It is no secret that I am a fan of Revel's Big Cottonwood Marathon. I have run it every year since it's inception and getting my last BQ (Boston Qualifier) there last September, I was hoping that it would be good for 2017, but I missed the window by one day! While I got three BQ's in 2015, none of them would qualify me for Boston 2017. You can imagine my excitement when I saw that Revel was starting a new race in Las Vegas, NV.
Revel Mt. Charleston starts about 21 miles up Kyle Canyon (at 7,633 feet above sea level) and finished at Centennial Hills Park (at 2,422 feet). This made for a really fast, yet quad busting course. Even though I felt a little under trained after my disappointing time in Boston, I figured if I could fall down the mountain just right, I may just squeak out a BQ for next year.
This would be my first race a a Revel Ambassador and I was really looking forward to seeing how this race did in it's inaugural year. I love Revel races, but I am very honest when it comes to my blog and luckily I LOVED this race!!
I took Friday off and planned to make the journey alone. On Wednesday, I had lunch with my BFF Rob and he told me he didn't want me driving alone, so he asked if he could come along. I was more than happy to have him. We always have a blast! So early Friday morning, we got in the rental car (Priceline $11 a day!) and headed towards Las Vegas!
We made it to Beaver, UT before we got hungry and we stopped at Arshel's Cafe for a good breakfast!
With just a few pit stops, we made it to the expo by about 1:30pm. I picked up my race packet, bought some gels at one of the vendors and visited with a few friends before checking into our hotel room that we would be sharing with fellow Marathon Maniacs and Revel Ambassadors, Stacy Bolyard and Maria Crawford (HUGE thanks to Stacy for hooking us up)!
It is always great to see fellow Maniac and Revel Ambassador, Nikki Scott at the expo!!
As I picked up that BQ sign at the expo, I wondered if I jinxed myself holding it before the race!
The weather was forecast to be cold at the start, so Revel included hats, gloves and heat sheets in our gear bags. Very cool!
I loved the shirts! You could choose between a short sleeve shirt or a tank. If you liked both, you could buy and extra after the race!
After we left the expo, we found the most delicious Greek restaurant for lunch. The Market Grill Cafe had the most friendly staff and wonderful lunch special. For $8.50, we ate a fresh and delicious lunch then went to the hotel for a quick nap before exploring a bit before I had to hit the hay!
Pomegranate chicken wrap with Greek salad and a drink for $8.50 at The Market Grill Cafe.
After our nap, Rob and I hit Fremont Street for some people watching. We walked around taking in the older part of Las Vegas with it's casinos were you could still hear coins coming out of the slot machines and the ventilation systems were not as good as in the newer casinos (you could smell the cigarette smoke everywhere), but we still had a blast!
The neon lights of Las Vegas!
Rob and I making the scene!
The El Cortez
The Ruby Slipper
The Golden Nugget Casino had a HUGE fish/shark tank with a swimming pool around it and a water slide that went right down the middle of it! I so wanted to go on it!
All the walking around made us a little hungry, so we found a nice little restaurant/bar called Theapy. We just sat at the bar and had dinner and drinks, then headed back to the hotel around 11:00pm. With a 3:30am wake up call, I wanted to be in bed by 9:00pm, but we were in Las Vegas. NOBODY goes to bed early in Las Vegas!
The next morning Stacy, Maria and I got up and got ready to catch one of the buses to the start. The buses left between 4:00am-5:00am and given the weather forecast at the start, I would be happy to get up there as late as possible so I don't have to stand around in the cold as long.
A bunch of us piled into cars and carpooled to the parking lot near the finish where the buses would take us to the start. We were pretty stoked to see these comfortable coaches (not school buses) waiting for us. Each bus had a bathroom on it which was helpful in getting a jump on the race day evacuation! The buses were warm and comfortable for the long ride up the mountain.
When we got to the start, I expected to be freezing when I got off the bus. The weather was expected to be in the 30's at the start with maybe some rain and snow. I made sure I was layered up and brought some warm clothes, but to my surprise, the weather was much warmer than I expected. It was cold, but not freezing.
The view from the start was spectacular! You can see the snow rolling in towards us in the background.
Nikki and I at the start!
Stacy and I
Othman and I hoping for BQ's!
This was a big day for my pal Matt Orr. He has spent the last 9 months working his tail off. He dropped some weight, did his speed work and not only landed himself his first BQ, but he took an hour off his PR and finished 4th overall with a 2:47:09!! Can you say BADASS?!! WAY TO GO MATTY BOY!!
At the start, I mingled with friends, took a bunch of pictures, dropped my drop bag and headed to the starting line.
Just a few Maniacs at the start.
Maniacs at the start!
I am ready to go! Let's do this!
A lot of the pacers did not have signs, so the 3:55 pacer got creative!
The race started right on time. As we took off, we couldn't believe what we were seeing. Snow! It was snowing in May! Luckily there wasn't enough snow to stick and it only lasted a couple of miles and people loved it!
Yep! That is snow. In May. In Las Vegas!!! (Photo credit: George Okinaka)
The race started going up a hill, which was exhausting! I need some time to warm up so when my first mile split beeped at 9:00, I felt like I was already tired and behind pace. Not a good place to be at mile one, but after we hit the peak the reward began. A nice gentle downhill slope with a couple of small rollers (that felt like mountains after the downhill) and some flat sections made this course fast and I took advantage of that.
