Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I Rocked Vegas.

I am a terrible race recapper. So much is a blur.

Let me start by saying that I am so proud of myself! Yep, tootn’ my own horn here and I don’t care! Three marathons in 8 months! A year ago I was thinking about doing Vegas and I hadn’t even finished my first one yet! So this was so cool, such a You Did It! moment for me! Kind of like Take That inner doubter! What now? Hmmm? I will say that the training and dedication alone is a huge accomplishment. Deciding to do something and sticking to it, staying  motivated and reaching a goal is such a high! I am still on cloud NINE. I wont lie though, I am also very relieved to be done, to have a blank calendar and no training schedule to adhere to. I am officially on a break (and that break includes a 5k on the 18th but what ev).

So the consensus is I probably wont evver do Vegas again. It was a zoo. A mess. A mad house. A pain in the behind. Inconvenient. I guess there are a few things that could have made it better but I will get to that.

Our hotel was about 2 miles from the start (Mistake 1). So we got up and around and out the door by 5:30. The night before I had told Mel we could just follow the crowd to the start…funny enough-there was no crowd at first. Eventually WE had a small following of people who were headed to the start. This is why (among other reasons) irresponsible and nonchalant people need to be friends with responsible and detail oriented people (ie ME needs MEL). Our morning commute was only about 35 minutes. SCORE!  And we got to see a beautiful Nevada sunrise from the tram.

We had asked at the expo about VIP Potty Passes. SO NOT NECESSARY IN VEGAS. This was probably one of the biggest POSITIVES about the race, we used the restrooms in style, VEGAS STYLE! It was great! Only Vegas could support 30,000 people using beautiful, lavish bathrooms. I have never seen empty Porta Potty lines at a race this big before, it was awesome. After the race I got to wash my face and hands and arms in the beautiful marble sinks!

We headed to our coral and got situated, ready to get the show on the road. I took a jillion pics because I knew you all would want to see EVERYTHING!

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The helicopter would hover above the entire race, filming us! We were on a jumbo tron along the strip! Famous!

We were squished in the coral among all the other excited and anxious people, over 3/4 of them doing the half. Finally the time came and we heard the loud blow horn. It was time. We slowly moved forward and 10 min after the start it was our turn to run!  We watched ourselves cross the start on a huge screen and tried not to weave too much. It was pretty congested and we figured it wouldn’t open up for a while, if at all.

About two miles in we saw an awesome run through wedding shoot! We laughed and gawked for a minute and the guy behind us said, “that must be the woman's idea.” What? Why? I would say it would be the guys idea, what woman wants to get married while running a marathon? And as Mel said, what kind of wedding night does THAT make for? A sleepy, chaffed one. And to see a couple of people who took advantage of the wedding shoot click HERE to see Jason and Molly from the Bachelor!!! SO bummed I missed them! I loved Jason…sigh…..(And so being nosey I entered Jason’s name and he finished in 3:08.33, for a half marathon. And Molly had no finishing time…strange). And HERE to see a Dr. who ran dressed as Elvis, got married and then revived a runner at a restaurant after the run. Totally awesome!

We continued on the route down the strip and I was mesmerized by all the sights. See the strip while jogging running, in the daylight was cool. You truly do see a city differently while running. The water stops were plentiful for the first 6 miles but as we turned to head back toward the start (the end for the halfers) there were some issues with water. The tables were nearly empty and the volunteers couldn’t fill the cups fast enough. Mel and I started to worry. This was not a good omen for the rest of the marathon at mile 7 or 8. We mentioned ducking off into a casino to buy a bottle of water if we had to.

We held a pretty decent pace. Mel had mentioned wanting to keep the pace just under 10 min. This made me kind of nervous when she said it but during the run every time I looked at my trusty G. Money we were right on target, just under 10. I felt good, exhilarated, and 100% better/different than I felt running Portland. I was not mentally prepared for Portland. I was finished before I started that one. But not this one, it was my redemption. I had secretly hoped to beat my Portland time, that was my goal. I figured I would, I hoped I would, but my ultimate goal was (as always) to finish.

