I'll recap it tomorrow. But for the moment, I am a 1/2 marathoner. :-)
Here it comes at you, ladies and gentlemen!
We arrived in Vegas about 10:30 a.m. We quickly got off the airplane and headed to the taxi stands. After witnessing someone fall in line due to a seizure, we were able to get in a cab and head to the hotel, Mandalay Bay. We walked into the lobby and it was quite obvious that this was a race mecca of a hotel, which makes sense since it was the starting point for the race. We saw people with gear bags, lots of race shirts, and a few Ironman products. We checked in and were told we were going to be in The Hotel, which is on the Mandalay property, but is an adjacent building. Fine, whatever. We walked through the casino and eventually found our way to our room.
Once in our room, we unpacked slightly and decided to hustle down to the race expo so we could grab our packets. We needed to get in a warm up run and since that's the fastest way to move down the Strip, that's what we did! We took it at a pretty good clip, dodging in and out of people, running up and down stairs to get eventually to the Venetian. After about 20 minutes of running, we were nearly there, so we stopped running and walked from there. We found our way into the Venetian and hustled to the convention center that was towards the back of the hotel. Once there, we split up; T went to her line and I went to mine. She was going to wait; I was the only one in the 14K numbers. I chatted briefly with the dude then found T. She got her stuff, then we went to the corral change table. She planned on finishing in 2:20 while I planned 2:10, so she changed into my corral. Then we worked our way into the expo.
While T wanted to browse all the tables right away, I wanted to grab our nightclub passes for the XS Nightclub. We debated on what to do, then decided to grab the passes and work our way back. We found the table for the Wynn and got the wristbands. We then headed back to the shopping portion first. T grabbed a race shirt that has the cooler logo on it, and then we stood in line to meet Scott Jurek. He signed a poster to Team Baby Dinosaur and wished us good luck.
We then browsed the expo, stopping at most of the booths. We also bought a hot dog since we were starving. I stocked up on LaraBars and we decided to work our way back. We wanted to say hi to Mark and Kris so we started working our way back. Leisurely, mind you.
I took T through the Venetian so she could see that. We also stopped in Casino Royale for the first gambling of the trip, a penny slot. T played, I watched. We continued to work our way back to Mandalay.
We got back there about 3:45 and found Kris and Mark in the lobby, who were in the midst of dealing with wedding stuff. I give them major props for finding us. We talked for a few minutes, then bid adieu to them and headed back up to our room to clean up and change.
Those tasks completed, we left the room to head out and do some exploring. We stopped for dinner in a relatively cheap place in the Luxor and explored the Luxor. We walked all the way down to New York New York. We took some pictures, then worked our way back to our room to rest up and prepare for the next day.
We woke up at about 5:15 a.m. on the 5th. I had arranged for room service the night before to be delivered between 5:30 and 6:00, so while we were waiting for our eggs, bacon, potatoes, and strawberries, we laid in bed and relaxed. I eventually got up and opened the curtains, which revealed an awesome morning in Vegas. We would get to see the sunrise.
Before our breakfast was delivered, I got prepped. I put my bib on my shirt (forgot my race belt) and Body-Glided. I also brushed teeth and put in my contacts. About then, our breakfast was delivered. While I finished up my last second prep, T sat down and ate her half of the breakfast. I put on some pump-up music on my iPhone and then ate my half. She got ready to go, and with that, we left our room. I had yet to put my timing strap on my shoe (couldn’t figure it out) so we decided to deal with that in the elevator.
When we got on the elevator, another couple was there. They seemed amused that T had to put the timing strip on my shoe, but when I told them that I could fly airplanes but not figure this thing out, I don’t think they were amused. I mean, c’mon people, laugh a little!
When we got downstairs, the scene was quite chaotic. There were lots of runners scurrying about, and a guy in the middle of the lobby pointing to go towards the start via the parking garage. T and I had yet to go this way, but we figured why not, right? It was a lot quicker and took us on a different view of the hotel. There were definitely a lot of people on their way to the event.
We got to the parking lot/staging area and it was clear to me that this race was going to be epic. The throng of people was unreal, and to this moment, I’m regretting not having a camera with me. We stopped at the first line of porta-potties we saw to make our last race stop before we got to the start.
We worked our way to the race start, where we found our race corral, number 14. There were a lot of runners, but we still looked for Kris and Mark, who were in the same corral as us. Some Cher impersonator (or maybe the real thing, don’t know) was singing the national anthem, and I gave a nice loud SIOUX! at the point of home of the brave. A few minutes after this, we heard someone yell THERESA and looked behind us and sure enough, there were Mark and Kris decked out in their wedding getup. Mark was wearing all black and had a black visor that said GROOM on it. Kris was in white and also had a pink and white veil, with a visor that said BRIDE. We exchanged hellos, congrats, etc. and then started working our way towards the front, assisted by a rope that kept hitting Kris and I in the ass.
