I checked in on Thursday and had a nice evening with my parents. We had dinner at a fancy Thai restaurant in The Bellagio and I had Szechuan Tofu. Here is a picture of our hotel at night:
Friday I had a 20 minute run scheduled and my dad accompanied me. It was a 10 minute warm up followed by 5 x 30 second pick ups with 1:30 zone 2 jogs in between. We got made fun of by some of the locals for how slow our jogs were. It was kind of funny since I know I could have probably out run every one of them. Patience Daniel-son! The rest of Friday afternoon was a big mistake. I think that we walked no less than 10 miles sight seeing. We topped it off by walking from Treasure Island to Mandalay Bay to pick up my race packet- a distance of no less than 3 miles. I enjoyed the expo and bought some running stuff and we headed back to meet Brienne who came in for dinner. It was absolutely fantastic to see her! After dinner we went outside to see the fountain in front of the hotel. Here is a pic of me and Brienne:
And one of me and my Dad:
In the morning when I woke up I knew I was in trouble. My hip was absolutely killing me. I was in a bad car accident was I was a kid and I think I did a little ligament damage to my right hip. It doesn't stay in joint well, so when I walk a lot or stand with my hip out (like when playing a slot machine for example) it gets aggravated. It was in enough pain for me to be limping around the hotel. And I had 13.1 miles to run the next day! Wonderful.
The task at hand, though, was the Santa Run 5k. It was run by a charity in Vegas who was looking to break the world record for largest Santa gathering. With our registration we all got Santa suits fully equipt with hat, jacket, pants, and beard! It was quite a sight to see 5000 Santas running down Freemont street, let me tell you! Here is a pic of us before the race:
Obviousely I wasn't in this to break any land speed records. The purpose of the run on Saturday was to loosen up and hopefully work out the pain in the hip. I ran with a buddy from my tri club that made the trip and let Brienne and my dad go ahead. It was surely the slowest 5k in history, but it was a ton of fun! The hip did feel a little better, but I was still in full limp mode all day.
The rest of the day was filled with relaxation and motivation. Brienne and I watched the NBC Sports coverage of a crazy endurance running race followed by the Hawaii Ironman coverage. If watching Kona doesn't inspire you, you are uninspirable! It was great and as always I cried watching the finishers. After dinner we rented The Guardian, which was another amazingly inspiring movie and were off to dreamland!
Wake up was at 4 AM and my bagel was already sitting by the TV just waiting for me to add my chunky peanut butter. I ate the bagel, took 2 Aleve, and had a half glass of coffee. Then I got dressed in my Under Armour cold gear. The weather channel called for race time temp of 50 F with a 30% chance of showers. I'd rather be hot than cold, so I went with full tights and a long sleeve top. Here I am proudly displaying my outfit:
And my HUGE muscles (Matt style)
You may wonder why my bib says "Bob's First". Well, as you may already know from a previous post, my dad was supposed to run this with me. After he broke his ankle, Active allowed him to transfer his race entry to me. Well, they also transferred the saying he wanted on his bib! Which was pretty funny. But a) I am my dad's first child, and b) my boss' (also named Bob) first PhD student. So it sorta fit!
We left the room at 5 AM and went to the lobby to catch a quick cab ride to the race. It was a good thought... except that they closed the strip at 4 AM! The concierge told us the line to get a cab from the back entrance was so long that we'd be better off walking. So off we went, realizing now that we would be cutting the start very close.
As we got closer to the race we realized that both Brienne and I needed a quick pottie stop before the race. We headed into the Mandalay Bay Casino, because of course no one else thought to do that! Wrong! Line was WAY long. So in desperation, at 5:45 we headed outside to find the porta johns. Thankfully the lines weren't too long and we were out at 5:55. Great! 5 minutes to spare. But where is the race start? It became clear that we were not in the right place to enter the race line-up. So I quick gave my Dad a big hug, and Brienne and I jumped a fence and squeezed our way in to the massive crowd of people right as the Announcer sent off the wheelchair devision.
Looking around we noticed that we were seeded right next to the marathon 5:30 pace group. This was quite a bit farther back than our expected pace, but from my experience it is much more fun and motivational to start at the back and pass people throughout the race than to seed too fast and have speedy runners whiz by you for an hour. I told Brienne not to worry about it and we anxiously awaited the gun.
