Sunday, November 20, 2011

Race Pre-Preview: Rock'n'Roll Las Vegas Marathon -- The Big Debate

Two weeks from today (well, right now actually) I will be bouncing around the Las Vegas Strip in my running shoes with the neon glow of gambler's tears lighting my way.  The question will be, which side of the street will I be running?  The full or half marathon?  When I signed up for this race back in July with my sister-in-law Rebecca, I debated on going 13.1 or 26.2.  My concern was ramping my running base from the half Ironman's 13.1 run to a full marathon in 5 weeks.  I knew my "software" could handle the load (if I could endure a 6 hour race, I could endure a race that had a 4.5 hour cut-off time) but the "hardware" was a question.  I signed up for the full.  At the time there was only a $15 difference between the half and full (if I remember correctly), so I'm fine with losing that, just in case.

My plan was to gradually increase my running distance during the remaining weeks of my HIM training plan but that didn't happen, like most of my training during the months of September and October.  So with four weeks to go, I put together my plan:

Pretty darn agressive, eh?  So I shifted my long runs to Tuesday evenings.  That's because the race is at night, so let's do my long runs at night.  I knew this was going to be a challenge but it wasn't until I REALLY looked at that last column that made me go "hmmmm."   Yeah, a 60% increase in volume.  Actually, I originally had runs scheduled for Fridays which gave me a 75% increase so it really looks better, right?

I've been used to mixing biking and running in my training, so in order to not get bored I decided to change up my locales.

For my 15 miles, I decided to run at the downtown airport.  Since I'm running at night, I need a place that is well lit or fairly low traffic and the downtown airport fit the bill. This is essentially a 3.6 mile loop around the airport grounds:

Yeah, boring.... aside from ducking under the occasional low flying aircraft.
I got it done.  Four laps plus a little extra at the end.  My legs started to bug me during lap 3 and the final lap was basically running to the next street light and hangar.  My hip hurt for about 5 days after, ouch.

My 18 miles the next week required some scouting.  The night before I drove the roads near the Kansas City International Airport (I don't know why I'm drawn to airports but my Dad did work for TWA/American Airlines for a "few" years).  The route was mostly lit with a good amount of sidewalks.  What wasn't lit well would be the first part of my route while the sun was out:

This run was windy at parts which made it a challenge.  My legs seem to manage the run much better than the 15 miles.  What did bother me was my right knee.  It just felt weak for a couple days.

Two days after the 18 miles, I went for a 5 mile run.  Due to some potential evening plans, I decided to run around downtown Kansas City.  I knew there was a nice Riverfront park the that had good sidewalks for running.  The question was how to get to them.  Part of the route involves 3 stories of stairs.  My knees did NOT like this.

You can see the park in the upper right area.  There is a bit of a "Y" in the route.  That's where I got lost.  I turned right when I should have gone left and ended up running between some railroad tracks.  Yeah, that's not a park.  So I turned back and corrected myself.  My knees and legs started bugging me after the first mile and it took every remaining ounce of energy to keep running.  Part of the motivation is the last half mile is through the area where my company has multiple buildings, so I wanted to make sure I was running in the event any coworkers saw me.  Wouldn't you?

Once again, the knee was bugging me but not my hip.  I wanted to make sure I get these smaller runs in just to keep my body thinking that I'm not done with this running thing.

My next big challenge was a 9 mile run around the neighborhoods where I live.  A nine mile challenge versus 15 and 18 seemed pretty minor, right?  Well, Rock'n'Roll Las Vegas is pretty flat, so my training runs have also been on the small hills end of the spectrum.  My neighborhood.... isn't.

I like to call this the piggy route -- although I added the "flag" this time to make sure it was 9 miles.
My legs were doing pretty well and my knee was too.  I could tell it wasn't happy but it didn't hurt like it had during the 5 mile run downtown.

So now I sit here trying to make up a decision I promised to make:

And my decision is?

Wait for it...

Wait for it...

To decide next Sunday.....

OK, if you put a gun to my head I will say that I'm running....

Wait for it...

Wait for it...

the FULL!

Ok, that didn't seem all that climatic.

But I do want to give myself another chance to change be comfortable with my decision.  I want to get my final long run in, which is 20 miles on Tuesday.  This is going to be an extension of one of my goal bike routes, commuting from work.  This time by foot.

I've been prepping for it by replenishing my Gu supply, finally purchasing a reflective vest, and mapping the route:

Don't worry, Mom.  That section on 9 highway is pretty safe.
Not only does this route have distance, it has hills.  NASTY hills.  I actually plan to do some walking to make sure I don't kill my knees.

Therefore, I officially will wait to decide next Sunday.  At that point I will likely bag the runs for the rest of the week and be in official taper!

Don't get me wrong.  I am not anticipating any PR here, it's just to survive it and have fun doing so.  There will be 44,000 participants in RnRLV and I have a feeling that the energy of that many people will make this race so much easier to complete.

1 comment:

  1. Good luck! I saw this week that the race maxed out at 44,000, That's crazy! but should be fun!