Las Vegas - USA - MARATHON TRAINING - 12th November 2017
Full Marathon Report
LAS VEGAS MARATHON REPORT 12th November 2017
My 7th full 42.2km Marathon and 2nd in 1 week after New York
BAD MARATHON - 'WORST EVER' !!!
I've heard it said that you will always experience a 'bad marathon' at least once. Normally these are poor preparation, injury, weather and a number of other reasons which are normal. However, this particular marathon for me was the worse ever for a number of reason. A few were self doing reasons which I had accounted for but the main reason was the Las Vegas Marathon was BORING!!!!!!!!!! This was totally unexpected which made for a pretty demoralizing run on a body that was already over pushed, injured, knackered, etc etc. Had I not done a marathon in New York the week before, some may say I would have a different view. Unfortunately not!
WHAT IS MY BASE LINE FOR A GOOD MARATHON
I come from Auckland New Zealand where our population is about 4 million people with a million in Auckland. Therefore any marathon held in Auckland should be overshadowed by pretty much all other major marathons. This then is my base line for deciding if a marathon is a good one or not. Don't get me wrong, Auckland is beutiful to run in most places and once you hit the harbour bridge at 15km, it is stunning. The first 12km are nothing to write home about (except the start line) as you run back streets and main roads heading North from Devonport for about 9km with no real views until you get to the motorway and then head south towards Auckland and the harbour bridge. You run 3km along the motorway and then a few km's before you run over the bridge, the views come into sight and look terrific. The rest of the 30km run is basically waterfront. It does have its further challenges you can read about on my Auckland Marathon run pages but this sets the scene for a base line. It is organised extremely well and you get a nice big medal and a good finishing line with food and stalls etc.
WHY WAS THE LAS VEGAS COURSE SO BAD ? - an overview of just the crap course...
Basically this marathon is advertised 'run the strip at night'. Of the 26.2 miles or 42.2km, only approximately 7 miles or 11.2km are on the strip and even then I think I am wrong with that figure!! The strip is 6.71 km when you look it up on google and you only double up the strip for a few miles at that. The rest is boring drivel. After the strip finishes (approx The Palazzo hotel) you carry on running past carparks and small shops and the wedding chapels to the downtown where there are a few more shops which are bigger than the middle section you just run past. You loop back for a few miles before heading off to a massive car park area linked by a couple of windy boring empty roads where you spend the next 10 miles or 16 km running backwards and forwards on yourself. A lot of people cut corners here missing out sections of the course but to be honest, if you do that you are an idiot because what was the point in all that training to conquer a marathon only to 'cheat'? You are only cheating yourself because it doesn't get you far and people like me don't care if you got a quicker time,because unless you are in the top 3 getting prize money etc, you gain nothing. Maybe bragging rights but you know you're a cheat! Anyway you hit the main road towards the strip for not even 1 km before your now in another car park and a park in the dark and doing endless zig zagging around again getting nowhere fast. That maybe accounts for another 2.5 miles or 4 kms before hitting the road to the strip again for less than 1 mile before another detour up a dead end road and back again. By now you are totally over this course and wondered where the 'run the strip at night' went!! It felt a lifetime ago you actually was running on the strip. Anyway you get back to the strip and run less than 1 mile and you've finished. WTF!!!!!!! I don't like to swear but seriously this marathon deserved it plus when you read my full report below, hopefully you understand why.
THE START LINE - absolute chaos and NOOOOOO TOILETS!!!!!!
The Start Line
Since entering this marathon which was pretty short notice, the course had changed to the map I printed out upon registering so the start was actually not where I thought it was. Also the concert before was moved to the day before. I had no email to tell me this and foolishly I did not revise the updated website. I do however think a personal e-mail should have been sent out like other marathons to recap the changes or new times for events.
Then the toilet fiasco. None at a chaotic start line. I had to go into New York New York hotel with thousands of other to use their toilets. Even the poor hotel staff were helping runners find them and sure the hotel would not have been please the marathon was using them as their portable toilet use. The first portable toilets I saw where after 1 km. How is that right?????
Getting through to the allocated coral was ridiculaous with thousands all lined up and having to enter from the back only and not the side as would be expected. The reason see below!
Half Marathon and Marathon all mixed up starting together
The half marathon for reasons only known to the organisers started at the same time as the marathon. This caused undue stress to marathoners trying to get to their corals and probably the same for half marathoners. Starting both together causes so many problems, not only with the start but for pacing of marathon runners etc.
