Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Vegas Vacation

First and foremost, I do not believe in the saying "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas." That said, I didn't do anything questionable enough to not be written. But my one night event in Vegas was just the ending to a crazy few days out in the desert.

Wednesday morning I was late for my plane, as usual. I had a 9:20 flight and left my house somewhere around 8:26. I made it down to the airport pretty fast, and as I was getting out of my car in Long Term A, a bus was about to stop nearby. I ran over to it and got on. A minute or two later I realized I didn't have my running shoes and that I may have left them on the trunk of my car. I emailed Arjun and asked if he could stop by (he works near the airport) and check if they were there. He texted back while I was on the plane and said they were not. My only hope was that they were in the trunk.

This leaves me without shoes now before our little work 5k on Thursday morning. In years past we've stayed at nice resorts that have been nowhere near any shops of any kind. The good news was that this year's resort was near a mall; the bad news was the resort was a shithole. I walked over to the mall and perused its numerous shoe stores with no luck. I finally settled on some crappy Mizunos from Sports Authority that were a half size too small.

Then I remembered I know someone who lives in Phoenix area and works at a running store nearby. I got in touch with him and he came by, dropping off some Brooks Glycerines. They would suffice. The next morning I wore them to race to a 4 minute victory on what was a deceptively hard and seemingly long 5k. I ran 19:17, and while I don't think I was running under 6s, I don't think I was running over them. Next finisher was 23:10. Afterwards you would have sworn I won the Olympics, with the people I work with gushing over my run.

Later that evening I then WOW'd the crowd with several songs at one of the sickest karaoke jams I've ever been to.

Friday evening we were all done with our work obligations, but since we weren't able to fly out til Saturday morning, a few of us made the most of our time and headed the 5 miles to downtown Tempe. Reminder: this is home to Arizona State. A couple things I know about ASU are that anyone can get in and that the girls are real hot. I was not let down on either count. Fast forward to the end of the night and I found myself in the hotel pool til 5am, and asleep around 6. Woke up at 7 and had to get ready real quick for my flight.

I arrived in Vegas and once I saw the sun beaming off Mandalay Bay I was revitalized. My buddy FranManDaLastDon picked me up and we checked into the Bellagio. Quick note: this is my first trip to Vegas. I have images in my head from all the TV shows and movies, and did not want to be disappointed. My original room at the Bellagio was supposed to be a "deluxe lakeview room" - meaning I would get a little view of the crazy lake with the sick fountain show.

What really happened was Francis got a room upgrade through his connections (he used to be concierge at the Bellagio) so we got a tower suite, corner unit room of 1500 sq ft. It had three bathrooms, a huge living and a kitchen/bar. It was ridiculous. Unfortunately we would hardly even see the room.

For dinner we headed to The Country Club at Wynn. Amazing meal. Thanks to Francis' roommate, who is the manager of food operations at the Wynn, we received a significant discount for the meal. It was still really expensive. After that we headed downstairs to a bar where they hooked us up again. I'm starting to realize at this point in order to have a really awesome time in Vegas you need to either have a LOT of money or know somebody who is kind of a big deal.

Now it was time to start the going out portion of the evening. I'm still exhausted from last night, but have to suck it up. We drive over to the Palms and hit the Playboy Club and Moon. Francis knows someone so we don't have to wait in line OR pay the $40 cover. After we leave there, we headed over to Pure at Caesar's Palace, and again went straight through the VIP line. Checked out the Pussycat Doll Lounge, which was actually pretty awesome, and stayed for a little at Pure before moving over to the Mirage.

At this point I'm barely able to keep my eyes open, but I wanted to see Old Town LV, so we headed down to Fremont St. Definitely the shadier part of town. Walked around there for a minute, then hit McDonald's for McFlurries and headed home. It was 4am and I crashed on the bed like a baby.

Needless to say, Sunday was a tired day. We kicked it for a little while, took in the rollercoaster at New York New York, and then took a 5pm flight home. As I returned to the airport parking lot around 12:45, I popped the trunk and was woken up with excitement.

My running shoes were there!

Ultimately it was a totally sick weekend, felt awesome to ball like a VIP on Saturday but I think that ruins any other trip I may ever take out there. My boy FranMan is headed back to the east coast soon, and this may be the only trip to Vegas for me while he's out there. It makes me wish I had stayed longer, or gone out at some other point in the last four years.

