Friday, December 09, 2011
DH likes to say that Vegas is Disney for adults. I willingly suspend my disbelief, and so I enjoy it. I'd never been until the mid to late 90s, but oddly enough, outside of NYC, Vegas is my most visited US city. Life can be strange.
All these photos were taken with my cell phone, so I apologize for the quality.
Panel at the expo. Meb Klefizighi (something like that - 2009 NYC marathon winner); Rod Dixon; and I never did catch who the last person was. My biggest takeaway from their talk? Every time you get to run should be seen as good, no matter how bad the outcome (barring loss of limb or life, of course!).
John "The Penguin" Bingham. One of my personal heroes -- his books really encouraged me to waddle on. He sure likes to hear himself talk!
The crowd pleaser Kara Goucher, who came thru as very nice and down-to-earth. I would've had my photo taken with her (heck, I would've definitely had my photo taken with the penguin -- he was always busy, tho) - but the line was just too long and it was getting late.
The Venetian at night. There's a small ice skating rink, too.
I've never been to Vegas during the holiday season. It's not NYC, but I enjoyed all the decorations.
In the daylight. They're serving free hot chocolate or mulled apple cider & roasted chestnuts - never could quite figure out the schedule -- I did manage to snag some hot chocolate and the chestnuts one day. Decided I'm not real fond of roasted chestnuts.
The night photos were as I was walking back to the hotel from the expo Friday night. Glad I caught the volcano at the Mirage erupting then, because I missed it on my run. I seemed to have missed most things scenic on my run . . .
The Fountain of the Gods inside Caesar's Palace. They also have live, moving statues but I didn't take any photos. The hotels with large shopping malls make them look "real" with the painted sky & such -- down the steaming manholes in NYNY.
Fountain & statue outside of Caesar's Palace.
The big cats outside the MGM.
The big cats INSIDE the MGM. Doing what cats do best. I like to visit them whenever I'm in Vegas.
I have race-day photos to look thru, but I'm sure some are bored by all the race ramblings, just as I'm sure there are more race ramblings to come.
If they up the entrants to 60,000 next yr it will be a very difficult decision for me. And it might have been a very different decision for me if I'd had to fight my way thru the Mandalay Bay after the race . . . sort of makes me glad that I'm slow & that I stayed at the Tropicana and had no problems walking back to the hotel after the race.
Thursday, December 08, 2011
So somehow I'd gotten into my mind that walking to fashion show mall would be a good idea. Only first I needed lunch. I always wanted to try out witchcraft, a sandwich place by Tom Colicchio of Top Chef fame, so I headed over to the MGM.
To get to the restaurant, you have to walk thru the entire hotel, which is a pretty good walk. And it was CLOSED. By this time, I'm getting a little hungry but I decide the other restaurants there weren't what I was in the mood for. I decided to head over to the Cosmopolitan, because I'd read the pizza at D.O.C.G. was good. Only THEY were CLOSED. WTH?
By this point it's noon, I'm hungry & a bit tired. I briefly consider walking the rest of the way to the mall, but I need food & I need it NOW.
I decide to try out China Poblano. We saw it when we went to the buffet - the reviews said pricey, small portions, but good. They were right on.
I had a Caesar salad WITH whole anchovies - which I liked - who knew? The only time i'd ever had anchovies was on pizza & I hated that. The salad was a decent size. I also had a refried bean taco & a wild mushroom taco - both small, but really tasty. I thoroughly enjoyed my lunch. DH, BTW, was out gambling.
So then, refueled, it was on to the mall. I wandered around a lot, tried on a few things, but bought nothing. And then I stumbled across the Red Velvet Cafe. Oh my. Let's just say I'm glad I didn't find it earlier in my trip (altho I bet lunch there would be awesome).
I really don't know what got into me, but I got the red velvet "cake" - more like a really big cupcake. If you go there, don't get it to go - sit down with it, because they warm it up and let me tell you that was some deliciousness. I ate about 3/4 of it, yes I did, including every last bite of the frosting. And it's vegan. Some reviewers claimed the cakes were less than 200 calories but I don't believe it.
You can bet I will return next time I'm in vegas. I regretted not getting the vanilla chocolate chip cake . . .
I went thru the miracle mile of shops at Planet Hollywood on the way home - and finally broke down & bought several sweaters at H&M - wouldn't you know the first place I looked at last Thursday?
Maybe tomorrow I'll have some time to wrestle some photos onto my computer; maybe not. But for now, hopefully this will be my next racing bling - youraustinmarathon.com/images/storie
Pretty cool. Then I have to pick some race for after that . . .
Wednesday, December 07, 2011
1. Consistency is key
Not to long ago I read that there's some formula you multiply your weekly mileage by to see where you'll hit the wall - and that had me worried, because I don't think I ever ran more than 20 miles, and many weeks, while nursing injuries, significantly less.
