Saturday, December 17, 2011

Las Vegas - Better Late Then Never ...

I feel bad that it's taken me so long to throw up a blog post about this. But it is what it is.  And as a mother for 4 children, a wife, a full time employee with 9 kids at work, and Christmas on the horizon I've been one busy woman!  With that being said hello ??  ... I ran my first half marathon!!!  And it was


It was a girls trip.  My BF Rebecca and I were headed to Vegas on a 4pm flight.  We arrived at the airport with PLENTY of time to spare.  I had rented a couple movies on my new Kindle Fire I received for my birthday the week before so I was set.  The flight went well and next thing we knew we were pulling our bags off the carousel and headed to our hotel in a taxi.  We were staying at the Excalibur .. turns out it was the first of many very good decisions we made.  As soon as we were checked in to the hotel we quickly headed over to the Expo to pick up our packets. This was the biggest expo we had ever been to.  While I thought it was kind of cool it was also kind of a drag that we were there right at the end.  I would have liked a decent t-shirt to commemorate the race but all they had left were the smallest sizes.  While I don't consider myself a large girl the shirts were short and medium just didn't feel long enough.  The one I ended up getting definitely wouldn't have been my first choice either.  Oh well .. live and learn. 

So we were in the 32nd corral.  Unlike SO MANY other race participants we were registered in the correct corral.  In fact we actually erred on the side of caution and registered for a slower pace than we were hoping we might be able to pull out.  Seriously there were 44,000 runners .. that's SO many!

I thought these were really cute!

I'm excited!

Gosh I wish my body looked like this.

I thought it was kind of cool to see one of my hometown races represented at the expo too.

We walked through the whole expo, bought a couple of stickers and just kept moving.  When we finished we decided to grab a quick bite to eat before making our way back towards our hotel.  This was it.  A delicious Philly Chicken Sandwich.  So good.  With water.  Did you know that most places in Vegas serve Pepsi products?  It was seriously hard to come by a Diet Coke anywhere!

We then headed back over to the Mandalay Bay.  There was a blogger meet up there.  We didn't feel like we had enough time to go back to the hotel to change clothes so we were still in the stuff we'd worn on the plane with our race packets in tow a well.  When we found the lounge we took a peek inside and I didn't recognize anyone.  So I guess all in all you could say I chickened out and we headed back to our room.  I felt underdressed and I am terrible meeting new people.  The lack of a familiar face was just enough to tip me to not go.  I know .. I know .. I suck.  There's a small part of me that wishes I had stepped out of my comfort zone. But really I felt like these lovely ladies would have looked at me and my small town blog and thought .. WHO ARE YOU??!!

It was good though.  We headed back to our room and got off our feet.  Went through our goodies from the expo .. tried on our snazzy new headbands.

Then we went straight to bed.  It had been a long day.  The next morning was race day and we had a pretty good plan.  Once we were up and moving (I slept in but not too too late) we headed downstairs to the buffet for some breakfast.  We ended up buying an all day all you can eat deal.  We knew we wouldn't be going anywhere before the race so we figured it would work out well to come back at lunch time.  And the plan was also to go straight there after we raced.  So this was the first big decision of the day .. what to eat.  I didn't want to eat anything weird but I also knew that this would be my only big meal before running.  So I took a gamble with some eggs benedict.  It was tasty and thank goodness it all sat very well with me the rest of the day.  Another cool thing Rebecca noticed was a couple people who came to the beverage area and filled up their water bottles.  The night before we had both purchased a big bottle of water from the hotel for $5.  Kind of spendy when I knew I needed at least one or two more that day.  We knew the water out of the soda machine would be filtered and so I waited at the table while Rebecca ran up to our room to get water bottles.  We also drank lots of Gatorade out of the soda machine as well.  It couldn't have worked out any better.

Once we loaded up on water and Gatorade we headed straight back to our room to get off our feet. That was the plan.  Laze around the room all afternoon and rest our legs.  I had also brought with me my travel Scrabble game that my brother gave me for my birthday.

