This was my 4th marathon and 2nd time participating in the Revel Rockies! It's a primarily downhill course and it loses almost 5,000 ft of elevation from the beginning to the end. Last year I stayed at the Hampton Inn (one of their discounted hotels), but opted to stay at the Sheraton West this year. They allow dogs for a small fee and it was only a few $ more than the Hampton Inn. I always look for two things when I book a room when running a marathon destination race: 1. comfy beds 2. the best shower ever and the Sheraton did not disappoint! I previously recapped the race expo over at on my blog , so make sure to check that out!
The race starts at 6AM, so shuttle buses leave to take you to the start line anywhere from 3:30-4:15. Alex wasn't looking forward to waking up at 3:15 on a Sunday to drop me off, so luckily the Sheraton had a bus that I could get from there and it would take us all the way to the start line! This was honestly 100% worth it (even though we both thought the Hampton Inn was nicer overall)! I woke up at 3:15, had some oatmeal, put sunscreen & body glide on, and was out the door at 3:40! When I got down to the lobby, there was a race volunteer there helping everyone get on the right bus and it just happens that our transportation to the start line was a LIMO!
It was complete with a stripper pole inside and everything. First time ever being in one of these and it was really spacious!
This helped calm my nerves for a bit and after about an hour drive, we were at the start line. It was beginning to get light out and I headed to the porta potty line right away (it took me almost a half an hour to get inside one). I then proceeded to eat 1/2 banana, drink some Nuun Active (mango orange is my favorite flavor), check my bag at the bag drop, and then head back to the porta potty line one more time! After I did my business, I stretched for a few minutes then it was time for the National Anthem (they had a fellow runner sing it and he was amazing)! We began heading to the start line after it concluded.
It was chilly to start (around mid 40's), but I knew it would start to heat up pretty quickly once we started to go below treeline again. I put myself right around the 3:55 pacer (my goal was to try to stay with the pace group as long as I could) and we were off! The first 6 miles of this race is pretty downhill and the scenery is spectacular! It went by really quickly and I could already feel my need to go faster than the pace group, so I left them really early on (and paced the 3:45 pace group too)! I decided to go by feel until mile 11 (where we hit some of the hills) and maintained a pace around 8:30 min/mi. Once we crossed onto Evergreen Parkway on mile 11, I knew this was going to be the tougher section.
My stomach had been feeling funky all day before the race and the morning it was still pretty off (probably nerves). I was really worried about the heat on race day (predicted to be in the mid-90s), as I really don't do well when it's hot out. I tried to stay conservative on the hills and maintained a pace 9:50 min/mi through miles 13-19.5. It was after this point where the race takes a turn onto Bear Creek Canyon and while it is slightly downhill in sections, it is entirely exposed to the sun and zero spectators. It was definitely where most runners struggle and I really wish there was some shaded areas along the remaining 7 miles. I tried to keep my pace up at an easy clip, but it was HARD!
I honestly met so many fantastic runners and at mile 25, when one more mile feels SO FAR, a runner that I remember seeing on-and-off throughout the course yelled to me: "we've been playing cat and mouse the whole time", "let's finish this TOGETHER" and that is really exactly what I needed to hear! She ran by me, but I forced myself to catch up to her and then she started to slow down and I got my second wind. I ran past her and didn't see her again! I actually ended up looking at a few of my race photos and just before the finish, she is directly behind me! Runners are amazing humans and the community is just awesome.
While I didn't get the sub 4 that I trained for originally (I made it my goal to get under sub 4 in 2017), I am SO confident going into the Las Vegas Marathon training cycle that sub 4 is really doable! I ended up finishing in 4:03 and got a shiny new PR that was 11 minutes FASTER than my previous PR (set last year at this same race). I'm super proud of myself and all that I accomplished on this course and feeling confident going into my next training cycle!
This race is put together really well and they have fantastic mile markers (and encouraging signs along the course). The medals are AMAZING and t-shirt swag awesome too. One thing that I think really helped on this course was knowing that there was an aid station every 2 miles and I would check off each aid station that I came to (I lost focus towards the end of the race), but I think this mental game was a great way to motivate myself. In my next race, I'm going to try to focus on it the entire time and see how it works.