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Christopher Harrison ran: My first half maratho...
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- 13 miles
- 01:59 time
- 09:02 pace
- 1556 calories
My first half marathon, and first time at this distance, since March. And I can't even begin to explain how amazing it felt to be back out there again - especially for one of my favorite races. I mean, really - you run up and down the strip. How awesome is that?
As for the event itself...
It was weird for me to go into an event of this distance and not have a time or PR goal in mind. I've done 10Ks like that, but never a half. So that was a different experience. My plan was to toe the line with the 2hr pace group and just see how I felt from there.
My wife and I landed in Vegas on Saturday, watched the end of the SEC Championship game and headed over to the expo. By the time we got there (about 5p) the place was mostly empty. That worked out well as I remember there being huge crowds in the past. We got our bibs, our swag bags, and headed to see how well we could avoid spending money on other things. Let's just say we didn't succeed there.
We then stopped by the little stage to see if there was anyone speaking. As it turned out, this was supposed to the pace group leaders speaking. Well - the only person there was the one directing the 2HR group. Awesome! Let's talk. I wanted to find out what his basic plan of attack was (walk through water stations, etc.) He then informed me he hadn't really looked at the map yet and hadn't decided what to do. He then went on to mention he'd likely be doing positive splits, as he wasn't able to run a consistent pace throughout the race.
And it was at this moment when I decided I wasn't going to be toeing the line with him. I'm sorry. But 2hrs is a big thing for a half marathoner. I know runners who have tried for years and been unable to hit that mark. And for the person who will be leading many people shooting for a PR to not have any plan in place yet really irked me.
(On a related note, the 2:30 person, who my wife wanted to run with, was nowhere to be found at either the expo or at the race. RnR needs to find a different group of volunteers for their pace teams next year.)
Back to the story.
On the morning of the race, my wife and I headed down to our usual pre-night-race breakfast spot - Hash-House-A-Go-Go, which is inside of IP. (Don't let that scare you, the restaurant is sparkling). One huge pancake, a couple of breakfast cocktails, and then back to the room for the nap before the night race. Woke up, got everything put together, got dressed and walked on down to the start line at Mandalay Bay.
Unfortunately we stopped to take a couple too many pictures on the way down to the start line that we were a bit late getting into our corral. By the time I got to my area they'd already sent off the first couple of corrals. I spotted the 1:52 pacer and hopped into that corral.
As we headed south on the strip away from anything cool I saw the 1:52 pacer, who was behind me to start, start cruising on by me about a half mile into the run. After a conversation with my body I realized I wasn't going to be able to maintain that pace. After all, this was supposed to be a "fun" run. So let's treat it as such.
And that's about how the rest of the race went. I stopped to take pictures of the Vegas sign at the south side of the strip. I walked through every water station. I stopped to take pictures of both the downtown Vegas sign and Freemont Street. I posed for every photog I saw. I mostly stuck to my goal of trying to have fun, and kept my competitiveness in check. Well - except for the part where I wasn't going to let myself finish over 2hrs.
The only thing I didn't account for - the wind, which was gusting to 30mph, and blowing from the southwest. That meant we were into the wind to start the race, had the wind at our back for the journey up the strip, and then back into it for the last 3 miles to finish. Right into the teeth of it. That made those last 3 miles a bit of an adventure as I'm trying to push and fight through the wind to make sure I finished sub-2.
Official time? 1:59:11. For my first race post-injury, I couldn't be happier with the time.
This is one of my favorite events. I've done it for the past three years now. I'm not certain I'll go back again, but I certainly wouldn't bet against it. If you're doing the half you couldn't ask for better race - flat, most of it is scenic, and it's a great destination.
Next up? The New Orleans half. With a goal of sub-1:45.