Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Rest of the Story

So...the alarm goes off at 4:30 am. I was already awake. I tend to wake up at 30 minute to 1 hour intervals all night before a race. I am so freekin' afraid I'll oversleep, or I've set the alarm wrong, or it won't go off.

None of these things has happened to me yet, but it will. Trust me; it will.

So, to ensure that I'd wake up on time, and not even trusting my inner-spazz-alarm clock, I set two alarms. (I don't trust hotel wake up calls either, BTW). First, I set the alarm on my iPhone to my "Bohemian Rhapsody" ringtone, so that it would go off at 4:30am, which it did, at five minute intervals, much to Walter's dismay, until 5:00 when he got up and figured out how to turn it off, but he needed to get up anyway. Second, I set a calendar appointment on my laptop to wake up at 4:45. That only emitted a soft "bong" which I barely heard, but I was more than awake by the time it went off.

I had completely set up everything the night before, so I was ready pretty quickly. I was even clever enough to go to Starbucks (which wasn't opening until 5:30) to get some oatmeal, only without the water for the morning. Then I brewed a cup of coffee w/o the coffee to make me a! Then I brewed some in room coffee for Walter and I as well.

I thought that 45 minutes would be more than enough time to get dressed, eat a little, have some coffee, and go...and like most of the weekend, I could have given myself a little more time, but my Sherpa, Walter, thought that catching a cab at 5:15 would give us more than enough time for a race starting at 6:15...he's so naive, it's cute. In any event, we were in the lobby with some other runners by 5:20 waiting to get a cab. We shared our cab with a guy from Sacramento who was running the marathon. I didn't get his name (or if I did, I don't remember it). He was considering just doing the 1/2 if he was too cold. I wonder if he did.

Sherpa - Walter at 5:15...and we're out the door...

Speaking of cold, yes, it was. By the time we got to Mandalay Bay, we headed inside and went upstairs to BBJ's and Wilma's room to use their nice warm potty. Their room was warm, and since by then it was getting close to 6, BBJ was already downstairs.

Here's where I wasn't my usual anal, over-knowledgeable, control-freak self. I really usually review the maps of the race area so that I know EXACTLY where the gear check, the porta potties, the start, the finish, the EVERY SINGLE LITTLE THING is going to be. This time? Not. So. Much.

Due to my lack of prep-work, Walter and I wandered sorta aimlessly for while just looking for the main staging area, which was near the starting line....and worse yet, the Gear Check was at a point in the staging area about as far from the race as you could get. Thank gawd Irene called me at about 6:10 (Where are you?) and let me know where it was.

Probably from a property standpoint, it made sense to have the gear check where it was, but from an ass-cold runner's POV, it made no sense whatsoever because I'm pretty sure (in fact, I KNOW) lots of people did the same thing I did. Checked gear at the last minute (cuz it was so freekin' cold), used the porta-potty one last time ( cold porta potties have nowhere near the aroma that warm ones do--just an observation), then instead of walking way back to my starting corral (I was supposed to be in 17), just sorta merged into the corrals as the race had already started.

We don't look quite awake enough for a run, do we?

Which is what Walter and I did. We sorta stood in the corral 7 starting area, and let several groups start. When the runners started looking more like me (and I asked a few people, what corral they started in) we decided to merge in and start running. According to Garmin, we started running at 6:37...yikes, almost 20 minutes after the gun! I know there were peeps who didn't start running until almost an hour after the gun. In fact, we had run south of the strip for about a mile and had run back (almost 2 miles) and we saw what I think was the last group (coral 29) starting. It had to have been past 7 by then. I get the wave start and all, but standing there in the cold for an hour? Geez, they've gotta do something about THAT.

Anyway, our plan was to run about 3.5 miles together to Bally's which is near the Westin, then my Sherpa was going to take any cold weather gear I didn't want to wear any more and he'd meet me at the end.

We were off...

