Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Las Vegas Marathon 2006: Race Report

My apologies for such a belated report here. But here goes:

We arrived in Las Vegas on Friday afternoon. Checking into our hotel was a breeze, and we were pleased with the accomodations. We made a quick run through the casino area to scope things out, and then got a bite to eat. After this, J.T. signed up for a poker game, and I got all my things sorted out in the room before going down to the expo. The expo wasn't very crowded, so I looked up my race number to get my bib. There was a man working there who was writing everyones number down for them to take to the next place, and right off the bat I got called out for my accent.

Him: "What's your number, Mam?"

Me: "Six Nine Seven Seven."

He smiles.

I look confused.

Him: "Where are you from?"

Me: (smiling, thinking'I haven't been here 2 hours yet!! This already?!')"I'm from Tennessee."

Him: "Ah, I was going to say Georgia, but I new it was close. I haven't heard "NINE" like that in a long time."

I laugh with him a minute and then go on my way. I guess they pronounce it like "NI-EEN", but it's just "NINE" to me, one syllable. This would happen many other times, especially when I would say "y'all". It was all in good fun, though...everyone was really nice. I picked up a couple cool things, then headed back to the room. I played some blackjack, lost $200, and decided to pack it in for the night.

The next morning I got up and took a jog down Las Vegas Blvd at 8:00 a.m. I wanted to get a feel for the weather, and I'm glad I did because I found out I was way over dressed. No UA cold gear here. I decided I would wear my Nike Acceleration Capri Tights, a short sleeve Addidas shirt, and my old faithful long sleeve Team Nashville Half Mary shirt. J.T. and I headed out that evening to MGM, and then to Ceaser's Palace where he played cards, and I shopped. And I really shopped too long. I didn't back to my room until 9:30, and being as though the race started at 6:00 a.m., I should have been asleep right then. But oh well. I got all my things ready for the next morning, requested a wake up call for 4:40, and went fast asleep. On a side note - I hadn't been able to eat well the entire time. I don't know if it was nerves or what, but I would take about 4 bites of my meal and feel so full I couldn't eat another bite.

The wake up call came, and I jumped right up, ordered some coffee from room service, and took a shower. I was ready in probably 15 minutes, but our coffee didn't come until about 5:10. J.T. and I fixed a cup and then headed down to the lobby. We stood around with tons of people for a few minutes, and then I told him we should probably head towards to the port-a-potties. I'm glad we did that then, because I was able to get in and out and then down to the start line without much trouble, but those who waited ran into about 5,000 people rushing toward the start line. I got J.T. to stand in the corral with me, because he was going to take my headband and sweatshirt back after I started. We found the 4 hour pacer and stood there waiting. With about 10 minutes till the start, he started heading out. I talked to 3 other girls beside me, all of them looking for a sub 4 hour marathon like myself. They were from Houston, TX, Birmingham, AL, and Hattiesburg, MS. It was cold for a few minutes as we waited on the start, and the Blue Man Group performed, but I couldln't see them. Fireworks went off, and we were moving.

Here was my first mistake. When I left the room, I grabbed a Gatorade, my coffee, and gel. I didn't take my water. So while I had planned on taking a gel before the start, I was afraid to do that without water. So I held onto it and planned on taking it at the first water stop. And the only thing I was able to eat prerace was a Chocolate Mint Zone bar. I knew this wasn't going to be enough, but it was all I could do to even choke it down.

The start was absolutely beautiful. The sky was a deep blue and the lights of Las Vegas were awesome. Mile one ran past the Mandalay Bay, The Luxor, Excalibur, and Monte Carlo hotels. During this mile I tried to stay close to the pacer, but I thought to myself that she was starting a little faster than I had planned. I looked at my Garmin when it beeped and found that I was right. I ran the first mile in 8:45. Since my planned marathon pace was 9:09, I had planned on running the first 5 miles around 9:20, and then slowly making up the difference afterwards. But the wind was at our back, the pacer was moving on, and I talked myself into staying with her. I reasoned that it might not be good for me mentally to lose the 4 hr pacer.

