Wednesday, November 14, 2018

2018 Las Vegas Half Marathon Race Recap - Las Vegas Nevada

Official Time: 2:03:53
Placement: 305th out of 1080 in the Males 45-49, 1888 out of 6902 men, 2927th overall
Results:  Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: Upper 50's, slight wind from the south
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: [2017] [2016] [2015] [2014] [2013] [2012] [2011] [2010] [2009]

Mile TimeComments
18:51Bunched in at the start but off to an okay start
48:40Back to the crowds here so got some energy
68:41Maybe this is "my" race... feeling good
79:03Feeling warm. The 1:55 pacer is out of site at this point
99:12Darn it. I know I am going to hurt
1110:09Way off pace.  Shambling along. Wish the race was over
1210:29Thank goodness I am only doing the half
13.2902:38Sad finish... but glad to be done.
Total Miles: 13:29 2:03:56


The Las Vegas marathon was my first marathon.  I trained with a group way back in 2009 and I really didn't have a plan in mind, other than maybe I'd do the full marathon in Las Vegas.  Mind you, I didn't have a plane ticket, I didn't register for the race, I just trained for it.

Kind of dumb, I know. 

Most people pony up a ton of money for a marathon, mark it on their calendar and go to it.  Me?  I just sort of trained and if things went well, maybe I'd go to it.

I love Nevada (if you can't tell) and any excuse I can combine my passion for Nevada, gambling, buffet-eating, and running, I am in.

This year was extra special.  It was the 10th anniversary of the race and since I had run every edition of the Las Vegas marathon since its inception, my name was put on a board along with about 60-ish other runners who have shown up for every edition.

I can't think of too many things I've done every year for 10 years, but the Vegas marathon is one of them. I've lived in 4 states, have had 5 addresses, and 4 jobs in that time.  I've grown up, matured, and really found my passions in life and I think it was because of this race to some extent that I mustered up the courage to do some of the things I've wanted to do instead of sort of hoping they'd happen on their own.

Last year, I registered to do the marathon for this year at the expo.  I figured I'd be doing it every year until I couldn't do it any more.

Last year's marathon didn't go well and I haven't run really long any time since (I think I've done 1 18 miler).  I started to train in September to do the full for this year and my heart wasn't in it. So I did something sane:  I switched to the half.

Thank goodness I did.

The RnR people were super cool about it and let me switch free and relatively hassle free (it took a few emails) but everything was good to go when I got to the Expo on Saturday to pick up my bib and shirt.

As usual the expo was bustling with people and they had my name up on a banner, I got a deck of cards and a metal cup to commemorate my ten years and a healthy congratulations.  I also signed up for year #11 and snagged myself another t-shirt.

I did manage to get out of the expo without buying anything.  I have a backlog of gels, shoes, and I have more shirts than I know what to do with.... so money saved there.

The finish line around noon

The Race

The Las Vegas marathon is a night race.  It starts at 4:30 PM -- just as the sun as setting.  It is indeed dark and the lights of the strip are definitely a draw.  

The race is also a large one.  This year they boasted of over 40,000 runners, which would be their biggest year yet.

I was attempting to run a 1:55, which given a lower elevation than some of my other half marathons, I thought was realistic.  This course is also fairly flat and my training had gone fairly well.  So I was in corral #10.

I jumped into fairly early and found myself a place to sit where I wouldn't get stepped on.  Word to wise: you are going to be there for a while so find a place to sit, otherwise you'll be standing for a minimum of 20 - 40 minutes.  The time went by quickly though and I made small talk with the folks around me.

I didn't have to go to the bathroom -- thank goodness.  There were absolutely no bathrooms once you got into the starting pens.  And even if you had to go to the bathroom you'd have to fight your way through a ton of people just to get to them. Luckily I hadn't over hydrated and I was fine.

The race started in front of Planet Hollywood (or so) and ran south towards the airport and past the Las Vegas Welcome Sign.  Then it came back and you proceeded on the west side of Las Vegas Blvd before passing the starting line again and jumping onto the east side of the road.  Then you made the long trek to the downtown area while passing all the casinos lining Las Vegas Blvd.

