Back in 2017 at Grandma’s Marathon, I got into a pre- race chat with another runner that Jim and I know. She mentioned that one of her goals was to run a 3:20 marathon. That sounded insanely fast to me, and I remember telling her that I couldn’t even imagine taking that much time off my race. She told me, “Sure you could. In fact, I bet you could do a 3:15.” It was a small conversation, but something about that 3:15 time goal stuck with me. After a better than expected performance in the Saint George Marathon later that year, I started to think that if I could run the right course on the right day, I might be able to come close to that time….
I picked Revel Mt. Charleston for my 3:15 attempt because it’s got an insane elevation drop, and I enjoy running downhill. I thought that if I could run a 3:20 on a flat course, I’d be able to take off an additional five minutes at the Revel Race. My first attempt at this was in Detroit where I finished just under 3:23. At the Baton Rouge Marathon in January, I took a few additional seconds off. While I was happy with both of these times, I didn’t think that I’d be able to shave much more off my race—even running downhill. My mindset going into my April race was to simply do the best that I could and see what happened.
Mt. Charleston is just outside of Las Vegas, so Jim and I chose to spend a long weekend away. I’d only been to Vegas once before and wasn’t a huge fan of the city. I did have more fun this time around. We stayed at the Bellagio– which was lovely– and I was able to sit all the gambling out. (A friend from Phoenix flew in to hang out on Saturday, so Jim had a buddy at the casino.) We had some fantastic dinners, including a fabulous sushi experience at Nobu, and caught at Cirque du Soleil show as well.
Las Vegas gets HOT in April, so our race began at 5:30 AM. We had to be on our shuttle bus at 3:30, so it was an insanely early morning. The race began midway up the mountain and dropped nearly 4,000 feet in the first twenty miles. The last six were rolling hills through suburban neighborhoods.
The race started off well: It was cold at the start line, and the race wasn’t so large that we had a traffic jam during the first few miles. The downhills started almost immediately, and they were FAST. I ran my first mile at a 7:30 pace, which was spot on for a 3:15 marathon, but eight of my next ten were under 7:00. (I was on pace for a 3:05 marathon at the half.) This first portion of the marathon had a steep decline with the exception of a flat/ slightly uphill detour loop at mile ten. I was running fast, but I was also really feeling it in my shins. The grade became gentler after this, though we were still noticeably running downhill. It took some of the pressure off my legs, which allowed me to keep a quick pace.
Revel advertised this race as fast and beautiful. Unfortunately, I was running so fast that I didn’t spend much time taking in the views around me. It was a very nice course, however, and if I get the opportunity to participate in this race again, I’ll try to pay more attention to the sights.
The course began to flatten out at around mile 20, but my pace didn’t really begin suffering until mile 22. That 3:05 that I had been on track for at the half was slipping away quickly, but I had banked so much time that I figured I could slog it out and come close to a 3:15 finish. There was a large hill at mile 24 that brought in a 9:42 minute mile (my others were 8:09, 8:33, 8:15, at 8:45 respectively. The desert sun had also risen by this point, and it was heating up quickly. It was close to 80 degrees when I finished, but the lack of humidity and frequent water stops helped make it feel a little less uncomfortable.
My finish time was 3:15:46; not quite my goal time but close enough that I am not complaining. (It was also my 3rd 4th place AG finish for the year, which I will probably complain about a little.) The miles and miles of downhill terrain made it possible for me to run as fast as I did, but it was definitely a difficult run. It also took the greatest toll on my body to date. I was physically very sore after for the next couple of weeks, and it took me months to fully shake off the pain in my knees. I also made the mistake of not cutting my toenails the night before, which resulted in my big toe turning a lovely shade of purple.
At the end of the day, I am incredibly proud of my performance at this marathon. I realize that downhill courses are a bit of a ‘cop out’ when it comes to setting a personal record, but I still took over seven minutes off my best time. This race has given me the confidence to push myself harder in future marathons and also shows that just because I’m 40, it doesn’t mean I can’t continue to get faster. I will definitely revisit this and other Revel races once I finish my 50 states as a way to push my limits.
Sub 4 State #40, BQ State #39, Sub 3:30 State #18
Finish Time: 3:15:46
Overall Place Within My Gender: 26/ 1048
Favorite Race Day Song: “Waving Through a Window” from Dear Evan Hansen
Total Training Miles: 8,177.3
Shoe Total: 25