Sunday, December 13, 2009

Vegas Race Report: Part 2

Things have been a little crazy this week, so I'm just now getting a chance write about the Vegas Half Marathon. Don't mistake my delay as a lack of enthusiasm about the race. If you have heard anything about the Vegas Marathon from years past, it might not apply any longer. This was only the second year of the new course and date, and the first year for Vegas as part of the Rock 'n Roll series.

With both the half and the full starting together at 6:15 a.m., Mike and I were up at before 4:00. My eye will still swollen from the Santa fluff incident from the day before, but I could at least see out of it and my nose wasn't running. I looked terrible but it wouldn't effect my race. Because I had broken my camera, there was no decision to make as to whether to bring it. I would just run with my race belt and some throw away clothes. We boarded the monorail at 4:45 and headed down the strip.

I'll go ahead and get my only complaint about the race logistics out of the way at the beginning. This race was conducted with a minimum of volunteers. Organizers certainly planned for this situation. The bag drop was in the same location as the bag pick-up after the race. Large tables with cups stacked three levels high were at every water stop, but there were few people actually handing them to you. The GU's at the GU stop were just sitting out on tables. After the race, you were handed a medal in the package instead of having a volunteer put it over your head. None of these things were incredibly inconvenient or effected my race, it was just something that I noticed.

The star of this race is the course. The race starts at the very south end of the strip outside of Mandalay Bay. After a short trip south, the course takes a u-turn and heads straight down Las Vegas Blvd. The strip is completely shut down for the race. Not only was it a heck of a lot of fun to run down the strip as the sun came up, but the road is completely flat. There is not a single rise of any kind for the complete 13.1 miles. After running past all of the casinos, all the way down to the Sahara and into a little residential area, a four point turn sends everyone back down the strip on the other side of the road. Marathoners turn off at 10.5 miles, but us lucky half marathoners continued back to Mandalay Bay. With few turns and no hills, this has to be one of the fastest half marathon courses out there.

The weather was perfect for running with temps in the mid thirties and virtually no wind. With 17,800 half marathoners and 5,800 marathoners, the start was very crowded. Everyone was assigned a corral and they tried to stagger the crowd out by pausing people at the start line. I decided not to try and weave around people and just take the first mile slow. After a 10:52 first mile, I was able to pick it up a little bit and get into a groove. By mile 4, I was running 9:35 pretty consistently and was feeling great.

This was my fourth half marathon and my time was my second fastest. I finished in 2:09:45 which was well under my goal of 2:15. This race was by far my favorite half marathon. My PR is from a race that I truly suffered the whole race and was sick at the finish. During the other two half marathons I was in pain from IT band issues. This race was completely different. I started easy and slowly picked it up. The course was easy and fun. I felt like I was truly running and not just shuffling along. I felt good throughout all 13.1 miles and was never in any pain. What a blast.

Since I signed up for this race just for fun, I didn't have any expectations other than to just have a good time. I certainly didn't plan on having any epiphanies, but that is kind of what happened. Having such a great day has redirected the way that I think about my body. Before I started running seriously a few years ago, I was pretty happy with my body. I don't mean the physical attractiveness of it, I mean the actual functionality of it. I've always been active and played sports, and my body never let me down. I had skied, hiked, swam and pretty much done whatever I wanted.

With running more miles, my body started to fail me. I got injured. I looked around at my peers and realized that they were more gifted, that they had been given better functioning bodies to work with. I was perturbed that my mind and personality was that of a runner but that my body just couldn't take me where I wanted to go. It didn't seem fair that I could work as hard as someone else but that I was somehow stuck running a 10 minute mile.

Running down Las Vegas Boulevard with the sun rising, I felt like I was flying. I know that others saw a middle aged, shuffling woman, but to me it felt like my legs were striding out and I was moving gracefully. I was truly thankful for this body and what it has allowed me to do. It may not be perfect, but I should appreciate it and treat it with more respect than I have in the last couple of years. So at the end, when I crossed the finish line with a big smile and in no pain, I was thankful and I will try to remain thankful for what I have, flaws and all.