Monday, October 13, 2008

28th Annual Terp Trot 5k

After watching 4.5 hours of the Baltimore Running Festival on Saturday, it was my turn to race on Sunday morning. Of all the events I do each year, the Terp Trot probably holds the most sentimental value. For one, it's the only race I know I can win (partially because it's the only race I've really ever won, in 2002 and 2006), but also because it's great to go back to College Park and run a race.

I think I first did the Terp Trot back in 2000. The course was much different then, still starting in between Byrd and the Union, it made its way through Lot 1, around VMH and back up towards the Union. As you screamed down Campus Drive, you then went halfway around the circle and down towards the nerd portion of campus, before coming back up by the North Campus dorms and finishing through the stadium walkway. I liked when it was completely contained in campus, and started and finished in the same spot.

When I did the race again in 2002, the course had changed to include "College Park" - although really this just meant crossing Route 1 and going behind Frat Row and Leonardtown before returning up College Ave. The finish features a sharp left hand turn at AOPi, with about 25m to go to the line. In 2002 I ran side by side with Tri Guy Tommy before outkicking him at this turn. In 2006 I won by a minute and didn't need to worry about it. This year it again proved the difference between first and second.

Saturday was a warm day, for October 11th, and the sun was strong. Not ideal marathon conditions at 80 degrees, but I thought it would be great for Sunday morning. After barely drinking or eating all day on Saturday, I headed to the afterparty at Arjun's. As a result of some friends in town that evening, I didn't get home until after 1:30, and let them sleep in my bed. This meant a crappy sleep on the couch. If it had been anything longer than a 10k I was racing, I wouldn't have done that.

Woke up a few hours later and it looked like it was going to be another great day. I picked up Alyssa and drove down to CP, registered and warmed up. My boy Ron $ Willoughby was there doing his first race in 2 years, and my friend Karen, who just finished her first marathon on Saturday came out to watch. I always scan the start line for the competition, and noticed a few of the usual suspects - wrestling team (not really competition but fun to watch), a couple HoCo guys and that dude from Annapolis Striders. We chatted at the start a little, and then I noticed two fairly legitimate looking dudes.

The gun goes off and I quickly move to the front before being passed by a guy on the wrestling team for about 100m. That's always a highlight of this race, one or two of the guys on the wrestling team gets a rise out of his teammates by sprinting at the start, before blowing up. Anyway I make the turn into Lot 1 by myself, and am alone as I speed down towards VMH. I can tell there are a few people behind me, but try not to look back. I can tell one kid (one of the two from pre-race) is catching me on the uphill, and sure enough we are side by side coming down Campus Drive. I couldn't tell if he was strong enough to get a lead, but we did exchange the lead a few times before he started pulling away by the chapel.

Apparently I had come through mile 1 in 5:27 and mile 2 in 5:49. The 2nd mile was in the spot I always remembered it, but the first mile seemed to be a little early. After crossing Route 1, where I saw Alyssa and Karen cheering, I was able to catch the kid and subsequently pass him as we went behind Frat Row. I was psyched, as I felt the momentum had shifted, and with 3/4 of a mile to go I should be able to hold on.

Au contraire, as he was coming back on me around Leonardtown. Only it wasn't him, it was a newcomer (the other kid from pre-race) and he seemed to have the legs. As he passed I could only think DBAP, and did everything I could to stay on his shoulder. I adjusted to the increase in pace, and as we turned onto College Ave I still felt good about my chances. With a minute to go, I started to pick it up, and I guess with 100m left I took off, hitting the last turn in first and never looking back.

It felt good to secure a win for 2008, my first W since 2006, and with the time of 17:18 it was a few seconds faster than last year and only a few seconds slower than my time from 2002. It did feel extremely hard though, and I think last year I was in better shape, just reeling from the piriformis problem I was having.

After the race I cooled down with the guy who got 2nd, and then waited around a while to get my crappy little award. I actually kind of swept the awards (first 19-29, first UM affiliate, first overall) but gave the two awards away and kept the overall. It was a gorgeous day in College Park - not a cloud in the sky, mid 70s, strong sun - so we grabbed a bite at the Bagel Place before heading back home for a fun-filled day of corn mazes and apple orchards.

This was race #22 for the season, eclipsing my previous best of 21 races from 2006. I actually skipped on a race report for race #21 since it was worthless (Bel Air Mile, 4th place, 5:24 in the rain and crappy weather, which was also the day of my birthday party). I need to check results later for what happened at Hereford, since Bull Run was rescheduled for the day of Baltimore Marathon.