Monday, December 13, 2010

A Half Marathon is 13.1 Miles...

The title of this post is the same title I gave to a playlist on my iPod that contained songs I thought were cool enough to accompany me while training for and oh yeah, completing the half marathon.

So, here is the long awaited review of the whole shebang...

As the days grew closer to the real thing on December 5, my anxiety level rose. I was nervous and excited and hopeful and ready all at the same time. Soon enough, Friday rolled around and my brother-in-law and I went to the Expo Center to pick up our race day packets and "swag bags". Seeing all the people, signs, t-shirts, etc. made it all REAL. The first glimpse I caught of the "Runner Check-in" sign really struck a chord for me - it was at the moment I realized what I was about to embark on.

Check in went off without a hitch. I bought a sweet t-shirt (which I'll be wearing AT LEAST once a week for the rest of my life...just so people know what I did ; ) ) and we visited a few booths. We also got to meet Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray - that sure did set a good tone for the whole weekend.

I was so excited as we were leaving the Expo! I had a little more than 24 hours 'til the big day!

To say I was stressed on Saturday evening would be an understatement. I was making checklists left and right, applying safety pins in the appropriate places, putting my d-tag on my shoe securely, laying out my clothes, putting together a bag of extra clothes. It was a whirlwind! I picked up a few things I needed and went to the grocery store for my Night Before the Big Race meal. I had whole wheat pasta, tomato/zuchini/black olive made-from-scratch sauce, chicken breast and garlic bread. Man, was it good! A relaxing bubble bath and some TV watching later - I was asleep by about 9:00.

Sunday finally arrived and I was awoken at 4:15 by my trusty cell phone alarm clock. You better believe I curled my hair too. I gathered all I would need, ate breakfast (whole wheat bagel with peanut butter and a banana - what else?!) and soon it was 5:30 and my brother-in-law was picking me up. I had butterflies in my tummy and a smile on my face. I. Was. Ready! We arrived at the Mandalay bay at about 6:00 a.m. or so and made our way through the (crowded!) casino out to the parking lot to get ready.

We both needed to check our bags with stuff we didn't want to run with and that took a few minutes longer than anticipated. While standing in line the first corral of elite runners started right at 7:00 a.m. Right on time!

My brother-in-law and I split up and went to our respectable corrals. His: 17. Mine: 29. Ha. I was armed with my lip balm, a sweat towel, an iPod nano, 2 pieces of gum and a pair of sunglasses. (my Chanel's - duh!) I made my way to #29 to wait with hundreds of my closest friends. I popped in my iPod earbuds and listened to a few motivating tunes while stretching a little bit. There was a "Blues Brothers" band playing all sorts of old school songs. All of which were super entertaining. As the corrals near the front started, our corral slowly made our way up the road and curved around to the Start Line. Finally, after about 20 or 30 minutes of waiting - there I was staring straight up at the Start Line banner. In a flash, they announced it was #29's turn to take off and BOOM! there we went. I had my music pumping as well as my legs and I started off pretty well. I was passing people left and right to get out of the crowd and made my way to the far left. As it turns out, this was an AWESOME place to be because that's where all the course photographers are. Ha. Can't resist a photo opportunity.

So, picture this: there I am trucking along, feeling great, saying a prayer (or 7) that my IT band pain doesn't creep up, hoping my shin splints don't give me any trouble, hoping I'm smiling in every picture when I begin to wonder how far I've run so far. I'm thinking it HAD to be like 5 or 6 miles. 5 or 6 miles AT LEAST! Right about that time is when I see a purple Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series mileage sign stating that we were approaching a 5K. As in 3.2 miles. Womp womp. Ugh. My little flame of rockin' and rollin' burnt out RIGHT there. Talk about a bubble burst! I keep running....past the MGM, the Paris......

the Venetian, the Palazzo, the Wynn, the Encore and I see the Stratosphere in the distant.

Right about then I felt both my right and left leg IT bands start stiffening up. I grabbed a cup of Cytomax at the first station and didn't spill a drop! I kept running. And I ran some more. Until finally I decided to take a walk break at about mile 6, 6.5 or 7... I can't be sure. My legs were both really hurting by that time and I ended up walking a mile or so until the course wrapped around through downtown (Fremont St. area) and started back up Las Vegas Blvd.* Every step I took was more painful than the last. I felt as if any moment my IT bands would pop with a snap - like a rubber band. My left leg was definitely worse than my right and on the run back I could feel a blister starting to form on my left inner foot. Oh joy. A blister. You can imagine my delight. From mile 8 to 10 I ran and walked intermittently - taking walk breaks when I needed to. I saw the signs indicated the miles and knew I only had a few left. At about mile 11 I knew I wasn't going to meet my goal of finishing in 3 hours, but I just wanted to finish at the point. Mile 11 came and went, and I was finally on 12. 1 more to go! I could see the Mandalay Bay and just decided to book it down the road. I'm pretty sure I said to myself, "Let me just get this (expletive) over with!" I took off and my legs were tingling! I saw the finish line and passed a few people on the way down the chute. I crossed the finish line and kept running... so far that I almost didn't grab my MEDAL! That's also about when my legs were ready to each fall off - sort of like a Barbie's does if they're twisted too far. My commemorative photo was taken and I headed off to meet my brother-in-law. We met up with his parents and my sister and then left shortly thereafter. We went to Hash House for lunch and what a wonderful lunch it was! I proudly wore my medal at the restaurant and almost slept in it that night. A short nap that afternoon along with some ice and heat application helped me a lot. The next two or three days were a bit rough, my left leg was seriously jacked up. I am recovered now though. It was all so worth it!

I'm so glad I did the half marathon. Not only do I have two awesome t-shirts (which I'll be wearing every week)...but I have the most awesome memory of deciding one day to do something and then seeing that act come to life. I'm so proud...if I do say so myself.

Annnnd...I didn't lose any toenails.

*Best Sign I saw on the race route: "You're All Kenyan To Me!"


  1. no toenail loss is super impressive! After my last marathon I was down to only 4 left. ick!

    You looked great while running. And good for you for doing it and finishing, even though the darn IT band had to be annoying.

  2. Love the way you describe your experience. What an amazing feat! Proud of you!!