Mile 2 ran past the Bellagio and the cool water show, then past Ceasers and ended around the Mirage and Ti. During this mile I passed a group of Elvis's - one of which was pushing a jogging stroller with a boombox blaring music. The atmosphere was unreal, and I was having a blast. And still running too fast trying to stay with the pacer. Mile 2 - 8:54.

Miles 3 and 4 ran passed a stretch of casinos J.T. and I had not yet visited - Circus Circus, the Stratosphere, etc. I also saw a girl running in a skin-colored suit with a thong on - and it looked VERY real until you got up close. Hilarious! Finally at mile 3 there was water, so I got my water and took my Chocolate GU energy gel. Mile 3 - 9:10, Mile 4 - 8:55.

During Mile 5, I really did feel like I should probably slow it down some. But then we ran into Old Las Vegas, the Freemont Street Experience. It was like a covered alley packed with people whooping and hollering, giving 5, jumping and down for all of us. I got so excited I pumped my fist, gave them 5, and yelled with them. I wondered if I'd pay for getting so excited later on in the race, but gosh, it was fun. Mile 6 the half marathoners split off from us, and we started an climb out of the city. Mile 5-8:53, Mile 6-8:57.

I am well aware that I'm ahead of pace by a good bit at this point. But I'm still having trouble keeping up with the pacer, so I say "forget it" and let her go. Mile 7 - 9:12, Mile 8 - 8:55, Mile 9-8:57. At this point I catch up with the girl from Houtson that I met at the start line. She had previously run a 4 hour-even marathon and was going to try to push this down under it. We chatted and agreed that the pacer had started out way too fast.

The mile 10 marker brought a left turn that headed out into the desert. It also brough 30 mph winds right in my face. I know I previously said 19mph (that's what accuweater reported), but I got corrected by everyone else I talked to. They said the airport, which was right there close to the start and finish, was reported 30+mph winds for most of the race. It was hard to keep on pace at this point. I kept trying to find someone running my pace to draft behind, but I was never really able to make that work. They either ran off and left me, or they were too slow. I haven't mentioned it, but the whole time I am drinking Gatorade at ever Gatorade stop which was every other mile. Slowing down, taking a couple sips, then starting back. This stretch seemed to last forever, and I could see the splits getting higher. I was thankful, at this point, that I had started out ahead of pace...I just hoped that once we turned off this road and the wind wasn't as bad that I could go back to atleast 9:10s.
Mile 10:9:05
Mile 11: 9:19 (took another gel)
Mile 12: 9:25
Mile 13: 9:24
Mile 14: 9:20
The mile markers also got all screwed up during this stretch. At one point my Garmin was a half mile ahead. I wasn't sure what the deal was. The 13 mile mark, according to my Garmin, though, said I was at 1:57:58, and my 4 hr pace band said I should atleast be at 1:58:59. So I knew I was still one minute ahead of pace, but that didn't seem like a lot for how I felt after dealing with that wind. But at mile 14 we got to take the left turn and re-entered some civilization. I kept trying to get my splits back down, but wasn't making much headway.
Mile 15: 9:16
Mile 16: 9:08
Mile 17: 9:18 - took another gel
Mile 18: 9:16
Mile 19: 10:00 - At this point, I couldn't hold it(the pee, that is) any longer. I finally found an unoccupied port-a-potty and ran inside to relieve myself. I'd say it took about 45 seconds total, but I felt a ton better.
Mile 20: 9:38
At this point, I haven't been feeling good for a while. The wind had really done a number on me, and I put up all the fight that I had in me, but the effects showed when I couldn't get my splits back down close to 9:00. I remember on Mile 17 thinking that I felt awfully fatigued to not even be at mile 20 yet.

But Mile 20 came and went and we took a left turn to head back towards the city. At this point, though, I really have no idea how far I've been. The mile markers are nowhere close to my Garmin, so I just run. I also realize that I am almost a minute ahead of what my 4 hour time should be. I started feeling nauseous, and I knew that I needed a gel, but I also knew if I ate one I'd throw it up. So I just tried to keep a steady pace as fast as I could. There was quite a bit of crowd support around this area - especially one little boy handing out water and cheering as loud as he could.
Mile 21:9:34
Mile 22:9:30
Mile 23:9:43
Mile 24:9:28
Here is where I had the mental lapse. At this point, I'm pretty sure that 4 hours is not going to happen, but I keep repeating this to myself:

"You may not get 4 hours, but you WILL get the best time you can possibly get. Do NOT give in. Do NOT give up. You are lucky to be out here, it would be ashame to not give it your all. And you paid 95 bucks to do it too, so run hard!"

