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...


TriSaraTops said...

I was hoping to get a report before I left! :)

That does seem awfully fast for the pacer to start out...when I paced Cleveland, I had it drilled into my head (and it's just sort of my philosophy) to err on the side of slower for the first few miles. You did the right thing letting her/him go.

You gave it your all and left everything out on the course. That's all you can do--believe me, sista, I know how much weather can affect you both mentally and physically! Kudos to you for staying strong and pushing hard through the rough spots. You should be VERY proud with your accomplishment!

Great pics, too! :) We'll just have to break four together sometime, huh? You, me, and Michele? :)

qcmier said...

Nice job!!! Loved the report.

Yeah I'd say that pacer wasn't doing too good of a job.

Regarding your mental lapse, it's hard to stay on top of your mental game for long races with so many variables that you can not control. You pushed through and still had a great day. Congrats.

Anonymous said...

you did a great time, we're both gonna break 4 hours! but actually, you know what? even if it doesn't happen next time, it'll happen just have to keep doing what you're doing....

Curly Su said...

ps--that was me!

LeahC said...

great report lana! I know you are dissapointed with being 8 minutes off your goal...BUT you absolutly have it in you to get it next time. You'll get there, just keep putting one foot in front of the other :-) Nice Job Again!!!

Lance Notstrong said...

I get the "accent" thing too. I like to think that I talk normal and other people are the ones who "talk funny" :-) BTW, it IS "NINE" :-)

I feel your pain on the knotted up stomach. I couldn't eat anything after mile 20 or so. It was even hard to drink anything but water.

I can't believe the mile markers were off. That does suck. One more mile at the end of 26.2 is huge!!! My friend Allez told me how she was getting irritated at the crowd last year at the end saying "just one more mile". I thought she was crazy but it bugged me this year too. Tell me "just one more mile" afer 25 of them is not helping!!!

Ashley C aka Kitten said...

Several women from my running group agreed that the race was less than well organized. Good job getting past the mile marker fiasco - don't know if I could have done that!
Oh, and not only is it "Nine" but it's "Five" too! (Says the girl originally from Alabama!)

walchka said...

You did great Lana and a super race report to boot! Brush this one off because there is a sub 4 hour mary with your name on it.

Pixie said...

You did a great job, way to stick with it through that wind!!

Cliff said...

That's great job, girl. That's some strong wind.

We all face those mental lapses...i say u are strong to push hard on mile 24..good stuff.

Michele said...

Great race report. You did awesome. Running in the wind is brutal.

I know you were actually holding back so that I would feel better about my missed 4 hour goal and we could do it together next time. :) What a friend!!!!

Flatman said...

Great pics and great report! Thanks for sharing...

E-Speed said...

It is so tough to run in windy conditions with screwy mile markers and light on the nutrition.

I hope you have recovered well!

You should be very proud of your efforts out there! Going out fast and gutting it out is very tough!

Looks like you still managed a smile at the end with the showgirl!

Phil said...

Great report Lana and thanks for sharing all the pictures. The wind was really brutal during the race and took it's toll early on in the event. But, you ran the best race you could on that day. Just imagine how good your next marathon will feel without running through a tornado.

Great race Lana.

Bob Gentile said...

Great Race and report Lana, was some BS about that mile marker...mental buster... Geesh.

Well U did the best U can at that time and it is all part of your experiences in this thing we call life, so Way to GO!..

What's up? U have some Holdem' skills too huh, nice :-)

Maybe someone will organize a poker marathon, U have to win a pot to run the next 5 miles and so on--LOL

Merry Christmas,


Kate said...

I can't believe the pacer went so fast! The last time I ran with a pacer (for s ub 1:40 half), we started off too slowly (8:00 even) because of the crowds and he tried to make up the difference in the next 2 miles by going at about 7:15s. I lost them pretty fast, and struggled to make 1:47- whereas a training buddy who started with the 1:50 crew finished in 1:43! I know a lot of other things led to my struggles, but a LOT of people who ran with that pacer missed their time goals, and I think he had at least something to do with it.

All four of you will break 4.. Can I be in the club too??!!

Rachel said...

You did fantastic! You were so close to your 4:00 goal. Racing is so mental. I would have been devastated if I thought I was at mile 25 and realized it was actually 24. I think it's awesome you pushed through and managed to finish in such a strong time. Try to be proud of your accomplishment. You worked hard for it!

jkrunning--Just Keep Running said...

You did a fantastic job. I wouldn't feel down at all. When I ran my last Marine Corps Marathon, my garmin was off too. I think it had me going almost an mile extra by the time it was all said and done. I do know what havoc it can cause you mentally to not have your garmin coincide with the markers, but you kept going and that's all that matters.

RunBubbaRun said...

great race, pacers are always hard to go by sometimes, they just deal with the end results. But great job and way to push thru it. It will make you tougher the next time when you break 4hrs. Great race report.

Triteacher said...

Good job, Lana! Way to stick it out against the 30 mph winds. I have really come to respect 26.2 as well. Marathons have become so commonplace that I think we forget the pacing, endurance, mental fortitude they require... it's monumental. In other words, congratulations. :)

Laurie said...

Hey Lana! I enjoyed reading your story about Vegas. I would KILL for that time so I think you did good, but I know how frustrating your pace can be. It can be a let down and you feel like you didn't do well, when really you did. I struggle with that, too. I love your blog. Inspirational. I started one, too! How do you get the Race report on the side?