i came, i saw, i conquered. sort of.
4:16:24 - my race time at the rock 'n roll las vegas marathon. to me, that was conquering. as my blog up until now has explained, it's been a rocky road. being here, finishing this race, was significant in many ways. so, yeah, i conquered. what did i conquer? a host of demons at mile 14 where i quit my last marathon attempt. the nerves that i fight EVERY time i run a marathon, except they were doubled this go round. i also conquered what every marathon runner conquers - 26.2 miles. so yeah, i conquered.
friday morning, i left gulfport en route. i got in to vegas about an hour late, and was greated by my two great college friends. they whisked me off to the car, down the vegas strip, and into a casino for an amazing mexican dinner. after that, further down the strip to the hard rock for a concert. after that, home, and to bed.
saturday morning, the expo. first, a stop for bagels. yeah, i ate two. the expo was slam packed and difficult for us to get around so i mostly just got the things i needed and got out alive. the mandalay bay was the host for the marathon as well as the national rodeo. runners and cowboys, nice combo. if you weren't in one of those distinct groups, well, then you were out numbered big time. after the big fun at the expo, off for a bite to eat, then back home for rest. it was nice to put my feet up a while and chill. we had some hometown activities that night that included riding a parade float and attending church in my friend's hometown. then it was back home for bed.
super early sunday morning, about 4 a.m., i crawled out of bed, nervous and anxious and ready to get this thing going. showered, dressed, and jumped in the car. my friend was so gracious to drive a half hour into vegas to get me to the start. i hopped out of the car on the offramp of the freeway and followed the masses. did i mention it was COLD? yeah, somewhere in the upper 20's with a nice biting breeze of about 10 mph. i relunctantly took off my warm clothes, stuffed everything into my bag, and handed it over. i shivered my way to the start corrals where i waited longer than i should have. however, the arrival to the start line went very smoothly. shortly before 6, celine dion sang God Bless America...no not really...there were fireworks, and the elite women started. at 6, more fireworks, the blues brothers...no not really...some paratroopers, and then the race start. oh yeah, and there was over 1000 running elvi - people dressed as elvis to run. and one michael jackson.
the official start of the race was 6:15, so by 6:30 i was crossing the start line. we headed out away from the strip and made a turn headed back down the strip. i was feeling good, and moving too quickly. i kept trying to slow down, but each time, my miles were coming in faster than i needed them that early in the race. running down the strip was really fun, and there was plenty to see. at 10.5, we turned off the strip and headed west. and reality set in. i had a long way to go, and i didn't feel so good anymore. for the next several miles, the mental battle was more than the physical, as always. i pushed through, and kept running, and before i knew it, i was making the last loop and heading back for the last 6.2 miles. it was cold, breezy, but beautiful. my choice to wear a long sleeve and capri tights was a smart decision as i never got too warm. i was steadily slowing down, unlike my training runs where i got faster each mile. the only thing to do was survive and finish as strong as i could.
mile 26 is a beautiful site, but those last .2 seem to take FOREVER! luckily the finish wasn't in site until you were upon it. i crossed, and thanked God for helping me make it. i grabbed all the necessities...foil blanket, medal, bananas, water, and a bagel. hit the porta-potty, typical for me. then grabbed a seat on the black top parking lot. ahhhh, finished. i analyzed my race quickly, and i came up with this - i'm back and i did ok. it was not a great day in vegas, but if 4:16 is what i get on a not so great day, i'll take it!
i hobbled into the mandalay bay, changed, and watched the saints while i waited on my friends. they picked me up, and their 5 year old quickly asked me if i won, when i said no, then he wanted to know what place i got. he didn't understand 2 thousand and something. stopped off for quick lunch, then home to nap, shower, and watch lots of tv. it felt good to be finished.
monday was a site seeing day. we hit the hoover dam, and it was a dam good time. we drove down the dam rode, parked in the dam parking lot, and froze in the dam wind. it was a dam good time. did i mention it was raining? yeah, it rains 5 days a year, and one of those days was on my visit. after the dam, we looked around boulder city where my friends live, and garrett chased some sheep, or goats as he calls them, in a little park. we hit lunch in the planet hollywood, and then off for my last souvenir of the trip.
so far about a year, i've toyed with the idea of obtaining some body art, a tattoo. i've always kinda thought having one would be cool, but never thought i'd do it. then i started thinking, well, if i got one, i needed to be convinced what i'd get. then 26.2 filtered into my head, and the more i thought of it, the more i wanted it. once i decided i was going to vegas, well, it became the obvious place to do it. once my friends heard of this, well, it was a plan. so after lunch, we headed back to a place we had scoped out, and it was now or never. i could chicken out, but would i regret it? or would i regret getting it? the answer is yes to the first one, so i did it, and i am so happy i did. it took less than two minutes, and the artist said, this is the world's smallest tattoo. i believe it! 26.2 is a number that means a lot to me. whether or not i run another one ever again, it will always be a huge part of my life. the marathon has been life changing to me, and i never ever want to forget so.
so that's the story of my marathon and experience in vegas. i got up early the next morning and made my way home. i was exhausted but glad to be back in my little house with molly. i have spent the last week recovering, resting, and getting back into the swing of life at work. i'm slowly returning to running, and i have my eyes set on #9, rock 'n roll new orleans. lots of hopes and dreams will be once again centered on that day, but until then, i'm still basking in the high of another one completed.
this is why we run.