I didn't have any lofty goals for this race, but I was feeling pretty good.  I was well rested, most of my training runs leading up to the race were good and I just felt like I was on target to run a decent race.

Famous last words....

I had stuffed some throw away gloves and I wound wearing them until the start of the race.  I kept them throughout the race and they were much appreciated once I finished.

I wasn't too bright and wore two short-sleeved shirts.  I am not sure why but I guess I was afraid of getting a little chilled while waiting for the start.  Dumb me.  I was surrounded by people, so I was warm and as the race wore on, it made me feel warmer.  I certainly wasn't going to dump one of my treasured Las Vegas marathon shirts so I wound up suffering through the race feeling a little warmer than I'd like to.

It took about 15 minutes for me to reach the starting line and I was excited to get the race going.  I was near the front of my section so I was able to get off to a decent start.  I wasn't too hemmed in and yes there were some walkers and clearly some runners who over estimated their times but for the most part, I didn't have many complaints.

I found the 1:55 pacer and hung with him or at least kept him in my sites as we made our way to the airport.

Within 10 minutes of starting the race it was really pretty dark.  The race organizers had plenty of lights and I could always see clearly.  You still have to watch out for any cracks in the pavement, but generally the road was in good shape.

I felt good and I also felt like my pace was faster than what it was.  I was sort of shocked to see a 9 minute mile for the first mile.  I felt like I had run an 8:30 or so.  That was another warning sign I guess.

I felt like I was holding back for the first 3 miles and I felt good. This could be my race, I kept telling myself.

I was carrying my own Powerade.  I wouldn't have done this but I wanted some place to store my phone while I ran (I have a belt).  There were plenty of water stops with really good volunteers.

I was disappointed with the bathroom situation.  For a race of this size there were hardly any bathrooms on the course.  I saw maybe 10 of them on the entire course.  Seriously.  When I reached the first one, I saw about 10-15 people waiting. 

Occasionally I'd see guys run into the bushes or go against the side of a building.  Many of the businesses had security out to prevent people relieving themselves against their property.  It was just unfortunate.

Luckily I didn't have to go that badly but I would've been hard pressed had I.

Once I got back to the Excalibur I was nearly 4 miles into the race.  I still felt good and the crowd really got me excited.  They had the usual signs, kids high fiving you and women promising sex & beer at the finish.  It was great and I think it helped my pace.

By the time I reached the 10K part I felt okay.  A little tired, a little warm but my pace was solid.  I was still training the 1:55 pacer but it sort of seemed hard to keep up with him.  Was he going too fast?

I told myself to run my own race.

By mile 7 or 8, I was feeling it.  Sometimes was just off in my gut.  Probably too much rich food leading up to the race.  I felt really warm and to be honest, I just wanted to be done. 

This was sort of the dull stretch of course too.  You are approaching the down town area and the crowds are gone and you have a lot of people who seem to be lost on the sidewalks.  It is just a rough part of town.  Also the constant smell of weed (marijuana), porno shops, quickie wedding stuff... .just wasn't holding my interest.

The 1:55 pacer was gone and I knew my pace was slowing down.  How bad was this race going to get?

I was tempted to stop and use a bathroom -- perhaps that would help and I did find a bank of about 20 toilets but they were a solid 100 yards of the course and I decided I didn't need to go that badly.

Seeing Fremont Street was a welcome site and at that point I knew I was headed back to the finish.  There was a bit of a breeze coming at me at this point and it was sort of frustrating.  It would've been nice to have a trail wind (it also explains why my pace going out was a bit faster).

I had been passing a lot of people on my way out and now I they were getting their comeuppance on me.  It seemed like droves and droves of people were passing me as I shambled along.  Thank God I wasn't doing the full marathon.  I kept repeating to myself and when I saw them peel off from us around mile 10 or 11, I thanked myself yet again.  I certainly didn't have a full marathon in me.

I just wanted to be done.  I kept telling myself to dig deep but there wasn't anything.  My stomach wasn't having it, my legs were sort of tired and I just couldn't get any oxygen.  All the energy and Person Records dreams were gone and I just wanted to finish without walking.

I shook my fist at the running Gods when the 2:00 pacer passed me.  If I couldn't break 1:55 at least I wouldn't run over 2 hours -- or so I thought.

