10.12.11

Frenzy - Our Vegas Half Marathon Experience

You might have heard by now, the Vegas Rock n' Roll was a bit of a schmozzle. I'm writing this post much later than intended and I don't want you to think I'm a Debbie Downer but I'm not thrilled despite a PB. Sure there are plenty of horror stories, you can read Sarah's post, Dawn's, or Betsy's to get some of the horrid details (I'll throw in a couple too). But then you get to read about Michelle and Leslie - two of the other Badass Mother Runner's I got to meet in Vegas and hear the joy in their accomplishments. I'm just going to write candidly and then move on.

By far one of the biggest highlights of my trip was meeting Dimity and Sarah from Another Mother Runner. Not only did I get to say hi at the expo, we had a small get together the morning of the race to discuss everyone's biggest dilemma - what to wear? Of course, we didn't talk all running, somehow Sarah and I got talking about bananas (wink) and aquasize. It was a wonderful encouraging way to start race day.

Dimity far left, Sarah right behind me. Leslie is on my right and Michelle is peaking out from behind me.
The real way I started race day though was with a 6:30 am wake-up call not from the front desk but from mother nature and her sidekick Aunt Flo. I knew it was impending and I'd been wishing Thursday, Friday, and Saturday for it to commence to get the worst of it out of the way. But no, it had to come Sunday. I wasn't going to let it get the best of me and I still planned to run a heck of a race. The worst of my symptoms are achy joints, knees, hips, feet. Usually I forgo running the first day of my period because essentially I'm devoid of all the hormones that makes joints stable and comfortable. Not today, oh no, I was going to run that strip because I'd put in 12 weeks of hard training and someone put it in my head that I could run a 1:45.

Race day was going as planned. We had a big lunch at the buffet to keep us going through the night with some small snacks planned to eat around 4:00. I had the perfect nap, the one where you lay down, fall asleep, and wake up 45 minutes later feeling perfectly refreshed. My legs did though, feel heavy and stiff. Perhaps the walk to Mandalay Bay in the morning, even though only about 5km round trip was too much? We dressed slowly, had some coffee, and headed to catch the shuttle bus for about 4:30. By 4:55 it was clear we needed to get moving towards the start. Did the shuttle buses have a direct route to the start/finish - no, they had to drive with the rest of the diverted traffic and weren't allowed down the closed Strip. Dumb. No problem, warm up jog. about 2km to the start, no biggie. Up curbs, down curbs, around people here, there. Stop!

There were a lot of disrespectful things done on the course and Stu and I were equally aghast at the disrespect so many runners showed towards the lead male marathoners. We were kindly asked to wait for the leaders to pass by before crossing a section of the course. Sure it's 10 minutes to start but really, if we can't all hang tight for two minutes what kind of people are we? A few groups made dashes across the road - unwise, unsafe, rude. In a matter of seconds two men I could barely hear breathing whizzed past me with ultra quiet foot steps. Wow! Totally worth the wait.

Getting into the corrals proved challenging and yet so simple. After fighting the crowds I found my corral, four. Looking around I saw bibs with all sorts of corral numbers on them - absolutely no policing of who got in where. People were generally unfriendly as I moved into position. In fact, there was a general grumpiness about the whole race, it felt hostile the whole time. Perhaps too many people in your personal space for two plus hours will do that even to the cheeriest of folk.


My bad ass temporary tattoo.
Ok, gripe gripe, I really want to talk about the good stuff too. I started off on target running just over a 5:30. The plan was to do this for two-three kms then slowly pick it up to a 5:15 for kms 3-10/12, then get as close to a five minute pace for remainder of the race. Moving faster than a 5:15 was proving to be challenging. I didn't feel as though I had the energy and I kept getting sucked into someone else's pace. Part of the reason I put myself in corral four was hoping that there'd be some steady speedsters to keep pace with and follow. Instead, I found out that I was that person who was bopping and weaving worse than an NBA player. I couldn't find my rhythm to move much faster no matter what I tried. I was in an undertow of runners I couldn't break free of. Miraculously I managed to see Stu and give him a holler of encouragement, receiving many sideways glances.

It was here the course narrowed and the roller coaster really began. Mid race you're turning left, right, left and trying desperately to run the tangents but can't without getting forced onto the curbs or being elbowed. It was enough to get my goat up and I was now for sure, cranky at the whole endeavor. Then for a while I found a pacer who I followed (thanks random stranger!) but soon she just had the energy where I didn't.

By 17 kms I struggled to keep pace and so I just gave it all I could, my pace declining. My hips and knees were aching something horrible. 1:45 was out of my sights so I was doing all I could to get a 1:49:59. Crossing the line at 1:51:40 I was exhausted. Happy/sad exhausted. Disappointed exhausted. I needed Stu to tell me he ran an amazing race - and he did! 1:31. Yeppers, that's my super fast hubby. I was so proud of him while being stupefied that he failed to grab a mylar blanket. Some quick math for you - that puts him in the top 1% of participants. And I'm sure he's got a faster race in him yet.



I saw Dimity and felt awful for her DNF but also proud of her courage to step of the course. It was a long cold walk back to the hotel (we weren't even going to try for the shuttle). In the end, we were fortunate. We both finished before chaos ensued. We got back to the hotel, warmed up, ate some greasy food and had a good long sleep. I want to be happier about my 1:51 but I'm still entirely disappointed by the race experience. I had no chance to look around at the sights because I was too busy not stepping on anyone's heels or bumping elbows; I heard very few bands actually playing along the route; I feel awful for those who had worse experiences than I did.

But... I put in 12 weeks of solid effort. I did my speedwork, long runs, and cross training. I took over 10 minutes off my previous half marathon time. I know that I've got a 1:45 (or less!?) in this body and I've got a great base to work towards that. Here's hoping for a mild winter to keep up the long runs and if not - I've got a great new bike that will make indoor training seem fun.

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