Running with my Sherpa and a cold ass - Miles 1-4
We started running at a pretty slow pace, and I was OK with that. As I've whined about repeatedly, I was barely trained for this run, but I was happy to be running and just thrilled to be running with Walter. And to be honest, the first part of the race was a blast! There were fireworks as we started. Lots of people in costumes. I tried to take a picture of a guy who was running while pushing a cart that had a cooler with a Charger's sticker and tunes blaring, but he passed us before I could get my camera out. There were Plenty of Elvi to entertain. Walter was with me, so I had someone to chat with. The bands were excellent! Running into the desert (away from the strip) with the sun coming up over the horizon was just awesome, then running back toward the strip and seeing the runners on the Giant MGM video-screen was beyond cool. In other words, there were lots of diversions to keep us entertained.

The band on top of the start? Pretty cool.

Running down the strip

But here's the first thing I learned about running in cold weather. You can wear gloves to keep your hands warm (I did); you can wear a hat to keep your ears warm (I did that too); you can wear tights (or in my case compression socks and capris) to keep your legs warm, (check); and you can wear layers of shirts to keep arms and core toasty (absolutely), but I'm still not sure what I should have been wearing to keep my ASS warm.

Seriously, my ass was freezing! Do you have any idea how difficult it is to run with a cold ass? Once I started to warm up at about Mile 3, I took off my top layer (it's a light wicking sweatshirt...which I love) and tied it around my waist, which didn't really help. It was a really odd feeling.

At Bally's I gave Walter my hat, my gloves (because I THOUGHT my hands were warm), my outer shirt, and kissed him goodbye. My Sherpa's first leg was done...get me to the race, and get me started...what a guy!

I won't lie...after he left, I was a little lonely. Here I was running the streets of Vegas pretty much by myself. I mean I knew BBJ and Irene were out there somewhere, but I hadn't seen them...ah well...I settled in, at least by then, I felt pretty warmed up (but my butt was still cold).

Early Race Stats:
Mile 1 - 12:10 (oooh slowwwwww)
Mile 2 - 11:50 (not much better)
Mile 3 - 11:20 (getting warmed up)
Mile 4 - 11:18

Settling in and the endless potty stop - Miles 5-9
I settled into my race pace (about an 11:20 mm), plugged in one earphone to listen to some tunes and continued. This part of the race took us into a part of Vegas that I get to less other words, anything past the Wynn, but I started to have this nagging feeling that I had to pee...and badly at that.

Now this surprised me because I rarely pee during races any more, and I had pee'd just prior to starting the race. I hadn't drank much coffee that morning (about a 1/2 a cup) and I hadn't even drank any water or other beverage. At the water stops, I wasn't really thirsty, so I took only a swallow or two of the Cytomax (no water, as it tends to just run through me...go figure). Oh, and why put ice in the Cytomax when its 35º out?

Anyway, the only think I can figure is that it was so cold I wasn't really sweating, and that my body didn't really need to do much work to cool down, so the fluids just needed an exit point. In any event, I ran by one porta potty about mile 4ish but it was on the return side of the street (Mile 9 on the way back), and I didn't want to cross over the median (in hindsight, maybe I shoulda), but by mile 7 I was desperate, and when I saw four porta-potties, I got in line.

and waited

and waited

and waited

seriously people...get in; pee; get out.


The potty stop cost me about about 5 minutes...or maybe not, I certainly couldn't have continued running the rest of the way, but frustrating nonetheless.

Somewhere after the pottystop, the course split so that we couldn't see the returning runners anymore and we headed into some of the finer parts of Vegas.

Some guy handing out beers to runners...awesome! And runners taking them...I can't even imagine. As if I didn't already have pee issues...

Signs of Vegas. Toto, I don't think we're on the Strip any more...

This is also where some of my lack-of-obsessiveness about this race did not help me. I was certain that we were turning around at the Stratosphere, but we didn't. We kept going, and going, and then finally, I remember some guy yelling, "only 1/4 mile more to the turnaround."

And we finally turned around...and we headed back toward the strip.

