Las Vegas Half Marathon – 2002

February 3, 2002

Normally, on Superbowl Sunday, I would find myself running the Redondo Beach or Surf City runs (as most of my friends were doing), but because of my sister Riva, I found myself in Las Vegas.

We need to backtrack a little for some reference.

In 1999, Riva graduated from Medical School and moved to Dallas, TX, to do her residency in Internal Medicine.  More often than not, her regular schedule was 36 hours on, 12 hours off, with maybe one weekend a month off.  With such a heinous schedule, she didn’t really go to regular run workouts.  She mostly ran to-and-from work (when possible) and if she had a weekend off, would do a long run (like 20 miles).

In late 1999, a friend suggested Riva accompany her to Chicago for the marathon (I think this was the year that the World Record was broken… and it poured!).  Riva is a good runner, so I’m not certain that lack of training would hurt her here.  She had the best race of her life and she did 2:50:46 (which at the time was less than a minute off the Olympic Marathon Trials qualifying standard).

This gave her renewed confidence that her fitness was such that she could jump into whatever marathon at any time, and have a reasonable shot of success (by the way, that time in Chicago was good for 16th (!!) in her age group).

So… in December, she ran the Dallas White Rock Marathon in under 3 hours (maybe 2nd female overall), in January 2000, ran the Houston Marathon (50th female), and in February won the Fort Worth Cowtown Marathon.

After winning Cowtown, she got an offer to be coached toward achieving the Olympic Marathon “B” standard (which was now 2:48), and ran some incredible times at races and training to prepare to achieve this goal.

Her best bet was the Las Vegas Marathon, because it had a downhill tilt (but still could be used as a qualifier).

My parents decided that they would go out and support her, and my dad’s brother, Rolfe, and his wife would also come out.  I decided to drive out with them and also to run the half marathon.

We stayed at the Jockey Club hotel (a small 3-story hotel next to the Bellagio, with no slot machines).  We were staying on the Fountain side, so the crashing of water did not help me get to sleep that well.  What also didn’t help MY race (and I guess didn’t help Riva all that much) was that she was recovering from a case of pneumonia and was coughing up a storm.  My dad suggested that my sister not run, but she insisted that she would be OK race morning and would not push it – in other words, all of the work to achieve the standard would go out the window… but what do you do when you get really sick?

The general plan was that I would run my race, and no one would come support me and cheer me on, but they would make an effort to come see me finish – they wanted to watch Riva for the most part.  I said that because I had run 1:38 at Long Beach Half, I didn’t expect a time THAT good (because of the PF and stubbed toe).

Like the marathon, the half marathoners are also bused the entire distance out of town super-early in the morning.  I remember walking down the Strip in my tank top and shorts and given catcalls by some “Ladies of the Night.”  (or they could have been clubgoers…)

I ran the first mile in 6:54 (which surprised me) and maintained a pretty good pace the entire way to finish in 1:33:39 – probably my 2nd or 3rd best half ever.  As I was coming out of the finisher’s chute, I noted my parents and aunt and uncle walking up from the parking lot, so they missed my run entirely!

I later learned that I missed placing in my division (Clydesdale) by 1 place – and that the top 3 got a medal and a little money (like $25)..

Riva ended up running 3:12 (jogging!) and also finished 4th in her age division.

Afterwards, we watched the Superbowl in various casinos, and Mom and I even rode the rollercoaster at New York New York.

The next day, I drove back with my aunt & uncle, who live in Northridge.  We stopped in at Stateline, so they could do a little more gambling.  I had gambled about $10 in Vegas, so I demurred and was just watching… but I did end up finding $40, which I gambled with and ended up with… $40.

Always nice to come out of a weekend ahead.


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