Now that I officially have a job and an address and a steady paycheck and other things normal people have, I can start planning my life, aka my running vacations. The past six months I’ve been choosing races based on the following questions: 1) Where the heck am I? 2) Where will I be this weekend? 3) Is there a race that is not a 26 mile trail run in my general vicinity? 4) Do I have enough money to run as a non-bandit?

This strategy actually worked pretty well. In 2011 I ran…

Then I ran out of money, and had to pass on the Seattle ½ Marathon and the Las Vegas Rock n Roll ½ Marathon. I was sad that I missed the Seattle Marathon, but I’m glad I opted out of the Las Vegas one. The ½ marathon course looked terrible and after the race reports about tainted water started surfacing.

Anyways, now that I have said job, I can have a fancy race calendar on my blog like Sarah and Cely and other runner-bloggers have. Due to lack of funding and my aversion towards driving mountain passes in the snow, all my running will be in Denver for the first few month.

 January

February

  • 11th: Ralston Creek Half Marathon in Arvada, CO – unless the race sells out before I get paid. I’m training for it anyways!
  • 12th: Platte River 7 miler in Denver, CO.

March:

  • March 17th: Canyonlands Five Miler in Moab, UT – unless it’s snowing in the mountains, which is probably will be.
  • March 25th: Tri-State 20 miler: Starts in Maine, runs down the New Hampshire coast, and finishes in Massachusetts. I REALLY want to do this race (it’s during my Spring Break), but don’t know if I’ll have the money. If you see ads go up on this blog, you’ll know why!

April

  • 7th: City Park 4 miler in Denver, CO
  • 14th : Kevin Whirlwind Horse 10K in Spearfish, SD

May

  • 6th: Stapleton 5 miler in Denver, CO
  • 27th: Wyoming ½ Marathon in Laramie, WY

June

  • 16th: Grandma’s Marathon: Duluth, MN. I’ve already paid for this one, so it’s a go. I haven’t run a marathon in 10+ years, so I figured it’s time to do another one. This race is supposed to be GORGEOUS.

So that’s it for now! I’d better start running…

With the Las Vegas Rock and Roll Marathon in the evening this Sunday, I thought I would offer up some evening race tips that I learned (the hard way) at the DisneyWorld Wine and Dine ½ Marathon this past October. The three main issues are sleep, food, and post-race partying.

Sleep:

The DisneyWorld race started at ten o’clock at night, so a bit of a sleep schedule adjustment was required. Some participants slept in late while some opted for a mid-day nap. This will be less of an issue with the Las Vegas Marathon, since the full marathon is at 4:00, the half at 5:30. I’d bet that most Vegas Marathon participants will be better rested than any other race, since most races tend to start at some god-awful hour in the morning. Sin City Runners will have all day to sleep in before working their way down to the start line.

Food:

Eating was my problem during the DisneyWorld ½. For no reason at all, I live in mortal fear of being hungry, so I unwisely decided to eat a full breakfast, lunch, and dinner before the race. After mile six or seven my stomach was not happy with me. I think it would have been better to mimic my typical morning race eating habits: I don’t eat at night (unless I’m sleep-walking and eating, which I hope isn’t going on!) and have a small breakfast a couple of hours before the race start. Mimicking this pattern for a ten o’clock race would have meant enjoying a carbo-loading type breakfast in the morning, skipping lunch and dinner, and then having a small snack a few hours before the race. For the late afternoon start in Vegas, I would go with a dinner the night before, a very small breakfast and a small snack around lunchtime.

Post-race Party:

An evening race in both Orlando and Las Vegas make sense because of the atmosphere of both cities. Although the type of partying that happens in Orlando is completely different than what happens in Vegas, each town survives on tourism and celebrations tend to be extravagant. So an evening race is perfect. In Orlando, finishers of the Wine and Dine event are treated with a free glass of wine and a gift card to spend at one of the many “around the world” eateries scattered throughout the park. In Las Vegas, runners get free admission to a variety of nightclubs (Tao, XS, and Lavo).