We laid with our race gear laid out.

My race bib!

My very first pair of real running shoes. I actually laid off on the miles on
these babies just to save them for race day. I only ran my long runs in them.

So at 2pm we decided to run down to the buffet for a quick and light lunch.  We both ate pretty bland carb heavy foods.  Some mashed potatoes, a bread roll, more water.  But we didn't eat a lot at all.  Just enough to hold us over until dinner.

We had originally planned to wear matching outfits.  Well turns out Vegas was much colder than I had anticipated with the wind factor.  At the very last minute when packing I had thrown in a 3/4 zip long sleeve pull over and I was SOOO glad I did.  I also bought my very first Lululemon purchase the week before, these capri's.  They have pockets on the front of the legs and I can't even tell you handy it was to have those!  I stuffed my fuel in there and once we got running my gloves went in there too.

Here I am ready to go!
I have to say in the end I had the PERFECT amount of clothes.
I had my beanie and gloves, as well as my calf compression sleeves.
I wasn't too hot and I wasn't too cold.

And so we headed over to the Mandalay Bay on foot.  Like I said, we were so glad to have stayed so close. We were only 2 hotels away which meant we could walk there and back.  It was an easy walk over there but once we arrived .. well it was kind of a madhouse. There were a lot of people and they were all huddled inside to keep warm.  We intentionally didn't bring any bag to check so we were lucky to avoid what was reported as horrible bag check lines and the such.  We headed outside to see what was going on.

The rest of my pictures are all from my phone .. so excuse the blur.

Rebecca had been suffering from some serious knee issues in the last few weeks of training.  Her longest run had been eight miles.  We were going to start the race together and the plan was to run together for as long as possible.  Soon after we arrived outside we had time for a few pictures and then they were directing runners to head to their corrals.  So off we went.  We didn't make any more last minute trips to the honey buckets.  Our plan had been to fuel once as we got ready to start the race, then again at mile 4, 8 and 12.  We were both carrying our own fuel.  This again proved to be a good choice.  I hadn't every tried any GU's on my training runs so there was no way I was going to try it for the first time at the race.  We were both also running with our handheld water bottles.  Another FABULOUS choice.  I had run many of my training runs with my handheld in order to really get used to it.  I was so glad that I had. I made one last minute change and switched to a smaller bottle.  Looking back I think that I probably would have preferred my big one, only because it would have saved me one slow down for a refill.  I had also cut in half some of my Camelback Elixir's before the trip so that I could drop them in my water when I refilled during the race.  Another really good choice. 

This picture really doesn't do it justice but I was trying to capture the number of people lined up.

They were supposed to be releasing corrals every two minutes.  Since we were so far in the back this meant that our actual start should have been about an hour later than the race start time.  It was so slow moving and first and it sucked to be so far in the back. Well then we just started walking and walking and there was no stopping.  Well apparently they had given up on the corral starts and just let everyone go.  Well this was good for us as far as we were cold and so ready to get started but then again I don't think it helped the crowding situation.  As anyone who reads this will probably know this was my first half marathon and I had trained very diligently for it.  Once we crossed the starting line it was .. well .. interesting.  We spent a good part of the first mile focusing very heavily on making sure we didn't trip over peoples discarded clothes.  I get the whole "throw away" aspect.  But man .. it sucked that they were in the MIDDLE of the road.  Secondly, there we SO MANY PEOPLE.  We were in the first mile and people were walking and jogging MUCH slower than a 12:30 pace.