I never hit the wall. I think being consistent - and cross training - are the keys. I am not the sort of person who lives to run. I like variety. I like the challenge & endorphins of running, too, which is why I do it.
2. Cw-x tights are worth every penny to me
Between swimming, yoga & my cw-x tights, my achy hip mostly stopped bothering me in that last month of training. I wore them for my long runs & would stay in them for at least a half hour afterwards.
3. Don't try ANYTHING new before your HM
I knew this & I was going along pretty religiously respecting it. Or so I thought. Until I thought it would be a good idea to do a new yoga DVD the Tuesday before the race.
I'm not sure that's what caused my knee to be so funky, but it started shortly afterwards.
4. Research, people!
It's amazing to me the number of people who have no idea that Vegas can get cold. It was, in fact, colder here on the day/night of the race than it was back home in NY. I've been here in winter so I knew it was a possibility. It can even snow. Weather.com is your friend, but give it +/- 10 degrees because forecasts change.
Research the race itself. I'd read plenty of stories of RnR events being disorganized, so it wasn't a huge shock to me.
Research hotels. I switched partly because the Luxor had no wifi. The wifi here worked great. How far away from the start & finish lines are you willing to be? Will you drive? How far will you want to Walk after running 13.1 miles? I was riding my runner's high so we walked the mile back to the hotel, including having to go up & down the non-working escalators.
Research restaurants. What do you want to eat? I knew I wanted a goid pancake breakfast on race day. Blueberry hill did not disappoint.
5. Don't rely on the kindness of strangers
I'd read about races where they run out of water or food for the slowpokes like me. Yes, it would be way easier to run without carrying four 8 oz water bottles or GUs and a post race snack. I didn't have to struggle with the aid stations or wait hours for food afterwards - priceless.
Not to mention the many aggressive runners basically elbowing their way thru you - and the walkers walking so close together that you couldn't run around them. Or the street littered with gloves & hats & even sweatshirts.
6. Options are nice
Half my suitcase was taken up with running gear - that is not an exaggeration. Even with research, weather is variable. Pack a variety of tops. You won't regret it. A variety of running snacks isn't a bad idea, either. You never know what you might crave race day.
7. Check your bib AND chip
Well, anything where the numbers need to match - check em. Really, who would've expected my chip to not match my bib?
8. Go to the talks
If you have time, of course. They're interesting. You will learn new stuff. You could have your photo taken with an Olympian - I didn't, but I could have!
9. Goals are good, but running IS the goal
Goals are good, they motivate us. But you won't always meet your goal - I know I most definitely didn't. But in the end, I did: I ran a HM. It impresses the hell out of people. It's what I set out to do.
10. Finishing is winning
Kate Gosslein's shirt said so. Did you know this was her first marathon? I didn't until afterwards.
There will eventually be photos. Lots & lots of photos. Just not yet.
Tuesday, December 06, 2011
Fair warning: if describing food makes you wan't to eat, you might want to skip this blog.
My husband & I always seem at odds when it comes to food in Vegas. He wants cheap eats - not so easy to find anymore, but not impossible. I want good food - there are SO many amazing restaurants here.
OTOH, he has just been ridiculously proud of the whole HM thing - which came as a huge surprise because he's come to very few of my races. I am not one to toot my own horn in general. Before we left, tho, every time we told someone we were going to Vegas he made sure they knew why. I think I didn't usually mention it because a) I didn't wan't to jinx anything and b) like I mentioned, I don't really like that attention.
He almost immediately posted a photo of me before the race on his facebook page & kept urging me to post my photo here.
And then he consented to go to the Wicked Spoon buffet with me at the Cosmopolitan - and didn't even complain TOO much when we had to stand in line for an hour. If you go, go early - it's well worth the price but it's very deceptive. You stand in line to pay, which is normal, but it's only once you've paid that you see the line you REALLY have to stand in - to be seated.
I have eaten at quite a few Vegas buffets over the years, and this one ranks right up there with the best. And I let myself eat everything I wanted to - I left totally stuffed, but not uncomfortable. The portion sizes of everything was quite small - of course you can get as much as you want, but I didn't get seconds of anything - I ate 3 plates of food as it was!
Now, I know you're thinking you just ran a HM & you damn well ought to be able to eat anything you want, but here's the reality: if I'm lucky I burned 1400 calories. But I consumed about 600 - 700 calories during & immediately afterward. And this is why it's so easy to gain while training for long distances: IDI syndrome (I deserve it).
Pecan French toast - usually I'm disappointed by French toast at restaurants, but this did not disappoint.
Pasta with eggplant sauce
Butternut squash ravioli (almost got that at Spago)
Mac & cheese (holy yum!)
Cheddar hash browns
I also had a taste of my husband's eggs Benedict
I know, I know. Sounds like a huge amount of food - and it was - but the portions were small & I didn't completely finish anything.
I stuffed some bananas & apples in my purse - should've grabbed the bananas at the end of the race yesterday but I just didn't think of it.
