The walk from Caesar’s Palace to Mandalay Bay was just short of 2 miles. I just looked that up, pretty sure I thought it was more like 1 mile. We would later learn that parking that far away was a bad decision.
The strip was filling up with runners, mostly full marathoners because the full marathon start time was at 4pm and the half was at 5:30pm. I focused on staying calm while we slowly worked our way to Mandalay Bay and the start. I peed and we got into our corral just a few minutes before 4pm. P and I were originally going to be in corral 9 with a projected finish time of 4:20, but all of our training runs told us we would be moving faster than that, so we moved up to corral 2 at the expo which was a very fast group. We just planned on doing our best and staying on the right and out of everyone’s way. I looked for HRM and SR but couldn’t spot them at the start. I did see HRM at one of the out and backs, she looked WAY focused and hardcore.
The first 13 miles were eh. I am SO happy P and I brought our iPods because the music was TERRIBLE. Rock and Roll letdown #1 of many. Seriously, death metal? Dubstep playlist saved the day again. I kept one ear bud out so that I could chat with P for most of the race. He kept running FAST, like an 8:40 pace and I would try to slow us back down to a 9:15, so our pace crept up and down during the first half. The fast runners around us were a great motivation. I did the mental check of “Can I run this pace for the next 4 hours?” and kept thinking “yes”. I knew miles 17-26 would be where any issues would arise, but focused on staying positive.
The merge. I’m sure everyone has read about this fiasco. I want to say outright that this was my first marathon. I love the half marathon, I think that anyone who was out there in the cold pushing through 13.1 or 26.2 miles is a certified badass. I don’t care if you walked the whole thing, good job. I do, however, feel like many people are unaware of the rules of running, one being if you are moving slower stay as far right as possible. It was pretty terrible. My arms and chest are covered in bruises from getting elbowed by all of the tall people ;-). In a weird way though, the frustration and anger distracted me and I was able to weave my way through the mess with P. We did a lot of running up on the sidewalk, in the gutter, through planters. Somehow I added on a full quarter of a mile to the race course. I agree with SR, the race should be capped at 25k participants.
The last 13 miles were basically up and back down the strip and the crowd and Vegas lights kept my mind off of everything. I ate 10 Clif Shotbloks (all caffeinated) and 1 chocolate Gu total, 3 Shotbloks were before the start and the rest intermittently throughout the race. I tried to drink water every mile or so. The caffeine was giving me weird energy surges that felt horrible. I was so jittery and my stomach was pissed from mile 10 or so onward. I kept eating the gels because I was scared to stop.
From mile 18 on, I only focused on finishing strong. My mind was full of the thoughts of everyone I ran for, I gave myself many pep talks, I checked in with Phil. I felt weird. My mental energy stayed good, but my body was getting achy. My eyes were sleepy (does that make sense?) and I REALLY just wanted that sub-4 at this point. I knew OUaL was somewhere around mile 24 and I really hoped I would see her, I needed the pick me up. My brain was totally zapped I couldn’t do the math to figure out if we would make it in under 4. My Garmin was a full .2 miles ahead of the mile markers so I was super confused.
I spotted OUaL and her and Emily screamed and cheered me on. I seriously almost cried. We were so close.
P and I pushed HARD for the last 2-3 miles. I misread the finish and sprinted in to the finisher’s “area” and still had another 200+ yards to go when I rounded the turn. We finished as hard as I could and ran under the clock at 3:59xx. I forgot to stop my Garmin until 3-4 minutes later, I was so done. Honestly, I have NEVER felt such incredible happiness mixed with pain in my life. Wobbly legs, my lungs felt like they were on fire, my stomach was a crampy mess and my feet hurt. I could tell that there were other marathoners feeling similarly so I just kept moving forward. I opted out of the photobooth, the food and only sipped on half of a water bottle. Race crew members kept asking me if I was ok and I just nodded and kept walking. I was cold. I wanted a shuttle and I thought I might be throwing up at any minute.
We never found the shuttles, it started to rain and P and I walked to the monorail, took it to Imperial Palace and then walked back to our car. I stopped at New York New York and was sick… figures. 3 hours after we finished we made it back to our hotel. Our official time was 3:58:42. SO FREAKING HAPPY! I think that my good luck charm Wall-E was what carried us through. P snuck him into the CamelBak as a surprise for me.
I wanted to go out and celebrate, but I was toast. I called my Dad, sent out texts and googled about nausea/illness after a marathon. Everything said I was dehydrated and probably just needed food/water. Sabrina saved the day with her local knowledge again.
I wanted salty so we went to sushi. I chowed on some chicken teriyaki and the food and water definitely helped. Kaizen is amazing if you are in Vegas anytime soon, and it’s open until 3am.
In all reality Vegas lost its sparkle really fast for me. I would go back again for a weekend because the food and shopping is great, but I doubt I will run this race next year. For over $100 I feel like I can get so much more and I would rather go to a new city for my next RACEcation. The Rock and Roll Race Series are supposed to be amazing, well organized and fun. I was pretty disappointed in the organization, but because of the amazing people and P being there with me for this experience I had an incredible weekend.
We wrapped up our trip on Monday with lunch at Holsteins Shakes and Buns (I tried P’s burger and it was OMG quite possibly my fav) with Sabrina, a Yogurtland sub-4 celebration and a long drive home.
Will I run another marathon? I think so. I never hit a wall, I kept all of my toenails and it was really fun to run for that long.
Has anyone else dealt with post-race stomach issues? Is there any way to avoid this?