And so it began and continued for the entire race, weaving around walkers and slower joggers.  I seriously have no problem with people who do a walk/run method of this distance at all. BUT and this is a big BUT .. they should be walking on the far far right and allowing other people to run.  This did not happen the entire race and that sucked more than anything else.  It was exhausting trying to constantly get around people.  And since I registered for the correct corral and clearly these folks didn't and it downright pissed me off.  There were people walking very casually 3 and 4 people across shoulder to shoulder.  You literally couldn't get around people and so it was very hard to hit a stride at all.  And so it went. I tended to take the lead and weave, Rebecca would be just behind me.  Then we'd run side my side for a minute and weave some more.  Rinse and repeat for 9 miles.  The course was fun. I loved running down the middle of the Las Vegas Strip .. I mean seriously does it get any cooler than that?  The small bit (or at least it looked small on the course map) where we ran through some of the back roads was okay.  Although it did seem to go on forever, the back roads that is.  We fueled during all the miles we had planned to.  When running through the water stations I swear it sounded like horses running with all the cups dropping.  The ground was just covered in them.  And you had to be careful not to slip on one.  Rebecca and I both refilled out water bottles using the water provided on the course and neither one of us got sick at all.  I can't speak for the flavor of the water because I used my Elixir tablets.  I felt so good and strong the entire time.  There was never a point that I felt like I needed to walk and I NEVER walked.  Not through water stations, never.  Once we hit Mile 9 Rebecca needed to slow down.  She needed to save gas to finish.  So I forged ahead.  As I ran into Mile 10 I knew I had plenty of gas and so I kicked it up a little.  I think that I enjoyed my return trip better than the trip out.  It wasn't until these last few miles that the crowd thinned out.  The full on walkers were way in the back by then.  And we were no longer being yelled at by people on bikes, "Full on the left, Half on the right!!"  Yeah .. I forgot to mention that part.  It was incredibly frustrating!!  I had trained too and there was no reason that I should have been forced into running behind all the walkers just because I was running the half marathon and not the full.  I get the full marathon people were frustrated too .. WE ALL WERE.  But to be constantly yelled at when I wasn't even in the full marathon lane was a little insulting.  And to listen to the folks on the bikes doing the yelling joking to each other about how they don't care what people think .. well .. it was just rude.

And then there it was .. the finish line.  I finished strong.  Weaved around all the walkers in the finishing chute.  Again .. super annoying.  And I may have bumped a few shoulders pushing there at the end to maintain my pace.  But


I couldn't have been more proud of myself. It didn't bother me that much that there weren't any friends or family there at the end to celebrate with.  I collected my finishers medal, which apparently I'm lucky to have gotten because they RAN OUT!  Headed straight over to get a space blanket.  I tied it around me and I was instantly warm. I pulled my gloves out of my pants pocket and put them on and I was just fine.  While I was waiting for Rebecca to finish I headed over and got a bagel to munch on and some more fluids.  It was definitely a madhouse. SO many people milling about.

Here was a picture looking back right after I crossed the finish line.

My text picture to my family telling them I finished.

I eventually caught up with Rebecca.  She too managed to run the entire way!  She was so happy and excited .. we both were.  Here are my official results:

Time:  2:45:05
Pace:  12:36
Overall:  22051 our of 33123
Age Group:  2635 out of 4173
Gender:  12659  out of 21051

Mile 1:  13:41, HR 140
Mile 2:  12:53, HR 148
Mile 3:  12:40, HR 152
Mile 4:  12:27, HR 154
Mile 5:  12:23, HR 158
Mile 6:  12:45, HR 156  (we stopped for water here)
Mile 7:  12:17, HR 157
Mile 8:  13:10, HR 157
Mile 9:  12:41, HR 159
Mile 10:  12:11, HR 166 (this is where we split off and I headed on alone)
Mile 11:  11:53, HR 168
Mile 12:  11:24, HR 171
Mile 13:  11:00, HR 174
Mile 13.1:  11:24, HR 179

I'm really really pleased with my overall negative splits.  Especially all that gas I still had once we split off and I picked up the pace.  Overall .. I guess I'm just pretty proud of myself.  I ran a very smart race. I started slow, I fueled really well, I hydrated really well .. I guess I just feel like I played it really safe and didn't make any major amateur mistakes.  Yeah .. without all the walkers I could have run a faster race.  I know in the future that while I want to start out slow I probably don't need to start out that slow.  I know that my training worked. I stuck to the plan and there was no cheating and it paid off.

