Wednesday, November 18, 2015

2015 Las Vegas Marathon Race Recap - Las Vegas NV

Official Time: 4:33:39
Placement: 1402 out of 3100, 141 out of 270 in the 45 - 49 division, 1009 out of 1897 of the men
Results: Here
Race Website:Here
Weather: Lower 50's to upper 40's.  Cloudy with some light drizzle. Winds at 20 - 30mph
Garmin Route: Here

19:56Hemmed in. Feel all right despite running into a headwind.
29:46Just biding my time. Dodging crowds.
39:23Finally get some running room
58:28Not sure where I got this mile from. I think a nice tail wind helped.
69:12Have to go to the bathroom. Jumped off the course to use a palm tree
89:15Feeling off at this point
109:31Splitting off from the halfers.  Thinking about running with them.
129:45Starting to try and find a bathroom
1511:11Finally find a bathroom. 
1710:26Not sure I feel good
1811:25Bathroom break #2.  Beginning to realize this race isn't going to go well.
2010:26Hopefully I can at least maintain this pace. I felt like the pace was very doable and still felt good
2211:43Another bathroom pit stop
2411:33Will this race end?
2511:09Kind of pissed.  I am still passing some people and at least I am not walking, my spirit is pretty shot.
2611:33Got a few pictures.  Just shuffling along
Total Miles: 26.79 - 4:33:02


If you've been a reader here for some time, you know I am a big fan of the Las Vegas Marathon.  I've done it every year since 2009 and it is sort of my wrap-up / reward for the year.  

I am not necessarily big on the race itself, but it is definitely a one-of-a-kind experience: running down the strip at night is like no other.  With all the glitter and neon, it is hard not to be in awe of the experience.  It also doesn't hurt that it is held in one of my most favorite cities in the world.

So last year at the 2014 Expo, I registered for the 2015 full marathon.  They offered a great deal: $99.  I figured registering for it then and there would seal the deal that I'll be there in 2015.  I sort of hated plunking down the money a year in advance (what if I get injured, lose my job, etc?) but so far I've managed to toe the line every year.

So throughout the year I looked at hotel prices and finally got a deal on one way back in May (or so).  This trip has literally been in the works since the 2014 race.

The Expo

I arrived just after noon and managed to navigate my way to the Las Vegas Convention Center.  This time I parked in the east lot.  While it made for very simple in and out it was a bit of a haul.  A lot of other people had the same idea and it was the least stressful way of getting into the convention center (and it was free parking).

It was crowded but I managed to get my shirt and bib (although my bib's line was the longest) fairly quickly.

There were plenty of runners there and lots of vendors.  I wasn't really in the mood to shop as I don't need anything and I am not usually into pushing my way through the crowds.  I always like to thumb through the Las Vegas merchandise (I have a 2010 jacket) but I didn't see anything I had to have or that screamed Vegas Marathon. I did wander around there for a bit though:


I was staying at the Linq hotel -- formerly known as the Imperial Palace and the Quad.  It is located pretty close to the finish line.  That and the price was the reason why I selected the hotel.  I usually like to stay at the Mirage but it was about 50% more money.  

Sadly the Linq didn't have a free shuttle to the race, so that meant I had about a 2 mile walk to Mandalay Bay. Luckily, with a 4:30 PM race start time, I had pretty much all day to do it.

On Saturday I had eaten a lot of food: I ate a buffet at the Virgin River Casino in Mesquite and on Saturday night I had pigged out at the Mirage buffet.  In the morning, my intent was to eat at Denny's and then have a small sandwich somewhere.  Unfortunately, the lines for everything were out the door.  I spotted the Harrah's buffet and no one was inline, so while I'd pay a premium for it, I could pick and choose exactly what I wanted.  I told myself I wouldn't gorge and I honestly felt I didn't.

Around noon we headed over to Mandalay Bay.  I am a pro at getting around and I got on a few free shuttles that got me to MB without killing my legs.  It was still a fair amount of walking but I took breaks at various spots.  I did have several hours to kill so I watched football in the sports book (and breathed noxious cigar smoke) and watched Shari gamble (win).  I had brought some snacks which kept my blood sugar levels up.

Time went by fairly quickly and around 4 PM I jumped into corral 11 and made friends with the folks around me.

With rain threatening, I opted to go with throw-away gloves (which I didn't throw away), a hat, 2 short sleeved shirts and shorts.  I probably didn't need the water bottle but it makes a good storage belt for gels and my phone.  In hindsight I should've left the bottle behind.  The gloves were a godsend.  I do suffer from cold hands and while I looked ridiculous with them at the start, they saved my hands at the end of the race.

Early Miles

All the folks behind me

All the folks waiting to go

Approaching the starting line

I got off to an all right start and my simple goal was not to go out gangbusters and blow my pace. I had only to wait about 10 minutes for the race to begin. And after standing around for 20 minutes, I was really ready for it to begin.

Luckily going out too fast isn't too much of a problem in a race of this size.  It was crowded and of course people were in the wrong corrals.  I saw lots of walkers taking up space and I knew what to expect so I wasn't terribly frustrated.  If I was trying for a Boston Qualifier, I'd be pissed, but while I wanted to do well I knew an extra minute wasn't going to crush me.

I saw my friend Dennis in front of the Aria.  I think he's got a movie or pictures of me and I hope to post them at some point.  I was still in good spirits and I was trying to keep the 4 hour marathon pacer (who was zig-zagging every which way) in my sites.

