Las Vegas Marathon Race Report And My Dilemma

I finished the Las Vegas Rock and Roll Marathon on Sunday in 3:24. I put the time in there, because I was really focused on running for time, 3:15 to be exact, and it didn't happen, and I want to remind myself not to make that my primary focus in future races.

My training has been going great the last couple of months, I was pretty sure I was in 3:15 shape going into the marathon, but there were a couple of things that were out of my hands. I don't want to use this as a place to make excuses or complain, however there were some difficulties with the race that affected how I ran. If I was stronger, mentally, I'm sure I could have overcome the logistical challenges with the race. If you want to read about the fallout from the race, head on over to Facebook and sort through the thousands of comments there.

My race went a little something like this:

I started in the first corral and felt great as the sun set over the mountains to the west of Vegas and we headed to an industrial, seemingly deserted section of town, zig-zagging through city blocks, pin point turns and out and backs. My pace was solid and steady, and I was looking forward to the second half of the race were we would run up one side of the Strip and down the other. The main problem for the marathoners running the race (there were about 4,000 of us) was that as we were funneled back onto the strip, we joined 40,000 half marathoners who had started about ten minutes before my group joined them, so I was right in the middle of it, dodging, bumping, saying sorry and being called an asshole as I tried to keep the pace by weaving through the throng. It was tough and draining, but I actually sped up at this point...probably anger and adrenaline. I think it came back to haunt me because at mile 20 I didn't have much left, I slowed considerably off my goal pace and really had a tough time at the end.

Before

After
I was disappointed in myself. I thought of all the hard work and the training that I had done to get me ready to run a good race, and I felt that I had blown it. I felt like I had let myself, my coach, my wife, and my friends down. And I know it's silly, but I even felt like I let people who read this blog down. I was in a pretty rough spot when I saw my wife. My daughter asked us to text her my time as soon as I finished and she immediately responded with a text saying "That's so cool. Good job." It was actually something more like "Cool!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Good job!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That's so cool!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" That snapped me out of the darkness and self-loathing really quick. I chalked it up to a shitty day (they can't all be great, right?), the race was over and I was in Vegas, so it wasn't all bad. We went out that night, and I worked hard at replenishing my glycogen stores until about 2 AM.

Running down the strip at night was pretty cool at times. It's not a novel idea to say that the Rock and Roll Marathon series caters to the "just finish" crowd and they do provide more of a party experience than a race. I'm not an elite runner, I like to think that I'm a relatively fast runner compared to the average person, and I just don't think these gigantic road races are for me, but for those that crave a shared experience with thousands of people and are in it more for the spectacle/party/event than the race, then these continue to be great options. It seems that as the bottom line becomes more and more important to the corporations that put on these races, the more and more they cater to this crowd. It's not necessarily a bad thing, and there are still plenty of options for more serious runners (those who still wear dolphin shorts and headbands with pride), it's just not my preferred type of race.

On the plus side, Vegas is always fun, and I didn't lose any money gambling. I also took advantage of cable TV and caught up with the Kardashians (and mourned the fall of civilization at the same time...a two birds, one stone thing). I also learned the The Discovery Channel has become the Blowing Shit Up Channel (and I kind of like it).

I try to learn something from every race, and I think I learned an important thing about myself from this race. I haven't raced a marathon since 2007 (where I broke down at about mile 20 and ran a 3:24...coincidence?), and I don't really like the distance. I don't know if I have the mental focus and pain tolerance to complete 26.2 miles at a pace that should be do-able based on the training. I can endure the dull pain of races three times as long as a marathon, but I have a much more difficult time enduring the sharp pain of speed. I give in too quickly, and I lose confidence in myself, and that's hard to get back in a marathon.

Now, I need to make a decision, and I welcome any advice or comments. I am considering two options.

The first is to continue with my training and try to run another marathon in the beginning of February. I think I have good fitness right now, I could back off and recover for a couple of weeks, then ramp up the training again for the Death Valley Marathon in February. I wouldn't go into it with a concrete time goal, I'd try to have fun and run to the best of my ability. I have friends that are running it, it's a small race, and I think it would help get rid of the slightly bitter aftertaste of the Vegas marathon. My concern about this is that I may be at the peak of my fitness right now and I will train too much and get burnt out or injured with diminishing returns.

The second option is to take a longer period of time to rest, recover, and just run without a training structure. I'm planning on a big year next year with a Joshua Tree traverse, a Zion traverse, the PCT 50 mile race, and possibly the San Diego 100 all between March and June next year, so the rest could be exactly what I need. I'm going to lose a lot of speed with this option, and that kind of makes me sad, but the rest may be necessary.

Thank you for reading, and I appreciate your comments.

One final note, I wish my blog was this awesome.

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