I took the earliest flight out to Las Vegas on Saturday morning. The excitement meant I slept very little.
I'm Vegas bound. Anyone know how to make the plane go faster?
— Eric DiPietro (@EricDiPietro) November 15, 2014
My flight did actually land a little early and I caught a shuttle to my hotel. I was staying at the New York New York. I had paid for early check-in and after dealing with a desk clerk who had a bit of attitude, I was finally able to get my room. I brought my suitcases to the room and settled in a little bit and texted Anne to see if she had gone to the expo yet. She had not so I met up with her at the Paris and she wanted to walk to the convention center, which was a couple miles away, since it was her first time in Vegas. I obliged and thought so much for saving the legs.
The expo was super crowded, but the line to pick up my bib was short. I then headed over to solutions since I had originally registered for the half and had since decided to upgrade to the full. The was a small line and soon I had my new bib. There was no cost for the switch since both races had the same registration fees. I found Anne and we looked at the gear and decided not to get anything after seeing the lines. We then struggled to get out of the expo with all the crowds. I caught the monorail back to MGM and Anne headed to Fremont St to use a Travelzoo voucher. I told her Fremont was more fun at night, but she was determined to go anyways. I let her know what to look for and she seemed excited by the prospect of an actual coney dog.
I grabbed some lunch and a cat nap then met up with Mo, Jakre, and Anne at the Venetian for a beer. Anne had dinner plans so Mo, Jakre, and I decided to head over to the Monte Carlo to use food credit we had got from MyVegas. We decided on D. Vino since carbs. The Italian restaurant was actually very good. I got a starter of meatballs, chicken parmesan, an extra side of parmesan baked potatoes, and a beer and still had a couple dollars left in credit. We left feeling fat and happy. We headed back to New York New York and I finally did some gambling. I lost of course. Soon it was back to the room to sleep.
The next day I met back up with Mo and Jakre and we grabbed brunch. I wound up getting chicken and waffles which may not be the optimal pre-race choice, but I knew I wasn't running for my fastest time. After lunch I spent a little more time feeding the machines before going back to my room to mellow out. Soon I was getting ready for the race. It's so odd having a 4:30PM start time. I met Mo over at MGM and we walked over from there. It wasn't a long walk. We avoided the pre-race concert area featuring Macklemore and I hit the facilities. We found our corral and a curb to sit on. Mo noticed that nearly all the marathoners were on the curb while the half people were bouncing around. After the usual pre-race announcements the race started. We were in corral 8 and off about 10 minutes after the gun.
The early miles were slow and crowded. I stayed relaxed and knew we were ok. It was far too early to be weaving. I told Mo that we would be just fine with the slow start. All the way around the Welcome to Las Vegas sign and back up the strip we went. I felt some twinges of soreness in my quads and was secretly in a panic. I had promised Mo I would get her to sub 4:00 and now I was worried I may have to drop out if things got worse. By the 10K mark Mo had remarked that it felt like we were flying but we were barely keeping around a 9 min/mile mark. I was a little relieved that it wasn't just me struggling. We pushed on and in the dark streets between the Strip and Fremont Mo was contemplating dropping to the half. Remarkably my legs had begun to feel better and my outlook had improved. I told her do what she needed, but I committed to becoming a maniac.
Mo stuck with me as the half marathoners split off. She was going to run the whole thing even if she needed to walk a bit. She told me to not worry and take off it I wanted. I wasn't ready to yet. I also really had to use the restroom by this point. We got to run under the canopy on Fremont and it was the most amazing and surreal experience ever. The canopy is like a giant TV screen and was playing some patriotic video. We had a roped off path right down the middle and people were on either side cheering us on and giving out high 5s like crazy. Once past Fremont things quieted down drastically. We hit an aid station around mile 10 or so and I finally was able to use the restroom. I told Mo to just keep going and I would catch up. I was serious about really having to go. I pee'd for a good 90 seconds according to the break on my Garmin. Once done I was relieved and high-tailed it to catch up to Mo. I did finally get back to her around the 11.5 mile mark. I was worried that I would be paying for running just under an 8 min/mile pace for around a mile would kill me later on. We stuck together for the next half mile and I regained my composure. At mile 12 Mo was ready to walk and sent me to run my own race. I hit the halfway point in 1:58:25 which was a bit slower than NYC.
The next few miles were a bit of a blur. I ran well for a couple miles then inexplicably struggled for a couple. After the turnaround I started to run well again and realized why - we had been going uphill. I kept cruising and reeling in other runners. I passed a lot of runners in the 2nd half and things were going better than expected. We got to run back through Fremont street where you would of thought we were running onto the field for the Superbowl. One guy gave me a pretty hard high 5 that stung my hand. Once past Fremont we were once again sent into the abyss. The course would not rejoin with the half runners until around the 24.5 mile mark. Even then we had dividers. The course until then was dark and only had a few runners. I tried to cheer some of them up when we only had 5K to go. Somewhere around this point I realized I had a chance at doing a negative split and picked up the pace a bit. I gritted through a bit of pain, but the energy came back as we were back in the glow of neon. I was so thankful that the 26 mile marker came late. A short sprint later and I was finished. The 2nd half was 1:56:34. My overall time was 3:54:59. I achieved my sub 4:00 trifecta.
The finishing chute was another marathon in itself. I fought through slow walkers and stoppers to get my medal. I collected a blanket, water, gatorade, and milk on my way through. People kept stopping all over to text or take pictures. It was obvious there were a lot of first time runners since they weren't very good with etiquette. I had trouble all the way back to my hotel. I was amused when we hit the stairs for the pedestrian bridge and the escalators weren't working. I've never heard so many people groan at once. I did finally get back to my hotel and started texting everyone to see how they were doing and if they finished. Anne wound up crossing 90 seconds in front of me since her corral of the half started far after mine and Mo. Mo crossed around 20 minutes after me. After a shower and some rest I met up with Mo, Jakre, and Jessie at Wolfgang Puck's at MGM for a well earned - and late - dinner.
There was much celebrating and fun after, but that will be a different post.
5 Weeks, 3 Sub 4:00s, Marathons 2,3, and 4
Chicago - 10/12/14 - 3:49:51
NYC - 11/2/2014 - 3:55:55
LV - 11/16/2014 - 3:54:49