As we neared the 12.5 mile mark we could see ahead where the halfer were veering off to the left. Mel said something along the lines of finishing the half and going on to enjoy our day. I knew she was right. We could be done in about 5 minutes if we just took that left. SO MANY PEOPLE WERE FINISHING. We joked about being able to get out and enjoy Vegas, see more things, do more things…not be toasted for the rest of the day. My brain was reeling. I was tempted. I wanted to be done BUT I felt good. I felt like I had another half left in me. I had come here to do 26.2. I have been getting up early every.single. weekend. and going out in hot/humidity then the freezing cold, training for THIS, this moment, this race, this accomplishment. I had put so much into it. Blood (yes), sweat, tears, skin (in the form of chaffing). I could not cut corners now. I could not quit, after all that is what it seemed to me, quitting on a goal I had set for myself. Mel and I were in two completely different situations. I was prepared for this, have been preparing for it since 10/10/10. I knew I was coming to Vegas to run a marathon. But not Mel. She made a last minute decision (and I cannot tell you how awesome that is and how grateful I am that she did). She did not have the luxury of time to prepare for this. She did some last minute long runs to make sure she could handle it, and she could, but her game was different, her marathon was different. I am quite sure we will have very different marathon stories, yet we ran stride for stride, side by side the entire way.

We committed to the full marathon, veered to the right and saw ahead a hill. My cousin told us Vegas wasn’t all flat. I regretting the right turn for a second or two but new I had to get that out of my mind. The half was done, not an option… Now it was a mental battle and I had to fight to survive. Mel and I carried on, invited the hill and joked about how it was allowing us to use different muscles. It was eerie how the crowd has thinned. There were not very many people running the full marathon. Actually, there were only 5,154 people who ran the full and about 21,000+++ in the half. There were points where the course was dead silent. The runners were lost in their own thoughts, inside their heads and willing their feet to carry them just a little bit further. The bands were sparse, the water stops sparse, the crowds-non existent. It was lonely and boring. It was industrial Las Vegas. It was lame. I was SO thankful to have Mel by my side. Without here I would have been hurting, crying or crawling for sure.  I just kept thinking, “Thank goodness I am not doing this by myself.”

Mel was a Marathon Saver and I realize what she did for me, the sacrifice she gave to run with me, to go the full 26.2 when I know inside she was begging me to say yes to 13.1, I know the fight she fought just to stay by my side. A true friend…it really blows my mind that she was willing to put herself through marathon hell to run with me, ME. Humbling. Not many people would do what she did for me. So, Mel-THANK YOU!

Ok, back to race. Around mile 17 we made the turn to head back toward the strip. Little did we know there would be more twists and turns ahead. Just when we thought we were running toward the Mandalay Bay we would turn and run away from it. Ugh. I was still feeling good and this is around the time that I realized I had not walked yet! Not once! I normally walk through the water stops but not this time, I drank and ran. I could not believe it! it was a record for me! But it also messed with my head. I started thinking, “Man, I haven’t walked. I’m going to need to soon. I can’t believe I haven’t walked. Usually I have already walked by now. Wow, aren’t I tired?” That sort of thing was going through my head. I tried to put a positive spin on it but no matter what I was psyching myself out. I’m not sure what point I actually walked through a water stop but it wasn’t much after that, maybe mile 18 or so. I remember the first time I ran an entire half marathon, without walking once: 3/21/10-Mercer Island and a PR! So I know one of these days I will run an entire marathon, start to finish without walking.

Around mile 18 or 19 a small rock flipped up and landed in the top of my shoe, under the tongue and on the top of my ankle. I had to get it out. Stopping and bending over was hard but it had to be done. We carried on and talked about how lousy the support for the race was. The cheer leaders were great and spectators were good when they were there but as far as support it was lousy. I only saw two GU’s the whole time (I may have just missed it but…) There was one time where someone handed out Vaseline. Only one lady on the side of the road holding a tray with three small ( I mean like 1/5 piece) pieces of banana. She yelled “Bananas! Orange Slices!” I was SO excited to get an orange slice! This is what saved me in OKC! Having some simple sugar that makes for quick energy! YES! My mouth watered! I was thirsty but not for water and I was hungry. My tummy was growling. I ran by her, looked at her try with three tiny banana pieces and looked for oranges. There was none. I was defeated.

