I don’t remember how I heard about the race, but last year some time, I’d heard about the Really Big Free Marathon in Las Vegas and signed up without thinking twice about it. I had forgotten I’d signed up for the race until May of this year.
Well, last weekend was the race. My parents and I drove down to Las Vegas (7 hrs away) on Thursday. We’re pretty lucky because we have friends and family we can stay down there with, so we don’t have to spend money on a hotel, etc.
One of the highlights of driving down to Las Vegas is stopping in Beaver, UT to get some fresh squeaky cheese. They sell all kinds of fresh cheese and trinkets and stuff at the cheese factory. Here is a picture I snapped as we were driving in to Beaver.
We finally rolled in to Las Vegas around 3:00 pm on Thursday and we just chilled all day Thursday evening from being in the car all day.
On a kick side note, I LOVE LOVE LOVE the people that we stayed with, but oh man, I’m SO glad I packed allergy meds. For some reason when I was packing my bags, I decided to throw in some allergy meds. I definitely needed them. I’m allergic to cats and they have 3 cats. I have a cat of my own and that doesn’t bother me, but going from a house with 1 cat to a house with 3 cats, it just wasn’t good. But, once I got allergy meds in me, I was good.
Friday, before we went to packet pickup, my parents wanted to go to Wal-Mart. I guess it’s not enough that we go to Wal-Mart almost every other day at home. I guess they couldn’t break that trend. Then, we headed out to Lake Mead to see where the race was going to start and make sure we knew how to get out there.
We only knew that the race was going to start at Boulder Beach at Lake Mead. We knew nothing else. When we got out to Lake Mead, we found out it cost $10 to get in to the actual campground area and down to the boat ramp (race directors told athletes nothing about this). We decided not to pay to go see where the race was going to start. I was a little frustrated that the race directors didn’t tell us that it was going to cost us to get out there. I have no problem paying it, but it would have just been nice to know before hand, ya know?
Packet pickup wasn’t until 3:00 pm, so we spent an hour or so driving around Henderson, NV and seeing where my mom used to live, where her high school was, etc.
3:00 pm finally came, so we headed over to Lake Las Vegas to pick up my packet. Lake Las Vegas is a pretty big resort, and the only information that was given was packet pickup was going to be at the Aston Montelago Village Resort. We walked in to the casino and asked the Concierge about it and they knew NOTHING. So, we had to walk around for a few minutes and we finally found a sign that said packet pickup was in a conference room on the other side of the resort. That would’ve been nice to know. 🙂
Finally picked up packet and that went pretty fast. That part of the race seemed organized. One of the only parts of the race that seemed organized. My parents had never been to Lake Las Vegas (I did last year when it was an exchange point for the Ragnar Relay), so we walked around the resort for a few minutes.
The night before the race, I was quite surprised. I slept REALLY well. The race was to start at 6:00 a.m., so I didn’t want to be there until 5:30ish so that the less time I had to stand there and wait for the race to start, the less I’d worry. This is the first time I tried this tactic. So, I didn’t get up until 4:00 a.m. I got dressed and had a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast (best pre-race breakfast) and then we headed out to the lake.
When we got out to the lake, once again, the disorganization of the race came in to play. There were no signs as to where the race started. Boulder Beach is pretty big. There were alot of runners walking around wondering where to go. We finally saw some cars heading further down towards the lake and the ambulance was heading down that way too, so we headed down there and found the race start.
First thing you should ALWAYS do before a race is use the bathroom. I did that and then I was ready to start the race. I packed my gels and I had enough gels with me so that if I needed one every 2 miles I could, but I was hoping I wouldn’t need that many gels.
Sunrise was supposed to be at 7:04 a.m., so they decided to hold the start of the race until 6:15 – 6:30 a.m. so we weren’t running as much in the dark. I did appreciate that since I didn’t bring a headlamp. I didn’t want to bring a headlamp because I knew I wouldn’t need it the whole time and I didn’t want to bother with a headlamp once the sun came out.
They started us in groups of 100 with the faster runners going first. I thought the 1/2 marathoners weren’t supposed to start with us, but they did. it didn’t bother me. As I was waiting for the race to start, I started talking to a girl from Kansas. She flew all the way out for this race. This was her first marathon.
The race started and I ran with the girl from Kansas for about the first 3 miles. The first 3 miles went pretty well. We started out on a pretty decent hill. I made sure I started out slow and didn’t jump the gun. I thought I was pacing myself pretty well.
At mile 3 I walked for a minute while I downed my first gel and then the mental part of the run started to kick in and I really struggled for the next 2 miles. I kept seeing the mile markers and thinking “Damn, I’ve still got 23 miles to go. Damn, I’ve got 22 miles to go. How am I going to do this?” I just kept looking down at my arm and reading my tattoo and thinking of my friend Colleen back in MA that was running a 50 miler at the same time I was running my marathon.