Velma said...

Great picture and race report. Running can take you to high highs and low lows, I am glad you got to experience the runner high in Vegas. You are so right, I need to appreciate myself more for what I can do. I hope you have a great holiday and enjoyed the warmth of Vegas

Sunshine said...

Pretty great race for someone with low bar strategy!!
What a disappointment to have your camera break during the weekend!

We ran Vegas Marathon the first year they didn't bus runners into the desert to run back. (2005) Loved running on the strip.

Mike Russell said...

Great report. I have always wanted to run the Vegas 1/2, and from your report it sounds like I should. Great work!

SteveQ said...

Good report, though I wouldn't call mid-thirties perfect weather (the Gopher/Badger's more my style). Sometimes, going into it with a relaxed feel is enough to make it both fast and easy.

BrianFlash said...

I have to make sure Kathy reads this post. She is a 10 minute miler and that's about her limit, but sometimes, that's all that training plus genetics will get you.

Fit doesn't always equal fast that's for sure!

Chad said...

Big smile and no pain. That sounds like the way to go. Congrats.

I Run for Fun said...

Congratulations! Great pace! Sometimes, the best races are the ones when we plan to have fun and run without stress. That sounds like an awesome fun race. The medal is pretty too.

I Run for Fun said...

Thanks for your comment, Beth...and for not giving up on my blog! I have major blogger issues. My blog disappears every day and I have to log in through gmail to get back up again...have to figure out how to get it sorted.

AZ said...

Congrats on the race, I'm glad you had so much fun and ran a fast time. Can't get any better.

Nat said...

I need to remember that too that I should be grateful for what I CAN do and what I HAVE done and not focus on what I want to do or HAVEN'T done. Great job Beth! Are you heading to Fargo this spring? I think a bunch of us are doing the half!

Porkchopwi said...

Nice job!

Just remember all those people that never actually go to the start line.

Getting there is a victory in itself, besides the fact you put up some pretty good times that you were happy with this year.

Disney next?

Sorry to hear about the camera. sure hope that's replaced for 2010!

Love to Run said...

Congratulations on surpassing your goal in Vegas. Thanks for sharing your story. Sounds like you had a great time. I hope the rest of the trip was just as fun.

Ali said...

Congratulations on Vegas. What a great place to run, Sound like you enjoyed it

Londell said...

I find my fun or training races were near my faster races. Just more relaxed and I tend to do better. Congrats, what is next?

Julie said...

Hi, I just came across your blog...I am enjoying reading about your last run. I am so jealous! I wanted to run in the Las Vegas Half so bad but we couldn't find a baby sitter for those days. I am totally going to do it next year. Flat and fast..just the way I like it. Congrats on your great finish time!

Helen said...

Nice report Beth... and again nice run!! There is nothing like feeling good at the end. And beating your goal in the process... ahhh definitely worth smiling about!

What a year it's been for you... enjoy digesting it over the holidays as things wind down a little (or wind up depending on your perspective!).

Happy Holidays!

Julie said...

Hi Beth,

Thanks for the Garmin suggestion...the price sounds perfect! I don't need anything fancy, just something that will record distance, time and mile splits. I am new to this whole blogging thing and just started a few weeks ago. I ran in this race called the Anoka Jingle Bell 5k and was looking for results on google. I found Heather's blog (Junk Miles), and was amazed! I was like, "Oh my God, this is so cool, runners can chat with each other! I love talking about running but my friends and family are not that jazzed on the subject:) It is nice to meet yet another MN girl. Maybe we can run of the same races:)

Julie said...

I am signed up to do the 5k at the Polar Dash. I have a fourteen year old daughter who runs with me some times and there is no way she would want to do a 10k. If she decides not to run with me that day, maybe I could change to the 10k. Are you planning on signing up for the series of all four races? I think that today is the dead line for signing up. I still have not decided. The problem is that there are so many good racing options offered and I just can't choose:) Are there any half marathons that you would recommend? Something flat and fast!!

Velma said...

Yes, we have to run together with Team Flash this spring! Have a great holiday!

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