Posts Tagged ‘vegas’

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

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