WE'RE OFF - half marathon and marathon pacing clashes
I eventually got to my coral for my predicted finish time but was surrounded by half marathoners. The gun went off and and the predictable squash happened as everyone vied to get clear of everyone else. Feet clashing and pretty much mayhem for the first 1 km or so. Running 2 marathons in 1 week is hard on any given day but running with half marathoners made it almost impossible. I had set myself a pace to run at to preserve the body but marathoners and half marathoners run at different paces for an end result. Therefore if I want to run a 1.39 half marathon time, and a 3.45 full marathon time, I would not run the half marathon distance for a full marathon at 1.39 finish pace which I am capable of! I would aim for maybe a 1.50 to 1.55 half marathon time therefore meaning the pacing becomes a bit blurred starting both sets of runners together and everyone getting in everyone else's way. For instance the official pace runner for a 3.45 marathon finish time was next to an official 1.20 finish half marathon pace runner. Go figure what happens with all sorts of pacing around each other.
As you can now imagine, my pace running in the first few km's is now totally stuffed up as I try to avoid injury of people hitting and stepping on me causing me and my ankles to run faster than required. The there was the toilet crush at 1 mile on the turning point at the bottom of the strip and the only real set of portable toilets I saw. I decided to avoid them and hold it in till further up the course. Heading back up the strip after the turn, I realised I had someone who was extremely annoying using me as their pace runner. Normally this does not bother me but I had chosen not to use my music this early in the raced and they sort of did a farting breathing nose like they were a little kid which drove me nuts. I can't stand hearing myself breathe, let alone someone else. Therefore I sped up to get away! Wrong decision because so did they and now I was running to fast. I slowed, so did they. Just another problem to add to my woes. I could have put on the headphones and music but I wanted to experience 'The Strip' run part so refrained.
RUNNING THE STRIP
This was one of the reasons why I was doing this run. First to push myself and experiment on 2 marathons in 1 week and the effects on the body and training and the second to add to my now growing world wide marathon runs being the 5th major city out of 7 marathons run across 4 countries and 3 continents so far. I got all the normal call and shout outs about my beard which is always pleasing as people seem to like it and it gives me that extra bit of adrenaline on my run. People who don't run have no idea the importance of other people cheering you on and how good it makes you feel, especially in those later stages of long distance running. I tried to take in the surroundings and the hotels on the strip and it was pretty good to see but the level of support generally was not what I expected. The Strip was closed down for the run but a lot of people I gathered were more annoyed that it was closed rather than take in the event for what it was. If I didn't run, maybe I would think the same as well but after running New York with incredible full on support the whole way, Las Vegas 'strip' was subdued. Once we got off the strip part, it was boring and pretty sparse support.
MY PACING AND HOW IT FELL APART
After the Strip section, the music went on. I was running stupidly fast pace times considering I had run the New York marathon in my fastest time a week before. I had paced the half marathon distance of 21.1 km in New York at 5.11 mins per km and a time of 1.49.30 showing you how close I was to my aim of 1.50 for half marathon. Las Vegas was meant to be about 1.58 half marathon time but I hit a 1.51.46 time and a pace of 5.17. This was absolutely stupid and destroyed the second half of my marathon. At most I should have been on a 5.35 min per km pace MAX. If you run marathons, you know what I am talking about with pacing and multi marathon runners will definitely be aware of the pitfalls of pacing to fast to start. I had a dream to run 2 marathons in a week in under 4 hours each. This clearly was not going to happen. Realistically I had initially set a goal of a 3.50 finish for New York and 4.30 finish for Las Vegas but changed my goals after a flawless New York Marathon so now I was aiming at that 2nd marathon in a 4 hour time.
As an example, I hit a 4.58 min km on my 9th km! You may think that is slow and I can run a 3.45 min km but after a marathon the week before and on my 9th km of a second marathon with a busted up hip, that showed my stupidity. I barely had broken a 5 min pace per km in New York which was deliberate so why did I not have the same focus here? All of the reasons above but the main one half marathon and marathon runners together = NOT MY FAULT. Yes I could have slowed up a bit but the beginning sets your pace and all the way through you battle half marathon runners. Physiologically you always tend to use other runners as a goal or pace runner and if you pick the wrong one and you picked a half marathoner you doomed. I could have run with an official pace runner but I don't use the same tactics they do. They run a steady pace whereas I prefer a faster beginning and slower ending.