And I was running hard, back into the wind again, and thinking that I must have missed the mile 24 mile marker because my Garmin said "24.92"...when all the sudden I come upon the...."WHAT?!?! Mile 24 ?!?!?! WHAT THE #$%!@#" I'm thinking I'm about to tell myself that I have 1.2 miles left, when they say I have 2.2 left. I can't explain the devistation here. One more mile than I expected is horrible. Because I don't feel like I can take another 20 steps. But I have negotiated this deal with myself that if it will keep going, it's only got another mile point two....and when it sees otherwise, it gives in. Instead of taking a couple sips of water and moving on - I walk...and I walk...and I walk. Probably a tenth of mile or so before I can find it in me to start running again. And as it turned out, this marker was just wrong, because the total distance on my Garmin at the end was just 26.37, but it made for a Mile 25 - 11:25. And it wasn't long after that I finally saw mile marker 25, and I ran it on in, but it was slow. Mile 26 - 10:43. The .2 (or .37 according to my Garmin) - 3:42. Official Time: 4:08:28

As I came around the final turn I wondered what J.T. was thinking. I had told him that I felt good about 4 hours. I spotted him, and I lifted my palms up as if to say "This was all I had." I crossed the finish line, and walked over to him at the fence. He hugged me and just leaned into him saying nothing. He whispered that he had heard about the wind, and for me not to feel bad, that he had seen a lot of other disappointed people at that finish line. I nodded and hobbled off to get my picture made with show girl. Everything hurt. Everything. I don't remember being in physical pain like this after the Country Music Marathon. I looked around for water or Gatorade or food, but there was nothing. I thought that was strange, but I followed the crown on up to the hotel and sent out a text message to my friends and family with my time. I was totally fine with just being done, and felt like I had given it my all - except for the mental lapse around mile 24/25 where I caved in. We finally made it back to the room, and I tried unsuccessfully to take a nap, but did get an ice bath and a few hours of rest. We went out to Paris Las Vegas afterwards, and I got 4th place in a Hold'em tournament and won a little money to ease the pain. :) More on the aftermath later...

LVM: Pre-marathon pics

We arrived at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino on Friday afternoon. It was convenient since the race started and ended here.

This was right outside of the expo. The expo was great, they had everything a could runner could want - even a Garmin 305 charger!

Elvis was everywhere!

Monday, December 18, 2006

I am alive

Still no race report, but because several of you have inquired about my well being and my safe return from Vegas, I thought I'd let you know that all is well. We got home last Tuesday night and have been running crazy ever since. I have started on a race report, but have yet to finish it. Hopefully tonight will be the night, but don't hold me to it - I told Michele "tonight" 4 days ago. And just to be right honest with ya, I'm having a hard time with it. The race is over, the pain is gone, the soreness is no more, but the 4:08:28 is still there. It's just me, those 8 minutes 29 seconds, and a big fat question mark left.

Logical Lana scowls and stares down her nose at me saying "You just ran the Las Vegas Marathon. Not only that, you finished it. Not only that, but you finished it in 4:08:28 despite some brutal wind conditions. There are people in this world who will never get to run a marathon. There are those who will start but won't finish. Girl - you have family and friends RIGHT NOW going through radiation and chemotherapy for cancer!!! They just want to live! MJ gets up and goes to the rec center to do whatever she has the strength to do just days after her treatments. And you hit the "snooze" button and go back to sleep because you are upset over 8 minutes and 29 seconds????? Pa.Thet.Ic."

Competitive Lana steps up. "Look here, Little Miss Logic. Lana realizes all this. And you are right - Lana is blessed, very very blessed. But in your little logical world, she never toes the start line at Vegas. Or in Nashville, for that matter. Because it just doesn't seem logical to spend 16 or 20 weeks running all over the county at all hours of the day and night to prepare for a such a thing. And it certainly doesn't seem logical to be climbing fences at the local track at 5 a.m. for a speedwork session. Or to pass on the glass of wine or to be getting butterflies in your stomach the night prior to a long run because you're nervous about keeping a certain pace. PACE! Do you hear that word?!?! In your little world of logic you must understand that if one spends 16 weeks of training geared toward one thing - PACE - and ultimately fails to meet that pace in the culminating event she's...well...SHE'S PISSED!!! I will grant you, Lana needs to get back with the program like, yesterday, and quit hitting the sooze button and such. But I think she's got a right to be upset."