I kept at it and kept working each quarter mile down. Sooner or later I would finish and I kept remembering that the final few miles were like an easy run on my bike trail.  I could do it.

And I did.  I kept a brave face when I went through the picture areas but I was really hurting.  I just felt way way off.  I was so exhausted upon crossing the finish line that I was just thrilled to grab my medal and rest against a fence.


Shari had spotted me coming in and she had warmer clothes for me and a Coke.  Coke totally settles my stomach after a race.  I worked up the energy to get near her where she tossed it over the fence and I could change into something warmer.  I sipped gingerly at the Coke as well.

I felt so light headed and I wound up dry heaving a bit.  I am not sure why.  It wasn't like I hammered the pace.  In fact, my finishing pace was like the death march of a full marathon.

I haven't been feeling all that well and my sinuses haven't been happy.  It turns out I could have some allergies and I had even been to the doctor for it a few days before leaving for Vegas.  I have had a lot of mucus build-up and sinus pressure.  It has affected my breathing as well.

It took about 5 minutes before I knew I wasn't going to pass out.  Even a medic came to check on me.  I was mad at myself.  I could understand feeling that way after a marathon, but a half?  What the hell was wrong with me?

2018 Las Vegas Half Marathon Medal

The exit is about a quarter mile walk from the finish line... maybe even longer.  Basically from the south end of the Mirage, past the epic-sized Caesar's Palace and then to the north end of the Bellagio.  I was pretty cold despite a jacket and gloves.  I grabbed some of the freebies they were handing out but I was sort of stewing about my sub-par performance.

It is also a little lonely in there.  You are surrounded by runners, some who are in groups and I don't know a soul in there.  Shari had gone back to the hotel and it was just a lonely walk and I felt sort of anonymous about the whole experience.  There definitely wasn't an afterglow of any sort.  We had dinner plans so I couldn't camp out anywhere and relax either, so the whole thing was anti-climatic for me.

Running shirt, 10 year commemorative glass and free t-shirt for next year
It was a long walk back to the Mirage and I was beginning to question myself.  Was I done with long distance running? Am I going to relegate myself to the 5K / 10K now?  I was in a gloomy and sort of sad mood.  My dreams of sub 1:55... gone... It was even discouraging to see the 2 hour pacer fly by me.

Overall, I liked the course.  It was more or less the same as last year, but there was definitely more Las Vegas Strip and less of the glamorous side. 

The shirt was nicely designed and was of a heavy-duty tech material.  Definitely felt thicker than previous editions.  The medal -- kind of ho-hum.  Like most of the other RnR medals, it was heavy in weight but the design... yawn. 

The post race spread was a beer, water, chocolate milk, Gatorade, chips, pretzels, chips, bananas, oatmeal bars, etc.  Pretty standard fare.  I grabbed what I could carry and put in my pockets.  I had no appetite whatsoever (which kind of sucked when I went to a buffet about 30 minutes after finishing).

I paid $99 for the race; a year in advance.  I am running on a one-of-a-kind course so I was happy with the price.  Had I paid $200 for it?  Probably not so much.  But the deal is on this race is to sign up way in advance.  I felt like I got my money's worth on it and I plan on being there next year.  I got a cool shirt, above average medal, an awesome course, course support with enthusiastic volunteers, and there is a strong / energetic vibe.

The course to me, seemed a bit long.  I checked in with a few others and their Garmin was well over 13.10.  My Garmin was on target with all the mile markers from the get go but around the half way point it fell off and kept drifting further and further out.  In the early miles I was zig-zagging so I would expect it to be off from the start, but it seemed to get more off the longer the race. At least the course wasn't short, but it would appear I ran nearly a quarter mile longer.

After 72 hours, I am still a little bummed about my time.  I am not losing sleep over it, but I am definitely not walking on air.  For me, it was just another race with a less than great performance.  Sadly doing the same race each year, you can compare where you were in times past.  10 years ago, I think I ran the half in about 1:45 or 1:50 -- at marathon pace.  Now, that is my goal pace.   Aging / getting older is a tough pill to swallow for this guy.

But I'll be back and I'll try hard (or not) again next year...

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