AVENGERS SUPER HEROES & LAS VEGAS ROCK ‘N’ ROLL HALF MARATHONS: POST MORTEM
And I’ll be “blogging poetic” about this past weekend for the next week or two, as there are plenty of stories to tell.
It really was the craziest and most fun weekend of racing I’ve ever done.
I’ve already “post mortemed” about my first race of last weekend, the REVEL Canyon City Half Marathon; you can read about it here.
So, here are chapters 2 & 3 of my running trilogy.
AVENGERS SUPER HEROES HALF MARATHON
When I went to sleep Saturday night before the race (more like dropped like a log), I wondered how I’d feel waking up at 3am for the second day in a row, and with potentially (or should I say “probably”) sore muscles from the downhill race I did at REVEL Canyon City.
Turns out, I felt pretty darn good.
My legs didn’t feel sore (I think partly because I spent the whole prior day in my compression socks… thank PRO Compression) and I surprisingly did have a pep in my step.
Clad in my Batman compression running shirt, I took a pre-dawn shuttle to the starting area. On the bus it felt like I was commuting to Justice League headquarters with the rest of the superhero workforce.
I happily met up with some of my running friends: BustA, Alicia, Donielle, Loan, Jamila. All clad as superheroes and ready to run for justice… and pose for pics.
It was great seeing the wide variety of superhero costumes. It was like all of the cosplayers at Comic Con suddenly decided to go for a run together.
As the gun got ready to off, I thought about my plan for the race. Since I was feeling better than expected, I revised my original 2:2 run/walk ratio and decided to stick with the 3:2 that had worked well at REVEL Canyon City. I was hoping again to keep my time around an 11:30 min/mile pace and come in around 2:30.
BANG! And we were off.
Early on, things went exactly as planned (a rarity, I know). A nice leisurely stroll through California Adventure and Disneyland. As we exited the theme parks and made our way onto the streets of Anaheim, I got my first surprise. And it was a good one.
While I had briefly reviewed the course for the race, I (wrongly) assumed it would be almost identical to the Disneyland Half Marathon route, which I particularly didn’t think was too stupendous. Turns out, the middle portion of the race took us through a different part of Anaheim. It was a nice change of pace and a better route.
Then the big surprise of the race hit us all in the face… literally and repeatedly.
It got windy. Really windy. Stupid windy.
It seems the Santa Ana winds decided to pay the half marathon an unwelcome visit. The winds (which reached 35mph at certain points), kicked up dust, blew over mile markers and slowed down the crowd. It does seem funny how winds almost always seem to be headwinds. I even had to turn my cap around to keep it from getting blown off my head.
I felt really good during the run as I kept to my pace and just enjoyed the scenery. There was a lot more hi-fiving than normal for me on this race, including a great stretch around mile 6 where a huge group of superhero-themed costumed fans lined the streets.
Hi-fives for justice, y’all!
After a run through Angel Stadium (and an appearance on the jumbotron) we turned back toward Disney and for a brief moment the wind direction shifted and it turned into a nice tailwind.
Over the last few miles I felt so energized I picked my pace up a bit, making sure though not to push it too hard (still many miles to go before I sleep).
In the end I finished with a 2:27:11 time, running about an 11:06 min/mile pace.
Race number two of three for the weekend was in the books.
But no time to rest. After a quick shower and raiding of the breakfast buffet back at the hotel, Lindy and I made our way to LAX for the final leg of the adventure.
LAS VEGAS ROCK ‘N’ ROLL HALF MARATHON
The flight to Vegas turned out to be a tad more stressful than planned, thanks to a silly delay on the tarmac (expect a follow-up post on this dilemma).
Basically we arrived at our hotel a mere 60 minutes before the scheduled start of the race… and I still had to get dressed in my running garb and pick up my bib.
So, no rest or food for the weary. Nor did I have a chance to meet up with my running friends (many of whom were also doing all three races along with me).
I quickly tossed on my gear and scarfed down a Honey Stinger wafer as Lindy and I ran down to the start area to grab my bib.
After giving Lindy a quick smooch goodbye (she was incredibly supportive and patient the entire weekend) I found myself in the start corral just about 20 minutes before the gun went off.
I did my best to stretch, but the cumulative effect of the two past races (and a flight in between) were starting to take their toll. I could feel that my legs were less limber than at Disney and my quads were a bit sore. But I felt confident that I’d loosen up as the race progressed (or at least I tricked myself into being confident).
I decided to stay with the 3:2 run/walk ratio, again hoping to come in around 2:30. Of course I also knew that my only pre-planned goal for this race was to finish.
BANG! And I took off down the Vegas strip with over 28,000 other runners.
BTW, my starting song on my music mix for the race was “Viva Las Vegas.”
Running the Las Vegas strip at night is a pretty sweet experience as you’ve got plenty of eye candy to look at: casino exteriors, signage, electronic billboards.
Not to mention the sidewalks crowded with cheering fans.
You could easily spend your time checking out which artist is coming soon to the Mirage or how cheap the buffet is at Treasure Island. Oh, and there are a lot of wedding chapels on the strip. A lot.
But I did my best to keep my eyes focused on the road ahead (and looking out for potholes, it was nighttime after all).
I started feeling the first tinges of fatigue around mile 5. Normally that would be a cause for concern, but seeing as how that was mile 34 of 39.3 for the weekend, I wasn’t worrying. I had expected to feel fatigue far earlier in the weekend.
At mile 7 I got my glitch for the race as my Garmin suddenly showed a “low battery” warning. Since the trip to Vegas took longer than expected, I hadn’t had a chance to juice it up a bit at the hotel.
I accepted the fact that I might have to finish the race without my pacing guide. I figured I’d use my music as cues to when to run and when to walk (or just listen to my body).
Fortunately, the GPS had enough juice left in it to go the distance.
By mile 9 we had made our U-turn and were heading back up the strip, which was a good thing because I was starting to hurt.
And some careless dude banged into me, causing one of my water bottles to drop off of my fuel belt.
I decided I didn’t want to waste the energy to turn around and go back for it. Thanks water bottle; you will be missed (okay, I’ve got about a half dozen spares in my closet).
I checked my GPS to see that my pace had slipped a bit and I was in danger of not finishing under 2:30. I know I really shouldn’t have cared at that point about my time, but I wanted to give myself a final goal. I kept on moving.
It was around mile 12 of the race that both of my feet started to hurt… badly. I think they had just about had enough for the weekend.
I bit down on my lip, cranked up my iPod as high as it would go (11 maybe) and decided I would not look at my GPS again until I crossed the finish line. I kept on moving.
And there was the finish line. The final finish line.
With about 200 yards to go, I popped out my headphones so I could listen to the crowd (and my heavy breathing).
As I stepped over the finish line I stopped my GPS and gave it a glance… 2:29:55 (turns out my official time was 2:29:45).
Here’s the digits:
And like that, my trifecta of races was finished.
Okay, not quite… I still had to walk all of the way from the Mirage to the Luxor in the cold (that kinda sucked).
But once I got to the Luxor, my trifecta of races was finished.
I was sore. I was tired. I was sweaty. But…
I had done it. I had run 3 half marathons in two different states in 33 hours.
After a shower and quick burger at a casino restaurant (and almost falling asleep at the table), I crawled into bed and think I was asleep before my head hit the pillow.
I don’t know for certain, but I would have wagered heavily that I had a big grin on my face.
It was Vegas after all.
P.S.- Reviews of the individual races to come in the next few days