Around this time I had to go to the restroom.  Unfortunately the few I passed had lines of people (mostly women) in front of them.  I wasn't going to kill five minutes.  It wasn't until mile 6 or so that I braved pulling off the course and hiding in the shadows of a motel (which will go nameless) to take care of business. I could tell that other guys were doing this too.  The organizers need a lot more on course bathrooms, especially in the early miles.

Sorry for the blurry pictures, a lot of them were taken while running.

Around mile 7 it started to rain a bit.  It actually felt good, but I was concerned.  I hadn't really worn rainproof clothing and I hadn't anticipated it raining hard or for long.  Luckily, any dampness that I got dried off quickly.

It was also at this point that I felt "off".  Normally the early miles of a marathon go by super quickly.  This race they seemed to take agonizingly a lot of time.  I don't think I was in the groove but my legs felt fine and I was managing a fairly consistent pace.

Around mile 9 or 10 the feeling that I wasn't feeling it grew worse.  At about the time the half marathoners were pealing off from us, I thought about following them. I was worried about what lie ahead for me in the next 16 miles.  Mentally it just seemed hard.  I crossed my fingers and hoped that it was just a bad vibe and swallowed another gel.

The Rest of the Race

Once the halfers left us one guy exclaimed, "Wow, this suddenly got real".  Yeah, I now know what he was feeling.  

In years past the marathoners were treated to the experience of running down Fremont Street.  Instead, we got a brief glimpse of it before heading behind it.  I knew we weren't going to run on it and I was wondering what the organizers had in store to make up for this.

Back side of Fremont Street

I was looking forward to getting the chance to run by the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.  If you haven't seen this twisted piece of architecture, then you are missing out on a hidden gem of Vegas.  My camera wouldn't have done justice to the building, but you can see Google Images here.

The course was largely familiar to me still despite a little detour.  However, before heading into North Vegas we did a lap around the World Market Center along Symphony Avenue.  This area looks like a series of airplane hangers.  They had a lot of strobe lights and decorations set up.  They also had some thumping and loud club music blasting the entire time.  While I missed the crowds and support I got on Fremont Street, this was a nice touch.  Some of the music was too loud and obnoxious, but I did get a bit of a second wind here.  The organizers really tried to make up for the Fremont Street experience missing -- but it did seem sort of devoid of spirit because it was just us runners.

By the time we started running along Martin Luther King Blvd, I knew I was in trouble.  I had been passing gas (and more frequently) and I was in dire need of a bathroom stop.  Unfortunately, I hadn't seen any and I was super tempted to find a spot behind a tree.  

North Vegas isn't the safest place.  The police were out as well as private security guards.  So pulling off the course wasn't an option in most cases.  Luckily, I spotted a medic who point me to a bathroom that I would've definitely missed (I was actually running towards those who had just finished mile 18).  Sadly it took me a good 2 or 3 minutes to conclude business.  Also, through the final miles it meant that I would make another 2 pit stops.

I had broken one of my own rules for this race: don't eat buffets within 36 hours of the race.  I didn't expect to have any problems and I hadn't felt bloated.  I realized that the last 12 miles were going to be a grind as I had to slow my pace significantly.

The second half of the race also has some mild hills.  But each hill you go up, you get to go down.

There isn't a lot going on out in North Vegas and it was hard to get any motivation.  I was still passing people but I felt like I was rapidly running out of gas.  My legs still felt good but I couldn't get anything going.

We made another pass around the World Market Center and I tried to get some motivation there.  I knew I was getting close to being done but another part of me knew that my time was going to suck.  I probably spent a lot of energy getting down on myself as this was clearly not the race I wanted to have.

The last few miles were a grind and the finish line couldn't come fast enough.  My legs weren't responding and I was extremely frustrated with myself.

Seemed like the finish line would never arrive

Approaching the finish line


After finishing, I really wanted to crawl under a rock and die.  When a race such as a marathon doesn't go to plan it is easy to get mad and make you want to throw your running shoes at the clock.

I have run enough of these, however, to know that you have your good days and bad days.  While this was a rough day, I did learn something: don't overeat the day before the race and I will live to race again.  While my time was embarrassing (for me), I did accomplish another finish and I kept the streak of Las Vegas marathons going.

I was very happy with my experience. I prefer last year's course over this year's but I suspect the Fremont people weren't happy with us blocking the thoroughfare.  I sincerely hope they allow us to run down Fremont and the World Market Center.

Course support was good.  There were plenty of water stops and most had Gatorade and water.  There were a few spots that had gels but I was self-sufficient.  Medic support was ample and I didn't have any problems with nausea once I finished.

Post race food was bananas, pretzels, chocolate milk, a protein bar, water, and Gatorade.  They had beer as well.

They have a long exit area and that actually helped me slowly come down from running.  I find that if I stop moving too soon after finishing a race that I have a higher chance of feeling woozy.

My hotel was a pretty short walk from the finishing line.  In fact, I would recommend the Linq or the Flamingo for affordable casinos close to the finish line.

I am still on the fence as to whether I want to run it next year.  Knowing me, I probably will.  But in some ways I've done this course now (in some variation) 7 times now and some of the excitement has worn off.  While I always enjoy going to Vegas, I am beginning to question whether I've just run this one too many times or did too many marathons this year that it has gotten more routine rather than a momentous event.  Time will tell.

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