I started drinking the Cytomax, I was desperate for something other than water and GU Chomps. I had a cup of the stuff and followed it with water. It went down fine and I could tell my body was needing something. I had once cup at all the remaining water stations. I hoped it would not come back to haunt me later but the here and now was a concern.

Mel was having a hard time and around mile 17 or so (her recap may be different, I’m telling you, I’m a terrible recaper and details all start to run together) she had somewhat of an emotional breakdown. I could tell she was struggling mentally. We walked for a bit and she was apologizing for “ruining my race” but what she did not realize is that I would not have even made it to mile 15 even without her. That is what running buddies do, they push and pull…she pulled me that far and it was my turn to push her. It caused me to snap my mental game up a few notches because we both couldn’t be in a bad way, it was my turn to be strong. It was my turn to let her lean on me. I’m not sure if I did a good job or not, I’m certainly not used to being the one who is doing ok (not great or good mind you, but ok). We made it over the first hurdle and searched for our running groove. G. Money had us at a 9:15 pace around mile 18. Wow! Guess we found out pace…not really, we needed to slow down. That was too fast. There were a few more mental battles fought with every turn we made that led us away from the finish. Miles 21-25 was like a never ending pretzel where we had no idea if we were coming or going. All we knew is that we kept seeing stupid Elvi running around us and a girl in a strange blue dress, maybe she was Minnie Mouse or something, kept leap frogging with us. Our tolerance level was dropping with every step. It was time to be done. With three miles left I kept thinking it was just a jaunt around the neighborhood. No biggie, right? Around this time I plugged my iPod in for the first time. It was time to zone out. My  mind was starving. I have only felt that way once, after my first 20 miler, where I could feel my brain fogging up, the clarity was gone. I could not think, I could tell my brain was hungry, it needed carbs to function.  I told Mel I was sorry and had to zone out, “I’m going to zone out but if you need me I am right here.”  This is the part of the race for me where it is do or die, survival mode. I have to dig deep and focus on my Why? Focus on what it is that brings me to run 26.2 miles. I have to remember my motivation and dig deep below it so that I can finish.

We were on the home stretch and I could see where we would turn right and head to the finish. I thanked God for bringing me this far and prayed he would carry me the rest of the way…the last .50 of a mile. The sides of the strip were packed! People everywhere! Signs waving here to there! Half marathoner were still coming in! We were beating halfers! Wow, that is weird. Mel was about two steps ahead of me…it was her turn to pull me. I yelled her name but above the crowd she didn’t hear me. Good thing because I didn’t have anything to say other than “I CAN’T”. I was wanting to give her the speech I gave RED in Portland, “I can’t! I’ve got nothing.I’ve got nothing left to give. I can’t…..” But thankfully Mel kept ahead of me by a couple of steps and I pushed to get in stride with her. We saw the 26 mile marker…so close! I wanted to have this accomplishment so bad! I wanted to put my arms in the air and wallow in self-achievement! Mel grabbed my hand and we crossed the finish line!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

4:30.56 (one minute faster than Portland)!

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I stumbled to the girl handing out medals. I wonder how many people she saw who were in tears. I wonder if she knows the feeling of crossing the finishing line after 26.2 (26.43 according to Garmin). I think everyone should experience that feeling, the feeling of being invincible, untouchable! ALIVE! She should get to know what it is like to cross that finish line. YOU should get to know that feeling too!  I had finished marathon #3 and my eyes were full of tears, tears of pain, joy, pride and just an overwhelming rush of 1000 different emotions. I did it! Once again I am a marathoner even when I wanted to quit, when I wanted to curl up and disappear, I kept going. What a feeling!