Therefore, this is NOT the race to kill yourself over. Don’t try and set a PR, qualify for the Boston Marathon, or reach any other running goals. You’ll want to ride that post-race high all night into your celebration.

Trust me. I didn’t do this. I was bound and determined to run my DisneyWorld 13.1 miles in less than two hours (on a full stomach, apparently), and was miserable after the race. I ran it in 1:57, but had no interest in wine or food afterwards. My plan to document and enjoy the post race party went by the wayside (you’ll notice there are no pictures here). I went home and crawled into bed.

So to those of you running in Las Vegas on Sunday, ENJOY IT! Have a nice easy race, high five an Elvis every mile, pump your fists at the finish line, and rock the night away.          

A phone conversation with my mom a few months ago:

Her: “Where did you find out about this race? Are you sure it’s legitimate?”  

Me: “Some website. And no, but I’m going anyways.”

Her: “O-kay-ee”

 A conversation with a bank manager soon afterwards:

 Her: “Are you sure about this company? Because once we transfer the money, it’s gone.”

Me : “Um, kinda. Transfer away.”

Jeez people, have a little faith!

The Genghis Khan Grasslands Extreme Marathon in Xiwuqi, Inner Mongolia, China is indeed legitimate. Not that this is the best word to describe it though. Adjectives like awesome, breath-taking, gorgeous, fascinating, well-marked, and fun come a little closer to describe the coolest thing I’ve done in China.

The excitement was palpable from the Friday morning flight from Beijing to Xilinhot, as a decidedly in-shape and western looking crowd boarded the flight. An hour later we were bumping along a dirt potholely road through the grasslands. Next to us was a brand-new almost-finished road, so the four-hour ride should be smoother and faster next year.

 After checking into the race motel we headed out to the main tourist attraction for some archery, Mongolian horse riding, yurt viewing, and a dinner banquet.

 

In addition to the marathon, half marathon and 10K race, the Genghis Khan event also includes a three day bike ride. The Day 1 finish and awards ceremony took place at this touristy yurt village as well.

 

Dinner was interesting. Most pre-race dinners feature plates of spaghetti, an inspirational talk, and everyone leaving by seven to rest up for the big race. Not here.

 

Despite the fact that I consumed more beer then water the night before, I woke up ready to run, figuring I was one step ahead of everyone that had shots of baijiu. Myself and about 50 or so other runners (half and full marathoners all started together) took off from the cultural square into the grasslands.  

Like Gengis Khan crushed China, the Mongolian landscape crushed my hopes for a sub two hour ½ marathon. The first 15K of green foothills was gorgeous, but tough. The real killer was the last 5K into the wind and through town. It was business as usual in the streets of Xiwuqi as runners shared the streets with cars, trucks, bikes and pedestrians. This type of finish kinda kills end-of-the-race adrenaline.  

Luckily (for me) no other female ½ marathoners finished in less than two hours either, which was how, despite my disappointing time of 2:20, I ended up here:

 

Race times aside, it was a great time. As usual, the event was made better by the people you meet. Congratulations on a successful race to…

  • Barbara, the New Yorker who has run a race on every continent (yes, Antarctica has a marathon).
  • The American-Chinese couple working on racing in every Chinese province.
  • Michele, an American student in Beijing, completing her first ½ marathon.
  • Aly, the gregarious 3rd place marathon runner and her entourage. And the other Allie who zoomed ahead of me at the 10K mark to win 2nd place in the ½.
  • Tina, who I followed for most of the race.  
  • The whole team of runners from Malaysia, some of whom have run 45+ marathons.
  • Florence from Singapore, my roommate.  
  • The other Jenn who won the full marathon (however her prize money was not equal to the winners of the male marathon…)
  • The always smiling FK (sorry I don’t know how to spell your name!) and his wife, the 2nd place marathon finisher.
  • Sue, who ran the full marathon and then commissioned a taxi to drive us around the countryside the next day. Thanks Sue!

Now…onto the next race. I’m going to break two hours this year! I’m thinking October 1st in Orlando, land of no hills. Anyone with me?