Sunday, December 7, 2008

Las Vegas…Baby!!!

Wanting to tie my whole year to a close I thought that the Vegas Marathon would be a great capper. I love Vegas, just ask my wife. The climate is ideal for me with low humidity. After a little talk with the running group it was decided that if Kim ran it I would and the other way around. We convinced Yemi and Andy (who also loves Vegas) to join us as well.

My wife noted that there were 2 others from Racine that we knew running the half so we made sure to connect up with them while we were out there.

All of us were at different hotels…Steph and I stayed in the Luxor (right next to the host hotel – Mandalay Bay) primarily because I always wanted to stay in the pyramid since the first time we were in Vegas.

With the expo right next door we were able to walk to it and enjoy the expo at length. As we were leaving we called to see where the rest of the group was and met up with Kim and Yemi as they walked around the expo. Yemi nearly bought up half the expo!! ;^)

Called Andy to see what time he was getting in and discussed where and when we would meet to go to dinner. Dinner was with the Lynott’s and one of their friends that was running the half also. We had a great time at a nice out of the way Italian restaurant. Wine and ravioli are always good and this place did not disappoint!

As we drove back to the hotel Kim and Yemi were amazed at the Bellagio fountains…they said (and we agreed) that we really need to come back here as a group for social time not running time!

Morning of the race was cool, almost cold, but with it being Vegas the temps could get high…it didn’t! Walked through the casinos and the walk ways that connect the hotels and found my way to the front lobby of Mandalay, I was desperately trying to remain inside for as long as I could. Found Kim and Yemi but no sign of Andy. After a bit of waiting we headed for the start line.

There was a bit of chaos with marathoners and half marathoners mingling together. This is one of the big issues I had with this race – no separate corrals for the races. We all started together meaning that the roads were packed for a lot longer than they needed to be.

The gun went off and the fire works started – literally! I feel bad for anyone that got to bed late the night before because they are up now!! It was a great display that my wife said she could see from our room.

The course is a giant loop starting with the Strip. We run the whole length of the strip in the early morning with all the lights still on it was quite a sight! When you hit the north end you end up heading east before coming back west toward the downtown. Here is where my second issue with this race comes in.

The race touts the run down Fremont street and old Las Vegas but you really do not run down Freemont street just as you come up to it they make you turn and you end up running around it!!! Not happy!

From here it is a long stretch to the west…you see the mountains getting closer and closer. This section of the course seems not only flat but as though there was a slight downhill to it. The area is quite barren; the only spectators you really come across are those at the aid stations and those that are here to see someone. Time and a again I heard spectators and volunteers explaining to neighbors that this race will be going on for a while…was there no notification to the city?!?

I was feeling pretty good the weather was nice and the sun was covered slightly by high clouds. I was doing pretty well but was disheartened when I got to the 18 mile aid station and there was no gel!!! Good thing my wife was going to be there around 20-22 because I was going to bonk hard. Sure enough she was at 21.5 and was there with a gel…I told her that I’d see her at the end, told her I loved her and gave her a kiss.

We make the turn back toward the strip and you can see it from far away and you realize as you are running toward it just how big these buildings are because no matter how close you get to them they continue to grow!

Once we get under the freeway we are on the backside of the strip (west side) and we proceed to run south back toward Mandalay Bay. Boy that is farther than I remember from a few hours ago!!

I cross the finish line with a new PR!!! 4:45:05

That is 50 seconds faster than Milwaukee so I’ll take it. The medal while nice was not what I was expecting…I guess looking at my friends medal from a year or two ago looked much nicer. ***UPDATE*** We may now understand why things were not as nice this year…looks like this is going to become a ‘Rock N Roll’ Marathon so they were cutting costs in 2008!

I joined the girls and we waited for Andy to finish…with all of us done we took off to have our picture taken at the Las Vegas sign!

What has become my ritual after a marathon is Mexican food so the whole group went out and we enjoyed a nice meal and had a few drinks…including having Yemi try tequila! She loved it…of course it was Patron, what’s not to love!