Yes, I went out way too fast. My goal was to stay with the 3:55 pacer. That is my BQ time right now, but I age up next year (getting another 5 minutes), so a 3:55 would give me a 5 minute cushion. I stayed with the pacer for the first couple of miles and then I was gone!
I hit the first 6.55 mile split at 53:31. That is an 8:10 average pace. Much faster than the 8:53 pace I should have been running!
The overcast sky kept the temps cool!
Who knew that Las Vegas had this kind of scenery?!
I saw my friend and fellow Maniac Eddie Hahn on the course and he told me he was pacing the 3:45 pace group. I laughed and said "I should NOT be running with you!", but I continued to run with him until he had to stop for a bathroom break.
I knew what I was doing was probably going to bite me in the butt, but I felt good and just rolled with it.
Just passed mile 7!
I hit the half at 1:47:26 (8:12 average pace). I was still ahead but slowing. I still felt great.
Then out of the blue, just before the mile 15 aid station, a felt a sharp cramp in left hamstring. I yelled out in pain. While other runners asked if they could help, I was not sure what (if anything) they could do.
I could not keep a stride, so I hobbled to the aid station, took some sports drink and tried to walk/slowly run it out. I was successful, but my legs were now feeling the wrath of my overzealous pacing.
The course was beautiful!
I hit mile 19.65 in 2:44:07. Even with the cramp stops I held on to a 8:21 average pace!
Then it happened. The wall came up and the wheels fell off and it felt just as bad as you might expect. My legs were toast. I could smell that BQ and knew that I could very well blow it in the last few miles of this race!
I started trying to give myself pep talks! "Don't blow this!", "You can do this!" , "F#*K! My 100 miler was easier than this!"
Just trying to hang in there!
In the last 3 miles, I was full on run/walking. The course had flattened out back at mile 20 and my legs were so trashed, it still felt like running up a mountain! I was dead. I asked a police officer (who was directing traffic) to shoot me with his gun and put me out of my misery. He declined. Ha Ha! I had no choice to keep plugging along.
Dear Lord let it be over soon!
By mile 24, I was dying, but I knew that if I didn't drop dead, I was still going to get my BQ. This made me happy, but I just wanted to get DONE!
I saw a woman who was doing the half marathon. Her name is Courtney. She looked like she was struggling. I was struggling too, so I asked her if I could give her a hug. She said "I NEED a hug!" I told her I did too and we laughed, hugged and I told her that she was AMAZING and I went on my way hoping that I would see her cross the finish line.
My hug buddy Courtney!
In the last mile I saw my friend Matt. I asked him if he got his BQ? He said he did and I gave him a big hug and said "I better go get mine!" That gave me a boost seeing a friend reach the goal he has been working so hard for. I could not stop now!
I was happy to see my pal Matt! (Photo credit: Matt Orr)
When I turned the corner I saw the finish line and was so happy! I finished in 3:48:56! That gives me an over 11 minute cushion for Boston!
As I crossed the finish line I immediately got dizzy and felt faint. I grabbed a chair at the timing table and asked a volunteer to grab a medic to help me into the medical tent. I was OK, I just needed to lay down for a second to keep from passing out. They were very nice and even got my medal for me!
As I left the medical tent I saw Courtney! She finished! I was so excited for her and went over and gave her another hug and congratulated her!
Courtney finishing her race. The joy on her face is what it is all about folks! WAY TO GO COURTNEY!
Happy to be done!
After the race, I saw a few more friends and we celebrated our BQ's and PR's! It had just started to sprinkle rain, so I called Rob and told him I was ready to get picked up.
Lots of Maniac BQ's and PR's!
BQ! Whoo Hoo!
The medal is AWESOME!
Rob picked me up and took me back to the hotel so I could shower and pack up my stuff. We decided to spend the night at Caesar's Palace on the strip so we could go out without having to drive, but before we went to the hotel, we hit Market Street Cafe again and then went to the outlet mall for a little shopping. I bought nothing, but I found lots of nice stuff for Rob to buy!
I think I need this hat for summer!
After we left the outlet mall we went to the hotel and checked in. If we were going out later, I needed a nap, so I took a nap while Rob watched TV and about 7:00pm, we got ready and hit the town!
The view from our room.
The Trevi Fountain at Caesar's Palace
Photo bombed by a fountain!
I am scared to know my future!
I wanna be BIG!
She lost her head!
Being downtown is great, but unless you plan it all out, you spend more time just walking around instead of doing something cool. The hotels are HUGE and on a Saturday night, the shows sell out, but we had some dinner and were back in the hotel sleeping by 10:30pm. We are PARTY ANIMALS!
Joe Louis giving me a throat punch!
Rob is ready to take on the champ!
On the way home we stopped my the Las Vegas sign and got a quick picture, got some breakfast and headed home.
Selfie at the Las Vegas sign!
Things I LOVED about this race:
1) Super FAST and beautiful course.
2) Nice buses to the start.
3) Revel's attention to detail (gloves, blankets, hats for cold weather)
4) Great medal and t-shirt.
5) Pie and pizza at the finish line.
6) FREE race photos (I had 52 photos!)
7) Las Vegas is a fun place when with friends!
I predict this race will double in size next year. It was so much fun! OK, it was fun once I finished! Ha Ha!
Revel has three more races this year check out my previous post for details and discounts!
This race was dedicated to Suzy Spiceland Michelson. She was a wonderful runner, friend, wife, mother and an asset to our club. She will be missed.