I was born in the desert, so warm sand, sagebrush, dusty rocks and cacti feel like coming home to me. My dad even calls me “Arizona Amy,” so any opportunity to visit family or friends AND run a race is a cherished opportunity.
Last year while discussing different races, a few running friends shared their experiences at the Revel Mount Charleston Marathon. They loved the race course and experience in Las Vegas, so I made plans to race in 2018. I spoke with my good friend Lindsay that lives in Las Vegas and she graciously agreed to put me up for the weekend.
When race week finally arrived, we learned my husband’s cousin suddenly passed away after a long 2 year battle with leukemia. After much discussion, and the fact that I had passed the race withdrawal, transfer and refund window; it was decided I should still proceed as planned or we would forfeit all money spent. The decision was hard because so much extended family was coming into town that the funeral felt more like a family reunion.
Friday night, Lindsay was kind enough to drive me over the last half of the race course to give me a feel of what to expect. To my surprise, the finish line was less than a mile from her house. We drove by and seeing the finishing chute, I jumped out of the car and visualized my finish in the morning. One of the race directors happened to be on site and graciously offered to snap a picture under the light of the moon. It was beautiful evening.
Finally around 9 pm, I laid everything out in preparation for my 3 am wake up call and headed to bed around 11. I don’t ever sleep well the night before a race because I’m just so excited to wake up and race. I really feel like a kids on Christmas Eve.
In the morning I was careful to be extra quite to avoid waking anyone and was on the first 4:00 am bus to the start. Our driver got a little lost due to construction detours, but thankfully someone on our bus was local and knew the best route despite the extra detour. As the sun started to slowly rise, I met some great people from all over the US.
Desert sunrises are absolutely beautiful. Very slow at first, the colors are vibrant and magnificent. I love to stand and feel the warmth and energy that radiates from all forms of life- human, plant or animal present. Feeling inspired, I said a prayer and expressed my gratitude to God for not only the ability to run, but the perfection of all His creations. Having poor health has taught me what a gift and treasure vitality is; something I treasure everyday.
At 7:00 am we were off and running. The temperature was surprisingly warm and rapidly rising as we ran the first 8 miles directly into the sun. With each step, I felt alive, happy and free; experiencing completely blissful running.
The first 10k felt great, with gorgous desert views while heading down toward Vegas. About this time, I noticed a tall runner that started struggling to maintain his pace. He’d run for a half mile or so and then start walking for a bit and then take off running again. Finally at mile 7, I caught him. I asked him if he was okay, and he mentioned he was feeling hot. I offered to pace him; letting him draft off me. We stayed together for a few miles till he decided he needed to stop at an aide station. I hoped I’d find him again at the end of the race.
When I crossed the finish line a little after 7:30, I was ready for a bathroom and something to drink. Gratefully, I had very little tummy pain or trouble in this race, which is always a personal victory!
At the finish line, I found my mid-race running buddy Randy who lives in Maryland. He thanked me for my help and mentioned he’d never run in dry heat like that before. I laughed and told him that I get sick back East because I’m not used to running in all the humidity.
At the finish line I was able to try out a fancy recovery product called rapid reboot. Essentially they’re air filled compression sleeves that help stimulate blood flow after a strenuous workout. My legs weren’t that sore but a 10 minute wait at a large event is hard to beat. They were nice, but I could think of a lot better ways to spend $1,000.
The Revel Mount Charleston half-marathon was a great race. Revel always has fun, well planned, professional and efficient racing events and I’m glad I made the short drive south for the course.
Someday I might come back and try the full marathon distance. I’d love to spend a few more hours in the desert; to me- it feels like coming home.