In retrospect, after the race it sucked .. everything they said about the Mandalay Bay and trying to get through there was true. It was awful.  Once we finally made it back to our hotel there were very limited choices as far as somewhere to get dinner and we were definitely hungry.  We ended up and Baja Fresh and they had closed by the time we finished eating, so we lucked out.  We went back to our room that night and started reading the onslaught of all the Facebook comments saying how awful the whole event was.  I don't deny there were a lot of improvements to be made.  It's a shame that for my first half marathon I experienced what has been labeled as a disaster of a race.  However, to an extent I think people are blaming way more on the race than is fair.  All the people getting sick .. I dunno what to say. I drank at least 36 ounces of water that came from the race course during the race.  I did not get sick. However, I also didn't party the night before and managed my pre-race behaviors well.  I think there's a lot to be said for those things.  I think it was an easy way for people to blame the race organizers for perhaps some bad choices they personally made along the way.  That includes people complaining about being sick because of the cold .. etc. 

I am so glad I did the race.  Rebecca and I had such a fun girls weekend.  I'm on the fence about whether I would do another Rock 'n Roll Event.  Besides all the obvious chaos I wasn't impressed with the music. I would much rather hear bands doing cover songs than their own.  Literally one mile in I put my earphones in because the music just sucked.  Many of the bands we passed weren't even playing, they just had music coming from speakers.  It was a disappointment because I LOVE music.  But I would be much more motivated by great songs that I know, rather than songs by bands that haven't even made a name for themselves yet.

So yes .. it was awesome and even with all the bad stuff I'm so glad we did it!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Trotting Like a Turkey

At the last minute .. we're talking a couple days before we registered for a Turkey Trot.
I had 5 miles on my training plan for Thanksgiving.
Something told me this would be the best way to ensure I did some running.
I am still amazed that in less than a year I've gone from thinking, my 5K goal was to run the whole way.
No walking.  That was it.

And now, in less than a year I think about 3.1 miles and I think EASY.

Well sort of.

Anyway .. I digress.
Registered for my first ever Turkey Trot.
Running with my husband, brother and sister in law, and her parents.
However, at 6:30am on Thanksgiving morning it really wasn't feeling like my best idea ever!

Rachel, Evan, myself, Jeramie, Laurie, Mark

Woke up to this pretty sunrise.

And my brother surprised me with these bad boys.
Look at them sexy Howard legs!!!

Jeramie and Evan.  Always good for a laugh.

 He doesn't run with me often.  But it's fun when he does.
I'm still trying to turn him into a runner.

Do you know what I hate about race photos?
Because races are always first thing in the morning I never have any make-up on.
My face looks dead to me!!!

Race day outfit.  With my turkey legs!

So on to the results!
The BEST thing about this race was that my brother was running.
He's I dunno .. 6 foot 4 inches or something like that.
AND he's 11 years my junior.

He was my rabbit!!

Since I haven't been doing any speed training at all I wasn't really sure how hard I could push it.
And I had no intention of pushing it too hard because I had 1 week of training left before Vegas.
I did not want to injure myself.

My official results:
Time:  28:56.0
#15 in my age group
160 of 1825 women
Pace:  9:20.0
I got a PR without really planning to!!!

Jeramie's results:
Time:  28:55.8
I registered him in the Clydesdale division.
He placed #20.
If he had run in his age group he would have placed #30.

Evan's results:
Time:  28:19.0
#53 in his age group
Pace:  9:08.1

Now considering I'm 11 years older than Evan and 5 years older that Jeramie ...
well I'm feeling really good about my race!!

I have Evan to thank though.
If I wasn't chasing his super short red shorts I wouldn't have run as strong.

And I felt really strong too.  My legs were strong.  My lungs were good.
It was a great run!!