I arrived in town very early on Saturday, taking the earliest flight out of Chicago. This is both good and bad since anticipation means I barely sleep on Friday night. I've got the routine down now at the airport and was quickly able to grab my bag and book a shuttle to my hotel. I was staying at the MGM Grand this year which is the largest hotel in Vegas. I got there and waited in a short line before being helped. I splurged on early check-in which normally allows you to check-in at 10AM, but they were kind enough to give me a room a little after 9AM. I headed up and dropped my stuff off before changing and heading down to the workout room for a quick session on the treadmill.
Once Mo and J arrived in town, I headed over to New York - New York to meet up with them were we grabbed lunch at Shake Shack before taking the monorail up to the Expo Center. The Expo for this race is what I would call organized chaos. It's big, noisy, and crowded, but we were able to grab our bibs and shirts without waiting too long. We made a quick stroll through the expo before the crowds got to us. From there we went and explored the SLS as none of us had been there yet before heading to the Linq and TAG Sports Bar for some video poker and craft beers. I set a new PR for the amount of beer drank the day before a marathon. I knew I'd be paying for it, but didn't really care since this wasn't a race I was doing for time.
On Sunday we spent most of the early part of the day at the Time Square Bar sucking down cokes, playing video poker, and watching all the football games. Eventually we headed over to Americas for lunch before I headed back to my room to chill until race time. There's something about a 4:30 PM start that throws you off a bit, but it's nice to have that time to just chill out and take a nap if you want. Soon enough I was getting dressed and making my way down to the start. Along the way I made friends with a couple girls from Milwaukee who were completely at a loss for where to go. Also picked up bits of sound from the Kid Rock concert along the way.
I found Mo waiting near corral 7. I went and used the facilities one last time before we jumped into the corral and waited for the start. There were announcements about having the option to switch to the half if we wanted due to the wind conditions. We looked at each other and were like "huh?" since it didn't seem all that bad out. It wasn't long before we were off and running. We stayed nice and steady early on. Once we looped around the Welcome to Las Vegas sign and headed back north the wind did start to pick up, but it was blowing across instead of directly into our faces. It was blowing a considerable amount of sand at us, but luckily the large casinos blocked most of that.
It wasn't long before we felt a few drops and the sky looked very ominous. We pass by J and Mo's dad on the bridge and I looked foolish for a couple of pictures. Running along the strip early in the race is very crowded, but we made our way along. It wasn't long before the skies opened up and it started raining. Yes, in Las Vegas, during the marathon we experienced rain and it wasn't just a sprinkle either. We kept ticking off the miles at a very steady pace and I let Mo know that if we kept this up we would have her 2nd sub-4 hour marathon. This is when she let me know she wasn't feeling it and was ready to drop down to the half, which she did eventually do.
After the course split I used the facilities as has become tradition as well. I felt better and picked up the pace for a bit. I did notice that the mile marker seemed to be about 0.2 miles off after being fairly on point according to my watch earlier in the race. I cruised along until we hit a steady uphill out and back section where I slow my pace a bit. Once I hit the turnaround ready to enjoy the downhill the wind hit me hard. It would be unrelenting for most the rest of the way to the finish.
The back half of the Vegas course isn't very exciting. They throw some lights up in sections and have some DJs and whatnot, but it doesn't hold the same thrill as running down the strip. I periodically chatted with other runners to help keep the spirits up. My splits slowly faded, but I grew too stubborn to slow to a walk. There was a band that was playing Blitzkrieg Bop around 23.5 that helped get me going again and I pushed my way down the last 3 miles before finishing. The course did wind up being 0.2 miles long as confirmed by other runners so it wasn't just me. I hurt right after finishing since pushing through that brutal wind didn't help at all. I was glad to be done though and the 4:04:53 could have been much much worse.
I'm signed up already for next year and will be ready for redemption.
|Awesome PBR Neon downtown Vegas|
|Sadly I do get hangovers|
|Great local brewery|