December 12, 2006
Las Vegas Marathon
My buddy Matt Hoffman, Helen and I flew off to Las Vegas over the weekend for the Las Vegas Marathon. Unfortunately, Helen couldn't run due to a hamstring tear, but Matt and I had good races. I was aiming for a 3:15 and ended up crossing the line a little over 3 minutes over that goal. Matt was aiming for a 3:20, but hit the wall with 6 miles left to go and finished in 3:29
The run was pretty nice - 16,000 runners with Blue Man Group playing at the start. It was mostly flat with a slight downhill grade and a tail wind for the first half with the inevitable upgrade/headwind for the second half of the 26.2 mile loop which made it a bit challenging. The first hour was pretty uncomfortable, as my right leg from the knee down went completely numb as I knew it would. I have no idea what causes this aside from an accumulation of training hours. It seems that whenever I reach 5 to 6 hours of running per week, my right foot goes numb for about an hour when starting a run. It's very uncomfortable, but usually goes away after the first hour, so I wasn't too concerned.
I knew when we first started out that the out-leg would have to be at a slightly faster pace due to the tail wind and favorable slope, so I reached the half way point with a 3 minute buffer on my time. Then I just tried to hang onto that 3 minutes for as long as I could on the home stretch. I thought I was doing a pretty good job though, as I was fluctuating between 1 to 2 minutes over my pace by the final 6 miles. That's when I started to really feel the soreness creeping into my legs and even though it felt like my pace was the same, my speed really started to slip.
That last 6 miles was very difficult and took quite a bit of focused mental effort just to maintain an aggressive pace. The agony you feel from shooting pains and fatigue in your legs during that last 10 km is hard to explain to anyone who hasn't experienced it. At every mile marker I would check my pace band, and be shocked to see that I had lost another minute! But that only fueled my determination to mitigate the time slippage and push through the pain.
I was pretty happy to cross the finish line at 3:18:52, only about 4 minutes slower than my goal. As it turned out, I would consider this a personal best marathon even though I ran a 3:16:46 at Tucson in 2004. Tucson was an all-downhill marathon and I finished in the top 20% of my 40 to 44 age group. In Vegas, I placed 22 nd out of 504 runners in my 45 to 49 age group which was a personal record top 4.3% finish.
Here is a chart that I keep showing my AG % finishes for all races since 2001:
I waited at the finish for Matt, who crossed about 10 minutes later. He was with the 3:20 pace group until the last 6 miles, then suffered the same bonk fate that I did and had to let his 3:20 dreams slip away. All in all, it was a fun weekend - caught a show, rested a bit and we both had great races.
Helen was sad that she couldn't participate, but she needs rest and recovery right now, as we both are committed to two Ironman races this spring and summer Ironman Arizona in April and Ironman Canada in August. Training for Arizona starts very soon.