BORING BORING ARSENAL - English footy fans will understand this :-)
After taking out the possibly generous estimation of 11.2 km of total 'strip' time, the rest of the course is demoralizing and boring. This was unexpected and not as advertised. I have pretty much nothing to say on the course which does not involve the strip as it basically went back and forth on itself in a car park, uninspired side roads or a park in the dark as previously stated. This is a poor way to make up marathon mileage just to get a full marathon course to fit in. Running a marathon is a lot of mind over matter and pushing yourself to complete such a big distance and when the course seems like a never ending maze of nothingness and getting nowhere and adding to that your body is hurting, it inevitability can beat you and beat me it did. Not into submission because I finished it but it beat my mind! I generally never walk or try to walk absolute minimum if I have messed up but I train hard to avoid any mishaps of walking which seizes your body up after a long distance.
I first hit the wall at about 18km which was amazing as I thought I would hit it about 8 to 10km after the previous weeks marathon finish being so close and absolutely no time for recovery or refueling. However, i had pushed though, but once I hit it, I hit it hard. I got past the half marathon distance, just, and then aimed for the next target of 25km. I mentally set stages to run which are 15km, 21.1km, 25km, 30km, 35km, 40km and 42.2km. Within these stages, I plan ahead and adapt my running, pace and mind to complete each. By 25km, the boringness broke everything. I had tried my hardest to stay under the 6 min pace, just once at 22km slipping to a 6.15 min pace but by 26km, they all were over 6 mins per km. Amazingly at 25km, I was only 2 and a half mins slower than my New York Marathon time a week before at this point. By 36km the pace crept into the 7 min per km as I had basically vacated my mind and decided enough was enough and started walking (or marching) quicker that I could run!!!! My legs were shot as a result of running to fast (and running a marathon the week before hand) and my mind was mush contemplating yet another U turn in the car park to run the same stretch, albeit 4 metres to the right or left of the last time up and down. It was here amongst the endless U turns that people were cheating (themselves) and cutting corners and huge chunks of the course off.
Eventually in the park section of back and forth U turns where I may have started lightly swearing every U turn I hate to admit, shouting out things to no one in particular "this is such a crap boring course, what am I doing?", that I hit a dreaded 8.39 min per km pace at 39km. This is unacceptable for me (remember I can run almost 5 mins quicker than this km) but I did not not care. I wanted to just survive the course and this marathon and get back to New Zealand. Las Vegas was done for me and couldn't wait to 'get out of town'. I followed that poor time on the 41km mark with a 8.24. Finally the last 1.2 km I ran to get over the line.
MY FINISH TIME
Weirdly enough, I beat my predicted finish time and hit 4.14.15 which for me is very slow but acceptable for a 2nd marathon in a week. It was bout 15 mins quicker than initially expected but if I had been able to pace properly like in New York and had a less demoralizing marathon to run, I would easily have met my dream to run 2 marathons in a week in under 4 hours.
LAS VEGAS MARATHON SUMMERY
Apart from a pretty cool finishers medal not much else was good. The t-shirt was pretty average and had half marathon and marathon on it so even that was a disappointment as I want my t-shirts to show what I achieved, not make people guess did you do the half or full? The course outside of the strip - crap. Organisation not brilliant, no toilets at start, not informed very well on email about changes to itinerary, ridiculous merging half and full marathons together, corals at start a shambles, entry even worse to the corals and trying to make your way through.
The organisers may argue a lot was my own fault but remember organisers, this was my 7th marathon and the worst and I doubt I will run a worse overall marathon. I have run in Cambodia and that was twice as well organised even with their little mishaps with the start line. Auckland is a little country and blew Las Vegas away. Sydney was excellent in organisation and little Rotorua in the middle of New Zealand put on a pretty good show. The best came from New York got through a terrorist attack of their owne a few days prior and still pulled off an amazing event.
So my personal advice is do not make this your first ever marathon as you are unlikely to run another marathon as this one will bore the socks off you. It has limited atmosphere to keep you going and poorly executed organisation wise.
My advice to the organisers is shut the strip as normal and run the full marathoners twice up and down the whole strip to downtown and back. This would make the world of difference and start the half marathoners 2 hours later. This happens on the north shore of Auckland for the lesser North Shore Marathon which runs the course twice to make the distance and not to be confused with the Auckland marathon which is a 1 way full on course. All I know is I haven't been deterred from continuing to be a multi marathoner as this sort of course doesn't come up much so I can try to wipe it from memory.