And so I waiver back and forth. I am upset. If it had been a 5 or 10k, I could just find the one going on next weekend, hope for better conditions, and try again. But 26.2 miles??? I don't know. And the thought of those 8 minutes and 29 seconds hanging over my head going into triathlon season??? Not good.

I will, though, take a moment away from my self pity and give out some much overdue congrats to Michele - Great job at Memphis(PR by like, 20 minutes)!!!, David - Congrats on the PR in Hunstville!!!, Lance - Way to make it in under your goal at the White Rock Marathon!, Phil - Congrats on the 30k PR - you are FAST!, and Jodi - Who ran the Vegas Half and PR'd!!

And thanks for all the comments and emails...and particularly to Phil, for helping me put things into the correct perspective.

I will get that race report out asap...

Sunday, December 10, 2006

4:08 and change

I'd like to tell you that the competitor in me is upset with this, given how hard I trained and how bad I wanted sub 4. But I'm not. On this course, on this day, and with the exception of one mental lapse on mile 24/25 which I'll explain later, this was all I had. I made some mistakes out there, and the 19 mph winds were brutal once we made the turn out of town and into the desert, but regardless, I don't think 4:00 hours was gonna happen today. I am glad I chose to run this marathon, but don't get me wrong - I am happy to be done! I have practiced much restraint in Vegas so far - so sub 4 or no sub 4 - it's time to celebrate, baby!!! I'm gonna be walking like a pirate with 2 peg legs, and I think the little black dress and high heels I brought may have to stay in the closet tonight - but we're out and off to have some fun!!! Race report to come soon!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Viva Las Vegas

Preface - I can't get the pics to load, so I'll upload them later.

We're here! Actually we've been here for almost 24 hours now. The plane trip was smooth sailing, the check-in at Mandalay Bay was easy-peasy (They had no problem supply me a refridgerator free of charge), the room is extremely nice, and the expo is AWESOME. OMG it's by far the best expo ever. I went ahead yesterday to get my race packet and stuff, and boy I am I glad I did. It was no problem...but today, there is a line a mile long. I bet it takes those people 2 hours just to get their bib and chip. The race bag rocks, too...more free stuff than I've ever gotten in one. Tons of free stuff and good deals all through the expo as well. Oh, and as if that weren't enough, how about Elvis?!?!? I admit I stayed up to about midnight(pacific time) in the casino, but other than that, I've been good. No, I repeat NO alcoholic beverages, keeping a water bottle in my hands at all times (every time a cocktail waitress comes by I request water - it's a good thing I brought my big purse), and eating right. Today I attended one of the seminar's at the expo by a named Paul something of the LA Road Runners. It was fabulous. He talked mostly about running with the correct form, and then he got us all fired up with a big chant that we repeated...haha. No gambling for me today, as today didn't fare so well, so I said forget it. I've talked with several people about how J.T. can see me in the most spots, but everybody says his only realistic options are mile 2 and 24 or start and finish. So I don't know which it will be, but hopefully he can get some footage posted at some point. I just realized today that race starts at 6 AM!!! Gosh, I was thinking 8 AM until a fellow runner corrected me. So we'll be starting in the dark, but the forecast says it will be almost 50 degrees at start time. And almost 60 at finish time. You can't ask for any better than that. Although I've had to modify my wardrobe plans several times. But the weather is beautiful here - I shoulda brought more shorts and left the pants and sweaters at home.