We walked through the lame recovery area where we got water. They had some strange foods like Gogurt and then some pretzels. It was the worst recovery zone I have ever experienced. I have seen better after a 5k! Seriously people. We got our picture taken:

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And we sat down to recover before beginning our journey back to the hotel, and that my friends is another long story.

Here I am after the race, you knew this was coming. Right?

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And once we got back to the hotel we ordered room service. I could not eat fast enough!

chowing down after the marathon

So there you have! Rock n Roll Las Vegas Marathon #3! 

 

I couldn’t have done it without Mel that is for sure! So Tall Mom, thank you! Thank you for coming to see me! Coming to run with me! For being a part of this experience! Thank you for pushing and pulling me through! Thanks for everything!

41 comments:

  1. Congratulations! Great recap!

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  2. You rock these re-caps too.

    Love the hand holding photo finish.

    LOVE
    LOVE
    LOVE the room service.

    GREAT JOB!

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  3. I know what you mean about details blurring. As I start every marathon, I tell myself to pay attention to the details! But I always forget. You did a great job with this one.

    I had the pleasure of runnig an entire marathon with Mel in Seattle... there is no better person!

    And good for you taking the lead and being the strong one when you needed to.

    HUGE CONGRATS!!!

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  4. You make me want to run a marathon. I've been on the fence for a few months now about whether or not I would aim for one after finishing my first half, but you might have just sealed the deal for me there. I want to know what it feels like to cross that finish line!

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  5. Becky-LIFE CHANGING! Running my first marathon changed my life, actually it was my first 20 miler, and then the accomplishment of the marathon-priceless! You should do it!!!!

    Marlene-I know!! We talked about you! =) See? That part slipped my mind! I knew she had such a great race with you! Pretty sure our experience was quite different! But, each marathon is different! New challenges and new accomplishments! Each one teaches a plethora or lessons!

    Thanks Abbi and EMZ!!!

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  6. Saw you and Mel coming down the final stretch on the strip before the finish - you guys looked great! I told B "I know her! Kind of..." He laughed.

    Anyways just wanted to share :) Gongrats! Really super duper impressive.

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  7. i have yet to run an entire race step by step with someone but i loved reading this! I have heard that the first half is a lot of fun and the second half is boring and ugly...but of course I wasn't going to tell you that before hand! I'm so proud of you ladies! and so impressed!

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  8. A hard fought victory to be sure. Congrats on another medal.

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  9. The photo finish is absolutely a framer!

    I think you need to give your self some major props for your recap--I felt like I could picture the trek and feel your battle!

    So, no Vegas again? I have to ask...what's the next one? I have not decided on my next full, but I surely want to do one--in an arid climate (no Protland experience again!).

    Great work beating your Portland time!!!!

    And, does Mel get friend of the year/decide/life or what?!

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  10. Great job! I was there cheering people on around mile 2/11. It was such a fun race to watch. Hope to do it someday.

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  11. Getting past the point in a marathon where you "dig deep" is what makes it all worth while. Good Job!

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  12. That was an awesome race report! How great that you had each other to help you through the tough parts during the marathon! Congrats, congrats, congrats! Yay! :)

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  13. I loved your race recap. You brought me into the moment with you and Mel. That is what it's all about!

    I hope to be a marathoner one day too.
    Congratulations on #3!

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  14. Amazing job Amanda! I love your finish line picture! And, uhm, it seems you attract the marathon weddings. First Portland. Then Vegas :D Again, amazing job; great inspiration!

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  15. Congrats on pushing each other through! Awesome! I'd considered doing Vegas but if the back 1/2 is that dull I'd really struggle.

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  16. Great race recap! I did this race last year and wasn't that impressed with it either. I think my race recap of this race is very similar too. Sounds like your course was a bit different than mine but common experiences. So glad you had a great finish!!!! Be proud of yourself!!!

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  17. I'm an emotional wreck after reading your race report. I know how amazing it feels to finish a marathon. Nothing like it in the world. I think it is so awesome that you and Mel got to share this together. I'm always out there by myself. I'd be beyond happy to share this with someone and to finish like that.