Also, about this time, I was starting to regret my decision to give Walter my gloves because my thumbs started to get cold...oh and my nose started matter, I just pulled my long sleeved over my hands, which covered them and also gave me a place to wipe my nose, as I just have no ability whatsoever to do shot-rockets. I headed toward the strip, I was feeling pretty good. Still had some good tunes going. Knew this wasn't going to be a PR day, but thought I'd finish pretty strong...or so I thought.

Mid-Race Stats
Mile 5 - 11:18
Mile 6 - 11:57
Mile 7 - 12:00 (excluding the 5 minutes my Garmin stopped because I had stopped...GAH!)
Mile 8 - 11:40
Mile 9 - 11:32's gonna get ugly here - Miles 10-13.1
To be honest, back around Mile 9, I started to feel a nasty knot in my right calf, which is odd, because tight calves has not been included in my recent litany of complaints about running, but here it was. So at the Mile 9 aid station, I stopped for a bit to stretch the calf muscles.

As we headed back toward the strip, there was a bank building with the temperature and clock on the building. It read 41º. I'm pretty sure that temperature reading was in the sun, and so long as I was in the sun, it wasn't bad. Problem is that Vegas has these REALLY TALL buildings, and when in the shade of one of those, it was COLD! In her race report Jill (a local Vegas girl) pointed out that it got extra cold in front of the hotels where there are fountains. I didn't attribute the cold blasts to the fountains, but I did notice that at some points we would get these blasts of cold(er) air.

At 9am, the bells were chiming at Bellagio...which was cool (how many times can I use the word cool in one post?), but it was...also, this was also one of the places where runners enjoyed that blast of cold air due to the fountains.

How cold was it? At the mile 9 aid station, they gave out Gu. I've never had to chew Gu before. I'm just sayin'

Nothing like Dayglo-lime-green to help you to stand out in the crowd...This photo "borrowed" from the race photographer. I think it was taken at mile 10.

Funny story...the previous day, at the expo, I bought a new running tank by Gracie's Gear, the kind with the pocket right in front. I wasn't thinking I'd wear it during the race, but then I figured it'd give me a good place to keep my phone while I was running. It also gave me an extra layer...which I needed.

Anyway, right before this photo was taken, I was fiddling with my iPhone. I thought...oh great, another photo of me looking like I'm checking my rack out during a race...Betty will LOVE that. Luckily, the photographer didn't catch that shot. Instead, I stand out like a beacon in the green.

At mile 10, I stopped to take a picture of the mile 10 sign (and the back of some guy's head) to send a photo to Walter to tell him where I was, but I was starting to hurt, and I knew that I was moving at just a snails pace. I'd try to speed up a bit, but it felt like that really bad dream that you have where you are running with all your energy and might and just not moving and you wake up and you're all wrapped up in your blankets? That's how I felt.

three more miles...threeeeee more miles...threeeeeeeee more miles...

By the time I got to Mile 12, I was doing the "it's only one more mile. you can run a mile. if you finish this mile in 11 minutes, you'll be done running in ONLY 11 MINUTES... at 12.5 miles, I was thinking, "only 5 more minutes girl... you can run for 5 minutes... it's nothing.

More ASI "borrowed photos" don'tcha love the hand warmers and gritted teeth.

In front of Mandalay Bay, I tried to put my head down, listening to Christina Aguilera's "Fighter" for the third time, and finished. GAH!

And she's done...

The Ugly Truth Stats:
Mile 10 - 13:09 (yeah...ugly)
Mile 11 - 13:12 (ooooh worse - like molasses)
Mile 13 - 11:56

Garmin time: 2:38:20
Chip time: 2:44:20 (my slowest 1/2 marathon time)
Clock time: 3:05:37 (Dayum, it's depressing to see 3 hours on the clock, even if I did start almost 20 minutes after the gun, but still)

After Race - The Drama Continues

I had two thoughts at the end of the race.
  1. Thank god that's over
  2. Damn I'm cold
  3. How the hell are we going to get out of here?
Now that I'm thinking back, I barely remember going through the finish area. Someone handed me the finishers medal and a bottle of water and a mylar blanket (best use of mylar blanket ever!) I sorta remember picking up a bagel, taking a bite, and tossing the rest of it. I grabbed a banana and an orange, but I think I must have given them to Walter. I checked my phone and I had a text from Walter that said "13" which meant he must have seen me at the finish, so I made my way to the meeting area. Luckily, before I got there, I saw Walter, (or he saw me) we got my gear and tried to figure out what to do next.