The good news was I wasn't too hungry for dessert . . . I got a chocolate covered marshmallow that had some sweet crunchies on the bottom - nothing at dessert was labeled so I didn't know what it was. And 2 chocolate dipped strawberries that had crushed oreos on the bottom - thank you so much for placing that idea into my mind! Some of the chocolate fell off as I was eating it & I didn't even finish off what fell off; I was that full.
There seriously wasn't a bad dish there & there was way more I didn't try.
I stopped off at Ross on the way back but continued my non-buying streak. We'll see if I break it today.
I finally showered after I got back & then I kind of crashed. I was going to do some yoga - got into my pjs after the shower - but couldn't find the motivation. We were going to get together with NATPLUMMER & her husband for dinner, but frankly I was too tired, not hungry & couldn't muster up the energy to get dressed again. I had an apple, protein bar & some cookies in the room.
Well, Kara Goucher DID say at the expo that it's important to refuel after a long run even if you don't feel like it, after all.
Monday, December 05, 2011
I slept fine sat night, the night before the big race - other than waking up at 4 am, but that isn't really terribly unusual for me these days. I don't get nervous. I know there are many, many things that can go wrong - but I've done my training; I'm ready - just a bit concerned about what the body will throw at me.
We got together with NATPLUMMER & her husband for brunch. I had chocolate chocolate chip pancakes - because pancakes are my go-to breakfast/lunch on long run days. The upside of not getting nervous is I don't usually suffer with GI issues (other than my body protesting the lack of veggies this morning).
I hung out with Robin (aka KASHMIR) & her buddy Jackie for a little while before the race. They were sooooooo nice & helpful to me. Kind of rushed thru getting dressed, only to discover I had the wrong timing chip! Which gave DH fits, but I knew we'd get it straightened out. The bad part is he'd signed up to get tracking for me, which he couldn't get so he was po'd. NATPLUMMER had signed up to track me, too - sorry Nat!
I must say the prerace organization was sadly lacking. Trying to figure out where to go to straighten out my chip wasn't easy, but robin was really helpful & we got it done. I didn't see her again, sadly, altho I saw Jackie briefly. They just gave me a new bib & chip.
So we hung out, listening to Cheap Trick a bit. I didn't really feel hungry, but it'd been a loooong time since brunch so I ate some of the chocolate covered pretzels I'd brought with me. Didn't really need a portapotty, either, but used it anyway.
DH was very sweet & stayed with me the whole time right up until we began to move (a little), so I could wear my coat over my racing gear. And thank god, because it was really, REALLY cold having to stand around for basically 2 hrs from the time we got there. Yeah, we could've gone later but I figured earlier was probably better - and I don't regret that decision.
It took half an hour to get to the start - literally - but that was pretty much what I figured. I'd like to give you a mile by mile recount, but quite frankly I found the mile markers very poor & often had no clue how far I'd gone or how far I had to go.
I haven't run that slow in a long, long time. Just the sheer humanity of about 40,0000 or so runners. It really wasn't as bad as I'd expected. The bands along the route were fun, but you only hear them very briefly & I was really glad I had my MP3 player. I was also really glad I carried all my own water on my fuel belt - getting to the water would've been a pain & I like to take sips every 15 minutes.
The good news is my knee never really bothered me! Oh, there were twinges here & there all over my body - 13.1 miles will do that to you, even at that pace - but no outright pain. I saw so e running brides, but didn't see the run-thru marriages. I was sad I didn't see any running Elvi (Elvises) - but finally did somewhere around mile 8 or 9. Walking.
The walkers really slowed me down. I have nothing against walkers - I take walking breaks myself. And really, if you walk 13.1 miles, that's pretty cool. But many times it was just impossible to get thru them. My official time was 3:07:44 - WAY slower than I anticipated. But I'm cool with it - I finished, not in pain, & those were my goals.
I was shocked that about 95% were walking those last 3 miles. I ran. I really wish I knew my time from the last mile . . . I really ran . . . made me really feel like a runner. I had made sure to run the first 10 miles at a comfortable pace, and then I tried to pick it up.
DH was waiting for me in the reunion area - with a big kiss & my coat & honeystinger bar. I wasn't ravenous - long runs tend to suppress my appetite - but I ate it anyway since that, along with my 2 GUs consumed along the route & most of the honeystinger waffle I ate around mile 11 because I started to feel a bit light headed, were dinner. DH had a steak dinner while I was running. I never did hit the wall, thankfully.
I felt good afterwards. I almost always feel good afterwards. Really, it was a great first HM experience. The medal is cool - my first running bling! This morning my legs are really sore, but not painful.
Would I do it again? You betcha. Oh wait, I'm doing it again in 2 1/2 months! Any interest in a full marathon? No thank you very much. Maybe someday just to say I did it . . . maybe for my 60th birthday . . . and maybe not. Would I do THIS one again? Absolutely!
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