2 MARATHONS IN A WEEK SUMMERY
On a separate note, I am unlikely to run 2 marathons in a week again as it was brutal regardless of the problems. If I did, it would be where I can spend a week recovering and eating properly which rules out doing it abroad like this again. I think a 2 week gap is more suitable which I will try after running the 2018 London Marathon and 2 weeks later the Rotorua marathon in New Zealand again. The body is an amazing thing and I am just a new novice/amateur runner with not much experience so the body stood up complete with ongoing injuries and repaired itself quick enough to survive this huge test.
On the 13th day after the first of 2 marathons, I attempted a 3km ocean swim in Auckland which did not go to great. I have written a report on that as well. To cut a long story short, I completed 1.5km of the 3km before being pulled out by the safety boat for swimming to slow and not meeting the cut off time as they had to reopen the shipping lanes. I was exhausted and my legs hurt badly and I couldn't feel my feet or hands but I never gave up. As I never met the cut off time I can feel this is something for the future to try to conquer - preferably not within any earshot of a marathon (or 2) !
My finish time on my GPS watch = 4:14:15 - my average pace per km was 6.01 mins
NOTE: I always take my time from my GPS watch which is acurate to about 1 metre because when I run the course, I run wider on corners to avoid getting tripped etc so at least getting tracked by GPS that is your real run distance. Official marathon distances are recorded using the shortest legal route.
BELOW ARE THE 2 REALLY BORING PARTS AND THEN THE FULL MAP
First map shows 7 miles or 11.2km or nothingness - all in the dark
First map shows 7 miles or 11.2km or nothingness
Map I printed 1 month prior before the start line changed !!
OLD POSTS BELOW.......
NEW YORK (and now) LAS VEGAS MARATHON DAIRY 2017
Each week I'm posting a fitness plan to run a full 42.2km (26.1 mile) marathon in the absolute minimum time required for hopefully a post 4 hour finish time for a 46 year old male. As I am recovering from a serious accident which left me with torn abductor muscles, suspected small fractures to my lower pelvis & hip PLUS torn hip socket cartilage my finish time may not be what I would like but on a normal day this plan is do-able.
NEW UPDATE 13th Oct = Saw the specialist last week about the hip and good news in that my training has built me up well and the hip socket surviving so I will run until I can't anymore and then address the hip operation. Reason being it will be about a year recovery before I could even think of another marathon which in itself would be another 4 to 6 months training to get back anywhere near what I am currenly capable of so I have opted to fit in as many marathons around the world running for World Vision as I can.
I just also added the Las Vegas Marathon 1 week after the New York Marathon followed by a 2.9km OIcean Swim accross the Auckland Harbour a week later (all 3 within 2 weeks of each other). Yes I'm pushing the boundaries of fit person let alone a cripple like me but life is short and time waits for no one so better to do it now than never at all and that way I will not regret what I didn't do that I possibly could have done :-)
WEEK 11 UPDATE - 11th October 2017 - 4 weeks to go
I'm now into week 11 and a bit slack on updates but a lot has been going on. I've have just got back to work after a second bout of really bad fly and chest infection which has had a serious impact on my training. I hit my fastest ever 30km run on the road on 30th September after coming back from the first bout of flu and chest infection but my next planned big run of 32km on 7th October got cut short to 22km as I could not run anymore due to lack of training and unable to breathe properly. Today is 11th October so hope to fit in a few 10km runs before attempting my last long run before tappering on 15th October.
(Week 4 to 10 to follow)
WEEK 3 84 days to go from Monday (12 weeks)
A better week with less pain. Managed to stay on course and covered a 10km road run, the first since May. Pain levels were ok and felt I could have run an extra 5km but getting wise to the fact I need to stay on course with limited running or I will seriously jepodise my New YOrk participation. Running is actually way easier than the treadmill on 0% which is against all the research? Walking backwards in the pool really is toning up the leg muscles and hard work and putting in the main cardio on the cross trainer elliptical machine which is a life saver. These 2 exercises alone have replaced 80% of my absent running ability and reduced impact on my hip socket.