With some Blues Brothers impersonators jamming out at the top of the race start stage, we were ready. Near the start, Mark pulled out a small video camera and I offered to take video of them crossing the start line. With that, and a cheer, we were off on our ½ marathon!
Surprisingly, the organization of the race made the start of it very anti-climatic. The crowd at the start was surprisingly small and we had to do very little jockeying. Mark reminded us not to run over the bump dealies that warmer climates have in the road. I assumed Kris and Mark were going to blaze ahead and leave us in the dust, but they stayed with us, and planned to until they turned off for the run through wedding chapel. T and I were immensely relieved at this; they were taking a slow pace which helped us out and we would have some friends to enjoy this experience with.
Mile 1 was nice and slow. Just how we wanted it to be. It might have been a little too slow, but neither of us cared. We were just happy to be running. At one point, Mark yelled to the spectators that he was getting married to Kris. In a not-so-brilliant comedic moment on my part, I yelled out “AND I KNOW THEM!” which garnered some laughs. Talk about keeping loose and relaxed, huh?
Mile 2 was picked up a little bit, which I was glad about. I still had my under 10:00 per mile goal and was quite confident I would make it. At about mile 2.5, Kris and Mark peeled off to the chapel. We congratulated them, said we would see them at the finish, and continued on our way to the mile 3 point.
At this point, T and I decided to pick it up a bit. We were starting to make up some time and we both figured that we could hold this pace for awhile and that’s what we did.
Miles 4 and 5 were smooth and easy. We started running to a sketchy part of the strip I’ve never seen before, past the Stratosphere tower. Both T and I were still feeling really good. After a water stop, which had really yucky water, T told me that she would take her gel at the next water stop. I was cool with that.
When we reached the 10K point, I smiled a bit and reflected quickly on how far I’ve come. T mentioned how she beat her BolderBoulder time. At about the halfway point, we were on Freemont Street in downtown Vegas. I was relieved because I was still feeling good and knew we could still make up time. T however was starting to feel a little fatigued. At mile 7, we walked through the water station and T took her gel. Unfortunately, this water stop took longer than I was hoping and we lost some time. T remarked how sorry she was and I told her it was fine; that we still had a lot of miles left to make up the time.
Before mile 9, she told me she was hurting pretty bad and was struggling to keep up. I tried to encourage her, but most likely only frustrated her further. Let me be clear that this was not my intention but unfortunately I messed up. L I had arranged with her before the race that we would run together all the way unless I thought I had a chance at under 10:00 and she didn’t think she could. At mile 10, we determined this was the case. I hugged her, told her I would see her at the finish, and began this run solo for the first time.
And how lonely was I. Even though this is what I wanted, I kept looking over my shoulder, hoping she was catching up. I was also feeling the fatigue and effects of the race, and realized that by mile 11, I wasn’t gaining any time either. Late in mile 11, I determined I would keep going, but I wanted to wait for T. Since my goal wasn’t going to happen, I wanted to finish with my running buddy, trainer, trainee, best friend, and fiancée. She caught up to me at roughly 12.4 miles and we agreed to finish it together. As we were getting closer and closer to Mandalay, the crowds were getting more numerous and the cheering was getting louder. I could see the 13 mile point and was excited at the prospect of finishing my first 1/2 marathon.
When we turned the corner, we had .1 left to go. T asked me if I was ready to kick it. I told her yes, but she was kicking it much better than I was. She sprinted ahead of me and crossed the finish line before me, beating me in the first Team Baby Dinosaur 1/2 marathon. I picked it up and finished just behind her, making the sign of the cross and pointing to the finish time, as has become my race finishing tradition.
Post race festivities were amazing. We were ushered through and got our finishers medals, then grabbed some water. T and I both were congratulating each other on a job well done. We grabbed bananas, yogurt, Cytomax, which is yucky, and bagels and pretzels. After we grabbed everything we wanted, we headed out and back up to the room. We were both really proud and happy, but there was still one more thing we had to do. After showering and stretching out, of course.
After showering and relaxing, we headed back downstairs. I was beginning to limp due to a phantom foot pain. More on that later. Our main goal was to see our new friends and newly married couple, Mark and Kris, cross the finish line. With Bret Michaels playing in the background, we made our way over to the finish line and waited. We heard the announcer at one point say that they were waiting for Mark and Kris, so we were hoping it wasn't too much longer. And then we saw them! They were running strong and happy. We sprinted to grab various shots of them, and then they crossed the finish line as well.
We caught them post race, congratulated them, gave some hugs, and promised to meet up later that night at the XS nightclub.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, that's my race recap. My official time was 2:15:48, or roughly a 10:22 per mile pace. I have yet to reflect on training; I suspect that will come next week. For now, I just want to enjoy the moment of being a 1/2 marathoner.