Monday, December 05, 2005

The New Las Vegas Marathon

Overall I’m pretty happy with my performance at Las Vegas considering:
· I only had it on my schedule for 3.5 weeks.
· I ran NYC four weeks prior.
· I had a cold and fever 4 days before.
· It was 30°F and windy at the start.
None of these things are deal breakers; it is just that for me they were unknowns.

I wish I could write one of those mile by mile recaps of the race, but I just don’t remember them that way. The race start was memorable. The announcer likened the marathon to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Nobody ever thought that would happen either. In the grand scheme, a marathon is pretty insignificant, but it was fun to think that we were making history. The fire works were cool since it was dark when we started (a first for me). It was also pretty darn cold and windy for this 22 year resident of sunny SoCal. I didn’t really mind it, but I did feel it. I wore my gloves for nearly 8 miles and my stocking cap for 15 or so. I normally never wear a hat unless it’s raining.

There were next to no spectators on The Strip. It was kind of surreal, considering I am used to seeing it packed with people. I got off to a fairly slow start, 10 minute miles for the first 7 miles or so. I really don’t know why. I had fun running through the Fremont Street Experience. Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” was playing through the loud speakers.

If You Wanna Make The World A Better Place
Take A Look At Yourself, And Then Make A Change

Finally at mile 8 I knocked out a 9:26 mile without any perceived increase in effort. I kept that pace up through mile18. I remember Carey Avenue being ever so slightly uphill and I was just methodically passing people one by one. I remember feeling really confident at this point. I took a bathroom break between mile 13 and 14.

Around mile 19 my right knee/ITB started bothering me. This is the same one that seized up on me in Los Angeles 2004. My right knee never bothers me in training runs, even the long ones, so I’m not sure where it comes from during races. I shortened my stride but kept plodding along. My pace slowed to 10:30. Once we turned onto Frank Sinatra Drive you could see Mandalay Bay, but it never seemed to get any closer. My knee was bothering me more and more. My pace slowed to 12:30. It felt like my knee wouldn’t support me when I tried to run normally, I had slowed to an “old man shuffle”. I realized that my “running” speed wasn’t getting me any more forward progress than the guy next to me who was walking. I decided to walk a little more myself. I made myself run the last half mile or so. I was able to finished my 7th marathon in two years and my 5th state in 4:35:50. I always feel great right after finishing a marathon, I think that’s one reason I get so much enjoyment out of running them.

I was impressed with the medal. When I got home today, both my teenage sons said that it was “bling”. I took that as a good thing. I was going to pass on the obligatory post race photo op, but then realized that they had Showgirls for us. That was just too Vegas to pass up. The photo will make a great Christmas gift for my Dad! I’m sure the boys will want to see that one as well!

We stayed at Mandalay Bay. Getting to the start and getting that post marathon shower was a breeze. I highly recommend staying close to the start and/or finish if at all possible. Thanks to my running friend, John Strand, for hooking me up with the room. Thanks to my wife for letting me take these two trips for marathons. I missed you in NYC and was glad that you were here in Vegas to share this one with me.

On the flip-side, I am somewhat disappointed with my 2005 marathon times. I did four marathons in 2004, with the last one being my best at 4:06. I have not been able to better this at all in 2005 despite having more time to train. Los Angeles 2005 was not about me as much as it was about helping my friend Celeste. I got her through 22 miles before she insisted that I leave her behind so I was happy enough with my 4:20 time. NYC was 8 months later. I began seriously training in June and ramped up my weekly mileage to 40-45 miles, an all time high. I thought the higher mileage would translate well into achieving a sub-4 marathon. NYC ended up being a disappointing, near 5 hour marathon. There were many things on race day that I could attribute it to so I just moved on and hoped to redeem myself when I got the chance to run Las Vegas. And still I am no closer. I’m not sure why. Am I doing too many races? Not the right kind of training? My diet hasn’t been as good this year since I could get away with eating pretty much anything I wanted because of all the miles. I have no real desire to run LA again and the budget isn’t going to support travel to another state until at least the second half of 2006. I think I will just take it easy and build up my base and maybe finally try that speed work I keep threatening to do after reading Jeff’s blog.

A big congratulations to the other RBF'rs that ran Vegas as well. I kept a lookout for those orange shirts but never saw any. Now that I've checked your times, I see why. I've only been a blogger for a while but I had been reading your blogs and had wished you all the best. I look forward to reading about your next big adventures whatever they may be.

1 comment:

Brit said...

Darrel! What a bummer that we didn't know to look for you. I'm excited to follow your goal of running in all fifty states. Have you check out the Flying Pig Marathon? In cinncinati? In april I totally want to do it, but since I'll be giving birth in February I don't see it happening in 2006.