My family is going to Las Vegas next week (I usually follow that statement with a ten minute explanation of what my version of Las Vegas looks like. Hint: It’s not anything you find on the first few pages when you google Vegas).
Now that I’ve told you guys that I’m in the middle of training for a marathon, I’m trying really hard to stick to it. I knew I would run in Vegas, I’m the weird type of person that thinks running in the desert sounds dreamy, but I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to get my long run in. Or if I would at all. So, I came up with the brilliant idea of just signing up for a half marathon while we were there.
I found one that is only about 10 minutes away from my parent’s place and committed (see how fast commitment is coming for me these days, I’m a changed woman). Now for my game plan. The morning of the half, I need to find a fit looking 68 year old man and follow him. Or race him. Depending on how it goes. I have experience with this method and that is how I know it’ll work.
Case Study #1: Last time I was in Vegas I ran my first trail race. Here was my first mistake, I had trained for the elevation gain, but I hadn’t even ONCE thought about the altitude. Cottonwood Valley is 4300ft above sea level, just for reference, Stevens Pass is at 4100ft. It didn’t take me long to find out that an extra 4000ft of elevation makes a difference when you’re used to running along the shoreline of the Puget Sound.
I took off pretty well in that race and climbed and climbed and climbed until I seriously could not breathe. This is the point that I thought about, not just quitting running, but never exercising again. This older man came up from behind me and slowed to a walk. We hiked and jogged up that stupid (beautiful) mountain. He chatted. I wheezed. I learned that he’s from Boston, he’s in one of Boston’s cool running clubs and that he, like me, hadn’t thought twice about elevation so he was having a hard time. He took off running again and yelled back at me, “Come on, you can’t let an old man beat you!” I yelled ahead as loud as my wheezy lungs would allow, “You’re a fast old man!” and tried to keep up. I couldn’t. But I came in 3rd in my age group, only because I was trying to chase down a senior citizen.
Case Study #2: Last year I ran my first half marathon. My dad drove my friend Sarah and I halfway across the state to Winthrop, Washington so that I could run a race where I would probably come across cows and horses. It just sounded so much better than running through downtown Seattle. It was, and I did see plenty of cows and horses.
Anyways, all the runners were ferried out to the starting line and Sarah and I squeezed ourselves on top of a cooler in a very crowded bus. An older guy, I would guess probably 67ish, stood right above us. He introduced himself and told us how he was from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and pointed out “Jenny” his 70 year old training partner and told us that if we wanted to break the 2 hour mark we should follow her. That was his goal this race, he hadn’t yet done it. This was the longest distance I had ever run and I secretly hoped that I would be able to come in under 2 hours but wasn’t sure if that was realistic for where I was at.
The race began and we started out slow. The 67 year old man passed me and I just tried to keep an even pace. At about mile 7, when I realized I wasn’t tired yet, I decided to speed up and to stop lollygagging and staring at every cow I passed and dreaming about how amazing it would be to live here with a bunch of horses and picking out which house I would buy and deciding how I would decorate it. I started actually running and picking off other racers that had passed me early on. At about mile 9 I passed Mr. 67ish. The last 4 miles I ran with him on my heels. I could seriously hear his breath at times and some weird embarrassingly competitive part of me would not let him pass me. I ended up holding him off and came in at 1:56:29. He came in a few minutes later at just under 2 hours.
So, that’s my plan. Next Saturday morning I am going to board a bus at 5:30 am to be taken up into the mountains of Kyle Canyon. I’m going to keep my eyes peeled for some fit looking older gentlemen, and then I am going to race him. Hopefully, just hopefully, I’ll come in around 1:45.
The overly competitive 31 year old
p.s. Here is a picture of the course I’ll be running…..swoon. Between that and the horses, I might never come back.