On April 29th, 2017 I ran my first downhill marathon. Just an hour out from the glowing Las Vegas Strip you will find cottages and two lane roads up Kyle Canyon, this is Mount Charleston. Most runners gravitate towards downhill marathons with bright eyes and their heart set on a BQ time. While downhill racing tends to give a runner a new PR, it’s not as easy on your body as you would think. When I registered for Mount Charleston, I wanted a vacation along with the experience of a downhill race. I knew I wasn’t ready for a BQ but a PR would be in my future. Run Revel is known for their downhill beautiful courses and quality race experience. They host a few races a year with half and full marathon distances. When you Run Revel, you know you are joining a strong group of runners that train hard and finish strong.
When I told Mav I registered for Mount Charleston, he jumped online and said, “you know this is going to be a Vegas vacation.” While there are hotels near the race finish line, you bus up to the start line from a parking lot in Summerlin. Since we drove to Las Vegas and had a car, staying on the strip was ideal for us. We drove up the day before the race, checked in and headed out to packet pick up. Once I had my bib, I was getting excited. Training for a downhill race included a lot of uphill runs, along with stretches, fuel prep, and IT roll outs. One thing that always makes me nervous while running is my knees, I can train, prepare, and supplement. However, I never know if they are going to act up. I knew if they were going to give me trouble, a downhill race would be when be when pain may show up. Instead of being scared, I prayed and figured if Mount Charleston was going to be my race then everything would go as planned. Las Vegas holds a lot of my favorite restaurants, so Mav and I had an early dinner and for the first time ever, I was able to get to bed by 8 PM with a 3 AM alarm.
Before I knew it 3 AM rolled around and I jumped out of bed, from that moment I started pre race hydration with nuun performance. I can’t eat before a race so nuun performance has been a game charger for me. It’s the right amount of carb and electrolytes to keep me hydrated and strong throughout my long runs. Mav drove me to the parking lot in Summerlin, I sat in the car for awhile until I braved the chilly windy weather and jumped in the bus line, which was headed to the marathon start line. While in line, everyone was ecstatic and excited. Talking about the previous years race, where they flew in from, and that BQ they were chasing. One women shared her story of chasing a BQ for 15 years, I admired her journey and wished her luck. I thought to myself, “this race is serious, it’s a make it or break it for a lot of runners.” Driving up, we passed the half marathon start line…a part of me thought, “can I change my mind now.” Soon, we were at the start line which was a cute little cabin restaurant and lodge. While the race temperature at finish was a perfect 72 degrees. The start line reminded me of my fun chilly race in Florida this past January. You forget how chilly and windy it is the higher up the mountain you go. Knowing I would be running and warmed up soon, I just couldn’t wait until that blow horn went off.
Starting down the hill, it was really windy. I once again had a flashback to my first marathon and tried to keep a positive focus. The first couple of miles were steep and allowed me to gain momentum, this is were I kept a steady 8-8:30 min/miles. Hydration stations and port a potties were located just about every mile down the course. I kept to my plan of at least getting an ounce or two of water each stop, along with my honey stinger gels each hour of running. nuun performance keeps me hydrated for a good portion of the run, while the gels give me the amino acids my body needs. This course had so much to see and kept me mentally free. my focus on the scenery and the sounds of the outdoors kept me on pace. When I would set my eyes on the distance I could see the north side of the strip. Coming up on the half marathon start line, I was feeling good. This is where it started to warm up and I knew I was halfway to finish. Arriving at mile 18-20 during a marathon is tough, I always feel like I’m almost finished but the miles start to get longer and I need to stay head strong. This is also were the Mount Charleston course tends to flatten out. I started to feel my quads on fire. I knew if I wanted to PR, It was going to have to be on me and my training. With 5k to go, it really hit me. I wanted to walk but my legs weren’t ready to give up. I kept my focus on the signs of the spectators cheering the runners on. Since most of the course is closed off, it does give spectators a tough time to cheer on loved ones, unless they drive up or live along the course. I’m always for spectators towards the end of 26.2 miles!! Since my head was telling my body to slow down but the crowd was telling me to “finish strong.” Before I knew it I could see the finish line, approaching it took forever even though it was a quick minute. lol. I could see Mav to my right at the finish, this gave me the strength to push harder. Shortly after I finished I checked my time, which was better than the time I saw while crossing the finish line!! I finished in 4:09:45 for a 9:31/mile, a new PR for me!
Looking back at this marathon, I found myself in most of the miles. Run Revel exceeded my expectations, from a organized quality course to the quality of challenging runners. Once you run a downhill marathon, it’s tough to meet your running goals with any other course. This was my third marathon, and I plan to make a Run Revel event my fourth. If you are pursuing your dream of running Boston, I would advise to sign up for a downhill marathon. Run Revel shaved 17 mins off my previous marathon time!