Nevada Marathon – Las Vegas (2015)
I got to Vegas early. I had a few hours before our conference would start. I got up early at 5:30am for a conference call at 6am (8am South Dakota time. Still not sure why I set it for that time, other than not thinking about the time difference). After the call, I finished the remaining e-mails, watched the sun come up through my 30th floor window view of the strip to the east and left my room. Navigating through the casino, which was very busy for it being 7:30am, I headed out of the front door and started walking for a half a mile evaluating whether I am really up for this today or not. The strip was fairly empty of people besides other runners. I hadn’t expected this. It was very encouraging. Exciting even! I got going, making sure I remain at a very slow pace. The constant sidewalk constructing made for an exciting maze of surprising dead-ends, endless up and downs on stairs and bridges crossing the main street and running past people trudging home from their (successful or un-successful, I couldn’t tell the difference) nights out.
As the first 2-3 miles ticked off, I started thinking about that I actually hadn’t set a plan for the route today. I was going to run the strip. That surely wasn’t enough for a marathon, but I hadn’t taken the slightest moment to plan ahead. I did know the Vegas sits in a valley of sorts between some beautiful looking mountain ranges, which I would’ve loved to scale for hours on end. Unfortunately they were roughly 14 miles from the Monte Carlo. Which meant, for my marathon goal, I would just make it to the foot of the mountain before having to turn around. That seemed like too much mental torture for me. If I had a rental car, I would’ve driven and run in the mountains, but I figured I’ll see Vegas from a different side that most don’t see on their 2-3 days stint in Sin City.
I headed towards the north aiming for what I call the Vegas Space Needle. Not sure what the actual name is. I could look it up when I land (I’m currently airborne, Denver-Sioux Falls), but I don’t care enough to do just that. I took a right and headed towards Sunrise Mountain. I wasn’t going to run up it, but there seemed to me a nice running trail (Flamingo Arroyo Trail that had popped up on one of my many running route apps.
The temps kept rising and I nearly had emptied my back pack bladder and bottle and made sur eto re-stock every few miles at gas stations or 7/11s. Here I ran past a young guy fixing his skate board as he looked up concerned and called out to me. I took out my headphones and stopped asking him to please repeat. He said: “DUDE, you dropped…(I was nervous)…your smile over there!!”. Made my whole day. Awesome attitude! Reminded me on how often you have the chance to impact somebody’s day by a single gesture or statement. Most people aren’t aware of this power. I am convinced that this guy knew what he was doing and I appreciate him for doing just that!
I ran along a while longer when I got stopped by a traffic light. I checked out the motorcycle that had just stopped across the street from me and heard a cop car turn on his sirens just behind him. The biker (crotch-rocket) rolled into the gas station and the cop slowly followed. The bike revved up and I heard him speed down the alley until I saw him pop out a couple of blocks later and turn 180 heading back towards where I was. He was gone for broke, running the red and was gone out of my sight. I looked back to the alley and saw the cop standing there not knowing which direction the guy had gone. A car rolled down the window and shouted towards me:” DID YOU SEE THAT, HAHA!”.
Vegas, I guess.
I kept going, passed Las Vegas High School and knew I was approaching the half-way point of my run today. I got to a nice section where you could really get the sense for running in a desert. One road reaching to the horizon and only cacti and dust to your sides. Ironically I was listening to an audiobook of a guy describing running through death valley in July for the legendary Badwater 135 (yes, 135 miles through death valley in July. As a race. Ultimate badass/dumbass race. I’m thinking about it J). Temps now hit 97F and I was feeling it. I ran out of water, but had my trusty LifeStraw that Christina bought for me a year or so ago. It filters the most sketchy water sources imaginable into regular drinking water. I don’t rely on it, but it’s an insanely reassuring back up to have! (Thanks hun!) Turned out I didn’t need it as I hit a gas station about 20 minutes later. I found a spot to take picture for my 605running shirt, with the strip in the background. The 605 guys are truly passionate about running and support my goal to get them represented in each state (#Run605)! As I was waiting for the traffic light to turn, a couple of non-trustworthy guys walked up next to me. Nothing was going to happen, as there were twenty cars waiting for the light and I had plenty of space in between us and could’ve taken off if I had to. BUT, these guys starting talking and I couldn’t help to listen…”Man, I was up ALL NIGHT….COULDN”T GET HER TO BE QUIET AT ALL…JUST KEPT SCREAMING AT ME…MAN…HONESTLY…DIDN”T KNOW WHAT TO DO………………………..THEN, I changed her diaper and she went back to sleep. She looked so sweet sleeping in my arm after that….” Seriously how awesome was that! I got a high just from that and was just overall happy (plus I grabbed some water!).
I was at around 17 miles and noticed my calves slowly seizing up and decided to walk for a bit. This wasn’t a race. No time goal. Nobody to chase down. Just minimize the damage, so I can run the IceBox480 in a few weeks. It was a wise decision as my heart rate slowed to a recovering stage and I enjoyed the view of the desert to one side, the strip in the distance to the other, all the while surrounded by gorgeous mountain ranges (I will hit them at some point!).
I walked for a couple of miles and started feeling good again. I had drank a 20oz Gatorade and the sugar got to me, I guess. I started shuffling, then jogging, skipping, running, backflipping, etc… you could say I picked up a 2nd wind. I felt really good and was excited having the famous Las Vegas strip hotels so close to me and only 4-5 miles to go. I started running around 8-9 min-miles again and after a 4-5 miles turned onto the main strip again. Now it was a game of Frogger dodging the on-slaught of tourists (same as me!) that were crowding the side-walks. I had switched from audio book, because I finished the book, to my “Running” Playlist and got pumped up by the up bead tempo of the music. It was a fast paced hop-skipping between people and I passed the 26.2 mile mark at 4:18 elapsed. By far not a fast marathon, but considering 97F temps, walking a couple of miles, plus doing this all for fun, I felt good. PLUS, I put into memory my San Jose, CA marathon, which I did in just over 5 hours years ago.
I had to go a couple more miles until I got to the hotel, so I am contemplating calling this an ultra-marathon (technically, it’s beyond 26.2!), but I was very elated walking through the casino again and knowing I got my 11th state off the list. Plus my 7 countries. Now it was time to shower and get back to attending to my e-mails, plus my afternoon conference call.
82 to go.