So here's how I finished up this week of training. After Tuesday's intervals, I rode the trainer for an hour solid on Wednesday. I did a 10 minute warmup, then 1 min sprint interval and 3 min easy interval ten times, followed by a 9 minute cooldown. Nice, easy workout, made me sweat but didn't kill me. Then Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. I set out for my final run - 3 miler @ marathon pace. I felt kinda sorry for Wrigley since he was going to the kennel that day, so took him with me. And about a half mile into it, I tripped over him. ~Sigh~ Now I have a banged up left leg to match the right one. Not anything major, but it did aggravate a place I used to have trouble with as a kid right below the knee cap. I'm alright though - it's not gonna slow me down. I finished up the run in 26:55. I got out about 6:30 this morning and ran down to The Excalibur and back to get a feel for the weather and warm up my legs a little. And that was when I realized that my Garmin battery was dead.

"No problem", I thought..."I'll charge it when I get to the room."

Well, when I got to the room I realized I only brought half of my charger (It's plug and a dock - I left the dock at home.) I am almost cried, but then I remembered that there was a Garmin booth at the expo. So as soon as it opened, I took it down there to see if they could charge it. And thankfully they could. So, things are good now. I am excited. I am feeling positive about 4 hours. More later...

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Bags are packed

Sort of. I still have some things to add that aren't quite ready yet. But, this is definitely a PR for packing early. I normally start packing about 10 p.m. the night before I'm going somewhere. Not for this one, though. I have been worried to death that I'll leave something here. So I have slightly overpacked. But hey, anything that gives me peace of mind right now gets the green light.

I called our hotel this morning to find out if we had a refridgerator in our room. The answer was "no, but do you need one for medical purposes?" ~silence~ I was thinking hard about saying yes, but I decided I needed all the good vibes I could get for this trip, so I didn't lie. I said, "Well, I'm running the marathon and if you consider needing a refridgerator to store my Gatorade and water in a medical purpose then that works for me!" The lady laughed and said, "Well, no, we normally charge $20 for that, but I'll note that you need this and you can talk to the front desk about it when you arrive. They might wave it for you." Hmmmm...I sure hope they do. We'll see.

J.T. informed me tonight that Hank Williams Jr. was going to be playing at Ceaser's Palace while we there. I got all excited because - go ahead, call me a redneck if you must, but - I LOVE HANK! I know like, every word to every one of his songs. So I was VERY excited...until told me that he was playing on Saturday night. And to make it worse, at 10:30 Saturday night. I plan to be asleep at 10:30 Saturday night, folks. A country boy can survive, but a country girl can't survive 26.2 after staying up all night jamming to Hank. So forget that. Oh well.

Ok, on to training. Tuesday's speedwork went fine. I did it on the treadmill, a 1 mile warmup, then 6x400m @1:43 each w/a 400m jog @6.0 mph in between, and a 1 mile cooldown. Then today I did 1 hour of spinning on my trainer that included a 10 min warmup, 10 x 1 min sprint then 3 min easy, and a 9 minute cooldown. I caught up on an old Grey's Anatomy episode while doing so.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

You are getting very nervous...

Not you, me. Yes, that's right. I'm getting nervous. And you know how I know? I am eating right. You may find this funny, but when I start getting nervous about something, eating right calms me down. I feel like I'm back in control when I order the baked fish or the grilled chicken salad. Or when I give that piece of chocolate away. This is not always a good quality - but I LOVE TO BE IN CONTROL. Which is why I'm nervous about the last 6 miles of the marathon. I want to be in control. I know I'll be in control during the first 20, but what about the last 6? Or the last 4? Another thing that makes me feel in control is getting up to workout at 5 a.m. But I didn't get in bed early enough last night, and I decided I better get the sleep and do my intervals this evening. So...I'm feeling a little out of control by not getting up early, but I'll feel better after my intervals this evening.

I went mountain biking Sunday, and I took a rest day yesterday. I will spare you of pictures of the bruises on my right leg. Go ahead - roll your eyes. I know, it was stupid to go mountain biking 7 days before Vegas. But I had the opportunity, and gosh, opportunities pass, ya know...I just had to go. And everything would have been fine if it weren't for the freaking worst pedals ever made - the Shimano m505 clipless pedals that came on my bike. I started to title this post "Shimano m505 clipless pedals suck!" I couldn't get my stupid shoe out of them! I thought they were fine just riding around in the yard and down the road, but there was no getting out of them in an emergency. So I fell about 7 times, and one that hurt pretty bad. But I didn't do anything very dangerous, so I'm okay. My right shin and ankle are a little sore, but I'm icing and taking Aleve, and it's a lot better. It's not gonna slow me down Sunday.