When the marathon and half marathon start was announced there was a cheer from the crowd. About 2 minutes later we started very slowly walking forward. We were about a quarter of a mile from the starting line and walked at a very slow pace until about 100 feet before the start when the crowd thinned and we started to jog. We crossed the chip mats just before 8 minutes clicked off the clock, I started my Garmin Forerunner timer and was off.
Brienne and I quickly became separated as we worked to find some space to run I pointed to a free space and told her to take it. Then she was gone! No worries, though, because we were planning on running our own races.
The first 10k was phenomenal. We had the wind at our backs and a slowly sloping downhill grade. I had studied the race course and had planned to take advantage of the elevation change and to go out fast. As you know, all of my training has been strictly heart rate based and very slow, so it was so freeing to be able to really run. I just tried to keep my heart rate around 180 and thankfully that put me at about 8:20-8:40 miles. I was breathing nice and easy and I swear I had the biggest smile on my face the entire time. Seeing teams of Elvis runners and brides and grooms to be (the wedding chapel was at mile 5) definitely helped. I waved my arms to get the attention of my Mom who was on one of the bridges overlooking the race. Having my parents' support out there was great. Around mile 5 I took my first Gu and took some water to wash it down. I went with the caffeine (vanilla flavored) for the run for the extra boost and it felt great when it kicked in.
I knew that the next 4 miles were going to be the toughest physically and mentally. The turnaround was at Freemont street and there were many spectators lined along the race course. This was where the half marathon split from the full, and where we turned into the wind and the uphill. I had picked up a running buddy who was wearing a shirt from a local Cleveland race and we served as each others support until mile 10. The wind was gusty, the grade was noticeable, and the spectators absent for this stretch. My pace slowed for awhile closer to 8:45 to 9:00, but that was all in the plan. I wanted to ease back to save all that I had for the last 5k. I took another Gu at around mile 8 so that it would be firmly set in my stomach by mile 10, the mile I had been waiting all morning for.
At about mile 9.5 my buddy told me he was going to drop back, I wished him well and prepared for my final 5k. I had mentally prepared for the 10-13.1 mile trek and had a great source of motivation. A very good friend of mine (Steve, as most of you know) got really involved in running right when I started my triathlon training. He's a 5k specialist and had really become a phenomenal runner in a very short time. Two months ago he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma which shut down his running season and he is currently in his second round of chemotherapy. Right before I left for Vegas he was hospitalized and underwent emergency surgery. I told myself that the last 5k of my run would be for him. No matter how much my body hurt it didn't compare to the pain he was going through. So for the last 5k I just kept repeating to myself: "this isn't about you- you're running this for Steve". It was a very tough stretch, but I never once even considered slowing down. When I saw the 13 mile marker I got the biggest, most stupid grin on my face and just let it all out in a final sprint for the finish. It was the first time I had ever seen the pace on my Garmin go below 6:30 min/mile. When I crossed the finish and stopped my timer at 1:52 I wanted to jump up and down for joy:
Totals: Distance 13.15, Time: 1:52:52 Avg pace 8:34 Avg HR 184 Max HR 190
By the mile:
Mile......Pace.......Avg HR......Max HR
Not sure if it was a negative split or not, but I'll get around to calculating it one of these days!
*edit* Negative split by 1 minute. Woohoo!
I met up with Brienne who had an amazing first half and finished at 1:51:00! We got our picture taken with a showgirl (unfortunately no Elvis this year for a photo-op, dammit!), and took a taxi back to the hotel to warm up and get some food. Twelve hours later, and about 7 more miles of walking around Vegas I was on a plane back to Cleveland.
When I woke up as our plane landed I noticed immediately that the little bit of swelling in my legs post-race had turned into a LOT of swelling, particularly in my left leg. It's pretty gross- I have cankles! When my boss saw my legs he immediately called his wife (family doc) and set up a morning appointment with her for some imaging to rule out Deep Vein Thrombosis. Since I've had my legs up the swelling has started to go down, so hopefully it's nothing. At any rate, the swelling had better go down by Saturday because I have a hot dress to wear to a Christmas party and the last thing I want sticking out from under the skirt is these tree trunks!