Rock N Roll Las Vegas Marathon 2013 Review.
I arrived in Las Vegas on Wednesday afternoon after a 11 hour flight from Gatwick.
I immediately felt at home in Vegas with this beautiful view from my hotel room.
Since I had 4 days before the marathon race itself, I decided to have a lot of fun until it was time to properly prepare for race-day.
I went casinoing.
I went Chinese fooding.
I arrived back at my hotel at sunrise for views like this still sloppy drunk.
On Friday I visited the expo as the Las Vegas convention centre. I found it by chance after wondering aimlessly around the north side of the Strip clutching a can of Mike’s Harder Lemonade.
Normally I hate expos as they tend to be a cynical ploy to convince you to buy items what you don’t need. The Rock N Roll Las Vegas expo wasn’t like that. I retrieved my race number and swag back within 10 minutes of entering the building.
This left me enough time to go through to the Merchandise section and buy a race belt along with some gels.
After the exposition, I ventured down to the Bijou casino on Fremont Street were they gave me Mardi Gras beads on entry.
They also served drinks that were this size.
I lost 15 dollars on a penny slot machine and left the Downtown area in a foul mood. I thought I’d cheer myself up by buying a fetching purple wig.
I wore it and the Mardi Gras beads whilst walking through the ghetto between Fremont Street and the Stratosphere.
To say I was scared was an understatement. Drug addicts were yelling incoherently at me in fast food restaurant car-parks.
I didn’t know if they wanted my body or my blood.
Fortunately I made it to the Stratosphere Tower without being attacked.
The view from the tower was well worth the trauma.
Pre race buildup.
Even though I was a little hungover after all of the cocktails, the build up to the race on Sunday was incredible. I sat in my hotel room watching the runners gather at the start village in the distance as the Strip became quieter and quieter.
My choice of pre running food was a stash of peanut butter based goods that were delicious at the time but in hindsight probably made me a little too bloated.
Since the race didn’t begin until 4:30pm I had plenty of time to mentally prepare myself for the run.
Nothing could go wrong this time…
Shortly before I left the hotel for the start of the race I took this little Vine video of the Strip scanning down towards the village.
The race started in the Luxor car park and the atmosphere was electric. I teared up a little at the rendition of the Star Spangled Banner even though I think national anthems are for dickheads.
It was just a beautiful noise for the sake of a beautiful noise.
Through the wave start it took us around 15 minutes to cross the starting line which isn’t so bad for such a big race.
Besides, the weather was beautiful. It wasn’t like Edinburgh where I nearly drowned whilst waiting at the start.
There was no wind, the temperature was perfect and the sunset was very pretty.
Then someone fired a gun and we were off.
We started out on the first mile running to the airport in darkness. There were precious few lights about and I had to mind my step very carefully in case I collided with someone.
From the start I was aiming for a 9:45 min/mile and was quite frustrated that I couldn’t achieve that pace in the first mile.
Hitting the Strip
The next 5 miles were much better and arguably the highlight of the race for me. We ran through the Strip and it was a great experience. Holding to my pace wasn’t a problem. All was going well.
I became excited at the thought of yet another personal best if I continued on in this way.
I came straight back down to earth after Fremont Street where we hit a very dark patch of the course.
There were precious few spectators out to watch. The streets were eerily silent.
For the first time in the run my inner negativity gained momentum.
At mile 10 disaster struck. I didn’t mind my step and stumbled up a hill and immediately felt a pain surge on my upper left leg close to my hip.
I knew that I’d messed something up in my leg and that all chances of a new best time had disappeared with one clumsy misstep.
I focused on simply finishing.
It was disheartening for everything to go to shit so early on but I had to remain positive.
From miles 11 to 20 I kept consistently to a 11:30 minute mile pace. I knew if I kept to this I would finish under the 5 hour cut off point.
I couldn’t shake off the thought that I was gonna miss the last cut off point, thereby travelling 5,500 miles to be picked on a bus by an impatient idiot who wanted to clear the road of all Angry Joggers.
I’d failed. I’d messed up. I’d misjudged my preparations and was now paying for my cavalier attitude towards race fuelling over the past week.
There probably is such a thing as the wall but it’s in my mind.
From miles 20 onward I relied on the crowd and other runners to pull through.
It might sound cheesy, but I started to talk more to the people around me and I felt immediately better.
Out of nowhere my legs and heart alike soared.
Coming back into Fremont Street I was running at around an 8:40 pace. It was incredible.
The best moment was hearing Dancing In The Dark blasting down the Fremont Street Experience.
I wanted to take everyone on. I started running on the wrong section of the road to show that no-one-on-Earth-could-stop-me-right-now!!!!
Then I was overtaken by the 4:40 pacer at 23 and my heart sank again.
I should have paced myself properly whilst my energy levels were so high.
I was back to a death crawl and my head dropped again.
Mind was raging with negative thoughts.
I reflected on my extravagance over the past 5 nights and compared myself unfavourable to Nicholas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas but without the lolz or the hookers.
Finishing what I’d started.
I don’t know how I finished, but I did. I just kept moving forward. I knew that if I kept heading in the right direction I’d reach where I needed to go.
I finished in 4:44:55 which is my 3rd best marathon time, but 21 minutes slower than Dublin 4 weeks ago.
When I crossed the finishing line, one of the volunteers was alarmed by the condition I was in.
He tried taking me into his tent for first aid, but I’ve seen how that ends in porn movies.
I was already stumbling around like I was sporting a perforated asshole. I didn’t need anyone else to feel worse.
I stumbled through the finishing area, picked up a Gatorade, a Michelob and most importantly my medal.
Walking back to my hotel after the finish
After finishing the race I hobbled back from the Mirage to my hotel New York, New York which took well over an hour to walk the 0.5 mile.
I tried walking up the centre of the Strip to avoid the pain of the walkways but I got yelled at by the cops.
At this point Las Vegas Blvd South was like something out of a zombie movie.
Runners were staggering down the road not looking for brains, but for some respite from the discomfort.
I was in no mood for partying that night.
I just went to bed feeling sorry for myself for having failed.
I’m toying with the idea of doing the Rock N Roll Las Vegas Marathon again next year.
Originally I thought about doing the half marathon instead so that I could enjoy the race atmosphere a bit more.
But screw that idea.
I want to work on my marathoning so that it becomes easier.
I’m not backing down.
I might have put on 8 pounds over the course of the 10 days, but I’m getting back on track now.
There is no better time to set things right than now.
Marathon number 6 might have been painful but it was by far my most memorable so far.
I will come back stronger from this.