Monday, 5 December 2011

How not to run a marathon! Rock n’Roll Las Vegas Marathon Race Report!

It was a beautiful day in Las Vegas for the inaugural Las Vegas Marathon at night. The race started at 1600hrs which would mean it would be dark part way through the opening half and night for running portion on the strip. I had decided prior to going on tour that as a treat once I got home we’d go as a family to Las Vegas and I would run the marathon.  This would be only the second open marathon that I have run. I have run three marathons in total but one of those was at the end of Ironman Canada in 2010. I was pretty confident going in that a 2:45(3:55/km pace) was easily within my grasp but I wasn’t convinced that I had done enough long runs to really be comfortable racing the later part of the marathon. My coach seemed pretty convinced that I should be able to run faster than a 2:45. 

We left the Desert Rose Resort where we were staying for the week at around 1500hrs and walked to Mandalay Bay where the race would begin. I had already completed my warm-up before departing the Resort as I wasn’t sure how much room there would be at the start. I hung around with the wife and kids and then at around 1540hrs I entered Coral 1 where I was to start. There was lots of space in the Coral and people were a little hesitant to move to the start. Once they started the announcements people quickly moved to the front of the coral. I positioned myself in the second or third row and a little to the left. I wanted to go a tad slow and pick-up my pace to race goal almost immediately. When the gun sounded we were off. I manoeuvred around a few people took the opening left turn onto West Hacienda avenue and then almost immediately we had to climb the overpass to the Highway. I settled into my pace trying to sit on a 3:50/km but my pace was fluctuating with the terrain and wind. The first couple miles flew by and I was immensely enjoying the experience. The legs were feeling great and I knew this was going to be a fast race.
I kept checking my watch to monitor the pace. I was running in the 3:40s/km and I knew this was too fast. I tried to settle into my appropriate goal pace but I was just enjoying the experience too much to settle down. I finally gave up trying to hold myself back and decided I was just going to run and let the race unfold. It was about this time that Brian Mishasiw, the owner of Brainsport in Saskatoon, caught up with me. I didn’t know Brian at the time but I decided I was going to run with him.  As the race continued we talked a little and that is how I got to know Brian a little. With Brian and I running side by side the pace picked up significantly and at one point I glanced at my watch and realized we were running 3:39/km or something similar. We finished the zigzag of the first half, crossed the timing mat, and made the turn onto Las Vegas Boulevard for the second half. When we crossed the mat for the first half the time was 1:17:27 I knew at this point that the last ten kilometres of the race were going to be mentally tough as I had clearly overexerted myself in the first half.
I was still feeling great at this point and we continued to hammer along at a 3:4x/km pace but I knew it was only time before the legs started to tighten up. The next ten kilometres continued to fly by as we ran up the strip. There were lots of people cheering and it was just an awesome experience. By the 19mile marker my legs were starting to tighten up. I knew that I had a 2:45 in the bag I just needed to keep moving and not stop running. The legs were sore and the pace started to drop to about 4:00/km. I knew I only had another 40ish minutes of running left and knew I could finish. I was sore but there was no way that I was quitting. The mile markers slowly passed by and with each marker my legs were tighter and the pace dropped a little. I mentally calculated the time remaining after each mile marker and knew that I could do it. With about 2 miles remaining my legs were really hurting and sore but I just kept reminding myself that I was not a quitter and that I was running to the end.
Brian and I hit the final aid station with a little over a mile to go. I could tell Brian was hurting more than I was as he didn’t jump back onto my feet after the aid station. I tried to elongate my stride and up my tempo for the last mile. I just kept pushing knowing that the finish line was just ahead. I saw my wife and kids just before the turn into the finish shoot and gave my wife a high five. I was hoping that the kids were paying attention as I wanted to give them both a high five as it always makes their day. They were both unfortunately a little tired at this point and relaxing in the stroller.  I made the turn to the finishing shoot. I couldn’t quite make out the clock but put in the last surge I had left and crossed the line.  I didn’t find out until I got back to my room but my time was 2:40:13. I finished 8th Overall and 2nd in my Age Group.
I waited at the line for Brian and then congratulated him on the great race. I was very appreciative to have run the race with Brian. He pushed me most of the way and made my experience that much greater.
So the moral of the story is don’t run a 1:17:27 first half if you know you can probably only run a 2:40 marathon. I suffered in the last 8kms of the race and was reminded of how much racing a marathon actually hurts.  I am a firm believer in negative splitting but clearly on this day I didn’t follow my own philosophy I just wanted to run. A positive split of 5 minutes is pretty terrible but hey I am not complaining as I just ran a PB, a 2:40 Mary, and ran a ½ Marathon PB(1:17:27) at the same time! So the question remains…what’s next!

Gear Selection: Garmin FR60, Brooks ST5s, Wigwam Flash Pro Socks, Brooks Shorts, Brooks Singlet, Headsweats Visor, Oakley Jawbones (Yellow Lenses), Light Running Gloves (Compliments of the BMO OkanaganMarathon).

Special thanks to:
my Coach Brian Grasky for the great workouts over the last few months, the positive encouragement, and the race strategy (though I probably failed to execute as he envisioned)
GEC for the sponsorship opportunity (we need some GEC singlets)
my lovely wife and kids for the daily support, encouragement, and providing me the time to train
last but not least for all my friends and family who are always a source of encouragement and motivation.