us to run through it! It was so funny to see the looks on people’s faces. Either drunk and stumbling or dazzled and fumbling, they had not a clue what was going on for the most part. They were mostly in the background as other people were standing there cheering us and I got a little excited about that cheering back for them.

And then sadly enough, the best part of the run was followed up by the worst. I have heard it was much improved from years past (rumored that you were sent out to the desert for 12 miles in the middle of the dark night) but as soon as we hit Mile 12 it was pretty much running down deserted streets. Now, some people really complain about the nothingness, but this does not bother me that much. I am pretty used to the second half of a marathon being run out into the middle of nowhere and really not much to see. Now this section of Las Vegas may have been beautiful but in the middle of the night – who can tell? And at least there was some light to make my way.

I was running a real good race about the time we went down the long strip that would become a turnaround. However the course started to turn more and more and, I started to slow down and stopped for my first water at Mile 16. I ran through the stop but unfortunately the water was not helping either. I could not put my finger on what was wrong but out there on those long marathon miles the mind wanders. And soon enough I came up with an excuse. By that time I realized I was getting real close to my bedtime back home. Could I be slowing down just due to my daily schedule? Honestly I think that was it and not just excuses because it was some pretty inspired running before that. The band at Mile 17 was inspired (especially considering the venue), but did not help at all and I started to slow even more.

The course doubled back on itself. I slowed even more until… soon enough we got back down to Fremont where I made a scene of myself as the crowd cheered us on. They helped speed me up again! By this time I could not wait to get back on the Strip and going towards Caesar’s Palace and the finish line! The neverending crowd would help push me through! But alas, like almost every marathon, there was another turn off before we got back to the Strip. And then finally after another mile and with one last turn; we were on the Strip with about two miles to go! And the funny part? I was not a fan of that part. The volunteers did a great job yelling out to the half marathoners to stay on the left but mostly due to the fact there were so few marathoners they kept wandering over to our side! It was frustrating, to say the least, navigating my way around. I was sure I would have a 3:25 but the fatigue kept holding me up and the distractions were no help either.

When I got to the last .1 or so I held up my hands with 5 on one and 0 on the other to symbolize my 50th state and happily crossed the line and got my medal in 3:25:07. I was a little hurt by the race so I was grabbing plenty of Gatorade and chocolate milk. And as I staggered over to the chain link fence, who was there? My family all found me in that mess! There was a chain link fence between us but I could not have felt closer. There was my brother Cale telling me about the day in sports. There was my sister and her husband taking pictures of me and the Dora bandaid that had made the entire journey on my knee. And there was my Mom and her friend Parker just looking proud. It was the perfect ending. One quote I loved was “Dora, got a speedy tour of Las Vegas!”

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I was then lucky enough to flag down Rob and soon enough Tony. We all stood there aching. Tony’s first pacing gig was a bust as he did not feel well enough to get the 3:30. The girls we met at the beginning did not finish the race with him either so I never found out how they did. Also Ted ended up finishing with the one friend I wish I did not run into, Teresa, and I missed both of them this time around. I only found out later on Facebook that they had finished together.

And 15 minutes later I was disappointed. Karen had yet to come in and I was sure she did not have a sub 4. Based on the other finish times it was just obvious she had missed her goal and a sadness came over me. I told my family and they were mostly excited for me but I could tell that Karen’s goals meant something to them as well. Finally I saw Karen and she was hurting so I walked up to her (and selfishly grabbed a Gatorade as well) and asked, “How did it go?” She could only show me her watch. 3:59:54! She made it! My family took off soon after that asking us to meet them at Fremont Street, which I was now looking much more forward to. We were able to see Brian come in shortly thereafter. He did not look good either and all in all, none of us had a good race.

And with a good night of drinking ahead of us, Karen and I took off back to our hotel. After a short cab ride, it was a fun filled night of drinking with my family and I did not pay for a drink all night (I don’t think anyone would let me). All in all, it was an experience that can never be duplicated and even though I may have missed some noriety finishing in Vegas, having so much family and friends there with me to celebrate more than made up for it!

Weeks after as I look back to this race, it is not the final steps that finished that last run I remember. I remember the journey and all the great times and friends along the way. I wish I would have celebrated them more as I led up to this moment and thanked them more for helping me get there. Though I may have reached and completed my goal on that wonderful November night in Las Vegas, there are too many other times to mention that made this goal not about that night but the entire journey. Thank you everyone.Image

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