So here's the plan for this week:
Today - Intervals 10-20 warmup, 6 x 400m, 10 min cooldown
Wednesday - 5:30 a.m. - 1 hour spinning on the trainer
Thursday - 5:30 a.m. - 3 miles @ PMP and some upper body weights
Friday - Rest and travel to Las Vegas, get settled in
Saturday - Rest, maybe a short 2 mile run, Expo and some minor gambling (not enough to make me feel out of control, ofcourse)
Sunday - Run smart. Run like hell. Break 4 hours. Take a nap. Celebrate like a mad woman!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The week before the final week

..and things are coming together. Finally. For one, we finally got our christmas tree up! I know, it's about time. I usually put it up the day after Thanksgiving, but I just had too much to do last weekend and chose not to take on the project until this weekend. And to make up for the delay, we got a real one! Granted, it came from Lowe's, so I don't have cool picture of us cutting it down or anything like Trimama, but hey, it's a step above the artificial tree we've had for like 8 years. Bo is 5 this year, and he was very excited. He helped with every part of it, and he was especially proud of the outdoor lights we put on our landscaping, as you can see. We had dinner at Cracker Barrell, then went and picked out the tree, and then all four us spent the rest of Friday night decorating the tree and putting up our lights around our landscaping outside. We don't go overboard or anything, but definitely do enough to know it's Christmas. So, now that I'm finally ready - 'Tis The Season!!!! I have refused, however, to do any of that crazy shopping out in the crazy malls this time of year. That's a sure fire way to kill my Christmas spirit. After last year, when I saw red(and not a Christmas-y kind of red, mind you) and had thoughts toward fellow shoppers that I'd never admit on this blog, I decided it was time to go electronic with the shopping thing. I'm shopping 2 places - The Internet and the Bike Shop. Oh, one more, maybe Vegas...but I wouldn't count on that since I have a marathon to run and some black jack calling my name. Anyways, on to week 15's training....

Week 15 started on Monday. FIRST said I had to do 5 x 1k with a 400m rest interval, and target time for each 1k interval was 4:25. I got up at 5:30 and since I woke Wrigley up getting out the door, I decided to take him to the track with me. He ran the warmup mile, the cooldown mile, and walked all the rest intervals with me. And he slept the rest of the day!!! ha! Here's the numbers:

1.02 mile warmup: 10:29
1 mile cooldown:9:01

Tuesday I rode the trainer for 32 minutes, doing some intervals of my own choosing, nothing special.

Wednesday I wasn't feeling so well, so I pushed the tempo run back to Thursday.

Thursday's tempo run was a 6 miler - 2 easy, 3 @short tempo pace (7:51), and 1 easy. Here's the numbers according to Garmin(I forgot to wear my HR monitor again, dangit):

I hit target pace on the 2nd tempo mile, then sorta went down hill. I was okay with this run, but not overly happy. I wish had worn my HR monitor, because I was working awfully hard for just those mediocre splits.

Still a little concerned about the level of effort required for Thursday's tempo run, I elected to rest on Friday in preparation for my final long run before Vegas. I had two objectives for Friday, 1.)Teach Bo to ride his bike without training wheels because this is way overdue, and 2.)Get the Christmas tree thing done. And although I didn't get in bed until 12:15 a.m., I accomplished both of those.

And then the alarm rang at 5:00 a.m. telling me to get up and run the final long run. And for some reason and totally out of character, I got up - no snooze button - and got ready. Lazy Lana did fling in a comment or two as I was brushing my teeth to try and get me to go back to bed, but it didn't fly. I had to get this run done before 7:00 because J.T. had to leave for work at that time. I got out the door before 5:30 a.m., and had a great run. Target pace was 9:00/mile (PMP) for 10 miles, and I ended up at 8:53/mile and feeling good. Here's the numbers:

So, the last week will soon be upon me. That being said, I should finally tell you my goal. It's sub 4 hrs. I want it bad. We'll see what happens.

Today was the Memphis Marathon and Half Marathon. Michele
is running the full, and my sister, H, and her boyfriend are running the half. Goodluck to all!!!!!!