Vegas Really Big Free Half Marathon Recap

Las Vegas is CRAZY. The minute I got off the plane, I could tell that I was not in my natural territory. I have never felt claustrophobic, but this place could bring that feeling out of anyone, I am 100% sure. I was so overwhelmed by everything. It was huge, loud, hot, bright, smelly, and I couldn’t figure out how to get out of my damn hotel! When I arrived on Friday, I basically just held on for the ride. I didn’t want to make any decisions, I just wanted someone to grab my leash and lead me. This worked out well, since most of my friends had been in Vegas before and knew the right places to show me for my inaugural stroll. We walked around A LOT and had dinner at the Harley Davidson Café, which was decent. Their portions were huge, so Alicia and I split the chicken parmagiana. It was just what we needed, lots of pre-race carbs. We also went to CVS and bought crackers, Oreos, Skittles…all sorts of bad stuff that you’re allowed to eat when you’re doing a half marathon. Heh heh.
Saturday we had to wake up at 4:45 AM, ouch. We all met in the lobby and saw the stragglers from the night before looking pretty darn haggard! The drive was 45 minutes to Boulder Beach at Lake Mead. The organizers started both the marathon and the half marathon later than announced because it was so dark outside…not sure why they didn’t think of that before… Good thing, though, because the line of cars to get into the park was unbelievably long!!! Once we got there and got in the race lineup, it was all good.
The race was HOT. It was HILLY. The first half was incredibly HARD. The elevation gain was “only” 380 feet, which, when I think of that in hiking terms is absolutely nothing. Running, though, it’s a different story. I had to walk quite a bit during the first half, but still, we kept good time. Alicia and I ran together for about three quarters of the race and then she broke off and went ahead. The second half was smoother. I found my pace and it was a lot of downhill, but they took away one of the aid stations so I was just dying of thirst!! We didn’t carry water with us because A) it’s a huge pain in the ass on a longer run, and B) there were supposed to be water stations every one-two miles. They were there in the beginning but they shut one of them down prematurely, which really pissed me off. But what do you do? Unfortunately, there isn’t a vending machine on the trail, so I had to suck it up and keep going!
The final section was all downhill, and you’re staring straight at the finish line for what seems an eternity! Behind it was Lake Mead. It was SO beautiful! I looked at my watch, I ran, I looked at my watch, I wiped my sweaty face, I ran some more…finally I saw my friends waiting for me and cheering me on! I crossed the finish line TWENTY minutes faster than my last half marathon time!!!! AMAZING! My hardcore training totally paid off!

Feeling like I earned my bad ass rep!


My post-race relaxation


 

The most humble people in Las Vegas


That night we did the obligatory partying. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to hang, considering my amazing accomplishment of 13.1 miles (and a too-short nap), but my friends and I danced and frolicked until the second time the clock struck 2:00 AM (Daylight Savings weekend)! I will not go into further details here to protect the not-so-innocent. The next day I paid for it, but I managed to get outside because it was beautiful and 80 degrees. When you live in the Pacific Northwest, you don’t argue when sunshine is offered up. You just take it.
And THAT is how I do Vegas!

Watch out–Fluffy Girl Running!

This week begins my serious training for the half marathon I’m running in November. November sounded soooooo faaaar away a few days ago, but then my friend Alicia kindly reminded me that it’s actually only 7 weeks. UGH. I know, I know! I’ve run two half marathons now; you’d think it wouldn’t be so daunting. Let me tell you, the words “half marathon” never get any less scary to me!
So, yesterday I put on my running shorts and my snazzy new headphones (another coworker birthday present–Meelectronics brand, S6 Sport-Fi headphone) and headed out. I was maybe an eighth of a mile into my run when this guy passed me from the opposite direction. He was middle aged, lanky, and riding a bike. He sat up on his bike and started clapping, directing a cheer at me. “Great job! Keep it up!” he shouted. At least I think that’s what he said…have I mentioned how AMAZING my headphones are?
My initial reaction was mortification. He was making fun of me, right? I may not be 200 pounds anymore but I’m certainly not athletically built. I feel especially fluffy when I’m running alongside the svelte sprinters who fly up and down the waterfront. So he couldn’t possibly have thought I was rocking this run, Kara Goucher-style. Right?
Then, I stopped myself. This was not middle school. He was a grown man, and he took it upon himself to give my spirits a boost in the middle of my sweaty run. I smiled then. I kept smiling the rest of my run, feeling very proud and giggling to myself, thinking that his simple act of kindness made my day and probably his as well. What a great concept!
This leads me to this morning. I was looking at my Facebook page and came across this post from Run the Edge (a blog about running by Tim Catalano and Adam Goucher):
Borrowed from Flintland.blogspot.com

Hey, Fat Girl.
Yes, you. The one feigning to not see me when we cross paths on the running track. The one not even wearing sports gear, breathing heavy. You’re slow, you breathe hard and your efforts at moving forward make you cringe.
You cling shyly to the furthest corridor, sometimes making larger loops on the gravel ring by the track just so you’re not on it. You sweat so much that your hair is all wet. You rarely stay for more than 20 minutes at a time, and you look exhausted when you leave to go back home.  You never talk to anyone. I’ve got something I’d like to say to you.
You are awesome.
If you’d look me in the eye only for an instant, you would notice the reverence and respect I have for you. The adventure you have started is tremendous; it leads to a better health, to renewed confidence and to a brand new kind of freedom. The gifts you will receive from running will far exceed the gigantic effort it takes you to show up here, to face your fears and to bravely set yourself in motion, in front of others.
You have already begun your transformation. You no longer accept this physical state of numbness and passivity. You have taken a difficult decision, but one that holds so much promise. Every hard breath you take is actually a tad easier than the one before, and every step is ever so slightly lighter. Each push forward leaves the former person you were in your wake, creating room for an improved version, one that is stronger, healthier and forward-looking, one who knows that anything is possible.
You’re a hero to me. And, if you’d take off the blaring headphones and put your head up for more than a second or two, you would notice that the other runners you cross, the ones that probably make you feel so inadequate, stare in awe at your determination. They, of all people, know best where you are coming from. They heard the resolutions of so many others, who vowed to pick up running and improve their health, “starting next week”. Yet, it is YOU who runs alongside, who digs from deep inside to find the strength to come here, and to come back again.
You are a runner, and no one can take that away from you. You are relentlessly moving forward. You are stronger than even you think, and you are about to be amazed by what you can do. One day, very soon, maybe tomorrow, you’ll step outside and marvel at your capabilities. You will not believe your own body, you will realize that you can do this. And a new horizon will open up for you. You are a true inspiration.
I bow to you.

I actually teared up when I read this. I have been that “fluffy” girl so many times in the past. Yesterday, I was that fluffy girl until I stopped and convinced myself that I wasn’t that girl any more. I smiled at the man who cheered me on. I accepted his praise. And I will pay it forward.
Please take the time to visit the Flintland blog. At the time I read it, there were 442 comments on this post, many from women a lot like me. I’m willing to bet you’ll see a little of yourself somewhere in there, too.

Now THAT’S a runner!