Sun 20-8-17 = 15km bike 1km swim 1km Pool Walk (Back=500m Front=500m)
Sat 19-8-17 = 10km ROAD RUN (5.18 forced slow pace)
Fri 18-8-17 = REST/WALK stomach sickness bug
Thur 17-8-17 = 5km RUN (treadmill-0%) - 9km cross train + Gym work
Wed 16-8-17 = 500m swim 500m Pool BACKWARD Walk
Tues 15-8-17 = 10km bike 12km cross train + Gym work
Mon 14-8-17 = REST/WALK
WEEK 2 91 days to go from Monday (13 weeks)
A very painful week. A few sleepless nights with hip pain lying in bed wondering if this is at all possible. However come the next day when I am up and walking about, the pain subsides so it is just sleepless nights which are the hard thing to overcome. Managed my first road run in over 9 weeks followed a few days later by an 8km road run. Felt good but have to hold my hip on the downslope parts and run very very conservatively. Running well over 1 min longer than a usual 1km but have to live with that if I am to complete NY. Ended the week by applying to be the Flag Bearer for the opening ceremony for New Zealand. Fingers crossed :-)
Sun 13-8-17 = 8km ROAD RUN (5.24 forced slow pace)
Sat 13-8-17 = 10km cross train 700m swim 500m Pool BACKWARD Walk
Fri 11-8-17 = REST/WALK press ups only
Thur 10-8-17 = 5km RUN (treadmill-0%) - 5km bike 5km cross train + Gym work
Wed 9-8-17 = 5km ROAD RUN
Tues 8-8-17 = 2km RUN (treadmill-0%) - 20km bike 3km cross train 500m swim 500m Pool walk (300m backwards)
Mon 7-8-17 = REST/WALK
WEEK 1 official start 98 days to go from Monday (14 weeks)
A hard week of mainly swimming and cross training. The cross training machine (elliptical) is like running but no impact as the foot plates move with your feet meaning damaged bodies like mine are able to run & train further with no impact. I top it off with some treadmill running at slow pace to get my hips and legs used to some pounding. Most people go slow but I am in virtual sprint mode for the whole time or whats the point! (swimming is optional but part of my rehab in this instance as is gym work as working on the upper body for cardio). Rest days are very important for muscle regeneration.
Sun 6-8-17 = 5km RUN (treadmill-0%) 5km cross train - 500m swim 500m Pool walk + Gym work
Sat 5-8-17 = 2km RUN (treadmill-0%) - 5km bike 5km cross train - 1km walk 800m swim 500m Pool walk
Fri 4-8-17 = REST/WALK
Thur 3-8-17 = 2km RUN (treadmill-0%) - 10km bike 2km cross train - 1km walk 500m swim 500m Pool walk + Gym work
Wed 2-8-17 = 1km RUN (treadmill-0%) - 21km bike 2km cross train - 1km walk + Gym work
Tues 1-8-17 = REST/WALK
Mon 31-7-17 = 22km bike 2km walk 850m swim 500m Pool walk + Gym work
REHABILITATION WEEKS Getting muscles ready for some serious work out
WEEK 4 REHAB no running or impact work
Sun 30-7-17 = 10km bike 1.05km swim 500m Pool walk
Sat 29-7-17 = 20km bike 1km swim 600m Pool walk + Gym work
Fri 28-7-17 = 22km bike 1km walk x 2 + Gym work
Thur 27-7-17 = 22km bike 1km cross train + Gym work
Wed 26-7-17 = 20km bike
Tues 25-7-17 = 20km bike
Mon 24-7-17 = REST/WALK
WEEK 3 REHAB no running or impact work
Sun 23-7-17 = REST/WALK
Sat 22-7-17 = REST/WALK
Fri 21-7-17 = REST/WALK
Thur 20-7-17 = REST/WALK
Wed 19-7-17 = 15km bike
Tues 18-7-17 = 15km bike
Mon 17-7-17 = 15km bike
WEEK 2 REHAB no running or impact work
Sun 16-7-17 = 10km bike
Sat 15-7-17 = REST/WALK
Fri 14-7-17 = 20 minute non stop swim
Thur 13-7-17 = 20 minute non stop swim
Wed 12-7-17 = REST/WALK
Tues 11-7-17 = 20 minute non stop swim
Mon 10-7-17 = REST/WALK
WEEK 1 REHAB no running or impact work
Sun 9-7-17 = 20 minute non stop swim
Tues 9-5-17 = ACCIDENT WITH CAR ON PAVENMENT