Talk about a destination race! Las Vegas is it! My race began… As the gun went off, I was thinking about many things. First and foremost was, OMG, I just ran a marathon two weeks ago to the day. Can I do this again? This soon? Have I fueled enough? Will my feet hold up? I felt good as the race began.
The race course starts in a southerly direction. On Las Vegas Boulevard, we ran south for about a mile, and turned to the other side to start running back toward Mandalay Bay Hotel. The crowd was huge, and because the Half and Full started at the same time, the first several miles proved to be very challenging. The dodging and weaving around countless runners was tough, but I knew this going in. This was the biggest group of marathon runners that I had run with since this race two years ago.
There I am! Can you see me?
My concentration those first several miles revolved around taking in the views. The lights, the casinos, and the amazing crowd! The people of Las Vegas, I’m sure most were vacationers, was absolutely incredible! Thousands upon thousands lined the race course on the boulevard, hoping to catch of view of that special person they were supporting, or just cheering in general. This race is truly unique in so many ways. Mostly, it’s the fact that the Strip is closed to traffic, and to see runners only, is just amazing!
My mood was uplifted by my surroundings and the crowd. It was just amazing. It kept me occupied, and happy all during the epic run toward downtown Las Vegas. First passing Mandalay Bay again at mile two, then comes The Luxor, and Excalibur, The Tropicana, MGM, New York New York, Monte Carlo, and then City Center. Heading north on the Boulevard, we then passed many more iconic hotels like The Bellagio, and Paris, The Cosmopolitan, Planet Hollywood, and on further, past Caesars Palace, the Venetian and Palazzo. We ran by where the race would eventually finish at The Mirage Hotel and Casino. As a Rock ‘n’ Roll event, there was plenty of local entertainment along the way.
About 5-6 miles in I started to grow tired of the runner traffic. It was just so hectic running with that many people. Having to worry about foot strikes, not tripping over other runners, was really starting to annoy me. As we heading downtown, we ran past the hotel I was staying at, The Wynn. We past Encore, and then the course got a lot darker heading into downtown. I started to yearn for mile 9 to come, knowing that the 20,000 plus Half Marathon runners would be breaking away from the marathon course. I was ready for a quieter, less busy run. Running into downtown there were plenty of sections that were very dark. This made this section very challenging.
Fremont Street! Mile 9, we made it! The Half split off, and the full marathoners then got to enjoy a special treat. Running right down Fremont Street! Right down the center of it.
This is how I felt! My only wish is that my picture looked like this. It was intense, and truly amazing to run through this section. I. Enjoyed every moment. The crowd support here was just fantastic, who wouldn’t want to step out of the numerous casinos to watch a few thousand runners on an epic 26.2 mile journey? I would have!
A quick trip down Fremont St., and we were now headed out into what I like to call the “getting the miles in somehow” portion of the marathon course. Miles 10 and 11 had us running out toward and past the Las Vegas Freeway for a straight shot run up N. Martin L. King Blvd. The temperatures were perfect. I was just warm enough, but not too warm. I was sweating, but nothing too serious. I did make sure to hydrate all along the way, in fact, the aid stations were a nice break in the monotony of this part of the course. We actually ran by one “band” that looked like a family band. A really young kid was rocking it on his guitar, and it looked like his young sister was the lead vocalist. It was about that time that a guy right behind me must have clipped the curb with his left leg, and took a massive spill. He moaned, groaned, and hit hard. I was scared for him, but aid immediately rushed to him. I was so impressed! Especially on this portion of the course, where there just wasn’t as much support. They were right there to take care of him. I have wondered several times since if he was able to regroup and finish.
For quite a while as we headed further and further away from the Strip, the view of The Stratosphere got smaller and smaller, and eventually disappeared. I remember thinking, ok, ok, just keep running, and it will come back into view just as you need a bit of inspiration.
The Stratosphere is 1,149 ft. It is the tallest freestanding observation tower in the US. and the second tallest in the Western Hemisphere. It was visible for a while, but eventually we just were too far away to see it. I was looking forward to seeing it again on my return to the Strip for the finish.
The more marathons I run, the better and better I get at anticipating “the wall”. For me, it really isn’t about my body revolting, it’s all about the mental aspect. Being positive, moving forward, pressing on. Miles 13 through 20 were pretty dark, but the course was mostly flat, and easy to traverse. I continued to hydrate, and felt really good. My pace wasn’t stellar, but I maintained positive energy. My thoughts revolved around that tower, it really gave me something to strive for visually. To see that tower again. It gave me energy, and kept me focused. My pace slowly crept toward 8:20 per mile. Coming off from my overall pace two weeks prior at The City of Oaks Marathon, of 8:06 at the finish, I knew I wasn’t going to come close, but I was good with that. I was hanging in there.
The tower came back into view at about mile 21. Yeah! Wow! We get to run back through Fremont St. again. How exciting! A double dose of the downtown neon! Then we turned back toward as Vegas Boulevard. Just a few miles of the race remained. We joined back in the half Marathoners, but had one side of the course just for us. It was marked well, and seemed like most Half runners respected the invisible line of delineation. At this point the Half runners were back of the packers, walkers, mostly, and tons of them. It felt good to be passing so many runners, albeit Half runners.
I did pass some marathoners, as I found a new energy, a renewed focus because of being back on the strip. Passing the hotels again, with tons of screaming onlookers. It was electric! Slowly but surely I pressed on, 23, 24, 25. The finish line at The Mirage came into view. As I glided to the finish, I was amazed by the crowds. The lights and sounds of Vegas made the finish spectacular. I crossed the finish, not too tired, and stopped my Garmin. An amazing medal was placed around my neck, as the volunteer knocked my phone out of my hand, crashing to the ground. Luckily it didn’t break.
It glows in the dark, too! The shirt is pretty slick, too, don’t you think?
My oh my, my 5th marathon of 2013, now finished. My second in two weeks. It felt amazing! I made my way through the finisher village, which was long. Picking up recovery food and drink along the way. Water, chocolate milk, apples (no more green bananas). I grabbed a bagel and PowerBar. Foil blanket wrapped around me, I eventually found an exit out of the finisher village, and started to make my way back to my hotel. All in all, it was just an amazing race, and one I truly recommend to anyone looking for a great destination race. If you love Vegas, or have never been and need a reason to go, you must run this race. You would not regret it!
My official results:
Chip time 3:41:41 (my third fastest marathon)
62/314 in Age Group
Top 10% finish in another marathon! sure! I’ll take it.