I'll leave the whole long story of how we managed to get out of Mandalay Bay and back to our hotel for another post, but suffice it to say, it took us almost as long to get back to our hotel as it took me to run a really slow 1/2 marathon and it included WAAAAAY too much walking.

But it ended with this...

Me and Walter at the MGM in a cafe with coffee and was 11:15. I'd stopped running around 9:30

and of course, this...

Next post: The after-story and some reflections (really...I'm happy with the finish. It's a lousy time, but it was ASS-cold and I really hadn't been able to train like I'd like to. But I ran the whole thing (except for the porta potty break and one stretch stop) and I was still running at the end, so I'm happy.


  1. You did great!! It sounds like it was a tough one... thank you, Chilly Vegas and painful injuries. :/

    I had fun reading about your weekend. Love the Gracie's Gear tank!

  2. You did great. I know you are not impressed with your time but the conditions looked sucky. Running while when you are too cold (or hot for that matter) is miserable. You still made it look like a lot of fun.

  3. Love your review of your run in Vegas! Would've loved to hook up, but jeez-luiz - so many peeps! It was a tad chilly - I had to go shopping to buy warm weather running gear. :) After the race we trekked the 2 miles back to our hotel, showered and caught a taxi to the airport. Our flight left at 1pm so I didn't get to enjoy much of the after race party - it was tooo chilly anyways - and who needs anything other than the BLING! WOOP!!

  4. Good Job chica!!!

    Phoenix RnR was my slowest Half, I stopped to take pictures of the cute policemen on motorcycles and ended chatting with them! So at least you kept moving...LOL..

  5. Men don't seem to understand the cold weather / frozen ass thing. I know exactly what you mean, and haven't found any solution.

  6. lol at "plenty of Elvi" don't know why, just makes me giggle. Great job on the race, especially with the cold!! Awesome race report ad pics too :)

  7. I wore a boy-cut compression short underneath my leggings, which helped, but it was still ass-cold!
    Great report and I'm glad to see all is normal when the mimosas were pictured. ;)

  8. I took my gloves off at mile 4, hooked them on my Fuel Belt... and then had them back on by mile 4.5!

    It was definitely a madhouse at the finish. And I had so much stuff in my hands, I couldn't figure out how to actually get my mylar blanket around me to keep warm. My banana at the finish line felt like a frozen banana... BRRRR!

  9. Great job, despite the cold weather! And, your finish time was still faster than my first half marathon, where I walked most of miles 10-13.1!

  10. Despite the difficulties, it looks like a happy ending!

  11. I think you did great! And how to keep your butt warm? Two layers. I wear shorts and tights as soon as the weather hits 30 or 2 pair of tights if it gets in the 20s. I have the same problem, so I've learned to keep it covered! Or a coat with a longer back to cover the area. I have that too. Sad to say, I think areas with the most fat get the coldest.

  12. GOOD For you!!! that's matter what, I give you a ton of credit ;-)
    btw -- found you on my Google Alert that checks for mentions of my PortaPocket products...I also search for Porta Pocket (as sometimes people misspell it) so that's how your post came were remarking on the Porta potties..! Well, that's rather apropos as I designed my PortaPocket strap-on carrying case system after a tampon snafu (whoops!) at my gym! (how embarrassing...:)) No matter, that's my note for now... If you ever wanted to check out my little line feel free to say hi @PortaPocketGal or visit at (was on TODAY show though not sure you caught it then..) anyhoo...keep doing your thing and happy holidays!! :-)

  13. Hey...I just found your blog and love reading up on your race. Awesome job!!! I cracked up at the alarm thing, too. I always set my alarm, watch, phone alarm and get a wake-up call and I still wake up about an hour before all. One day, I will also over sleep, I am sure! Congrats!!