Dec 14, 2006

race report - las vegas marathon, dec 10 - 26.2 miles

I ran my first Marathon on Sunday.. it was a helluva experience.

First let me say that I slacked on my last two months of training (oops) and it sure showed. I ran about half of the marathon, walked the other half. Net time was 6:42:38, 6:57 gross. 508th place out of 521 in my age/sex group, 5651 out of 5903 overall.

The first eight miles went by super-fast. The Las Vegas Strip, a couple of live bands, Blue man Group, Freemont Street - I thought that I was doing great. Then we went up MLK blvd to Smoke Ranch rd, then west to torrey pines road, then south 6 miles. It was about 13 miles of cookie-cutter track homes, with a nasty headwind, no crowd support, and screwed up mile markers (I thought I ran two miles between 11 to 12 and after the race, I found that I was not alone). Very demoralizing. I stopped walked through a water station at mile 12 and didn't start running again until mile 15. The second half of the race was probably about 80% walking. That's mostly a function of superficial training for about 10 weeks prior to the race, but the race conditions didn't help. Once we got to Frank Sinatra Blvd, I was running with a couple of elvi, and we were talking about how the headwind suddenly got strong at the home stretch. I could count that there were only 7 properties to the finish line - Ceasars, Bellagio, Mirage, NYNY, Excalibur, Luxor, and Mandalay Bay. It was great just to tick off the casinos to the finish - much better than trying to count cookie-cutter homes. Anyway, those properties are HUGE!! It was still about three miles, but it went by quickly.

At any rate, I finished, and I was strong at the finish line. At 320 lbs, you can't ask for much more than that. That bus that picks up DNFs kept driving by me, and boy was it tempting. My heart rate on Monday morning when I woke up was 80, 20 beats above normal..

People keep telling me how impressed they are that I finished a marathon. I don't want to take anything away from that, but I've gotta say that I am not happy at all with my performance. I traveled 26 miles in seven hours. Anybody in reasonable health can do what I did, it's just a matter of getting off the couch. So what people are impressed by is that I got off the couch - which I don't really see as particularly significant, regardless of what other people think. I would be a lot happier if I actually ran or jogged the entire distance. I would be a lot happier if I finished under 6 hours. And I could have done that, if I'd not slacked since the Staten Island half-marathon. And that's why I can't be satisfied with what I did - because I didn't do it with the excellence that I set out to do it with.

That's why I am going to run another marathon. Question is - which one?

It won't be the LV marathon again. Maybe it's just growing pains on the part of the organizers, but the screwed up mile markers, non-existent crowd and boring course really have made an impression on me. Those weren't the only problems, however - there was NO food at the finish line, the experience for my wife as a volunteer wasn't great, and there were only about 7000 full-marathon runners out there - which is really thin at the back of the pack. It is also a long way from home, very late in the season (interferes with ski season), and, most of all, I just want to try different things.

There are basically two marathons I'd really love to do: NYC is the first one. I have twice entered the lottery and twice not been picked. The other is Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) in DC. Since they're only a couple of weeks apart, I will not do both of them in the same year. I'd much rather do NYC for obvious reasons. Here's the issue: I have a guaranteed entry form for MCM, which, if I don't turn in by April, I may not be able to get into that race. I can enter the lottery for NYC in February, but I won't hear if I'm picked until June. So I either blow off NYC and plan to do MCM, or I take my chances with NYC, and if I don't get in, try to get into MCM with a normal non-guaranteed entry. If I don't get into either, I'm pretty well screwed. If I go that route and get screwed, there are a couple of alternatives that I may try - Chicago is supposed to be great, and Twin Cities apparently has amazing crowd support. But then you have to travel to get to them, and that just adds up to a pain in the ass.

In any case, I wasn't going to do any running at all this winter - just focus on skiing and relax for a while. But now I'm thinking that I may try to run a few miles once or twice a week, just to maintain some sort of cardiovascular and muscular skeletal fitness - I don't know. I do know that I can't run if I wanted to right now, three days after the race.

Yeah, I'm sore. I did a little light stretching after the race on Sunday, but I had to drive 4 hours to my parents house that evening and really tightened up. On Monday I was a sorry creature, pretty much unable to walk. Tuesday had a lot of improvement, but I was still stiff and I had a particular pain in my left ankle. Wednesday I'm better still, but sore nonetheless. I am not supposed to completely heal for a month, and it may be that long before I attempt to run again.

A couple of notes - Excellent all-you-can-eat sushi was thought to be impossible to come by - but Vegas once again comes through, and not with a touristy place on the strip, but rather a small neighborhood place in the parking lot of a grocery store. Called Sushi-mon, it's not your typical sushi buffet - but rather everything is made to order and you can have just about any item a regular sushi-ya would have. So be sure to go: http://www.sushi-mon.com/

mt charleston is also worth going to. An hour from vegas and just beautiful. Decent restaurant up there, too. Can't wait to go back to hike to the peak.

ok, photos:

Pre-dawn start


Fremont Street


Mile 15? 16?


Mile 19?


Frank Sinatra Drive, Mile 24 (or 25..)


finish line: