Training in Las Vegas

Posted by on April 3, 2008 in Training

I had a very difficult time in my 16 mile run in the desert.  In the early part of the preceding night, I had been so disciplined and avoided drinking beer or eating bad food.  All bets were off as the night progressed, but I was careful to not do anything to excess… except for staying up late.  Over the course of the night, I never felt drunk or without coherency, but since we were up till 7 a.m. or so, the sheer number of hours meant a fair amount of beer was in my system along with depleted recovery sleep. 

I felt fairly good Saturday morning (if you can call noon morning) which is probably more than can be said about the rest of the gang.  As such, with so many concurrent hangovers, they decided to order 8 pizzas and for me, I couldn’t resist.  Knowing that it would be best for me to try my run much later in the day, I headed down to the pool with my buddy Matt to do a whole bunch of nothing.  I drank a lot of water, or so I thought, and decided that I’d start around 4 or 4:30 to take advantage of a later sun. 

The crew thought I was nuts for doing this, but I was determined to do it.  Again, the goal was to run an hour and ten minutes in one direction, then try to get back to the hotel in less time (what we call a negative split).  I geared up, took a few energy gels with me, queued up the iPod and headed out.  Immediately, my sneaker bothered me.  When I wasn’t thinking about that, I focused on how my knee didn’t feel right.  Basically, I complained to myself for a good 25 minutes until I realized that I had made some pretty good progress.  It was hot, but not unbearably so, and I wasn’t sweating as profusely as I would have thought.  With a white running cap, I was well protected from direct sunlight on my face which is always an issue for me. 

I got to the halfway point, took a one minute break to admire my accomplishment, consumed a gel, and began the run back.  I was tired and the joints didn’t feel right, but I had no money and no other option but to get back to that hotel by myself.  About 30 minutes into the return trip, I had to stop.  I was thirsty as hell and found myself often shoving my tongue between my gums and lips to get them to separate.  I timed my walk to be 2 minutes, then pressed on.  Knowing that I was in trouble, I created a new strategy to pick a traffic light and run to it before allowing another walking phase.  It went through a few cycles of running 9 minutes and walking 2 until I had to come to a full stop for a good 3 minutes.  It was at that point that I realized that I had stopped sweating and that I had no more spit or runniness in my nose.  I was totally dehydrated. 

Being that the route I chose, Las Vegas Boulevard, was a straight shot from and to the hotel, I could barely sense it getting closer.  Anyone who knows Monty Python’s Holy Grail will remember the scene where the knights are advancing on a castle and where the cameras go back and forth between them and the castle guards, but the knights never seem to get any closer until the last camera shot where they are right at the castle.  I felt like I was never making any real progress even though I was. 

After my fourth walking episode, which was for 6 minutes, I managed to put together a good 15 minutes straight run and finally made it to the hotel driveway.  I expected to feel some triumphant sense of relief but to be honest, I didn’t; I just felt like I finished a workout, that’s all. 

The walk to the elevators was strange to me.  I knew that I looked like I had been to hell and back, but I couldn’t tell if the looks I was getting were because of that or because I was dressed in full running gear.  When I got into the elevator, I noticed a lot of white caked-on salt so that could have been it. 

Once in the hotel room, I immediately drank 4 20-ounce bottles of water along with a Snickers bar.  I followed that up with another 20-ounce bottle of water and a diet coke.  With a shower and a some snacking, I felt so much better.  The initial part of the evening was tough for me since we had to walk a bit from here to there and to another place, then back, then through this hallway, etc… and when we finally got to the club, I made sure to claim a couch seat for as long as I could.  A few drinks later, I was able to stand and re-join society thanks to the numbing effects of alcohol.  And, to my pleasure, I wasn’t in any pain the next day. 

There’s no real message or lesson learned here, other than that the desert is much tougher than it appears.  I could have easily run a very fast 10k but 16 miles is an extreme distance and probably not best run with beer and pizza in the system.

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