No matter how many marathons you run, they’re never easy. They’re tough. They’re painful. For me, though, I think I took the tough and painful aspects to a new level in Sunday’s Las Vegas Rock ‘N Roll Marathon. In 85 previous lifetime marathons, I don’t think I ever felt as much physical pain as I did in this one.
Real quick, just in case you’ve never been here before, I’m a father of three and a marathon runner. My middle child, 7-year-old Jack, is severely autistic. I wanted to do something to try to make a difference and make sure he has an impact on the world, so I’m attempting to run 61 marathons this year to raise money and awareness for a charity I’m a part of called Train 4 Autism.
Las Vegas was my 58th of the year, my second of the weekend. I ran the Memphis St. Jude Marathon Saturday (recap here), so I knew it would be a tough run for me. I’ve run maybe a dozen or so doubles in my life, including seven (plus a triple) this year. I know the drill — I wake up, it hurts, I run through it and that’s pretty much it. They’re tough, but manageable.
I headed out for the race expecting a tough day and I got it. Like yesterday, I never felt good or locked in anything remotely close to a groove. It was a tough weekend, no question. The first half of the course was fun to run, up and down the Las Vegas Strip. Las Vegas isn’t my kind of place, but it was fun nonetheless.
The Downtown area was pretty fascinating to me. I love running through bad parts of town because I don’t really go to those areas in my normal, everyday life, so it’s eye-opening to see. I saw some motels and businesses in the area and couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that people actually go there. A lot of shady-looking stuff I typically stay away from.
Anyways, I felt terrible physically. I was in a ton of pain and my right foot and knee hurt pretty bad. Sometimes I’ll start a race and suffer through some pain before I get warm, but that pain feeling never went away today. And by about mile 8, I could tell my stride was shortening. That’s always the beginning of the end, and while I don’t normally get that way in a marathon until mile 23 or 24, it’s been happening around 17 or 18 lately.
It’s tough mentally to know you’re cooked with nothing but deterioration ahead with 18 miles left in the race. I tried to shuffle every here and there to see if I could resuscitate my legs, but that didn’t really help. Because of pain in my IT band in my right leg, I ran a good chunk of the second half of the race with a hop and a limp.
I tried to push, but I also threw myself a little bit of a pity party. It was absolutely miserable. The second half of the course was lousy, wrapping through industrial parks. It was boring and completely unremarkable. I guess I’m biased about Las Vegas — I lived there for a year and didn’t like it. But that second half reminded me of everything I didn’t like. Just not my kind of place.
It hurt, I struggled, I limped, I shuffled, and I just couldn’t wait to get to the finish. I’m not sure how to really use words to get this across, but this was the most physically painful and miserable marathon I’ve ever run. It was just another time for me to realize that I’ve really run myself into the ground this year.
I had no idea what time I was going to run, but I was behind the 3:30 pace group and in front of the 3:35, and it looked like it was going to be about a 3:33. With about a mile to go, there was a small hill on an overpass and I decided that’s where I would make my kick.
This might sound really odd, but while I’m doing everything this year so that Jack can have an impact on the world, I don’t really dedicate portions of my race to him. When I’m running, I’m going all-out, and I try to focus as well as I can on taking care of myself and managing my body. It’s a certain mindset I have when I’m locked in and I concentrate on pounding away. I have 165 hours a week to take care of everything else. I spend three hours concentrating on running my best.
Well today, at that overpass with a mile to go, I told myself I was going to kill it for Jack. I have no idea why got that into my mind — I don’t think I’ve done that all year. But for some reason, I did this time and I started flying. I found the gear I normally have and started passing everybody.
I took a quick glance at my Garmin and it looked like I was heading for a 3:33. I could tell that my form was good and I was moving well, but I didn’t know if I’d be able to hold until the finish. I must have have heard 20 people comment about how I was finishing strong. I’m faster than 3:33 runners, so I knew I had the ability to suck it up and go faster than those around me at that point. It’s just frustrating that I can’t suck it up and really go for 26.2 nowadays. Next year, next year.
Anyways, I saw the finish line with about 3/10 of a mile to go and looked at my time and saw I had a good chance at a 3:32. That’s nothing good for me, but it’s still better than a 3:33. I gave it all I had and made it across in 3:32:58.
So, I guess to sum it all up, it wasn’t a great run by any stretch of the imagination, but I know it was all I had, so I can’t really complain.
One more thing I want to add about this race is that my brother ran the half marathon for Operation Jack. He did a great job fundraising and was really excited about this and proud to be running in honor of his nephew. He has problems with his knees and hip because of a car accident he was in when he was 16 (he’s had six or seven surgeries), but he’s been training and wanted to go sub-2. I thought he was ready, and I still think he has the ability, but he battled with fueling issues and went 2:12.
It wasn’t everything he was capable of, but he gave it his all and I’m proud of him for the effort and passion he showed for this race.
And I guess that’s about it on this one. 58 down, three to go. We’re getting pretty close!
Me and my brother after the race. Since he did the half, he had time to go shower. He was bummed when we took the picture because he didn’t have his medal with him!