Tuesday, December 04, 2007

2007 Las Vegas Marathon

This year I decided to go through marathon training once and run two marathons. After getting accepted into the NY marathon in June, I found out the Zappo's Las Vegas Marathon was conveniently 4 weeks later. Erin and I wanted to go to Vegas anyway so it was perfect.
I had been told it was a bad marathon because it is cold at the start, hot at the end, and most of the race is run on boring roads. On the contrary, the LV marathon was AWESOME. The weather was perfect and the course was sweet.

It started at 6:07 am just as the sun started coming up. It was about 40 degrees with no wind and only slightly chilly standing at the start line. 17,000 people waited for the gun to go off while listening to a good Elvis cover band play live. As the race started a 4th-of-July-style fireworks display went off just up the street. The impressive display lasted over 10 minutes and included a grand finale at the end. The first six miles run up the electrifying neon corridor of the world famous Strip including many live bands and brought us to downtown Las Vegas. It is hard to imagine a more exciting 6 miles in all of road running.
The great part about the LV marathon is that it doesn't take itself seriously. The three aspects of the race most bragged about are:
  • The successful attempt to set a world record for the most Elvis impersonators participating in a running event. There were 208 "Running Elvi"
  • Offering a 'run-through' wedding chapel at mile 5. A total of 55 couples GOT MARRIED while running the marathon/half marathon.
  • Being the only marathon in the world that you can bet on. Mandalay Bay offered a line on the race.

After the unparalleled beginning the marathon course travels out into the flat outskirts of Vegas and finally joins back near the strip at mile 23. The course began and ended at Mandalay Bay.

I had a touch of the flu earlier in the week and could tell early in the race I was not going to set a good personal time, certainly no where close to 4 hours. So I decided right away to not worry about my time, but instead make sure I finish and MAKE SURE I didn't hit the wall and experience that utter misery again.

I started easy and just took what my body gave me. I stopped to go to the bathroom several times and walked through water stations. I also took a large assortment of nutrition supplements because I knew my body was going to need it.

miles 1-4 - 9:24 pace
miles 5-6 - 9:27 pace
mile 7 - 9:31
mile 8 - 9:21
mile 9 - 9:43
mile 10 - 9:19
mile 11 - 11:22 (bathroom)
mile 12 - 9:17
mile 13 - 9:50
mile 14 - 10:07
mile 15 - 10:02

Around mile 15 I felt the pain approaching so I started walking 1-2 minutes at every water station. My running pace stayed largely the same, I was just adding in some walking. The walking definitely helped stave off the wall.

mile 16-17 - 10:13 pace
mile 18 - 10:26
mile 19 - 10:33
mile 20 - 10:35
mile 21 - 12:34 (bathroom)
mile 22 - 10:36

At mile 23 I was greeted by my lovely wife as well as Dave, Tom, and Lisa. It was also the point that the course passed right next to Rio...our hotel. It was slightly tempting to just stop and go back to bed but I knew I could last 3 more miles so never really considered it. Erin walked with me for a little while and then I ran back towards the strip.

mile 23-24 - 11:50 pace
mile 25 - 12:58
mile 26 - 10:28

Finally I rounded the backside of Mandalay Bay to see Erin and Dave cheering again and sprinted my way to the finish line. With 1 mile to go I knew I had to push it in order to beat 4:30 and possibly my NY time. So I ran pretty hard the rest of the way and finished at 4:29:16, 20 seconds faster than my NY time!Obviously I ran a much more consistent race and by easing up throughout I was able to stave off the wall making it a much more enjoyable race, especially at the end. I'm disappointed that after all the training I did I had my two worst marathon times. But at least I finished them injury free and had very memorable experiences both times.

Marv participated in his first marathon and made it all the way to the finish line. He wasn't happy that his knee gave out at mile 16 forcing him to walk the rest of the way, but that is the way marathons are. They kick your butt and you can only take what they give you. It was still a great accomplishment. He finished in 5:52.

I would definitely do this marathon again, but not for awhile. I'm done with marathons for the near future, but I'm sure I'll do more again.

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