    Congrats!!! You girls rock. The finish line photo is awesome. You definitely need to buy that one.

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  18. Congrats on another marathon Amanda! I know it had to be awesome to do finish with such a good friend! You two look awesome. Love your silly photos too... and utterly jealous of the room service... YUM!

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  19. Great recap! You and Mel are both inspirations!! Congrats to you!

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  20. love reading this!! congrats!!!

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  21. You hit the nail on the head with this one. Sounds like you and I ran very similar races. Nevermind the fact that yours was an hour faster than mine. lol

    I will agree about the crossing the finish line. I, too, was in tears. Accomplishment, pain, relief, gratitude...

    I'd give ANYTHING to have been able to share it with someone. I was so sad when M got her stress fracture. :( She was there at the finish to cheer me on, but I wanted to cross that finish line WITH her!

    And, yes, the recovery area totally sucked. Nothing like the CMM.

    I'm curious to read Mel's and Julie's (Hotlegs Runner) take on the race now.

    You and Mel are just awesome. I so hate that I didn't get to tell y'all that in person! THREE marathons in less than a year! You're nuts! In a good way! And Mel... I can't think of a single other person who would sign up for a marathon at the last minute to run with a friend. She's one of a kind!

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  22. I LOVE your race report, you did an awesome race and I can not believe you resisted the temptation to run a half instead. YOU ROCK!!! You are soo lucky to have a friend like Mel! :)

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  23. Congratulations girl! You totally rock. Loved your race recap. I seriously got goosebumps at the end when you were descibing the emotions. You (almost) made me want to run one... so I'll think about it :) Enjoy your moment for a long time! You deserve it!

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  24. What a great recap. I like how you talked about taking turns pushing and pulling. Very neat.

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  25. Really Really great race. way to go!!

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  26. Loved your race recap, Amanda. I must admit I got a little teary-eyed in places, especially when you wrote about being strong for Tall Mom.
    Really beautiful stuff.
    Congrats and great race!

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  27. Congrats! You did awesome!!! I absolutely love the pic of the 2 of you crossing the finish line. Absolute keeper!

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  28. Julie had a picture of the Tarzan/caveman guy in her recap! Check it out. His finish photo is priceless.

    http://www.hotlegsrunner.com/2010/12/rock-n-roll-las-vegas-marathon-race.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheHotlegsRunner+%28The+Hotlegs+Runner%29

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  29. So happy for you that you got the race you and everyone else knew you had in you!!! Congrats girl!!!

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  30. I am quite sure we will have very different marathon stories, yet we ran stride for stride, side by side the entire way.

    great line!

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  31. Great job and thanks for the entertaining recap. My Garmin said 26.43 as well! They really need to spice up the second half of that marathon. We ran through more neighborhoods (and less industrial zones) in 2007, but maybe residents complained.

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  32. It was great to see you on the course! You gals looked great! I'm hoping to PR in OKC this year (my home town). I ran it this past year and set my current PR, so I'm hoping Lake Hefner is kind again this year! Great job in Vegas!!

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  33. Love your room service pic!
    Congrats on finishing. Sounds like it was definitely mentally exhausting. Great job!!

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  34. Just found your blog today and LOVE IT!! I am a total newbie runner and was supposed to be in Vegas for my first 1/2 marathon (missed bcuz of family illnes, long story). Wow hearing your recap gets me SO excited that some day I will be doing that!! Congrats!! Bookmarked your blog and I will be back regularly!!

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  35. Great job!!! Way to believe in yourself and run YOUR race.

    I love the room service picture. BOWLS of fries? yes please!

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  36. I really wish I would have pulled myself out of my funk so I could go cheer you on during that last half. And I would have had some nourishment for you.
    When I saw the map, I knew that last half would be awful. It was really STRANGE!! They could have had you go east-to Paradise. At least there's stuff to see.
    You are such an awesome niece!! WOW!

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You're pretty much awesome!!

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