Before I left town, I was talking with my coach and he said that for the first little while of the race, not to let my heart race exceed 160 bpm because then I might get too tired too soon and I wouldn’t be able to finish. So, I was really watching my heart rate on the hills. If I needed to I walked the hills. The hills were as steep as I thought they would be, but they were alot LONGER than I expected. The race directors didn’t really provide us with a good map of the course.
There were quite a few disappointing things about this race. Honestly I kind of expected it as well. There were NO pre-race emails sent out unless you signed up for them. So, that was kind of a shocker.
But, up until mile 6 1/2, there were water stops and porta-potties every 1 1/2 miles. That was REALLY nice. I didn’t need to refill my water until mile 6. But, after the 1/2 marathon turn around, there were NO porta potties. NONE. ZILCH! ZERO!!! Guess who needed to go to the bathroom? ME!!! They only had water stops every 3 miles after the 1/2 marathon turn around. There was NO fruit or gels available on the course. All they offered at the aid stations was water and gatorade, if there was any left. The water wasn’t cold either. It was just sitting out in gallon jugs. At one point, I had to pour my own water.
It was very interesting, the turn around point for us was at mile 11. I was very confused at the moment. I was doing really well at that point. I had to walk for a little bit to reach that point, but I made it and I was still on target to reach a PR from my first marathon.
I was hauling ass down the hills. I was chatting with other runners and we were having fun. Then mile 15 came and I started to feel not so good. I didn’t know what was going on, but I felt like I was going to barf at any moment. I didn’t know what was going on. I hadn’t eaten too many gels, I didn’t have any gatorade. I didn’t know what to do. So, I would run until I felt like barfing, then stopped and walked.
It was starting to get pretty hot, so when I’d come upon a water station, I’d pour whatever water I had in my bottle over my head and refill my bottle again.
At one point, I was running down a hill with a girl from St. Paul, MN and I was feeling pretty strong. Then, I came to mile 18, knew I needed another gel, so I stopped & walked and she went on ahead.
I was doing ok until I reached mile 22. At this point I knew it was going to be impossible to get my PR, and I was feeling absolutely AWFUL, so I slowed down. At mile 22 (for the marathoners), that’s where we crossed the street and headed out for another 2 miles out and the 1/2 marathoners turned and ran in to the finish. The next 2 miles were uphill the WHOLE. DAMN. WAY. Uphill isn’t good for me when I’m ready to barf at any minute. Oh, and I still had to go to the bathroom.
At this point, yes, I’d passed a couple of porta-potties, but I figured, I’ve held it this long, might as well try and hold it through the finish. Lol.
I walked almost the entire 2 miles uphill. When I got to the top, I refilled and was so glad that I only had 2 miles left to go and I’d be done! Praise the Lord!
I ran as much as I could downhill. At mile 25, I was still feeling like absolute crap and since I knew I was going to get a PR, I FINALLY stopped to use the bathroom, hoping that might help me feel better. I didn’t want to down another gel, but sitting on the potty, I realized if I was going to make it to the finish, I needed to. So, I gagged down another gel.
Using the restroom didn’t help much. With about 3/4 of a mile to go, I saw a girl wearing a shirt from the Nike Women’s marathon (made me think of my friend Betsy) and I chatted with her. This gal and I ended up running in to the finish together. This gal and I were both on the same page with how disorganized this race was.
According to my GPS watch, I crossed the finish line running 26.55 miles in 5:17:58. Not my best time in the world, but considering everything that went in to this marathon, I figure that’s a pretty good time.
One thing SUPER disappointing about the race was at the finish line, they had room temperature water for us. As I crossed the finish line, I was craving ice cold water. They had some fruit for us at the finish, but at that time, I was just tired and ready to be done.
We really didn’t hang around too long. Took a couple of pictures and then headed back home.
As soon as I got home, I texted my friend Kristie that I’ve got to know on Twitter. She lives in Las Vegas, but had babysitting issues, so she wasn’t able to be at the race. But, I think one of the highlights of my trip down there was finally meeting Kristie and her son. It was SUCH a pleasure to have her over and to sit and visit. Not very many people “get” me, but she does.
I had to be back to work on Monday, so we had to make the 7 hour drive home on Sunday. I knew in order for me to not stiffen up, I needed to stay active the rest of the day Saturday and Sunday. This post has been long enough, so I’ll spare you the details of Saturday night for another post. 🙂
I’m supposed to get my $50 back from the registration for this marathon and I’m supposed to get a finishers certificate as well. Sadly, with how disorganized this race has been, I don’t expect it. Is that bad of me?
I don’t think I will ever do a race by this race company again; however, if another 1/2 or full marathon was on this course, I would do it again just so I can say I conquered the course.
Would you ever do a free marathon?