Tuesday, December 05, 2006

My "layover" in Sin City

Las Vegas has always been a place I've avoided. I have associated it with smoking, heavy drinking and gambling. It pains me to imagine people putting their families at risk by gambling away their grocery money and since my mom died of smoking related causes, it's just not for me, I thought. When I was looking to take flight from California to be able to better live within my means, settling in Las Vegas didn't cross my mind. However, a dear friend changed all that with a phone call. She told me she had a neighbor selling and I should check it out. Someone asked the question "Does Disneyland impact your daily living in Orange County?" The answer was the same...for residents, it's most often a place you frequent when you have visitors. I made the move a year ago and have changed my attitude.

About 6 months before my Vegas condo purchase, I read in the OC Register about a training program for the OC marathon. I had always wanted to do a marathon and had tried years ago to train on my own but got injured and never did one. I signed up for Coach Bill Sumner's program, which taught me injury avoidance and offered group support, which made all the difference. My Vegas friend sent me an email about the Las Vegas marathon but since it was a full month before the OC event, I dismissed it. I was only up to 16 miles at the time and didn't see how it was possible. At the OC (actually Corona Del Mar High School) training site, a couple of runners were talking about their plans for the Vegas marathon. I asked them how they could manage it and they explained that our group's long run would be up to 20 miles by then and they just intended to walk the last 6, if they were too tired. These gals had had several marathons under their belt but I still had never done one.

I drove from OC to Vegas 2 weeks prior to the LV marathon and saw the giant digital billboard of the Mandalay Bay promoting the run. It was very inspiring but between flying trips, preparing the new place and keeping up with my daughter Jillz and our animal & plant menagerie, it didn't seem manageable. I went running while in Vegas and it was beautiful and the weather at that time was a lot like OC in late Nov, around 60 degrees F.

Fast forward to a few days before the event and I made plans for Jillz to come to Vegas to see our condo for the 1st time. I decided (while In OC) to enter the marathon with the attitude I could always drop out. I entered online @ www.lvmarathon.com I was up to 18 miles as my longest run. I drove to Vegas and was shocked that the temperture had dropped to 31 degrees with the winds. Dressed totally inappropriately, Jillz dropped me off at 5am. It was surreal. Coming down in the elevator of the Mandalay Bay were partyers just leaving the casino. Going up the elevator were scores of runners (some dressed as Elvis or showgirls). Who were the sanest? I'm still not sure. To my own disbelief, I finished with the help of the 2 OC runners (LS & CC) who passed me at about mile 22 and offered encouraging words which helped pulled me along. Anyone who has done that 1st marathon knows what an exhilarating, life changing experience it is for the mind although my body was somewhat numb from the cold!