Last Saturday I tripped on a steel plate covering a hole in a construction area at mile 5 of the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. I fell hard, knocked the wind out of myself again and it would seem that I bruised my ribs. As a result I hadn’t run a step. Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas has a strict 5 hour cutoff for the marathon because they have to shut down the strip to traffic. This wasn’t an issue when I last ran it in 2015, but this time I would be injured badly enough that just sitting up, coughing, or elicits moans of pain. There was real concern that I may not be able to run at all, let alone the marathon, and within the 5 hour cutoff in particular. Complicating matters I had a flight leaving that evening so that I could arrive back to the office to work Monday.
I arrived Friday evening at almost midnight, and Chris was good enough to pick me up from the airport. He had found a room at a casino off the strip at a reasonable price that we could share, and we hit the hay. The next morning I was eager to try the free (!) coffee (note: one cup only, management reserves all rights) offered by our hotel. We headed down to look into it and wound up having breakfast. After I had some work to do and the hotel internet wasn’t cooperating. We went to a Starbucks, across from a 7-11 that was inexplicably playing Haydn, for what I promised would be a 15 minute thing. I believe it was an hour, possibly more, but Chris patiently waited before taking me to the expo to pick up my race kit. So many people… After we went to the National Atomic Testing Museum, because (1) I’m a nerd. (b) I like kitchy museums. I mean sure everyone’s got an art museum, but what about a museum dedicated to Victorian hairstyles or snuff boxes made exclusively of bone? And (triangle) Who doesn’t love a chance to bring your own scientist to a science museum?
Afterward we spent some time looking at Yelp reviews for dinner. We found a fajita place in Henderson with great, if amusing, reviews that made me laugh, and hurt, and then laugh, and then hurt. The line was long, but ultimately worth the wait. We passed the time by walking downtown Henderson, which was quite dead for a Saturday night. You would hardly know you were just a short drive from Vegas, and to be honest I loved it. Relaxing…
Next we’d coordinated meeting up with Karen and Robert at the Mirage Hotel bar. A few drinks, catching up on people, races, club politics, etc. Karen has a big personality, and as much as it can be like drinking from a fire hose, I can’t imagine her any other way. By the time we were done it was getting late. Off to bed. I had hoped to head out to Red Rock Canyon to see the sun rise, but I was WAY too lazy Sunday morning.
Instead we got our free coffee and passed on the whole of breakfast, and headed to a pharmacy where I could by stamps for my postcards, then on to lunch at Sweet Tomatoes/Soup Plantation. A race that starts at 4:30pm is tricky. The vast majority of races you will have done will start first thing in the morning. You know how to fuel for an 8am long run. You’ve done it a million times. You’re going to have to eat for fuel, but you don’t want a full lunch, and you don’t want to have a gut full of food when you start running. A salad place at 11am seemed like a good plan. Time to digest, and not too heavy. Back to the hotel for a nap before getting dressed and heading to the start.
Traffic in Vegas is insane when the shut down the strip. If you’ve not done this race my advice would be either to stay on the strip or to make sure you’re there with plenty of time. We wound up parking at a free (!) garage a few blocks from the start at the Hard Rock Casino. The Start Village was a little hard to figure out for me. Stuff over here, stuff over there, etc, but eventually we found our way around and to the start “corrals,” nothing enclosed, just a little blow up number on the side. Both the full and half courses goes out of town to the iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada” sign and turns back to the start on the strip for the first 5k. In the first few miles there was a street preacher with signs and megaphones urging everyone to FEAR GOD. If my options are eternity with him or hell, I’ll take my chances with hell.
Headed North up the strip we hang a slight right at the Mirage, past the Stratosphere and Circus Circus and do a little goofy doodle onto Fremont street before turning around to see it all again. At about mile 12 came the moment of truth, do I try to do the marathon, or not? Eyeing the time and doing a little math if I were to attempt to do the marathon and hold on to my pace, I would just barely finish inside 5 hours. Realistically I’m likely to slow down, even though I felt like I wasn’t pushing terribly hard it was risky, and I had a flight to catch. So I stayed left into the half marathon chute. Finished the race, walked the interminable finisher chute, and watched the Bellagio fountain until Chris found me. I used some travel wipes and changed clothes in the parking garage before we headed to McCarran to drop me for my flight.
I had hoped to do the marathon, and there’s a part of me that would have strongly preferred to at least try the marathon, but I might have been pulled, I might have missed my flight, and I certainly would have hurt a lot more. As it happens on my way home my abdomen and chest ached for nearly the whole flight. Probably not the wisest idea I ever had and I ultimately went to the doctor to get an x-ray. She was able to confirm at least that nothing is fractured, which is great news. I should probably not be running for a while, but I’m supposed to be doing a 50 miler tomorrow. It’ll be a game day decision. Fun Fact: The Sphinx at the Luxor is 101 feet high, 50% larger than the Great Sphinx of Giza after which it is modeled.