What happens in Vegas…

Well, my American adventure didn’t get off to the best of starts (see earlier blog) but things have picked up pretty well since and I’m starting to enjoy being in the USA for the first time in 23 years, especially now I’ve got the hell out of Sin City.

About Vegas. I knew it wouldn’t be the place for me because I struggle with the excess, the gluttony and the gambling but what a place to run a marathon. The organisation was slick and superb — it’s no mean feat to shut down the entire Strip for thousands of runners but what a memory to run the entire Las Vegas Boulevard past numerous live bands while being cheered on by loads of noisy supporters.

I was supported by my brother Johnnie and sister-in-law Jo at this fifth marathon of 2017

As for the race, it was a perfect lesson in how not to run a marathon. I basically broke every rule in the book and suffered for it. The first 3 miles were nice and slow but then I got carried away with the great atmosphere and forgot to check my pacing. When I caught up with the 3 hour 45 minute pacers at mile 7 I knew I’d be in trouble later on but I felt good so I kept going. The half marathon distance came at 1 hour 50 minutes and 20 miles well inside 3 hours — and then it all went pear-shaped…

Feeling good in the early stages!

I’ve never hit ‘the wall’ before but I smashed straight into this one and I never want to feel like that again. First the legs grew incredibly heavy and my head felt like it was going to explode. Then I felt as if my left knee was going to pop, so I had no choice but to walk for a minute. It was psychologically draining to see my pacer disappear into the distance. Then I ran again but I was now on my own, in a lonely part of the business district and a long way from the Strip. The legs just wouldn’t get going, so I walked another minute and tried again.

I found myself looking at my watch all too often but the distances just weren’t counting down. A cycle marshal drew alongside me and asked if I wanted a gel. I used it to wash down a couple of ibuprofen and codeine pills and pressed on. The hit was instant and I got myself going again for about a mile but then the 3:50 pacer flew past me and I realised that I was running, but only at walking pace.

Struggling on with the legs feeling like lead!

I rejoined the Strip for the final couple of miles and the crowd got me going again. The 3:55 pacer breezed past a few minutes later and I tried to stay with him but to no avail. The finish line eventually came into sight, like a desert mirage, and I willed myself step by aching step towards it. I’ve never been so relieved to finish a race in my life and, like all marathons I’ve run, swore that it would be the last…

Despite everything, it was another PB for me, beating my Berlin result by 22 seconds. And that’s the annoying thing, because now I’m wondering what time I could have run if I’d paced myself better — and trained more of course. Oh dear, I know where this is leading…

But for now, I’m just enjoying being back on the bike, on the road again, on The Marathon Ride. It’s a long way to New York City so I’d better crack on.

One for the stattos…

10 thoughts on “What happens in Vegas…”

  1. Its not always about pacing. It is a race and you got the PB by going at it. If you had paced and felt comfortable might not have been a PB. Great stuff. Yep it can suck you in and spit you out with lots of pain. All gone and the PB lasts…..till you better it! Fantastic achievement on the road, the bike and in words.

    1. Wise words Damien, I can tell you’ve been there! Thanks mate, for all the generous comments and support along the route – it means a lot.

  2. Andy, WELCOME TO GEORGIA
    Sorry to hear your troubles at our border in LA. If your coming through Georgia I’ll give you a tour of the North Georgia Mountains with Roads that are World Class. Wolf Pass, The Dragon, Richard Russell Scenic Hwy etc. You want to ride the 2016 BMW R 1200 RS or my NINJA 1000 ? Beers , Cheers and meat on the grill !!!! BMW CLUB OF ATLANTA WELCOMES YOU.

    1. Thanks so much for reaching out on behalf of the BMW Atlanta Club. I really appreciate that and wish that you’d been a few days earlier getting in touch, as I passed right through Atlanta and would have loved to have met up with you and seen some of these amazing roads. Oh well, gonna have to come back again!

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